Media RelationsWestern University

Bringing space to life on Earth: Two planetary scientists among four new Chairs at Western

March 28, 2014

London, ON – Call it a new era in the space race.

With Canadian interest in space at an all-time high following Chris Hadfield’s leadership of the International Space Station, Western University’s Centre for Planetary Science & Exploration has recruited two noted scientists from the U.S. as Canada Research Chairs (CRC).

Arriving from the University of Minnesota, Audrey Bouvier studies the chemistry of meteorites, samples from space missions and planetary analogues here on Earth to understand the Solar System’s origins, including how planets formed and evolved through time.

"This cosmic fingerprinting allows us to propose scenarios that explain the evolution of terrestrial planets, and how the conditions for life can arise," says Bouvier, who has been named Tier II CRC in Planetary Materials.

Joining her is Stanimir Metchev, who has come to Western from SUNY at Stony Brook as the Tier II Canada Research Chair in Extrasolar Planets. Metchev uses extreme-contrast imaging technologies to study exoplanets – planets outside our Solar System – and ‘brown dwarfs,’ which form as stars do, but lack the mass to fuse atoms continuously and blossom into full-fledged stars.

"My research takes advantage of new technologies to create a context of the existence, architecture and habitability of our own Solar System,” he says. “We hope to deliver a piece of the puzzle that represents the diversity of planetary systems in the Milky Way galaxy."

Two additional new Canada Research Chairs were named at Western, while another was upgraded from Tier II to Tier I:

• Lars Stentoft comes to Western from HEC Montréal, and has been named Tier II CRC in Financial Econometrics. Stentoft is developing methods of modeling and pricing financial assets to improve market liquidity and allow financial markets to efficiently price and bear risk. This work can increase financial stability and decrease the likelihood of future market crashes or financial crises.

• Frank Beier, Tier I CRC in Musculoskeletal Research, studies the connection between skeletal development and osteoarthritis to improve management of osteoarthritis and relieve the burden on both individuals and society.

• Xueliang Sun, had his Chair upgraded to Tier I CRC in Development of Nanostructured Materials for Energy Storage and Conversion. Sun is developing nanotechnologies to address challenges in use for clean energy.

"Our government is committed to supporting top researchers across all disciplines through programs such as the Canada Research Chairs Program," says Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology) and MP London West. “More than 1,700 chairholders are pushing the frontiers of knowledge in universities and colleges throughout Canada, driving jobs, growth and economic prosperity for Canadians.”

Media Contact: Jeff Renaud, Senior Media Relations Officer, 519-520-7281, jrenaud9@uwo.ca, @jeffrenaud99

The Chairs program has been designed to encourage and promote top research and innovation in universities. Tier I Chairs are awarded $200,000 annually for seven years to fund their research and are awarded to outstanding researchers who have developed reputations as world leaders in their fields.  Tier II Chairholders are awarded $100,000 annually for five years and are recognized as exceptional and emerging researchers with the potential to lead their respective fields.

For more information about the Canada Research Chairs program, please visit http://www.chairs.gc.ca

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