Three faculty members nominated for Canada Research Council chairs

By: Gerry Rucchin
October 2, 2018

Daniel Ansari, Barbara Fenesi, and Emma Duerden.

Daniel Ansari, Barbara Fenesi, and Emma Duerden.

History has been made at the Faculty of Education. For the first time, the faculty has a Canada Research Council (CRC) nomination. In fact, the faculty has three nominations.

Professors Daniel Ansari, Barbara Fenesi and Emma Duerden have been nominated as a Tier 1 CRC and Tier 2 CRC chairs, respectively.

Associate Dean (Research) for the Faculty of Education, Perry Klein said the researchers were nominated because their work aligns with the university’s research strategic plan.  

“These nominations are indicative of the success the Faculty of Education has had in terms of attracting external research funding as 73 per cent of professors hold an external research grant,” said Klein.

CRCs attract top scholars to Western Education

The federal government created the Canada Research Council program in 2000. The goal is to advance Canadian research and to catapult Canadian researchers to the forefront internationally.

Daniel Ansari – Tier 1 CRC nominee

Professor Ansari recently completed two terms as a Tier 2 CRC in the Department of Psychology and Brain and Mind Institute at Western.

With the Department of Psychology, the Faculty of Education is nominating Ansari for a Tier 1 CRC. He will analyze children’s math development at an early age. The focal point of Ansari’s research will be on children’s transition from preschool to early elementary school, including the factors that will predict school readiness as well as the early components that influence individual differences during childhood development.

Since Ansari’s research has been moving him closer towards education, the co-nomination between the Department of Psychology and Western Education is a natural fit.  

“It’s an unprecedented level of support for more evidence-based education research, science of learning and developmental cognitive neuroscience research at Western,” said Ansari.

Barbara Fenesi – Tier 2 CRC nominee

Professor Fenesi started at the faculty on July 1. Examining how physical activity can support students’ academic performance, mental and physical health, Fenesi’s research will take her into elementary school classrooms where she will investigate how best to integrate physical activity into teachers’ lesson plans.

“Healthy habits, such as physical activity and taking care of yourself are habits that are learned in childhood and that’s what’s carried to adulthood,” said Fenesi.

She chose the faculty because it focuses on helping children thrive.

“The Faculty of Education is a champion of interdisciplinary research. They’re invested in converging fields of all inquiry and tackling the issue of student success,” she said.

Emma Duerden – Tier 2 CRC nominee

Professor Emma Duerden also started at the faculty on July 1. She arrived from Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto where she was a neuroscience researcher. She researched the executive function and frontal lobe development in children with autism, children born preterm and children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Duerden will study infants and children who are at high risk for neurodevelopment disorders. As part of her research, she will use brain imaging as well as behavioral methods to identify risk factors for poor academic performance.

She joined Western Education because she wanted to focus on intervention science.

“Many talented researchers here are doing interventions in schools, which offers fantastic opportunities to foster interdisciplinary research.”

A decision on the three CRC nominations is expected October 2019.