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Three INRS researchers to lead new Canada Research Chairs totalling $2.6 million

December 16, 2020 | Sophie Laberge

Update : January 21, 2021

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry (ISED), announced Canada’s 260 new research chairs under the Canada Research Chairs Program

Left to right : Sophie Van Neste, Kulbir Ghuman and Dongling Ma

Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) professors Kulbir Ghuman, Dongling Ma, and Sophie Van Neste will lead three new Canada research chairs in the fields of computational materials, nanocomposites, and urban climate action. Overall, these three new Chairholders are receiving $2.6 million in financial support. This significant amount will enable them to pursue their work in their respective fields over the next few years.

 “INRS is particularly proud to count among the new Canada research chairs announced today Professors Kulbir Ghuman, Dongling Ma, and Sophie Van Neste. These three scientists and their teams are conducting research projects in strategic and innovative fields for Quebec. In addition to helping train the next generation of specialized scientists, their research could propel the economic, technological, and social development of our society,” noted INRS Scientific Director Pascale Champagne.

Canada Research Chair in Computational Materials Design for Energy and Environmental Applications

Kulbir Ghuman, professor at the INRS Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications Research Centre, has been awarded a Tier 2 Chair for her project on the design of computer materials for energy and environmental applications. She has been awarded $600,000 for 5 years from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

Many sustainable technologies, developed to solve energy and environmental problems, use scarce and expensive materials, which greatly diminishes the potential for commercial success. “My work aims to address this situation by exploiting low-cost materials and making them more efficient. In particular, we’re working on catalyst and fuel cell applications,” says the professor and new Chairholder. “Ultimately, our project will facilitate the training of highly qualified scientists, who will therefore begin to develop a pool of talents in the field of sustainable digital energy. This will be one of the cornerstones of a new cleantech sector in Canada.”

Canada Research Chair in Advanced Functional Nanocomposites

Professor Dongling Ma, from the INRS Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications Research Centre, has been awarded a Tier 1 Chair for her project on advanced functional nanocomposites. She is awarded $1.4M for 7 years by NSERC.

Thanks to their unique properties, nanomaterials offer new avenues to address urgent needs in the strategic sectors of energy, environment and health. “The combination of nanomaterials with different properties into nanocomposites is even more appealing, as it can lead to significantly improved properties and/or multiple functionalities that are not possible with a single material,” says the new Chairholder. “We will focus our efforts on cutting-edge research in the field of advanced nanocomposite materials, using low-cost wet chemistry to synthesize highly functional nanomaterials. We will then be able to combine them for a variety of environmental, energy and biomedical uses.” The Chair will also enable the training of highly qualified researchers in the field of nanomaterials: “The Chair will also enable the training of highly qualified personnel in these innovative fields.”

Canada Research Chair in Urban Climate Action

Sophie Van Neste, professor of urban studies at the Urbanisation Culture Société Research Center of INRS, has been awarded a Tier 2 Chair from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for her research on environment and climate. She will receive $600,000 in funding for 5 years.

Currently, cities’ action on climate change is taking an important place for municipalities and citizens alike. “We want to analyze actions on climate change by comparing different urban regions in North America,” says the Chairholder. “We will work on the new governance and mobilization processes put in place for climate action in cities and suburban areas, by studying infrastructure choices and suburban development methods. Another line of research will focus on the role of emotions in territorialized climate action, among other things, in relation to the attachment of stakeholders to the territories they inhabit.”

Canada Research Chairs

The Canada Research Chairs Program is investing up to $295 million annually to attract and retain some of the world’s most accomplished and promising researchers. Chairholders aim to achieve research excellence in natural sciences, engineering, health sciences, and social sciences and humanities.