The Open Door: CERC success pushes U of A to frontlines of global research
President and vice-provost
The successful results of the inaugural Canada Excellence Research Chairs competition are a clear signal that the U of A and Canada are rapidly moving to the forefront of the global research community. We have recognized strengths and proven potential to make scientific breakthroughs, technological innovations and policy developments that the world needs to solve its most pressing challenges. If we are to fully realize that potential, bold decisions and investments are required. The CERC program is that kind of bold investment.
Government investment in a new visionary program, however, is only the first step. The second step is the critical one for individual institutions. Each university has to step up to the challenge and make the strongest submissions possible. When the opportunity arose to submit to the new CERC program, the U of A was ready. We made proposals in areas of strength and provided compelling evidence of our capacity to do research with a proven record of discovery, innovation, commercialization and societal impact. We recruited ambitiously with the aim of being well positioned to deliver on the promise of these prestigious chairs.
That we have been able to attract four truly exceptional individuals to the U of A through the CERC competition is testament to the excellent quality of our current faculty, staff, students and facilities, and our growing international reputation across the full range of disciplines. Even with the offer of major resources on the table, in my experience, top people will only consider moving if they know they will be working with exceptional colleagues. Our success is also due to the efforts made in the faculties of medicine & dentistry, engineering and science to compile outstanding applications and identify and secure top candidates.
I encourage all members of the U of A community to visit our website where you will find print and video profiles of each of four new colleagues: Michael Houghton, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Virology; Graham Pearson, CERC in Arctic Resources; Patrick Rorsman, CERC in Diabetes; and Thomas Thundat, CERC in Oil Sands Molecular Engineering.
Winning four of 19 CERC appointments is an outcome that, in my view, stems from our collective dedication to the vision and goals laid out in Dare to Discover and Dare to Deliver over the last five years. Where once we dared to be a leading, world-class university, we are now delivering. Even in very difficult financial times, the U of A is building a very exciting future.