CAIP program looks forward

Three new research Chairs are coming to the University of Lethbridge thanks to the Government of Alberta's Campus Alberta Innovation Program (CAIP) Chairs plan.

Part of the government's Campus Alberta collaborative initiative, this prestigious program provides an initial 16 research Chairs to Alberta's four Comprehensive Academic and Research Intensive (CARI) institutions: University of Lethbridge, Athabasca University, University of Alberta and University of Calgary.

"This is an excellent forward-thinking program, and we're thrilled the government has followed through with its commitment to advancing research expertise in the province," says Dr. Dan Weeks, the University's vice-president (research).

The program is designed to recruit new research leaders to Alberta in specific areas of study. The Chairs are aligned with the four strategic priority areas of the Alberta Innovates Corporations and Alberta Advanced Education and Technology: Energy and Environment, Food and Nutrition, Neuroscience/Prions and Water. The U of L's three Chairs will work in the areas of: aquatic health, brain health and dementia, and terrestrial ecosystems and remote sensing.

"Not only do these areas align with the Government of Alberta's strategic priorities, but they also reflect the core strengths of our institution," says Weeks. "What is so significant about the introduction of these Chairs is that it allows us to continue to grow our research capacity in these strategic areas, thereby allowing us to realign other resources and point them at areas of emerging strength. It's especially important for an institution of our size to maximize the impact of our Chair allotment."

The value of the CAIP awards will vary from approximately $300,000 to $650,000 per year for seven years, depending on the nature of the research being undertaken. Academic appointments will be made at the assistant professor, associate professor or full professor level, depending on the seniority of the individual. At the end of the seven years as Chair, appointees will assume regular faculty positions at their institutions. Chairs will be encouraged to collaborate with colleagues and may receive adjunct appointments at their sister institutions.

"We're moving ahead with this as quickly as possible," says Weeks. "Search committees have already been established and we'll be moving briskly on appointments."

The CAIP program has been set up in a very strategic manner, with all Chairs to be recruited from outside the province, so that there are no internal appointments or recruitments between institutions. As well, the four universities will work together to recruit Chair holders within a priority area who have complementary research areas. They will then be encouraged to work with individuals in similar fields at the other Alberta universities as appropriate, possibly through cross appointments or adjunct appointments.

"We pride ourselves on being a key contributor to the Campus Alberta model and its inherent collaborative nature," says Weeks. "These Chairs enhance our ability to bring in outstanding research talent and only add to the research infrastructure across the entire province."

This story first appeared in the November issue of the Legend. For a look at the Legend in a flipbook format, follow this link.