International Research Chairs Initiative (IRCI)
Leading researchers from Canada and from around the globe are pooling their know-how to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges. These experts come together under the International Research Chairs Initiative, a cutting-edge project sponsored by Canada’s International Development Research Centre in collaboration with the Canada Research Chairs.
The results of this joint effort: world-class discoveries and healthier, wealthier, fairer societies.
Photo : Tony Fouhse
|The Research Chairs met in Ottawa in 2009. These researchers share their advanced skills and knowledge to confront issues of common concern while mentoring a new generation of scholars.|
Helping fishing communities manage their resources
Photo: Tony Fouhse
|Fikret Berkes and Alpina Begossi|
In Brazil as elsewhere, coastal resources are declining. In fact, some commercial species exploited by local artisanal fishers are already endangered. If this trend is not reversed, ecosystems and social systems will both suffer.
The research team will develop integrated approaches to help fishers in Paraty (Rio de Janeiro State) to manage local resources and to diversify their income sources, and thus increase food security. A first step will be to increase knowledge of the ecology, drawing on local people’s knowledge of their resources. Working with local communities, the researchers will then pilot a community-based adaptive management system for livelihood resources that could serve as a model for other parts of Brazil.
In doing so, the team seeks to empower and integrate local groups into the management process and to build local capacity to engage stakeholders in governance processes.
Battling pollution in coastal areas
Photo: Tony Fouhse
|Adalto Bianchini and Christopher Wood|
The ecological equilibrium of Brazil’s coastal areas is now severely threatened by the increasing organic and inorganic pollution associated with both population and industrial growth. Restoring, preserving, and improving this ecosystem requires a better understanding of how natural and human activities affect estuaries.
The research team, in collaboration with government agencies in Brazil and Canada, will develop alternative management strategies to guide industrial regulation, settlement, and urban policies in the Patos Lagoon (Rio Grande, S. Brazil) and Amazon (Belém, N. Brazil) estuaries. These sites have been selected because human activity in and around these water bodies is similar. As they also represent subtropical and tropical conditions respectively, the team will be able to apply the data and models to other areas of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Additional laboratory and field work will be conducted at McMaster University and in the Hamilton Harbour sites.
Modelling and controlling infectious diseases
Photo: Tony Fouhse
|Jianhong Wu and Yiming Shao|
China’s large population, fast growing economy, rapidly evolving social networks, and changing environment have made it challenging to control infectious diseases. Because of increasing mobility of people, the success or failure of managing communicable disease spread has significant impact within and beyond China’s borders.
To effectively predict disease transmission and develop good public health policies, high quality data and a comprehensive system to analyze that data are needed. This requires mathematical models as a tool for comparing strategies should an epidemic or pandemic occur, and for dealing with a disease outbreak in real time.
This research will draw on China’s National Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention research and surveillance data to create, optimize, and parameterize disease models, focusing first on HIV. Recognizing the different transmission pathways, the team will focus on distinct at-risk populations in several regions of China. Using the analysis, the team will then collaborate with health service agencies to design prevention policies, which will be evaluated over the duration of the program.
Breaking the barriers to Internet access
Photo: Tony Fouhse
|Xiaoyan Zhu and Ming Li|
Internet search engines are the most efficient method of acquiring information. This poses three problems in China. The first is that 1.3 billion people cannot read English. The second is that there are 16 million visually impaired people in China who cannot use traditional search engines. Third, only 163 million of China’s population uses the Internet, although 580 million use mobile phones.
To overcome the language barrier, commercial search engines translate complete web pages, with often unreadable results. An alternative solution would be for the search engine to find the “answers” and translate the short answers only. To meet the needs of the visually impaired that short answer should be convertible to Braille or sound. The research will seek to develop a natural language search engine that gives concise answers, eliminating the multiple interactive processes in current search engines. The team will develop this technology based on a novel information distance theory, as well as its prior work on Braille systems and Question and Answer systems. And to overcome the limited Internet access, the team will capitalize on the skill of the majority of Chinese mobile phone users to send short text messages.
Improving child nutrition
Photo: Tony Fouhse
|Anna Lartey and Grace S. Marquis|
Health systems in sub-Saharan Africa face a “triple” burden: a high prevalence of childhood malnutrition, an increase in diet-related chronic diseases, and an HIV epidemic that disproportionately affects women. Effectively addressing these problems requires action on a number of fronts: nutritional, health, social, economic, and environmental.
This research will focus on two priorities in Ghana: the need for improved child nutrition, especially in vulnerable and in HIV-affected households, and the need to reverse increasing rates of childhood obesity in urban areas, brought about by easier access to fast foods and less exercise.
