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Canada Research Chairs Program welcomed several new appointees from UofC

By Eula Mengullo, January 24 2021—

The University of Calgary celebrated seven new faculty members who have been appointed to the Canada Research Chairs Program (CRCP) last December, which includes first chairholders from the Faculty of Law and Faculty of Social Work. 

Dr. William Ghali, vice-president research at the University of Calgary, elaborated on the contribution of the CRCP to the research excellence at the U of C in a statement to the Gauntlet

“Scholars who are awarded a Canada Research Chair (CRC) represent some of the brightest minds in their respective fields. The CRC program helps the university to attract and retain incredibly accomplished researchers; it allows the chairholders to pursue ambitious research goals in collaboration with others, and it provides important training opportunities for the next generation.” 

With U of C being a research-intensive university, Ghali described the importance that research has in the university’s academic strategy, Eyes High

“Our Research Plan and Academic Plan are closely integrated, and together they’re often referred to as the ‘roadmap’ for the university to achieve our Eyes High vision,” he explained. “Faculty members typically split their time between teaching and research, and those two parts of the job are usually closely connected. Having world-class researchers creating new knowledge and driving innovation plays a big role in the student experience. Access to experts, resources, and infrastructure means that students can make a real impact in the world while they’re here, and sets them up to go out into the world to do great things.” 

Dr. Emily Laidlaw, PhD Tier II CRC in Cybersecurity Law and Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law in U of C, expressed the unique opportunity that CRC provides not only for research scholars, but also to students and the public in general. 

“With an appointment like this, it helps identify ways to broaden the curriculum [and] to create more opportunities for students,” said Laidlaw. “One of the things I’m hoping to do is to make students part of the outreach and the engagement because that’s a great learning opportunity for them and that benefits the public at large.”

Laidlaw, who researches the intersection between technology regulation and human rights, described how her appointment to the CRCP will benefit her research work.

“It provides an incredible opportunity to have a platform, to be able to do a lot of things — to take on bigger projects that would otherwise be impossible either due to time or funding,” she said. “It enables me to support student training and also engage in more outreach and different ways that I can educate and communicate with the public.” 

Highlighting our increased reliance on modern technology, Laidlaw aspires to help broaden and deepen the understanding of the relation between cybersecurity and participatory technology — like social media, internet of things, devices — which will then help in building legal strategies. 

As she talked about her work in the area of social media security she added, “What are the responsibilities of platforms, how do we deal with misinformation, how should we be regulating the data brokers?”

In response to how she hopes her research will contribute to the legal community, Laidlaw thoughtfully spoke of the two pillars of her work as an academic, which are law reform and improving access to justice. Her ultimate objective is to contribute practical recommendations for law reform in the area of cybersecurity law.

The complete list of new Canada Research Chair recipients at the U of C can be found here. For more information on the Canada Research Chairs Program, visit the research website.

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