UPEI researchers in the news, part 16

Politics, more politics, and killer bat fungus. Here’s a roundup of the media stories from the last few weeks that featured UPEI researchers.

We are in the middle of a federal election, and that means visits by party leaders to Prince Edward Island. Monday, April 20, the CBC reported on a visit to the PEI riding of Egmont by Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. The party leader joined Liberal candidate, Guy Gallant, for a political rally.

The CBC’s report, “Ignatieff’s P.E.I. stop puzzles some” quotes Dr. Peter McKenna, professor and chair of UPEI’s Department of Political Studies.

"’I'm a bit surprised,’ said Peter McKenna. ‘My sense is — I could be wrong — but many people in Egmont weren't even sure who this Guy Gallant was two weeks ago, so I'm a bit puzzled that Ignatieff would be going there now at this stage in the campaign.’"

Read the whole report here.

Early in the election, Dr. McKenna also wrote an opinion piece in the Ottawa Citizen on what has become a controversial subject–the possibility of a coalition government. Read his article, “Why coalitions make us uncomfortable,” here.

Dr. McKenna is also quoted in the Globe and Mail article, “How PEI gets out the vote.” Read his opinions of why such a high proportion of Islanders turn out to vote on election day here.

Dr. McKenna also makes an appearance in the National Post’s article, “Political Donations: How parties pay the rent.”

“‘There is a strain of thought here on P.E.I. that it is important to have somebody on the side of government around the Cabinet table, expressing P.E.I. demands and aspirations,’ he said. ‘They obviously have a vested interest in ensuring P.E.I. is not forgotten.’”

Read the whole article here.

Also in election coverage, Maclean’s blogger and columnist John Geddes quoted Dr. Don Desserud in his March 28 blog post. Dr. Desserud is professor of Political Science at the University of New Brunswick, and will take up the position of dean of Arts at UPEI in July.

Dr. Desserud gives his opinion on the possible scenarios presented to the Governor General in 2004 by then Opposition leader Stephen Harper in the event that the governing Liberals would lose confidence in the house. Read the post, “‘An odd (!) understanding’ of how Parliament works,” here.

Dr. Scott McBurney, a pathologist at UPEI’s Atlantic Veterinary College and the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre spoke Tuesday, April 20 with CBC Radio’s Island Morning about a deadly fungus affecting bats in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Asked whether the fungus might affect bats on PEI, Dr. McBurney said, "If that is the case, then those bats will likely be exposed and potentially bring the fungus to our province as well in coming back … during the summer season."

Read the whole article, “Deadly bat disease likely to strike P.E.I.,” here.

And lupins on the cover

As Dr. Christian Lacroix takes over the editorship of the influential scientific journal Botany, he can’t help but smile at the colourful photo of lupins on the cover of the January 2011 issue.

“A little nod to the PEI connection, I think,” he says.

Dr. Lacroix is a professor of Biology and dean of Science at UPEI. He takes over as editor of the more than 80-year-old publication, named in 2009 as one of the 100 most influential journals in biology and medicine by the biomedical and life sciences division of the Special Libraries Association.

“It truly is an honour to be named to the position,” says Dr. Lacroix. “It’s also a lot of work. This is a monthly publication with an average submission rate of a paper per day. Fortunately, the editorial board of associate editors is very strong–I couldn’t ask for a better team.”

Botany is a generalist journal, publishing original research advances in all plant sciences.

“Which is part of what makes it such a valuable tool for plant biologists,” explains Dr. Lacroix. “This is a journal which is ubiquitous in university libraries around the world.”

The Canadian Journal of Botany was created in 1929 to feature monthly comprehensive research articles and notes in all areas of plant sciences, as well as commentary and review articles. The journal changed its name in 2007 to reflect its global reach in audience and content.

Read the press release from NRC Press announcing Dr. Lacroix’s appointment here.

Welcome, Dr. Ian Gardner

UPEI welcomes Dr. Ian Gardner, Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Aquatic Epidemiology. He begins work this month in his new post at UPEI’s Atlantic Veterinary College.

The CERC program was created by the government of Canada to build on the country’s growing global reputation for research and innovation. Each of the 19 chairs is funded up to 10 million dollars over seven years to establish ambitious research programs.

Dr. Gardner comes to UPEI from the University of California Davis. At UPEI, he will examine health interactions between farmed and wild fish populations and develop cost-effective testing strategies and surveillance programs for the prevention and control of diseases in aquatic food animals. His research will help aquaculture regulators in Canada make science-based decisions to maintain healthy food production in our marine environments, as well as provide the knowledge needed to help improve nutrition for human populations around the world.

The announcement last year of Dr. Gardner’s CERC, along with the rest of the chairs across the country, made a media splash across the country.

“The veterinary college at the University of Prince Edward Island made the final cut and managed to recruit a candidate, while research powerhouses such as McGill University did not. Professor Gardner, an Australian, said the UPEI offer came at the right time in his career. The small size of the campus and the attention devoted to his field there was an attraction.” -Canada’s $200-million lure pulls in 19 big name researchers, Globe and Mail.

“UPEI won one of the 19 new Canada Excellence Research Chairs, each funded at $10 million, and each a cottage industry unto itself. Says Lynch: ‘UPEI has become a mini-Waterloo,’ citing the research-driven university that gave the world the BlackBerry.” -How a few people with a dream can make a difference, Montreal Gazette.

“‘We were told we were trying to recruit Nobel laureate-stature people to Canada because good people attract good people. That’s axiomatic. That was the objective,’” said Derek Burney, who heads the selection board of the Canada Excellence Research Chair program.” -How Canada poached academic stars from around the globe, Globe and Mail.

The Office of Research Development welcomes Dr. Gardner, and the culmination of research excellence at UPEI that his appointment represents.