Connaught New Researcher Awards highlight the depth and diversity of Arts & Science research

September 17, 2020 by Chris Sasaki - A&S News

Thirteen researchers from the Faculty of Arts & Science are among 56 U of T faculty honoured with 2019 – 2020 Connaught New Researcher Awards.

The Connaught New Researcher Awards are presented annually to faculty in the early stages of their academic career. Their goal is to help establish the recipients’ research programs and enhance their ability to obtain external funding in the future. The awards are a program of the Connaught Fund which was founded in 1972.

“The New Researcher Awards recognize the potential of recipients and provide them with support at an important stage of their careers,” says Melanie Woodin, dean of the Faculty of Arts & Science.

“The range of projects is remarkable — from hip-hop and the architecture of Blackness, to dark matter in galaxies, to environmental justice for Indigenous peoples. They’re a wonderful reflection of the diversity of research being conducted within the Faculty.”

One of the award winners is Xu Chu, an assistant professor in the Department of Earth Sciences who joined U of T in 2018.

Chu is a petrologist who studies the Earth’s crust and the upper mantle just beneath it, as well as the forces and processes that shape that region of our planet. He conducts his research using numerical simulations, experimental petrology and field-based studies in locations such as southern Tibet, the Tianshan region of western China and the Grenville Province — a geological region in Ontario and Quebec.

“I see the Connaught New Researcher Award as encouragement and recognition of the research I do,” says Chu. “It gives a great boost to my career at U of T.

“It provides me with the opportunity to pursue a promising second research topic that I am excited about that is outside the scope of my NSERC Discovery Grant. The award enables my fieldwork in the Canadian Cordillera for comparison with our work in southern Tibet.”

Chu received support for a project examining the connection between carbon dioxide released through the intrusion of magmas where tectonic plates meet and long-term climate variation. Southern Tibet and the Canadian Cordillera — the system of mountains that includes the Rocky Mountains — were two of the major regions of volcanic activity during the Cretaceous period, which lasted from 145 to 65 million years ago. The project looks at long-term changes in the carbon associated with geologic activities.

“By incorporating the Cordillera, we will see the bigger picture of the release of carbon from deep rocks to the surface,” says Chu.

Here is a complete list of the Faculty of Arts & Science 2019 – 2020 Connaught New Researcher Award recipients and their projects:

  • Andrea Allen, Anthropology: Other Sheep Not of This Fold: LGTB Evangelicals in Brazil and the Brazilian Diaspora
  • Xu Chu, Earth Sciences: Metamorphic Carbon Source in Continental Arcs and Contribution to the Cretaceous Thermal Maximum
  • Lauren Cramer, Cinema Studies Institute: A Black Joint: Hip-Hop & the Architecture of Blackness
  • Michelle Daigle, Geography & Planning: Locating Land-Body Relationalities in Environmental Justice for Indigenous Peoples in Canada
  • Gregory Distelhorst, Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources: How Do Workers Define 'Good Jobs'? Preferences for Working Conditions in the Global Garment Industry
  • Gwen Eadie, Astronomy & Astrophysics: Understanding Dark Matter in Galaxies with Bayesian Inference and Spatial Statistics
  • Daniel Gregory, Earth Sciences: Testing the Pyrite Paleo-Ocean Chemistry Proxy Using Modern Analogues
  • Heather McFarlane, Cell & Systems Biology: Proof-Reading Plant Cell Wall Glycoproteins
  • Silvana Pesenti, Statistical Sciences: Dependence Uncertainty Qualification in Insurance Risk Management
  • Victor Rivas, Spanish & Portuguese: New Latin American Testimonios: Venezuelan Diasporic Narratives in Canada and Abroad
  • Tim Sayle, History: Imminence of War
  • Jason Spicer, Geography & Planning: From Workers to Owners? The Challenges and Benefits of Selling Retiring Owner's Small Businesses to Employees
  • Anton Tsoy, Economics: Optimal Time-Consistent Debt Policies