Canada Research Chairs awarded to UBC nursing and engineering profs


Four UBC Applied Science professors have been appointed Canada Research Chairs under the Government of Canada's Canada Research Chair Program. Established in 2000, the Program aims to support some of Canada's most outstanding researchers in the fields of engineering and the natural sciences, health sciences, humanities and social sciences. 

Through research excellence, the Program website states, chairholders "improve our depth of knowledge and quality of life, strengthen Canada's international competitiveness, and help train the next generation of highly skilled people through student supervision, teaching, and the coordination of other researchers' work." 

Dr. Jane Hill, an associate professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and the UBC School of Biomedical Engineering, was named Canada Research Chair Tier 1 in Breath Science and Technology. Dr. Hill's lab aims to "push the technological boundaries of what can be achieved diagnostically using human breath" and other biological samples.   

Dr. Lillian Hung, an assistant professor in the UBC School of Nursing, was named Canada Research Chair Tier 2 in Senior Care. The founder and head of the IDEA (Innovation in Dementia and Aging) Lab, Dr. Hung and her team "[examine] how technology and environment impact the care experiences of persons with dementia."  

Dr. Manu Madhav, an assistant professor in the UBC School of Biomedical Engineering, was named Canada Research Chair Tier 2 in Neural Circuits of Cognition and Control. Dr. Madhav's lab "investigates neural algorithms underlying spatial navigation from a robotics and dynamical systems perspective," potentially leading to advances in fundamental science and applications in areas such as biomimetics and robotics.  

Dr. Julia Rubin, an assistant professor in the UBC Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, was named Canada Research Chair Tier 2 in Trustworthy Software. Dr. Rubin's team, the ReSeSS Research Lab, is working to improve the "security and integrity of mobile and cloud-based systems, as well as [the] robustness, explainability, and fairness of AI systems." 

This year, 188 new and renewed Canada Research Chairs were appointed at 43 institutions across Canada, including 22 chairs at UBC.  

Tier 1 Chairs are awarded to "innovative world-class researchers whose accomplishments have made a major impact in their fields" and are, among other things, "recognized internationally as leaders in their fields." Tier 2 Chairs are awarded to "excellent emerging world-class researchers who have demonstrated particular research creativity" and have, among other things, "demonstrated the potential to achieve international recognition in their fields in the next five to ten years."   

"The Canada Research Chairs announced this week comprise the full diversity of Canada, both in terms of their backgrounds and training, as well as the broad range of disciplines they represent," said Ted Hewitt, Chair of the Canada Research Chairs Program Steering Committee, in the Government of Canada release. "This, in turn, helps to drive the research excellence we have come to expect from these outstanding scholars, as well as their contributions to the well-being and prosperity of Canadians."

In addition to their Canada Research Chairs, Dr. Hill, Dr. Hung and Dr. Madhav have together been awarded nearly half a million dollars in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation's John R. Evans Leaders Fund to procure the state-of-the-art labs and equipment their work requires. Their project titles and award amounts are: 

Developing Breath as a Diagnostic Paradigm for Human Health ($240,000) 
Dr. Jane Hill 

Probing the Interaction Between Representations and Behavior Underlying Navigation ($125,000) 
Dr. Manu Madhav 

CIHR Partnership Grant CRC in Senior Care ($125,000) 
Dr. Lillian Hung 

This year, more than $9.5 million went to 43 Canada Research Chairs at 19 universities across the country, including $1 million to seven new Canada Research Chairs at UBC. 

For more information about these and other recent Government of Canada investments, please see the announcement on the UBC Research + Innovation website

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