The team will develop integrated interventions to improve child nutrition by involving community, governmental, non-governmental, and private partners. It will develop and test ways of improving nutrition and young mothers’ caregiving knowledge and skills in HIV-affected communities, increasing household food security, and providing support mechanisms. It will also assess the extent of childhood obesity and its risk factors and develop educational tools to encourage healthy weight and eating habits among school-aged children.
Getting ahead of the curve in wireless communications
Photo: Tony Fouhse
|Ranjan K. Mallik and Robert Schober|
The demand for wireless communications is expected to significantly increase over the next decade, especially in developing countries and in emerging industrial nations such as India. This strong growth is of vital importance to India’s economy and to large sections of the Indian population that do not have access to technologies such as mobile phones, fixed Internet access, and mobile Internet access. This growth can only be sustained, however, if high quality research supplies new ideas for improved, affordable products and highly qualified personnel to implement these new ideas.
The research will address these two needs and provide significant opportunities for technology transfer to industry. Its long-term goal is to generate fundamental theories and technologies that have a lasting impact on the field of wireless communications and to foster research and development in the wireless communications sector in India and in Canada. The team will focus on the most pressing problems of wireless communication system design including cooperative communications, coexistence of wireless systems, and ultra-wideband communications, and closely collaborate with the Canadian (Bell Canada, SierraWireless, fSONA Systems) and Indian (Sasken, STMicroelectronics, GM India Science Laboratory) companies supporting this project.
Tackling mine waste for better health
Photo: Tony Fouhse
|Mostafa Benzaazoua and Rachid Hakkou|
Morocco, like many other countries with large mining industries, is increasingly concerned about the ecological problems that mine wastes can cause, particularly around abandoned mines. Successful efforts to advance land reclamation and the development of innovative technologies to solve these problems must be transferred and adapted to developing countries.
This project aims to create a centre for advanced technology in mining and industrial waste in Morocco. The team will first develop a comprehensive database of mine sites, wastes, geological and geographical features, and estimates of the wastes’ impact on the environment and health in many Moroccan abandoned mines. They will then propose and implement cost-effective ways to contain and manage the wastes, as well as reclaim mine sites. Detailed studies will focus on mines around Marrakech and Oujda.
The project also aims to train highly qualified staff and to transfer knowledge to mine operators. Government agencies in Canada and Morocco, several universities and research laboratories, and mining companies will participate in the research. The newly created centre will also aim to have an impact in other African countries.
Turning health research into policy
Photo: Tony Fouhse
|Nelson Sewankambo and John Lavis|
Persisting high rates of death and illness in many developing countries have brought a renewed focus on the importance of research evidence in making health policy.
However, those striving to support evidence-informed health policies and systems consider that research evidence may not be valued by policymakers and stakeholders; not relevant to the policy issues they face; or not easy to use. To overcome this, the World Health Organization (WHO) and others have nurtured “knowledge translation platforms.” These platforms seek to convert research knowledge into policies and programs to bolster health system effectiveness.
The team will study 28 WHO knowledge translation platforms, 11 of which are based in African countries. Evaluations in each site will enable the researchers to better understand the processes and variables that facilitate knowledge translation for improved health. This will yield a database, as well as scientific publications, plain language summaries and a “how to” guide for evaluating knowledge-translation platforms.
IDRC Research Chair in Community-Based Resource Management
State University of Campinas
Alpina Begossi has been studying the ecology and ethnoecology of Amazonian and Atlantic Forest fisheries as one of her main research lines, among other studies on human ecology. These studies have examined food diversity, food taboos, folk taxonomy, local knowledge, fishing territories, and the applications to the co-management of fisheries.
In 2006-2007, she was the President of the Society for Human Ecology. One of the founders of the Fisheries and Food Institute (FIFO), she now serves as Executive Director of the non-governmental organization. She is also a researcher at the State University of Campinas (Capesca, Preac, UNICAMP). Among her 100 or so published works are articles that appeared in periodicals such as Current Anthropology, Ecological Applications, Ecology and Society, and Fisheries Research, among others, and four co-authored books.
Canada Research Chair in Community-Based Resource Management
University of Manitoba
Distinguished Professor at the Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba, and Canada Research Chair in Community-Based Resource Management since 2002, Fikret Berkes is an international leader in the areas of commons theory and the interrelations between societies and their resources. This entails the study of linked social-ecological systems, resilience, co-management, and indigenous knowledge. Through the study of community-based resource management systems in northern Canada and abroad, he has been researching the conditions under which “the tragedy of the commons” could be avoided.
