TRU introduces three new Canada Research Chairs

By Adam Donnelly
December 6, 2016 - 2:49pm Updated: December 6, 2016 - 6:29pm

KAMLOOPS — Thompson Rivers University has prioritized strengthening its research capacity, and today introduced three new Canada Research Chairs. The three women are experts in their respective fields and will create new momentum for research at the institution. One of the research chairs will focus on increasing indigenous representation in higher education, which could have a significant impact, considering TRU’s proximity to the many bands in the area.

With the world changing at a rapid pace, higher education is becoming even more important for individuals trying to create their success. Today at Thompson Rivers University, the institution announced three new Canada Research Chair; scholars recognized as emerging leaders in their fields of study.

"It's a big boost to our knowledge creation mandate at Thompson Rivers University," TRU President Dr Alan Shaver told CFJC Today, adding "teaching and research are what universities do."

Dr Heather Price is an expert on how children retain memories, related to their role as possible witnesses in the legal system.

When describing the focus of her research, Dr Price said one of the main questions she has asked is "How can we best use the basic cognitive information that we have in our understanding of social concerns with children who are involved in the justice system?"

While Dr Yana Nec is an emerging leader in applied mathematics, specializing in differential equations, who is hoping her research can use math to help solve some unique problems.

"All natural phenomena that are not constant in time or space are described by differential equations," Dr Nec explained.

The third research chair is Dr Shelly Johnson, whose mandate is to help indigenize post-secondary education, focusing on how universities can better serve indigenous populations.

Dr Johnson's background is in child welfare, which she says affects her approach to research. "I am cognizant that the work I need to do has to be trauma-informed," she explained. "Because [Indigenous] people come from a different place then... other mainstream Canadians, and I want to be respectful of that."

Considering the history of educational institutions and indigenous people in Canada, Dr Johnson understands the challenges of her position.

"For a long time, education was used as a weapon," Dr Johnson told CFJC Today. "It was meant to divide our families, impoverish our community, and to separate children from community, culture, language."

That challenge is also one of the aspects of the position that excites Dr Johnson

“To have a position like this in an institution that says ‘this is your role,’ to make space for the university to make our people feel welcome, and to feel valued as students, as colleagues, at this institution. To have our languages and our cultures respected, and our traditions respected. It’s been a long time coming.”

Tuesday’s announcement also marks the first time in a decade TRU has had all four CRC positions filled at once. According to Dr Alan Shaver, this can only mean good things for the institution and the community.

“As the world changes, new problems come up, and we have to be able to figure them out,” Shaver explained. "The research generates positive impacts; solutions to local problems."

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