Breadth of research highlighted by latest CRC announcements

A trio of University of Lethbridge researchers are among 186 persons who have been announced as new or renewed Canada Research Chairs (CRC) by the Government of Canada.

Drs. Monique Giroux (Indigenous studies), Trushar Patel (chemistry & biochemistry) and Julie Young (geography) were all named Tier II Canada Research Chairs as the Government of Canada unveiled a $158-million investment in the Canada Research Chairs program. An additional $8.3 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation for research infrastructure is also associated with the new Chair awards.

Dr. Erasmus Okine, the University’s vice-president (research) says the appointments represent the breadth of research that is ongoing at the U of L.

“I am very pleased to see the federal government’s investment in these researchers and the valuable work they are doing,” says Okine. “From Indigenous studies to geography and chemistry & biochemistry, Drs. Giroux, Young and Patel are among the brightest academics in their respective fields and have made valuable contributions to the betterment of our society. I look forward to what these appointments will further yield.”

Giroux’s research explores Métis/Indigenous cultural and political revival and resurgence across Canada, with her current work focusing on Métis cultural festivals in Saskatchewan and Alberta. Drawing on her experience as an ethnomusicologist and on research emerging from the areas of critical theory and Indigenous studies, Giroux examines how members of the Métis nation are engaging with the settler state through cultural events, and how cultural events are embodying broader political goals such as rebuilding the Métis nation, developing a nation-to-nation relationship with Canada, or, alternately, reinforcing the status quo.

Patel will unravel the principles underlying RNA-protein interactions during viral infections by employing sophisticated biophysical techniques. This will enable him to develop rational, targeted therapies for a range of viral infections. His strategy is innovative as it aims to target host proteins, rather than viral proteins that are subjected to genetic variability. His strong background in structural-biophysical characterization of RNA, DNA and proteins is highly beneficial to this program. The relevant experience of Patel and collaborators, the availability of infrastructure, and a very strong commitment from the University will ensure his success as a Canada Research Chair.

Young aims to establish the University of Lethbridge as a leading institution for critical border studies, with a focus on displacement and border control in settler colonial contexts. Her research program has three key objectives: to analyze migration management and resistance along the NAFTA corridor; to develop a community of scholars (locally, regionally, nationally, globally) around border studies in the context of settler colonial nation-states; and, to mobilize Lethbridge’s strategic location as a borderlands city and regional hub negotiating indigenous-settler histories and contemporary relations and more recent experiences with refugee resettlement.

Both Giroux and Young are Tier 2 Canada Research Chairs funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Patel is also a Tier 2 CRC with funding coming from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.