Canada Excellence Research Chairs

Canada Excellence Research Chairs

May 17, 2010 10:15 ET

New Government of Canada Investment Attracts Top Minds to Canadian Universities

Inaugural Canada Excellence Research Chairs Introduced at Universite Laval Ceremony

QUEBEC CITY, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - May 17, 2010) - The Honourable Josée Verner, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, Minister for La Francophonie and Minister responsible for the Québec region, welcomed to Université Laval, Dr. Marcel Babin and Dr. Younès Messaddeq, two of 19 world-renowned researchers who have chosen to pursue their leading-edge research at universities across Canada. The event followed the announcement of the recipients of the Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC) program made earlier today at the University of Toronto by the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry.

"The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of supporting world-class research," said Minister Verner. "The CERC program presents Canada as a global centre of excellence in research and higher learning. The leading-edge work conducted at Université Laval will stimulate innovation in the Greater Québec Area, bringing it further into play on the international scene."

For each Chair, universities will receive up to $10 million over seven years to support chairholders and their research teams in undertaking ambitious research programs. The complete list of chairholders, including the 13 universities where they will be working, is available on the CERC website (

Dr. Marcel Babin, Canada Excellence Research Chairholder in Remote Sensing of Canada's New Arctic Frontier, will apply the most recent advances in satellite remote sensing to track how arctic ecosystems respond to climate change. He and his research team will adapt cutting-edge technologies such as unmanned submarines equipped with high-tech sensors to observe arctic marine ecosystems. Improved access to this information will provide a better understanding of the socio-economic consequences of climate change on arctic ecosystems.

"I am expanding my network and adding Canadian collaborations to those I have developed over the past 20 years in France and Europe," said Dr. Babin, who holds dual Canadian-French citizenship. "And now I am returning to Quebec, where I studied and spent some wonderful years of my life."

Dr. Younès Messaddeq, Canada Excellence Research Chairholder in Enabling Photonic Innovations for Information and Communication, will play a crucial role in advancing work on special fibre sensors based on infrared materials, which will affect the environmental and petroleum industries and lead to new technologies for monitoring nutrients in agriculture. His advanced research capabilities in glass and optical fibres will help improve the precision of medical instruments that perform minimally invasive surgery and consolidate Canada's position among world leaders in optics and photonics technology.

"The facilities at the Centre for Optics, Photonics and Laser Technology and the quality of the work done here in recent years have made Université Laval very attractive," said Dr. Messaddeq. "The Québec region has also identified optics and photonics as priority areas, and the many companies located here create a uniquely dynamic atmosphere that is conducive to innovation."

"The arrival of these globally respected researchers will have multiple benefits for Canada," said Dr. Chad Gaffield, President of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and Chair of the Tri-Agency Steering Committee. "Research chairs of this calibre working together with other researchers, students and post-doctoral fellows already in Canada will create meaningful new opportunities."

The CERC program was announced in Budget 2008 as part of the government's Science and Technology Strategy to help build expertise in strategic areas. Research conducted by the chairholders will focus on the areas of environmental sciences and technologies, natural resources and energy, health and related life sciences and technologies, and information and communications technologies.

"These new researchers, who are among the world's elite in their fields, join some very high-performance teams," said Dr. Denis Brière, Rector of Université Laval. "Laval was already widely known for the quality of its research in the Arctic and in optics and photonics. With these new Chairs, the university now stands as a world leader."

The CERC program is administered jointly by Canada's three research granting agencies: the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

For more information, visit the CERC website (

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