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Elite innovators

Nearly $4-million research investment to shape a better tomorrow

By Jeff Green

Part of an ongoing series of Gazette stories celebrating researchers who received support as part of the federal government’s major investment in science and research on March 13.

It’s four “chairs” for Memorial University.

A quartet of experts have been named new and renewed Canada Research Chairs (CRCs) — one of this country’s highest academic honours.

The appointments mean that they are all leading bold projects to tackle pressing issues facing communities and building critical knowledge to find solutions to global problems.

Dr. Octavia Dobre, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, is appointed as the tier 1 Canada Research Chair in ubiquitous connectivity.

Dr. Octavia Dobre, a white woman in her mid 40s, is seen leaning against a glass railing.
Dr. Octavia Dobre
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Dr. Harris Berger, School of Music and cross-appointed to the Department of Folklore, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, continues as the tier 1 Canada Research Chair in ethnomusicology.

He was initially appointed in 2016.

Dr. Harris Berger, a white man in his mid 50s, is seen stood in front of a bookcase.
Dr. Harris Berger
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Dr. Hai Nguyen, School of Pharmacy, continues as the tier 2 Canada Research Chair in health policy evaluation and health care sustainability.

He was initially appointed in 2018.

Dr. Hai Nguyen, a yellow man in his late 30s, is seen in a hallway in the School of Pharmacy.
Dr. Hai Nguyen
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Dr. Nicholas Welch, Department of Linguistics, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, continues as the tier 2 Canada Research Chair in change, adaptation and revitalization of Indigenous languages.

He was first appointed in 2018.

Dr. Nicholas Welch, a white man in his early 50s, is seen in a research lab with computers.
Dr. Nicholas Welch
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Tier 1 chairs are tenable for seven years, renewable once and are valued at $200,000 annually for seven years.

Tier 2 chairs, tenable for five years and renewable once, are valued at $100,000 annually for five years.

The Canada Foundation for Innovation is also investing $78,655 to support Dr. Dobre’s research program through its John R. Evans Leaders Fund, affiliated with the Canada Research Chairs Program.

Check back for future Gazette stories highlighting the CRCs and learn more about their cutting-edge research.

‘Leadership and creativity’

“I am thrilled to once again celebrate the success of four members of our research community,” said Dr. Tana Allen, vice-president (research).

“In 2023 and 2022, four early-career researchers were elected to the Royal Society of Canada. This latest news is yet another example of the leadership and creativity of our researchers. Four is our new favourite number!”

The Canada Research Chairs Programs, as well as funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, provides significant support to elite innovators and scholars allowing them to lead breakthroughs to transform our world.

“The work of these talented researchers enriches our community and strengthens Memorial’s specialized research expertise. We cannot wait to see what’s next for them.”

The appointments were made on March 13, as part of a significant investment in support of 230 new and renewed CRCs at Canadian universities.

Memorial is currently home to 17 active Canada Research Chairs, with several nominations pending.

Find the full list of Memorial University funding recipients here.

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