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Five SFU researchers awarded as new and renewed Canada Research Chairs

August 29, 2023
New and renewed Canada Research Chairs [clockwise from top left]: Zoe Todd, Theresa Pauly, Joanne Leow, Kelley Lee and Marlene Moretti are advancing Canadian—and SFU—research excellence

Five Simon Fraser University (SFU) researchers are among the country’s new and renewed Canada Research Chairs (CRC). These scholars, from the faculties of Arts and Social Sciences and Health Sciences, are advancing Canadian research excellence in a range of areas, including youth mental health, global pandemic response and Indigenous governance of watersheds.

“Congratulations to SFU’s new and renewed Canada Research Chairs,” says Dugan O’Neil, SFU’s vice-president, research and international. “Thanks to ongoing support from the Government of Canada, SFU continues to grow its capacity as a leading research university advancing an inclusive and sustainable future.

Our researchers are making an impact with cutting-edge discoveries and a culture of innovation that challenges conventions. They are engaged in partnerships to create and mobilize knowledge that benefits communities in Canada and throughout the world.”

SFU currently has 42 CRCs, including 14 Tier 1 chairs and 28 Tier 2 chairs. Since 2001, more than 90 unique CRCs have been appointed at SFU.


SFU’s new and renewed Canada Research Chairs

Kelley Lee, Faculty of Health Sciences, renewed Tier 1 CRC in Global Health Governance
Professor Lee’s research investigates how strengthening collective action and global governance can mitigate the population health impacts of globalization. She is co-scientific director of the Pacific Institute on Pathogens, Pandemics and Society, principal investigator for the Pandemics and Borders Project, and lead researcher on the commercial determinants of health at SFU. Learn more about Kelley Lee’s CRC renewal.

Joanne Leow, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Tier 2 CRC in Transnational and Decolonial Digital Humanities

Joanne Leow’s work critiques colonial conceptions of digital humanities projects by centering under-represented communities and their histories and stories in Canada and Asia. Combining artistic and digital humanities methodologies, she is rethinking how and for whom digital archives are created, ensuring that diversity, equity and inclusion are built into how digital data is classified, organized and disseminated. Her ongoing research uses digital tools to shape our understanding of contested (post)colonial spaces in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Vancouver, and transnational Asian food stories and pathways. 

Marlene Moretti, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, renewed Tier 1 CRC in Youth Clinical Psychological Science

Rates of mental health disorders in youth have steadily grown, along with rapid increases in the use of emergency, inpatient, and outpatient services, further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This drives the urgent need to understand what contributes to adolescent mental health risk and resilience, and how we can rapidly mobilize knowledge into action. Moretti is addressing the significant gaps in availability and accessibility of mental health services through her international community research networks that promote research and practice collaborations between universities, government stakeholders, community leaders and mental health service providers.

Zoe Todd, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Tier 2 CRC in Indigenous Governance and Freshwater Fish Futures

Todd studies how Indigenous sovereignty and freshwater fish futures are co-created in Canada today, drawing on Indigenous knowledge, law, art, science, and philosophy to understand how humans and fish, together, shape one another’s futures. This unique mode of inquiry hopes to help foster the conditions for mutually flourishing human and fish futures in the face of catastrophic climate change and ongoing colonial and environmental injustices.

Theresa Pauly, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Tier 2 CRC in Social Relationships, Health, and Aging

As social relationships are fundamental to health and well-being, it is especially important as people age to maintain the social connections that can contribute to health and resiliency. Pauly’s research promotes healthy aging and informs policy change in three significant areas: social resources that support older adults’ health in everyday life; factors that contribute to or protect against the widespread issue of loneliness in old age; and social risks and resources for health in older adults who identify as belonging to minoritized groups. Pauly’s research will contribute new knowledge about how social relationships can influence health outcomes, informing public health, policy and community intervention efforts to promote healthy aging and help to meet future healthcare demands.


Established by the Government of Canada in 2000, the CRC Program invests up to $311 million per year to attract and retain diverse world-class researchers, and to reinforce academic research and training excellence in Canadian post-secondary institutions. Chairholders aim to achieve research excellence in engineering and natural sciences, health sciences, humanities and social sciences.

The program is a tri-agency initiative of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) (the agencies).

The Canada Foundation for Innovation, a program partner, has also committed to investing more than $6 million to support the research infrastructure needs of 29 Canada Research Chairs at 22 institutions through its John-R. Evans Leaders Fund. 

See the Government of Canada’s press release. [link]