Chris Cully (left) explaining to Ted Menzies (right) the equipment he uses to test space tools.
Michael Grondin/the Gauntlet

Investing in innovation

The federal government donates $121.6 million for research

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The federal government will provide $121.6 million for research being done at 42 universities across Canada as part of the Canada Research Chairs program. The University of 
Calgary will receive $8.2 million for 11 research projects.

The program aims to create innovation, improve research being done in Canada’s post-secondary institutions and attract research and teaching talent from around the world. In total, 155 researchers across Canada will be funded. 

The Canada Research Chairs program began providing annual funding in 2000. It supports over 1,800 researchers and faculty members, 483 of whom are from abroad, at 72 post-secondary institutions in Canada.

At the U of C, 11 faculty members will receive funding — six are working on new projects and five are working on projects that started receiving funding in previous years.

Many research fields will receive funding, including engineering, health sciences and social sciences. 

According to Minister of State for Finance Ted Menzies, it is a priority of the federal government to improve research in the country and create new opportunities for prosperity and learning. 

“Our government’s top priority is creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. By investing in talented people through programs such as the Canada Research Chairs, our government is supporting cutting-edge research in Canadian post-secondary institutions,” said Menzies during an announcement at the U of C on October 12. 

Menzies said this investment will help cultivate further development and allow post-secondary institutions to strengthen their positions as global leaders.

“We are, right now, at the vanguard of research and talent in the country,” said Menzies. “This fosters innovation by helping researchers bring their ideas to the marketplace, where they can touch the lives of Canadians.”

The U of C’s Eyes High strategic goal of becoming a top-five research institution by 2016 was given a boost due to this investment, according to U of C vice-president research Ed McCauley.

“The Canada Research Chair program promotes the [U of C’s] Eyes High strategy by allowing the university to recruit some of the world’s brightest researchers and have them pursue their innovative work while adding to the diversity of minds on campus,” said 
McCauley in a U of C press release.

U of C researchers will receive $500,000 to $1.4 million for each project over a five to seven year period.

U of C astrophysics researcher and assistant professor Chris 
Cully will receive $500,000 for his research in understanding high-energy particles surrounding earth.

“My research looks into radiation belts, a donut-shaped region in space around the earth that satellites fly through and which has very highly energetic particles in it,” said Cully. “There’s really intense radiation up there, and many satellites have to fly through this region and this can be quite dangerous to them.”

Cully and his associates have a research facility on campus where they can test electronic instruments used in space and look into magnetic storms these particles can generate.

“In order for anything to go up into space, it really has to be thoroughly tested,” said Cully. “What my research is all about is trying to understand exactly what it is that pumps up this radiation and what it is that releases it and how it affects the space flight tools we use.”

Cully said the investment is beneficial to research being done in Canada and will help many new researchers get started.

“The opportunity to join the [U of C] in a capacity where I can immediately perform cutting-edge research is fantastic,” said Cully. “I’m very excited to be here.”

$7.1 million was donated as part of the $121.6 million by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, a group founded in 1997 that funds research programs in Canada.

Other projects funded at the 
U of C include research into clean energy, glaciers, stress and anxiety, abdominal parasites and cellphone software.