Chair in Renewable Energy Technologies and Health and two Chairs in Green Chemistry and Engineering awarded in COU competition

The Council of Ontario Universities (COU) is pleased to announce the outcome of the competition for three research chairs in environmental science, funded by the Government of Ontario.

The Ontario Research Chairs Selection Panel has advised COU President Bonnie M. Patterson that the Ontario Research Chair in Renewable Energy Technologies and Health has been awarded to the University of Waterloo and its candidate, Dr. Siva Sivoththaman. The two Ontario Research Chairs in Green Chemistry and Engineering have been awarded to Queen’s University and its candidate, Dr. Michael Cunningham, and to Trent University and its candidate, Dr. Suresh Narine.

David Strangway, Chair of the Selection Panel, noted, “We reviewed 13 proposals for these competitions and were very impressed by the quality of the work underway at Ontario’s universities. It was difficult to make a decision among the excellent proposals, but we believe that these three universities and outstanding researchers will truly enhance Ontario’s capacity in renewable energy technologies and health and green chemistry and engineering.”

“I would like to thank the Council of Ontario Universities for its work in completing this process,” said Environment Minister John Gerretsen. “Dr. Cunningham and Dr. Narine will play an important role in developing the green chemistry sector of the economy and will contribute to Ontario becoming a world leader in this field. I am also happy to hear that Dr. Sivoththaman will be assuming his responsibilities shortly and will be actively monitoring and providing the latest in scientific research and data about any possible health impacts of renewable energy. I welcome the three Chairs and look forward to a positive working relationship in the coming months,” Minister Gerretsen added.

Dr. Sivoththaman will bring focus to multi-disciplinary activities in renewable energy technologies and health, ensuring that health and safety are top priorities in the induction of new technologies. His research program will develop new technical approaches and will provide guidelines in setting standards to ensure health and safety in the manufacturing, use, and end-of-life phases of renewable energy technologies. He is a member of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in Waterloo’s Faculty of Engineering.

Dr. Cunningham’s research interests are in polymer science, with a focus on replacing environmentally harmful processes that employ organic solvents with more environmentally benign water-based processes that do not use solvents. His research will exploit newly discovered materials that can “switch” their properties and the latest chemistry techniques to control polymer product properties, using manufacturing methods that minimize environmental impact. He is a member of the Chemical Engineering Department at Queen’s.

Dr. Narine is a pioneering scientist in the use of natural oils to develop new high-value, high-performance and toxic free/neutral chemicals, materials and polymers. He is a member of both the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Trent University, the Director of Trent’s Biomaterials Research Program, and a leading researcher in the university’s Centre of Knowledge in the Environment.

President Patterson noted, “I am pleased that COU was asked to administer the competition. The government is to be commended for providing funding in support of work that is critical to our future and to the well-being of Ontario citizens. Ontario universities have much to offer in providing cutting-edge research and the training of future scientists – the number and quality of the submissions is evidence of that. I want to thank the Selection Panel for their work on this competition and I extend my congratulations and best wishes to the successful universities and to the three exemplary individuals who have been selected.”

Funding for this program is being provided by the Ministry of the Environment: $1.25 million in total funding over a five-year term for each of the Chairs in Green Chemistry and Engineering, and $1.5 million in total funding over a five-year term for the Chair in Renewable Energy Technologies and Health.