New Vice-President Research

By Adriana Hunstad

Dr. Dennis R. Salahub is the University of Calgary’s new Vice-President of Research, replacing Dr. Keith Archer for a five-year term.

The theoretical and computational chemist has experience as a researcher, strategic planner, program advisor, committee member and industry consultant. He has published over 250 research papers, edited four books and presented over 300 invited lectures. For his work, Dr. Salahub received various research awards, including a prominent Killam Research Fellowship and was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1998.

He first discovered a passion for chemistry in high school, as it was a subject in which he excelled.

"I took chemistry not only because I liked science, but it was also an avenue for medicine," he said. "I learned to love chemistry in its own right."

Dr. Salahub first felt the thrill of doing research after working one summer on a research project in a lab. From then on, he was hooked on discovering new things.

After completing his undergraduate degree in Edmonton Dr. Salahub obtained his doctorate at the Université de Montreal, where he was a chemistry professor and researcher from 1976–1999.

His lab became recognized for its contributions in quantum chemistry with the development of software which deals with density of electrons used in chemistry and physics. The code was aptly named deMon: "de" stands for density, and "Mon" for Montreal.

"At the present time, it is being developed by a loose international collaborative, with people in several countries using it for calculations," said Salahub.

He left his teaching position to spend the past three years as the Director General of the Steacie Institute for Molecular Sciences at the National Research Council of Canada in Ottawa. The research involved chemistry, physics and biology.

At the institute, Dr. Salahub’s provided strategic direction while aiding others with their research.

Meanwhile, he continues to be adamant about the buzzwords "interdisciplinary" and "integrative."

"They are very real, and the best opportunities arise when disciplines overlap," said Salahub.

He was first approached about the vp-Research position near the end of 2001.

"I saw the nature of the Uni-versity of Calgary, the direction it’s leading, and it was enough to convince me that this university is on the move and on the rise," said Salahub.

Dr. Salahub’s goal is to help the U of C to rise from Canada’s top ten research universities to the top five.

As vp-Research, Dr. Salahub will help the University develop on four strategic areas: Under-standing Human Behaviour, Institutions and Cultures; Energy and Environment; Technologies and Information; and Health and Wellness.

Already, Dr. Salahub met with the university’s top researchers to decide on what aspect of the general plan needs to be worked on.

"We will be working with various governments, like provincial and Ottawa, to endure critical masses attain several of these major strategic plans," said Salahub.

This will be accomplished by bringing together various disciplines, such as hard and soft sciences.

"Energy, money and effort that goes in leads to economic benefits. Building innovative clusters is a way to get ideas from the research level into developmental phase, and starting new companies. Starting small companies to grow and become the drivers of the new economy in Canada.

"My goal is to have at least one innovative cluster known not only in Canada, but in the world."

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