He has served as President of the International Association for the Study of the Commons and led several national and international projects. His publications include Sacred Ecology (Routledge, 2008), Managing Small-Scale Fisheries (IDRC, 2001; Portuguese edition, 2006), Gestao Integrada e Participativa de Recursos Naturais (APED, Brazil, 2005), Linking Social and Ecological Systems (Cambridge University Press, 1998), Navigating Social-Ecological Systems (Cambridge UP, 2003), and some 250 other scholarly publications.
IDRC Research Chair in Environmental Health and Management
Federal University of Rio Grande
A Professor at the Institute of Biological Sciences at the Federal University of Rio Grande, Brazil, Adalto Bianchini is also a Senior Research Fellow with Brazil’s Ministry of Science and Technology’s National Research and Development Council. His expertise lies in environmental health and management, with an emphasis on aquatic toxicology. His research on the Biotic Ligand Model for regulating metals has helped its adoption by the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States. Environment Canada and regulatory agencies of the European Union are following suit.
Recognized as a Distinguished Researcher in Biological Sciences by Rio Grande do Sul’s Research Foundation, Bianchini is the recipient of many awards. A past president and member of the Brazilian Society of Ecotoxicology, he is a member of many scientific societies, including the Brazilian Society of Physiology and the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. Author of more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles, he also serves on the editorial boards of Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safetyand the Journal of the Brazilian Society of Ecotoxicology. Bianchini holds a BSc in Biological Oceanography from the Federal University of Rio Grande and a MSc in Biological Sciences (Physiology) from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul. He obtained his PhD in Oceanography from Liege University in Belgium in 1990.
Canada Research Chair in Environment and Health
Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biology, McMaster University, Christopher Wood is one of the world’s foremost experts in fish physiology. Over the past 25 years, he has conducted field studies from China to Brazil. His current research interests include comparative animal physiology, aquatic toxicology, and environmental regulations.
Wood has been Canada Research Chair in Environment and Health since 2001. His work has been recognized through lifetime achievement awards from the Canadian Society of Zoology (1999) and the American Fisheries Society (2002). He was elected to the Royal Society of Canada in 2003 and made a lifetime Distinguished Professor at McMaster in 2005. Wood also received the Romanowski Medal in Environmental Science from the Royal Society of Canada in 2007.
A frequent contributor to international scientific journals, he is listed as a highly cited researcher by the Institute for Scientific Information. Wood holds a BSc and MSc from the University of British Columbia, and a PhD in fish cardiovascular pharmacology from the University of East Anglia.
IDRC Research Chair in Modelling and Management of Communicable Diseases
National Center for AIDS/STO Control & Prevention
Yiming Shao is the Chief Expert on AIDS at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Director of the Department of Research on Virology and Immunology at the National Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention. A driving force in China for interdisciplinary research and evidence-based public health policy formation, Shao is a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, where he has championed reforms to China’s health system and improvements to its medical research capacity. Shao played a leading role in establishing the National AIDS Reference Laboratory and three national networks (HIV testing, molecular epidemiology, and drug resistance) that provide leadership and technical support for HIV/AIDS detection and related research in China and with other international partners. Among his ground-breaking projects is research on a HIV vaccine that has since led to clinical trials.
Yiming Shao sits on three of the World Health Organization’s advisory committees and on the scientific board of the Gates Foundation’s Global Health program. He holds numerous awards, including the National Award for Progress in Science and Technology, and the National Outstanding Young Scientist and Young Expert Award. He has published more than 400 research papers in national and international journals.
Canada Research Chair in Industrial and Applied Mathematics
Jianhong Wu has been a professor at York University’s Faculty of Science & Engineering since 1990. A Canada Research Chair in Industrial and Applied Mathematics, he directs the MITACS Centre for Disease Modeling and the Laboratory for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. Wu’s contributions in both pure and applied mathematics are internationally recognized. Leading a national team of scientists from universities, public health research institutes, and government agencies, he has worked on modelling and qualitative analysis of issues of critical importance to the prediction, control, intervention and prevention of emerging infectious diseases such as SARS, pandemic influenza, and West Nile virus.
Wu is the recipient of various awards and fellowships, including the 2008 New Pioneer Science & Technology Award, the 2003 Canadian Applied and Industrial Mathematics Research Prize, the Cheung Kong Visiting Professorship (Ministry of Education, China), Paul Erdos Visiting Professorship (Hungarian Academy of Science), and Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship (Germany).
Jianhong Wu received his PhD from Hunan University (China) in 1987. He is the author of six books and more than 200 papers.
