The Government of Canada has allocated $248 million to establish 34 new Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC) at 18 post-secondary institutions nationwide, including the University of Waterloo. On November 16, the announcement of the new CERCs was made by the Honourable Terry Beech, Minister of Citizens’ Services, on behalf of Minister François-Philippe Champagne of Innovation, Science, and Industry.

The CERC program, initiated in 2008, is a tri-agency initiative aimed at enhancing Canada's global standing in research and innovation by awarding renowned researchers substantial funding to establish research programs at Canadian universities. These awards are recognized as highly prestigious internationally and recipients are selected through an independent, multidisciplinary and competitive peer-review process.

Three researchers from Waterloo are included among the recipients:

Sara A. Hart

Sara HartDr. Sara A. Hart will be appointed as the CERC in Developmental Science, based in the Department of Psychology at the University of Waterloo. Hart is a renowned expert in developmental psychology, her research employs precision education to investigate learning challenges in children, using interdisciplinary approaches and advanced statistical methods.

In her role as the CERC in Developmental Science, Hart will integrate genomics into educational settings to understand the interplay between genes and environments in fostering reading and mathematical competence. Hart's focus on precision education aligns with contemporary approaches to tailor education to individual student characteristics — particularly beneficial for studying learning disabilities and informing educational practices.

Renée J. Miller

Dr. Renée J. Miller has been appointed as the CERC in Data Intelligence and will join the University of Waterloo's Cheriton School of Computer Science in June 2024. Currently a University Distinguished Professor at Northeastern University, Miller is renowned for her novel work in data systems, specifically in data integration.

As the CERC in Data Intelligence, Miller will lead research to enhance the trustworthy use of big data for data science and artificial intelligence. Her work will address challenges in data science, focusing on correct, explainable and reproducible data preparation and curation methods. She aims to develop frameworks to document, share and reproduce complex data processes, contributing to valid and unbiased insights from data while promoting equity, diversity and inclusion in data science training.

Thomas Jennewein

Thomas JenneweinDr. Thomas Jennewein has been appointed CERC in Global Quantum Internet Systems, holding the chair at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in British Columbia. His research focuses on blending information processing technologies with quantum physics, driving innovations in quantum computing and cryptography.

While starting his CERC position at SFU in spring 2024, Jennewein will maintain ties with the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) and the University of Waterloo's Physics community, continuing his leadership role for Canada's first quantum communication satellite, QEYSSat, hosted at IQC and the Department of Physics and Astronomy.