Image of Profs Sonia Kang, Neda Maghbouleh, and Iva Zovkic

Three new Canada Research Chairs at U of T Mississauga

Wednesday, July 15, 2020 - 10:57am
Carla DeMarco
UofT Mississauga researchers awarded prestigious appointments in recognition of their world-class work

Professors Sonia Kang, Neda Maghbouleh and Iva Zovkic have been stepping up and standing out in their research all along their respective academic career paths, and now their efforts are recognized with distinguished designations as Canada Research Chairs (CRC) at the University of Toronto Mississauga.

With a special call pitched to address the under-representation of members of equity-seeking groups among its Chairholders, the CRC opened up an opportunity for exceptionally qualified individuals who self-identified as members of one or more of the four federally designated groups: women, visible minorities/persons of colour, persons with a disability, or Indigenous Peoples.

The University of Toronto ran its own competition to identify a stellar list of candidates, and among hundreds of applications, Kang, Maghbouleh and Zovkic were selected to move forward. They were then each successfully awarded Tier 2 designations once the CRC program finalized the nomination process. For each Tier 2 chair, an institution receives $100,000 per year in funding for five years and can be renewed once at the end of their term. Tier 2 Chairs are intended for emerging scholars who have demonstrated particular research creativity and innovation, with the potential to achieve international recognition in their fields, as well as showing a strong commitment to attracting and developing excellent trainees, students and future researchers.

“Excellence is only achieved when everyone is welcome in the classroom, the lab and the field,” said Professor Vivek Goel, who served as UofT’s vice-president of research and innovation when the call opened in late 2018.

“Equity, diversity and inclusion strengthen the quality, relevance and impact of research and training.”

The appointment of women as CRCs in particular as it relates to this call helps to achieve more parity in the numbers that historically has been unbalanced, but to which the CRC is committed to improving: the number of CRC Tier 2 designations held by Chairholders who identified as women was 31%, but since the CRC special call, as of 2019 the number has increased to 41.4%.

The new CRC Tier 2 designations and related projects at UTM are the following:

  • Sonia Kang, Canada Research Chair in Identity, Diversity, and Inclusion
    Based in the Department of Management, her research applies insights from the behavioural sciences to improve inclusive practices in academic and professional contexts. Her work focuses on taking the burden off of individuals to navigate biased systems by redesigning the organizational structures and processes that give rise to and perpetuate systemic bias in the first place.  
    “I am so grateful and honoured to have been awarded this CRC” says Kang. “It will help me and my team in our quest to dismantle structural barriers that block the authentic expressions of diverse identities in academic and work life, and place U of T in the perfect context in which to bring this work to life.”
  • Neda Maghbouleh, Canada Research Chair in Migration, Race and Identity Her work in the Department of Sociology focuses on racial identity formation as it relates to migration, with a strategic focus on Middle Eastern/North African (MENA) migrants in Canada and the US, to better understand how migration, borders, war, sanctions, and surveillance influence racial identity.
    “The CRC will turbo-charge my work, and most excitingly, it solidifies the status of UTM, UofT and the Greater Toronto Area as a premier North American hub for research on migration and race,” says Maghbouleh.
  • Iva Zovkic, Canada Research Chair in Behavioural Epigenetics
    Based in the Department of Psychology, she will build on her previous work with the histone variant H2A.Z as it relates to Alzheimer’s disease and improving memory, further examining how the H2A.Z function is altered by acetylation and building a foundation for therapeutic development in the treatment of Alzheimer’s.
    “The CRC support will allow me to expand my lab and take on ambitious projects to expand our understanding of gene regulation in memory formation and epigenetic contributions to neurodegerative disorders,” says Zovkic.  

Professor Kent Moore, UTM’s vice-principal, research, is thrilled with the campus’s success in these new CRC designations and sees this as an opportunity for further growth in attracting excellent researchers, students and trainees, as well as reinforcing UTM’s vision as a world-class research institution.

“This recognition exemplifies the innovative work being undertaken by our researchers,” says Moore.

“With the impressive and exceptional breadth of work Professors Kang, Maghbouleh and Zovkic are doing, they continue to forge new ground in many areas of research and elevate UTM to a higher level of excellence. This support and validation of their work by the Canada Research Chair program demonstrates the outstanding caliber of their scholarly leadership.”

The Canada Research Chair program provides approximately $295 million annually to the country’s universities to retain and attract top minds, spur innovation and foster training excellence in Canadian postsecondary institutions.
 

Resources

  • Professor Kang was featured on VIEW to the U podcast in season 2, Women in Academia. Hear more about her research in Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace.
     
  • Professor Maghbouleh was featured on VIEW to the U podcast in season 3, Global Perspectives. Hear more about her research in Mothers and Migration.
     
  • Professor Zovkic’s work was highlighted in “’The gift of time’” when she was awarded the 2018 Dorothy Shoichet Women Science Faculty Award of Excellence.