Sept. 25, 2017

Royal Society of Canada recognizes three emerging research leaders at UCalgary

Royal Society of Canada recognizes three emerging research leaders at UCalgary

Clockwise from top left: Matthew Hill, Joule Bergerson, and Stephanie Borgland.

University of Calgary

Three UCalgary researchers have been named to the Royal Society of Canada College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists. Those named to the College represent the emerging generation of scholarly, scientific and artistic leadership in Canada. Together, the members of the College will address issues of particular concern to new scholars, artists and scientists for the advancement of understanding and the benefit of society, taking advantage of the interdisciplinary approaches fostered by the establishment of the College.

Joule Bergerson, PhD, from the Schulich School of Engineering along with Stephanie Borgland and Matthew Hill from the Cumming School of Medicine will be presented as Members of the College in Winnipeg on Nov. 24.

“Our three new Royal Society of Canada members are outstanding examples of how the University of Calgary’s faculty are driving innovative, life-changing research,” says Elizabeth Cannon, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Calgary. “We applaud them for their significant contributions to the fields of eating disorders, stress responses and energy systems modelling.”

Energy technology assessment

Joule Bergerson’s work on life cycle modelling has been adopted by both industry and policy-makers. Her models and first-of-its-kind Oil-Climate Index have resulted in significant improvement in the assessment of the carbon intensity of oil products throughout their life cycles and supply chains. Bergerson is an associate professor in the Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Department and the Centre for Environmental Engineering Research and Education in the Schulich School of Engineering and the Canada Research Chair in Energy Technology Assessment. Her work has addressed fossil fuel derived electricity, oilsands development, carbon capture and storage renewable energy and energy storage technologies. Project researchers on her team work with scientists, engineers and members of the business community who are developing new energy technologies, to develop and refine techniques for prospective life cycle assessment. Her research aligns with the university’s Energy Innovations for Today and Tomorrow research theme.

The neuroscience of disordered eating and addiction

Stephanie Borgland, PhD, is an internationally recognized leader in the neurobiology of eating disorders and addiction. She is an associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology at the Cumming School of Medicine and a member of the Hotchkiss Brian Institute. She has made exciting discoveries into how high-fat diets or drugs of abuse rewire the reward circuits in the brain, which can lead to an increase in reward-seeking and risk-taking behaviours in the pursuit of food or drugs. Borgland’s innovative research is illuminating the neurobiological factors underlying disordered eating and addiction. Her research aligns with the university’s Brain and Mental Health research theme.

The role of endocannabinoids in buffering stress

Matthew Hill, PhD, has made outstanding contributions to our understanding of the neuroscience of stress. He is at the forefront of research into how endocannabinoids are released in the brain following exposure to stress and how they act to turn the stress response off, reduce anxiety and calm us once a stressor has ended. Endocannabinoids are the brain’s own version of cannabis’s main active ingredient, comparable to endorphins as the brain's own version of morphine.

Hill is an associate professor in the Departments of Cell Biology and Anatomy, and Psychiatry at the Cumming School of Medicine and a member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute. He and his colleagues have found that under conditions of chronic stress, it appears the endocannabinoid system starts to collapse, which may be one of the links between chronic stress and the development of mood and anxiety disorders. Hill is working to understand how endocannabinoids can lead to better treatments for individuals suffering from anxiety and stress-related mental illnesses, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. His research aligns with the university’s Brain and Mental Health research theme.

Founded in 1882, the Royal Society of Canada comprises the academies of arts, humanities and sciences in addition to The College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, Canada’s first national system of multidisciplinary recognition for the emerging generation of Canadian intellectual leadership. Its mission is to recognize scholarly, research and artistic excellence, to advise governments and organizations, and to promote a culture of knowledge and innovation in Canada and with other national academies around the world.