Meet some of the 2021 recipients of one of Canada’s most prestigious postdoctoral awards, exemplifying world-class research capacity at an internationally competitive level of funding.
Andrée-Ann Baril, Psychiatry
The circadian clock and Alzheimer's disease pathology
Alzheimer’s disease, the most common dementia, remains incurable and a colossal burden to patients and caregivers’ lives, with billions spent annually in Canada. Unfortunately, we still do not completely understand how Alzheimer's disease pathology accumulates in the brain and progresses. Studying the circadian clock is a promising research avenue: The circadian clock is composed of neuronal networks, genes and proteins, which together regulates physiological functions in phase with the 24 h light-dark cycle.
Under the supervision of Dr. Judes Poirier, I will use different cohorts to investigate and potentially establish a causal model between the circadian clock (sleep-wake cycles, clock genes polymorphisms and expression) and Alzheimer's disease pathology and risk (disease progression, fluid biomarkers, high-risk genes, cognition). Understanding the role of the circadian clock in the occurrence of Alzheimer's disease might prove to be a key therapeutic target to prevent or even slow down the disease.
Daniel Del Gobbo, Law
Restorative Justice Revisionism: The Challenge of Transformative Justice for LGBTQ2 Peoples in Canada
My research explores the relationship between restorative justice and reconciliation with LGBTQ2 peoples in Canada. For decades, LGBTQ2 peoples were routinely fired from their jobs and convicted of crimes because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. Enormous strides have been made toward LGBTQ2 equality, but more work is needed to repair these historical injustices and address systemic discrimination against LGBTQ2 peoples.
The term “restorative justice” is commonly associated with a range of collaborative, out-of-court processes in which parties come together to reflect on how they can move forward to address the harm done. My research investigates the potential of using restorative justice to address systemic discrimination against LGBTQ2 peoples and promote reconciliation with them.
My case study is the Canadian "Gay Purge": the punishment of gay men, lesbians, and trans people and their firing from the military and federal public service between 1955 and 1996. The Gay Purge is the subject of a class action and settlement agreement in the Federal Court of Canada. The class action and settlement agreement resulted from a process that purported to embody the values of restorative justice. My research investigates the extent to which the legal mechanisms in this case – praiseworthy as they may be – fall short of the demands of restorative justice and the requirements for reconciliation. Relatively little work explores the relationship between restorative justice and reconciliation.
Even less work explores this relationship in the LGBTQ2 context. My research is focused on the experiences of LGBTQ2 peoples, but lessons from my work can be applied in other contexts of systemic discrimination in Canada, including anti-Black racism and anti-Indigenous racism. I am interested in exploring the possibilities and obstacles to implementing a more transformative approach to restorative justice in the Canadian legal system -- and hopefully overcoming these obstacles.
Anat Lior, Law
Insurability of Artificial Intelligence
The artificial intelligence (AI) industry is predicted to grow exponentially over the next decade. This growth will lead to AI-inflected harms. The discussion about AI liability has focused on what liability regimes should apply to AI-inflicted damages. An appropriate policy response, however, must include insurance as a regulatory mechanism. Insurance can help avoid legal issues of liability and blame-placing as it can be used as a governance and regulatory tool to channel the behavior of regulated entities. This research will cover this gap. By combining research in AI liability with insurance law, this project aims to change the way stakeholders approach AI regulation. Insurance has the power to better handle AI-inflected damages, both as a preventive function before harms occur and as a compensatory function after harms occur. This project will develop a framework that allows those who work on AI regulation to take advantage of the robust insurance system.
Nga Yin (Agnes) Tam, Political Science
Rescuing Democracy from Populism: A Case for Identity-Expressive Partisanship
This project aims to understand and improve the role of political parties in representative democracy. As the resurgence of illiberal populism suggests, norms of constitutionalism are insufficient to stabilize democracy. It is increasingly recognized that healthy democracy requires healthy political parties, which in turn require responsible partisanship. But what is responsible partisanship? The answer remains poorly understood. Much of normative democratic theory idealizes citizens as rational and autonomous individual agents, offering few resources to conceptualize an ethic for partisans, who are by nature conformist and partial group agents. To fill this gap, I will work with Prof. Jacob Levy at the Research Group of Constitutional Studies to devise an ethic of partisanship, using an empirically informed and normatively robust account of group reasoning, called “We”-reasoning. I will explore how norms of We-reasoning, such as trust, trustworthiness, solidarity and loyalty, help foster inclusive and reasonable party commitments and mobilize compliance.