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Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan visits campus to announce new competition for research chairs

UCalgary welcomes minister to meet energy innovation research team
October 14, 2016

Announced on Oct. 12 by Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan, the Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) opened a new competition for 11 awards.  

In her remarks to the gathering of students, faculty and community partners in EEEL, Minister Duncan notes, "I applaud the incredible research efforts of the distinguished scientists who currently hold CERC positions at some of Canada's most renowned universities. With the support of their outstanding teams, the Canada Excellence Research Chairs have made remarkable advances that have yielded tangible results in areas ranging from climate change to medical research. I look forward to welcoming the next 11 research chairs and encourage institutions to consider the ways they can help increase equity and diversity within this prestigious program. Science, after all, is everybody's business."

The goal of the CERC program is to strengthen Canada’s ability to attract and retain world-leading researchers in areas of strategic importance to Canada. Canadian universities receive up to $10 million over seven years for each chair hosted at their institution.

The University of Calgary was awarded their first CERC in 2014, bringing Steven Bryant to Calgary to take up the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Materials Engineering for Unconventional Oil Reservoirs. Recruited from the University of Texas at Austin, Bryant’s leading work in materials engineering is focused on reducing the impact of energy extraction and energy use on the environment.  With broad experience in both industry and in the academy, his research is tackling the extraction challenges of the high viscosity of heavy oil and bitumen, and the extremely low permeability of tight oil and gas reservoirs.

President Cannon says the CERC program has allowed the university to build on its growing capacity for energy innovations. "The CERC program has made it possible for our university to move quickly to strengthen our dynamic research programs that are fuelling Canada's energy leadership. Since arriving in Canada in 2014, our Canada Excellence Research Chair, Dr. Steven Bryant, has begun applying his innovative research to the problem of lowering the resource intensity of Canada's unconventional oil and gas reserves while attracting students, partners and collaborators from around the world."

Brandy Pilapil, CERC postdoctoral scholar, spoke on behalf of the UCalgary CERC program, noting that working with world leaders like Bryant and the diverse team of researchers and collaborators he’s brought together has enriched her learning opportunities at the University of Calgary. She says she hopes to take up a CERC chair of her own one day so she can offer students and scholars the same kind of opportunities to perform research in state of the art labs and learn from the calibre of mentors she’s had.