Researchers renewed as Canada Research Chairs

Stephen Cheung (right) in his lab at Brock University.

Stephen Cheung (right) in his lab at Brock University.

Two Brock researchers are included in this year’s line-up of Canada Research Chair holders, announced by the federal government March 15.

Environmental physiologist Stephen Cheung and political scientist Janet Conway are getting their positions renewed. Cheung is the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Ergonomics while Conway is the Canada Research Chair in Social Justice.

“Our government is committed to attracting and retaining the world’s best and brightest researchers, supporting innovation, creating jobs, and strengthening our economy,” said Gary Goodyear, minister of state (science and technology).

“By investing in programs, such as the Canada Research Chairs, we are fostering cutting-edge research and the generation of new innovations for the marketplace, for the benefit of Canadians,” he said.

From the time Cheung was first named Canada Research Chair five years ago, he has examined how extremely hot and cold temperatures affect muscle function and performance. His work has resulted in strategies and products, such as special clothing, to protect athletes and workers exposed to extreme temperatures.

Cheung’s next stint as Canada Research Chair will enable him to see how oxygen levels affect muscle function and the impact on muscle physiology of combining oxygen levels with extreme temperatures. Cheung has also received a renewed grant from the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and support from Canada Foundation for Innovation and Ontario’s Ministry of Economic Development & Innovation (MEDI) for his research.

“If you look at it through evolution, two of the biggest stresses that we have evolved through or have had to adapt to are the temperatures on earth and the availability of oxygen,” says Cheung. “We’ve been very successful as a species at being able to adapt within reason to a wide range of temperatures from the Arctic to the tropics along with living at fairly high altitudes.”

Janet Conway

Janet Conway

In her five years as Canada Research Chair in Social Justice, Conway has focused on why and how people organize to bring about change, and how they use the knowledge from these activities to form emancipatory politics.

For the past decade, Conway researched the dynamics of the World Social Forum, an annual event that started in 2001 as an alternative to the Davos World Economic Forum. The World Social Forum enables people and groups to exchange ideas, experience, and strategies to come up with alternatives to dominant economic and political systems.

Hot off the press is the paperback version of her hardcover book, “Edges of Social Justice: The World Social Forum and its ‘others,’” which will be released in March at 2013 World Social Forum in Tunisia. She has also done research on the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Her Canada Research Chair renewal will enable Conway to analyze the use of digital and social media in developments of global anti-austerity and pro-democracy social movements such as the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street.

Conway and Cheung are among 120 renewed and newly-awarded Canada Research Chairs countrywide this year, receiving a total of $90.6 million from the Canadian government to support them.

The Canadian government created the Canada Research Chairs program in 2000 to establish 2,000 research professorships in eligible degree-granting institutions across the country for the purpose of attracting and retaining top researchers.

Tier 1 and Tier 2 chairs are nominated by universities, but must also be confirmed by their peers as being exceptional researchers and potential leaders - even world leaders - in their field.

Brock University has 13 Canada Research Chairs.

Posted on March 15, 2013

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