Canada Research Chair appointments support U of L expertise in water and agriculture

Two University of Lethbridge researchers have earned Canada Research Chair appointments, as announced by the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry on Jan. 12.

Dr. Jean-Denys Hamel, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, has been appointed a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Organofluorine Chemistry and Catalysis. Dr. Steve Wiseman, an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, has been reappointed a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Aquatic and Mechanistic Toxicology.

Dr. Dena McMartin

“We’re extremely pleased to see both Dr. Hamel and Dr. Wiseman recognized and supported for their excellent work,” says Dr. Dena McMartin, the University’s vice-president (research). “Dr. Hamel’s research has far-reaching applications in agriculture and pharmaceuticals, while Dr. Wiseman’s work is essential in helping maintain the health of our extremely valuable aquatic environments. Their appointments highlight the importance and impact of the work of our faculty members to southern Albertans and society as a whole.”

Dr. Jean-Denys Hamel
A year ago, Hamel joined the U of L’s Canadian Centre for Research in Advanced Fluorine Technologies (C-CRAFT) where he leads an innovative research program in the emerging field of organofluorine chemistry. Fluorine is vital to the development of drugs, agrochemical agents and fine materials. Organofluorine chemistry requires greener chemical processes and shorter syntheses due to its increased number of applications.

“As an early-career researcher, it is very exciting to see the University of Lethbridge, and now the CRC program, sharing a common vision with me regarding the true potential of organofluorine chemistry and its positive impact on society,” says Hamel. “I am looking forward to contributing in positioning Canada at the forefront of research in that field.”

Thousands of unique chemicals are released into the environment from both natural and man-made sources. Aquatic systems are sinks for many of these chemicals, but little is known about their effects on aquatic organisms. Wiseman’s research program evaluates whether chemicals have adverse effects on aquatic organisms, with an emphasis on fish, and develops new tools to accurately predict toxicities.

Dr. Steve Wiseman

“I feel very fortunate to have my CRC Chair renewed for an additional five years,” says Wiseman. “This would not have happened without the hard work of the students, post-docs and research assistants who have been a part of my research team. This support from the CRC program, and the University of Lethbridge, will allow me to expand the research performed during the past five years, and more than anything, allow me to keep training the next generation of scientists.”

Along with Hamel’s appointment as a Canada Research Chair, he has also been awarded $140,000 through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF) for infrastructure supporting his research in catalytic organofluorine chemistry.

About the Canada Research Chair program

The Canada Research Chair Program was established by the federal government in 2000 as part of a national strategy to attract and retain a diverse set of researchers. Chairholders achieve research excellence in engineering and the natural sciences, health sciences, humanities and social sciences. Tier 1 Chairs, for leading researchers in their fields, are appointed for seven years and are renewable once. Tier 2 Chairs, for exceptional emerging researchers, are appointed for five years and are renewable once.