IDRC Research Chair in Information Technology
Xiaoyan Zhu is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Technology, Tsinghua University, the deputy head of the State Key Lab of Intelligent Technology and Systems, and the head of the Tsinghua-HP Multimedia Research Lab. An acknowledged leader in areas of information processing, her research interests include natural language processing, Question and Answer systems, computer systems for the visually impaired, pattern recognition, neural networks, machine learning, and bioinformatics.
The results of Zhu’s research have been commercialized by Toshiba and Fujitsu and been successfully applied to Chinese-Braille computer systems. Her work on natural language search engines opens new ways to search the Internet. She has successfully conducted research programs supported by China’s National Basic Research Program, the National High Technology Research and Development Program of China, and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.
Xiaoyan Zhu has authored or coauthored more than 100 papers and conference proceedings.
Canada Research Chair in Bioinformatics
University of Waterloo
Ming Li is Professor of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo and a Canada Research Chair in Bioinformatics. The world’s leading expert on measuring information distance between two information carrying entities, Li is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Association for Computing Machinery, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. He received Canada’s E.W.R. Steacie Fellowship Award in 1996, and the Killam Fellowship in 2001.
Together with University of Amsterdam Professor Paul Vitanyi, Ming Li pioneered the applications of Kolmogorov complexity. His work on information distance and normalized information distance, in particular, has found many applications in document comparison, genome evolution, and time series analysis, as well as a Question and Answer search engine on the Internet. A co-managing editor of the Journal of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, he is an associate editor-inchief of the Journal of Computer Science and Technology. He also serves as an associate editor for the Journal of Computer and System Sciences, and the Journal of Combinatorial Optimization.
IDRC Research Chair in Nutrition for Health and Socio-Economic Development in Sub-Saharan Africa
University of Ghana
Anna Lartey is an Associate Professor and former Head of Department, Nutrition and Food Science, at the University of Ghana. Her research focuses on child nutrition. She has served as advisor for the World Health Organization (WHO) expert consultations on child nutrition. She also served as Co- Principal Investigator for the WHO Multicenter Growth Reference Study, Ghana site. A former member of the Ghana Food and Drugs Board, she was one of five African experts invited to a round table discussion with Melinda Gates. Lartey is a graduate of the African Nutrition Leadership Program, current Chairperson of the Africa Nutritional Epidemiology Conference, President of the Ghana Nutrition Association, and Africa’s representative on the Council of International Union of Nutritional Sciences.
After earning a BSc at the University of Ottawa, Anna Lartey completed a dietetic internship at Kingston General Hospital, Canada, and received a MSc from the University of Guelph. She holds a PhD in nutrition from the University of California-Davis where she was a Fulbright scholar. In 2004, Lartey won the University of Ghana’s “Best Researcher Award.”
Grace S. Marquis
Canada Research Chair in Social and Environmental Aspects of Nutrition
Grace S. Marquis is Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Social and Environmental Aspects of Nutrition at McGill University, Montréal. Her research career began 25 years ago at the Nutrition Research Institute in Lima, Peru. She received her doctorate in international nutrition from Cornell University in 1996 and taught for 10 years in the USA before joining the School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition at McGill.
In 1999, her research group began working in Ghana, West Africa, a collaboration that continues to this day. Her community-based research examines how social, cultural, biological, and environmental factors interact and the mechanisms by which they alter a household’s ability to provide optimal nutritionand care for young children. Based on the knowledge acquired, her research group then develops alternative strategies to support child health and growth that are feasible for poor families.
Ranjan K. Mallik
IDRC Research Chair in Wireless Communications
Indian Institute of Technology Delhi
Ranjan K. Mallik is a Full Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi. He has more than 16 years of experience as a scientist in the Defence Electronics Research Laboratory, Hyderabad, India, and as a faculty member in IIT Kharagpur, IIT Guwahati, and IIT Delhi. His research interests are in diversity combining and channel modelling for wireless communications, space-time systems, cooperative communications, and multiple-access systems.
Mallik is a Fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, India, the Institution of Engineering and Technology, UK, and the Institution of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineers, India. He is an editor for IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications and IEEE Transactions on Communications. A recipient of the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize in engineering sciences, awarded by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Government of India, he also received the Hari Om Ashram Prerit Dr. Vikram Sarabhai Research Award in electronics, telematics, informatics, and automation.
Ranjan K. Mallik received the BTech degree in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, and MS and PhD degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California.
Canada Research Chair in Wireless Communications
University of British Columbia
Robert Schober is a Full Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering of the University of British Columbia and Canada Research Chair in Wireless Communications. His research interests fall into the broad areas of communication theory, wireless communications, and statistical signal processing.
