The University of Guelph will receive $1 million over the next five years from Industry Canada through renewal of two prestigious Canada Research Chairs (CRC), it was announced today.

Profs. Kathryn Preuss, Department of Chemistry, and Scott Weese, a pathobiologist at the Ontario Veterinary College, were first awarded Tier 2 chairs in 2009. Tier 2 chairholders are considered to be potential world leaders in their fields and receive $100,000 a year for five years.

“Professors Weese and Preuss are great examples of why Guelph is at the forefront of scientific research,” said John Livernois, interim vice-president (research).

“Scott is a pioneer in exploring and controlling the potential for transmission of diseases from animals to humans. And Kathryn is among emerging scientists exploring applications for nanotechnology and molecular magnetism. These important CRC renewals will allow them to continue to make important contributions through their research.”

Preuss holds the Canada Research Chair in the Chemistry of Molecular Materials. She is developing novel “spintronics” materials based on quantum mechanical spin of electrons in conducting and semiconducting substances.

Scientists expect that spintronics materials with their small size and their logic functions will lead to development of quantum computing devices with “human-like” artificial intelligence.

Along with other U of G faculty members, Preuss belongs to Guelph’s Molecules and Materials Synthesis Group, which makes and investigates properties of new materials.

As holder of the Canada Research Chair in Zoonotic Diseases, Weese studies how diseases spread from animals to humans. More than 70 per cent of new infectious diseases threatening human health are zoonotic.

He is a leading researcher on two zoonotic pathogens — Clostridium difficile and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus — and in veterinary infection control. By learning more about how pathogens spread among people, animals and food, he and his research team hope to help prevent and control new and re-emerging animal-related diseases that threaten public health.

Weese works with public health agencies to help assess and manage zoonotic disease risks. He started his Worms & Germs blog  and a disease-mapping site of the same name to help raise awareness of zoonoses among veterinarians, health-care providers and the public.