UW chosen to nominate a third CERC
The University of Waterloo has been selected to represent Canada’s intellectual community by being chosen to nominate a faculty member as a Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) for the second time. UW already has two faculty members as chairs, but it was chosen again Nov. 8 to nominate one of its best researchers, this time in the area of security and privacy for the new digital economy.
Canada’s CERC program, which was initiated in 2008, is intended to support prominent university researchers from different intellectual disciplines in an effort to bolster Canada’s research potential. According to the CERC website, “The work of these leading researchers will spark the creation of new services and policies that support Canada’s economic competitiveness, help sustain the environment, and improve quality of life.” Researchers who become CERCs receive money ($10 million over seven years) from the government to support work related to their field of expertise and chair designation.
CERCs are chosen in a two stage process. First, universities are selected based on specified criteria, including the relevancy of proposed chair positions and the ability to support new research programs once a CERC term is finished. Second, selected universities nominate world-class researchers for chair positions based on the quality of the researcher, that researcher’s relevance to the proposed program, the quality of the program, and the intensity of the institution’s selection process.
UW already has two CERCs. Prof. Phillippe Van Cappellen is a chair in ecohydrology, an interdisciplinary research area devoted to studying the role of water in earth’s ecosystems and addressing threats to sustainability. Prof. David Cory is a chair in quantum information processing, which refers to the study and application of quantum mechanics to create new technologies that are extremely powerful relative to what we have today.
While the CERC program will help Canada in many ways, the intellectual community stands to benefit, too, especially in terms of networking and interdisciplinary co–operation. “Each CERC will build a community that effectively reorganizes a field. These will engage many people and be a lasting strength,” said Cory in an email interview. “This is what CERC aims for: Invest to build a sustainable, strong community that has important and unique capabilities.”
Both Canada and its intellectual community benefit from the accelerated innovation, network strengthening, and researcher support that the CERC program offers. UW will benefit as well. Not only is UW’s reputation improved by having two CERCs, the funding and recognition that come from the program is very attractive to Canada’s best students and the brightest researchers. A third CERC would not only boost UW’s status in the world, but would also bring in those best able to strengthen the university’s research opportunities and boost its innovative potential.