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University of Waterloo Awarded Four Canada Research Chairs

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Four professors from the University of Waterloo received new and renewed Canada Research Chair appointments. The researchers are from the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Arts, and the appointments are worth $2.9 million in funding.

“The Waterloo research receiving this support has the potential to vastly improve the quality of life for millions of Canadians through better therapeutic and training technology, new insights into cognition, fewer infrastructure failures and faster analytic techniques,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor of Waterloo. “This support underscores the importance and impact of research taking place at the University of Waterloo and I congratulate the Canada Research Chairs on this deserved honour.”

The Canada Research Chairs from UWaterloo included in announcement are:

• Professor John McPhee, Department of Systems Design Engineering, Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Biomechatronic System Dynamics

Professor McPhee's research has broad applications that include rehabilitation robots that exercise the arms and lower limbs in stroke patients, sports training systems for athletes, devices that help the elderly walk and stand, and power steering systems that automatically adjust to different drivers.

• Professor Evan Risko, Department of Psychology, Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Embodied and Embedded Cognition

Whether people are counting on their fingers or storing important dates in their smartphone, we often use our body and physical world to help us think. Professor Risko examines how we decide when to use such external resources, how this is related to our attentional limitations and the potential cognitive consequences of integrating body and physical world into our thinking.

• Professor Sriram Narasimhan, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Smart Infrastructure

Professor Narasimhan will detect failures in infrastructure automatically through the use of sensors and smart data acquisition technology so that the condition of structures can be evaluated with confidence to predict and avoid catastrophic failures.

• Professor Carolyn Ren, Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering, Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Droplet Microfluids and Lab-on-a-Chip (LOC) Technology

Professor Ren’s research will advance both fundamental understanding of droplet microfluidics and LOC technologies for manipulating individual droplets. Discoveries from her research may revolutionize the current level of High Throughput Screening (HTS) analysis, which will help areas such as drug discovery, life science research, material synthesis and environmental monitoring.

“Our government is committed to science, technology and innovation to improve our quality of life and create new jobs and opportunities for Canadians,” said the Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology). “Our government’s Canada Research Chairs develops, attracts and retains top talent researchers in Canada whose research, in turn, creates long-term social and economic benefits while training the next generation of students and researchers in Canada.”

Minister Holder announced 137 new Canada Research Chairs at 34 institutions while in Toronto.

“I'm pleased that the University of Waterloo has been granted an additional four Canada Research Chairs. These outstanding researchers will continue to advance knowledge and innovation, and further strengthen Waterloo's reputation as a world-class research institution,” said Peter Braid, member of Parliament for Kitchener-Waterloo.

The Government of Canada established the Canada Research Chairs program in 2000 to build Canada’s research and development capacity. The program invests approximately $265 million per year to attract and retain some of the world's most accomplished and promising minds researching in the areas of engineering and the natural sciences, health sciences, humanities and social sciences.