Karen Yeats awarded renewed Canada Research Chair

Monday, June 13, 2022

Karen Yeats

Karen Yeats, an associate professor in the Department of Combinatorics and Optimization, has recently been named among the latest cohort of Canada Research Chairs.

Yeats’ research focuses on the intersection of combinatorics and quantum field theory, and along with her professorship she is an affiliate of the Perimeter Institute. She is specifically interested in the connection between Feynman graphs and multiple zeta values, as well as the recursive structure of quantum field theory.

Yeats’ more theoretically oriented work finds application in physics and in particle interaction, which can inform applied research being carried out by physicists working with particle accelerators, for example.

“Lots of people do work that’s inspired by another area,” Yeats says. “But this is something where there’s really a two-way interaction in the sense that there are interesting problems that maybe as a pure math person or a pure combinatorics person you wouldn’t necessarily think to ask that physics asks for you. So, you get interesting problems that you wouldn’t have had before.”

Yeats initially won a Canada Research Chair some five years ago, which is now being renewed. She has been using the funding to expand her research team and is set to bring on new graduate students and a postdoctoral fellow.

“The main thing has been to be able to support more students,” she continues. “It’s nice in the sense that I do something that is a little bit odd in the ways that it combines areas. It is helpful for me to be able to have a bit more money so I can have a larger group.”

Part of the reason Yeats says she is so keen to pay it forward with supporting graduate students is because of her own PhD supervisor and mentor, Professor Dirk Kreimer of Humboldt University. She also credits her colleagues in the Department of Combinatorics and Optimization as having been instrumental in her success.

“Jochen Koenemann, our department chair, helped a lot with the renewal application,” she says.

This year’s Canada Research Chair funding was announced June 2 by the Honourable François Philippe-Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry of more than $102 million in support of 119 new and renewed Canada Research Chairs at 35 Canadian research institutions.

Read more on the Government of Canada website.