Schober has received a number of awards and distinctions, including the 2002 Heinz Maier–Leibnitz Award of the German Science Foundation, the 2004 Innovations Award of the Vodafone Foundation for Research in Mobile Communications, the 2006 UBC Killam Research Prize, and the 2007 Wilhelm Friedrich Bessel Research Award of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. He has also received a number of best paper awards and is the Area Editor for Modulation and Signal Design for IEEE Transactions on Communications.
Robert Schober received Diplom (Univ.) and PhD degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Erlangen-Nuermberg, Germany. He was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Toronto in 2001-2002.
IDRC Research Chair in Management and Stabilization of Mining and Industrial Waste
Université Cade Ayyad
Since 1996, Rachid Hakkou has been a teacher-researcher at the Université Cadi Ayyad where he is responsible for the "Mining Environment" module in the Earth Sciences Department and the "Industrial Chemicals" module in the Chemical Sciences Department. He has also been an Associate Professor at the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Canada since 2006.
Rachid Hakkou holds a doctorate from the Institut National Polytechnique de Lorraine, France, in geosciences and raw materials, as well as an advanced doctoral degree (doctorat d’État) in waste management and treatment from Université Cadi Ayyad, Faculté des Sciences et Techniques de Marrakech.. He is a member of the international peer review board for the journal Mine Water and the Environment. His research interests focus on the management of mining wastes, and in particular on methods for restoring mine sites.
Canada Research Chair on Integrated Management of MineWaste
Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue
Mostafa Benzaazoua has been a Full Professor and researcher at Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue since 1997. He is also an Associate Professor at McGill University and at the École Polytechnique de Montréal. He holds a master’s degree in earth sciences from Université de Nancy and a DESS (advanced scientific studies diploma) in subsoil resource enrichment from the Nancy School of Geology, France. He holds a doctorate in geosciences from the Institut National Polytechnique de Lorraine, France.
In 2003, Mostafa Benzaazoua was named the Canada Research Chair in Integrated Management of Mine Waste. His field of expertise embraces geochemistry and mineralogy applied to the mining environment and the management of mining wastes. He is also very active in the transfer of knowledge and in training highly qualified personnel.
IDRC Research Chair in Evidence-Informed Health Policies and Systems
Nelson K. Sewankambo is the Principal of the College of Health Sciences at Makerere University. For 11 years, he was Dean of the university’s School of Medicine, the precursor to the college. A longtime advocate of advancing health research and policy in Africa, Sewankambo led the effort that established the REACH Policy Initiative, an East African institutional brokerage mechanism linking research to health policy and action. His 25-year contribution to HIV/AIDS and health research in Africa has been acknowledged by many awards.
Sewankambo is Vice-President of the ACCORDIA Global Health Foundation, Chair of the Initiative to Strengthen Health Research in Africa, and a member of the Global Forum for Health Research and the Global Foundations for Health Research. He has participated in many international health initiatives and is a frequent contributor to international publications, including The Lancet, WHO Bulletin, and African Health Sciences.
Canada Research Chair in Knowledge Transfer and Exchange
John Lavis, the Canada Research Chair in Knowledge Transfer and Exchange, is an Associate Professor in both the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics and the Department of Political Science at McMaster University. He is also the Director of the McMaster Health Forum and a Member of the Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis.
His principal research interests include knowledge transfer and exchange in public policy-making environments and the politics of healthcare systems. Lavis wrote the report that underpins the chapter on “linking research to action” in the World Report on Knowledge for Better Health (WHO, 2004). He is President of the Pan American Health Organization Advisory Committee on Health Research and a member of numerous science and policy committees and research groups, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Advisory Committee on Health Research and the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee. Lavis is co-editor of the Policy Briefs series co-published by the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies and the WHO-sponsored Health Evidence Network.
John Lavis holds an MD from Queen’s University, a MSc from the London School of Economics, and a PhD from Harvard University.
The International Research Chairs Initiative
Interdisciplinary Adjudication Committee 2007 Competition
Paul Guild (Chair, Full Application); University of Waterloo
Nicolas Georganas (Chair, LOI); University of Ottawa
Harald Bathelt; University of Toronto
Danièle Bélanger; University of Western Ontario
John Cartwright; University of Western Ontario
Gérard Gaudet; Université de Montréal
Claude Lavoie; Finance Canada
Vimla Patel; Arizona State
Louise Potvin; Université de Montréal
Neal Scott; Queen's University
Richard Smith; Simon Fraser University
Submissions from Independent Assessors and the CRC’s College of Reviewers is gratefully acknowledged. Back to Top