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SFU’s new Canada Research Chairs are l-r: associate math professor Nilima Nigam, associate physics professor Erol Girt and associate math professor Paul Tupper.

Three new, four renewed Canada Research Chairs

November 5, 2009

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Physicist Erol Girt studies the smallest of structures— those measuring just one billionth of a meter—and his research will benefit everything from your computer to the recording industry.

Girt is one of three new Canada Research Chairs at SFU who will each receive $500,000 to advance research in their fields.

Four other chairs have been renewed for a total of $3.5 million in research funding.

Girt will study a phenomenon called magnetization reversal in nanometre-size structures. The research will help him develop new methods to fabricate these structures.

The result could mean improvements for high-speed magnetic recording—a plus for the recording industry.

Girt’s research will also be useful in the development of more sophisticated high-performance hard-drive media, potentially leading to better and faster computers.

Mathematician Paul Tupper will study how systems are affected by circumstances not known ahead of time—a phenomenon known as stochasticity, or randomness, such as the effects of density and temperature fluctuations when water freezes.

Tupper is also trained in physics and computing science. His techniques will help scientists and the community at large face the challenges of an unpredictable world.

A third new chair is being filled by mathematician Nilima Nigam, who works on the numerical analysis of algorithms and on developing mathematical models for physical, biological and industrial processes.

Renewed chair holders include Eldon Emberly (structural and chemical biology), Ian McCarthy (technology and operations management), John McDonald (cognitive neuroscience) and David Vocadlo (chemical biology).

"This program helps us to retain established researchers and to recruit new research champions who will, in addition to their independent scholarly efforts, advance SFU’s strategic research plan," says Mario Pinto, SFU’s VP-research.

In all, 181 new or renewed Canada Research Chairs will receive $159.9 million at 45 universities across Canada.

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