Funding renewed for two CRCs at York

The federal government has renewed two Canada Research Chairs at York University, a commitment that will enable Professor K. Andrew White to advance his groundbreaking research on virus infections in plants and Professor Engin Isin to continue his innovative examination of citizenship.

As Tier 2 CRCs, White and Isin will each receive $100,000 a year for five years to support their research. The two renewals are part of a package of CRC appointments announced in Ottawa by MP James Rajotte (Edmonton-Leduc) on behalf of Maxime Bernier, minister of Industry and minister responsible for the Canada Research Chairs Program.

“Canada’s new government recognizes the importance of investing in university research,” said Rajotte. “It is through the ideas and talent of researchers – like the ones we are honouring today – that we are ensuring a high quality of life for all Canadians, as well as our success in the global economy.”

In all, the government announced an investment of $91.5 million to fund the appointment of 121 new and renewed Canada Research Chairs, including $12.1 million in infrastructure funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

“Renewing the CRC appointments of Professors Isin and White recognizes the excellence of their research and allows York to continue to build on its renowned research strength,” said Stan Shapson, vice-president research & innovation at York. “The federal government’s investments into university research, through programs such as the Canada Research Chairs, are crucial to sustaining York’s globally competitive research programs, to attracting and retaining the world’s best researchers, and to enabling our research to have an impact on the quality of life of Canadians and the country’s economic and social well-being.”

White, who is Canada Research Chair in Plant Biotechnology and Structural Biology (Tier 2), is researching virus infections at the molecular level in plants, to better understand how infectious agents reproduce in host cells.

Left: K. Andrew White

Many steps in the reproductive cycle of infections are controlled by RNA elements called viral riboregulators, so White’s research group is building a detailed, comprehensive and multi-dimensional model of viral riboregulation during infections. This model is expected to be important both for designing effective antiviral strategies and for developing beneficial uses for viruses. In addition to targeting the virus infections that result in billions of dollars in crop losses, White’s findings may also be used to develop new approaches to fighting viruses that are important in human health.

Isin, who is Canada Research Chair in Citizenship Studies (Tier 2), is studying citizenship – the routines, practices and institutions that enable people to deal with one another by negotiating their differences, rather than by resorting to violence.

                                                Right: Engin Isin

Isin’s research on 16th- to 18th-century Ottoman cities has illustrated that societies other than those in the West have invented and maintained citizenship practices. His current focus on Ottoman awqaf – the charitable endowments that were used to build Ottoman cities – is deepening the understanding of citizenship, whether in the East or the West. His scholarship has been shared internationally through the Citizenship Studies Media Lab (CSML) he founded at York University with Canada Foundation for Innovation funding, a lab which is well poised to make a major contribution to research about Canadian citizenship in the coming years. Isin will be on leave from York University in 2007.

For more information, visit the Canada Research Chairs Web site.