The University of Northern British Columbia is celebrating the appointment of a new Canada Research Chair (CRC) and also the renewal of two CRCs.
Dr. Sarah de Leeuw, an associate professor in Geography and the Northern Medical Program (NMP) has been named as the new Canada Research Chair in Humanities and Health Inequities. Dr. Sarah Gray, an associate professor in the NMP, has been reappointed as CRC of Integrative Physiology of Diabetes, and Dr. Brian Menounos, professor in Geography, will continue his work as CRC in Glacier Change.
“The outstanding talents that our Canada Research Chairs bring to UNBC not only enhance our research community, but also strengthen our ability to develop leading-edge solutions to issues experienced in the North, across Canada and around the world,” says UNBC President Dr. Daniel Weeks. “In addition, the CRC program also enables Chairs to help develop the next generation of research leaders through expanded training and mentoring opportunities, an initiative to which these three individuals are deeply committed. I commend them for this outstanding professional achievement.”
Dr. de Leeuw, a social scientist whose areas of interest include the medical humanities and determinants of marginalized peoples' health, will investigate how the arts and humanities can help address health inequities and encourage medical professionals to go into different geographies of practice such as rural areas and working with Indigenous people.
“I would like to explore whether the influence of the humanities can increase levels of empathy in health professionals and thus increase response to complex health issues,” says Dr. de Leeuw. “I also want to examine how those who live with health inequities might be able to better describe their needs through methods that include the arts in informed practices.”
Dr. Sarah Gray, first appointed in 2012 as a CRC, will continue her work to explore links between obesity and diabetes.
“I am interested in the physiology of metabolism; what goes wrong in the body when people develop diabetes and why obesity increases the risk of diabetes,” she explains. “This is all motivated by a desire to better prevent or reduce complications of obesity.”
“We are proud of our medical researchers whose work is being recognized by UNBC and the broader community,” said Dr. Paul Winwood, associate vice president, NMP, UNBC and regional associate dean, Northern BC, UBC Faculty of Medicine. “Their work within the Northern Medical Program’s research portfolio is an important part of our team’s dedication to improve the health and wellness of those living in the North and other parts of the country and globe.”
As part of his ongoing work to study climate change on glaciers, Dr. Brian Menounos, initially appointed in 2013, will use his second term as CRC to focus on the development of useful tools for research in the field. “To be able to examine the future of glaciers on our planet well, you need to have good observational data, so a key goal will be to continue the development of high-quality data sets that can be used to update future models of change.”
All three researchers were appointed as Tier 2 CRCs, awarded to exceptional emerging researchers, acknowledged by their peers as having the potential to lead in their field. Each award is funded for $500,000 over five years.
The Canada Research Chairs Program is a federal initiative to attract and retain exceptional scholars in fields spanning engineering and the natural sciences, health sciences, humanities and social sciences.
UNBC is currently home to seven Canada Research Chairs.