Three Laurier faculty members have been recognized among Canada’s top researchers. Bree Akesson and Daniel Waeger have been named new Canada Research Chairs, while Philip Marsh will have his Canada Research Chair position renewed for a second term.
The prestigious Canada Research Chairs Program is investing more than $350 million to attract and retain world-class researchers in Canada, the program’s largest-ever investment in a single calendar year. Each chair will receive between five and seven years of federal funding for their research.
Akesson, an associate professor in Laurier’s Faculty of Social Work and the Social Justice and Community Engagement Graduate Program, has been awarded the Canada Research Chair in Global Adversity and Well-Being.
She was previously recognized with a Laurier Early Career Researcher Award in 2018 and an Early Researcher Award from the Government of Ontario’s Ministry of Research and Innovation in 2019.
“My research broadly focuses on extreme adversity — which I specifically define as poverty, war and climate change — and how this adversity impacts individual, family and community well-being,” said Akesson.
The Canada Research Chair position includes funding for student training, which Akesson describes as “critical” to the success of her research. She has assembled a team of student researchers who are learning valuable research skills by conducting in-depth interviews, analyzing data and addressing research ethics concerns related to COVID-19.
Waeger, an assistant professor of Policy in Laurier’s Lazaridis School of Business and Economics, was awarded the Canada Research Chair in Corporate Governance. His research is focused on the often-conflicting interactions between a company’s board of directors and its shareholder activists, and how both parties try to influence the broader shareholder base to support their respective positions.
“In recent years, shareholders have earned new powers to influence issues such as executive compensation,” said Waeger. “Yet most shareholders generally vote in line with a company’s board of directors, and so much remains to be done for shareholders to use their powers effectively and become a truly independent voice in corporate governance. Good corporate governance is seen to have economic value, so lack of participation by shareholders should be concerning to the general public.”
Marsh, a professor in Laurier’s Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, was first named Canada Research Chair in Cold Regions Water Science in 2013. His research focuses on understanding and predicting climate-related changes to Canadian Arctic waters and how those changes will impact local communities.
“It is very important for all Canadians to realize that even if the global climate is stabilized at the agreed Paris Agreement targets, northern ecosystems will continue to change for centuries as vegetation changes and permafrost thaws,” said Marsh. “These changes will have poorly understood impacts on Arctic waters in the coming decades and centuries.”
Marsh’s research program is based at the Trail Valley Creek Arctic Research Station near Inuvik, N.W.T., Laurier’s northern-most research station.
Marsh co-founded Trail Valley Creek in 1991 while working for Environment Canada and has maintained a consistent data record ever since, an invaluable tool for measuring the impacts of climate change over the past three decades.
Akesson and Waeger are both Canada Research Chairs at the Tier II level, for scholars who are emerging as leaders in their fields, while Marsh is at the Tier I level. Laurier is currently home to 11 Canada Research Chairs.