Thompson Rivers University

Canada Research Chairs mark milestone for TRU

  Posted on: December 6, 2016

Introducing TRU's newest Tier 2 Canada Research Chairs, from left, Dr. Yana Nec, CRC in Applied Mathematics and Optimization, Dr. Shelly Johnson, CRC in Indigenizing Higher Education, and Dr. Heather Price, CRC in Culture and Communities: Children and the Law.

Thompson Rivers University welcomes three Tier 2 Canada Research Chairs (CRCs), which further accelerates and strengthens the university’s research capacity.

“The appointment of TRU’s newest Tier 2 Canada Research Chairs is a significant recognition of our developing strength in research. This supports the relevant and applicable research TRU undertakes in areas that directly impact our local community and the nation, said President and Vice-Chancellor, Alan Shaver.

The three CRCs join Dr. Courtney Mason, Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Rural Livelihoods and Sustainable Communities in the Faculty of Adventure, Culinary Arts and Tourism. Dr. Mason was introduced to the TRU community in February 2016.

This is a significant milestone, as it marks the first time in a decade that TRU has had all four of its Canada Research Chairs in place at the same time.

Together, TRU’s four CRCs represent a $2 million investment from the CRC Program, along with an additional $241,000 infrastructure investment from the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

The three new Tier 2 Canada Research Chairs are:

  • Shelly Johnson, CRC in Indigenizing Higher Education, Faculty of Education and Social Work
    • Dr. Johnson (Mukwa Musayett) is Saulteaux from Keeseekoose First Nation in Saskatchewan. This is the world’s first research Chair in Indigenizing higher education. Johnson is a recognized leader in Indigenous research methodologies and leadership. She arrives from UBC in January 2017 and is currently a primary investigator (PI) and co-PI on $3-million in research grants with an emphasis on developing capacity in urban Aboriginal communities. At TRU Johnson will focus on how university-based research and teaching can better serve Indigenous advancement.
    • Dr. Johnson will play a leading role in ensuring universities are responsive to Indigenous peoples, thus increasing their success in higher education, which will create a ripple effect that increases the success of all. Her research aligns with the Calls to Action on Education by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. It will generate critical applications for other higher education institutions in Canada, as Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
  • Yana Nec, CRC Applied Mathematics and Optimization, Faculty of Science
    • Dr. Nec is an emerging leader in applied mathematics who specializes in partial differential equations. Her research focuses on the use of mathematics to find solutions to unconventional problems, and has relevance across all fields. Nec joins TRU from New Brunswick’s Mount Allison University.
    • Dr. Nec develops mathematical tools to explain complex natural phenomena that range from gas flow in landfill facilities to the dispersion of atmospheric pollutants, to signaling processes during immune responses. In her words, “accurate mathematical modelling of natural phenomena allows for better understanding of the world around us and consequently informed choices about our interactions with the environment.”
  • Heather Price, CRC in Culture and Communities: Children and the Law, Faculty of Arts
    • Dr. Price is one of a handful of experts in North America on memory and children as witnesses within the legal system. She regularly consults with law enforcement and the courts and provides training to professionals working within the legal system. Her research serves to ensure the integrity of the legal system as it relates to the role of children and their participation in it. Price joins TRU from the University of Regina.
    • Dr. Price is one of a handful of experts in North America on child witnesses, including children’s memory, investigative interviewing of children and evaluations of children’s credibility. She is regularly called upon for her opinion on justice issues by police, policy makers, lawyers and social workers, and her research program will facilitate children’s participation in the justice system.

Previously announced Tier 2 Canada Research Chair:

  • Dr. Courtney Mason, CRC in Rural Livelihoods and Sustainable Communities in the Faculty of Adventure, Culinary Arts and Tourism
    • Dr. Mason does research collaboratively with Indigenous community members and band councils in rural Canada on health initiatives, tourism development and food security to ensure that projects meet the needs of communities and the responsibilities of ethical researchers. His research will influence policy decisions concerning the development of Indigenous lands and resources, which will have national and global relevance, as well as significance at grassroots levels.”

“All four of our Canada Research Chairholders are essential threads in the fabric of a research-informed university, and will create increased momentum for research at TRU,” said AVP Research and Graduate Studies, Dr. Will Garrett-Petts. “They will elevate research training opportunities for our students and help answer questions of particular relevance to the communities we serve.”

Last week, the Government of Canada announced more than 200 new and renewed Canada Research Chairs, which represents more than $173 million nationally. Of the chairholders announced, 38 per cent are women, which marks a significant increase from previous announcements. Earlier this year, the CRC Chairs Program said it was a high priority to close the equity gaps that see women, visible minorities and other diverse groups underrepresented in the award’s ranks.

The CRC program invests approximately $265 million annually to attract and retain some of the world’s most accomplished and promising researchers, acknowledged by their peers as being leaders in their fields.

Read: Government of Canada announces over 200 new and renewed Canada Research Chairs, Dec. 2, 2016
Read: Canada Research Chair awarded in Tourism, Feb. 10, 2016


“The Faculty of Arts is delighted with the announcement of Dr. Heather Price as the CRC in Culture and Communities: Children and the Law. Dr. Price brings an impactful and exciting research program to TRU that will augment our degree program. Faculty members and students in our division and across the university look forward to collaborating her. Students will be trained in the growing field of social sciences and law, and will gain valuable research skills and applied knowledge. Her research on child witnesses is recognized internationally.”

  • Acting Dean of Arts, Sandra Vermeulen

“Dr. Johnson’s appointment demonstrates TRU’s commitment to education for reconciliation and advancing Indigenous opportunity. Associate Professor Johnson’s research is innovative and courageous at this time when Indigenous student education is a priority for Canadian universities. The Faculty of Education and Social Work is excited to welcome Dr. Johnson as Canada’s and the world’s first research Chair in Indigenizing Higher Education. We look forward to Johnson’s leadership in growing a strong team of student researchers and scholars, expanding knowledge about university practices that best serve Indigenous student success.”

  • Dean of Education and Social Work, Airini

“Dr. Yana Nec is one of the rare breed of academics who can both develop new analytical tools to solve problems, while also applying those tools to address some of the most urgent ecological issues our communities face. Her research expertise in applied mathematics will add greatly to our current initiatives in engineering, big data, and optimization and decision science.”

  • Dean of Science, Dr. Tom Dickinson

Quick facts

  • Nearly 1,700 Canada Research Chair holders are working at over 70 postsecondary institutions across the country in a wide range of fields. More than 240 of these chairs are in British Columbia
  • The Research Support Fund supports a portion of the costs associated with managing research at Canadian institutions such as administrative support, training costs for workplace health and safety, maintenance costs for libraries and laboratories, and administrative costs
  • The Canada Foundation for Innovation gives researchers the tools they need to innovate by investing in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment in Canada’s universities, colleges and research hospitals, and not-for-profit research institutions
  • Created in 2000, the CRC program has helped attract and retain some of the world’s most accomplished and promising minds. Canada Research Chairs deepen our knowledge, enhance our quality of life and grow our economy.
  • Universities Canada’s 97-member institutions have adopted Indigenous education as a priority. In the spirit of advancing opportunities for Indigenous students, the leaders of Canada’s universities committed to principles, developed in close consultation with Indigenous communities that acknowledge the unique needs of Indigenous communities across Canada and their goals of autonomy and self-determination

More information

Danna Bach, Research Communication Officer