U of L researchers among Venture's Top 50

Two University of Lethbridge researchers from vastly different disciplines have been acknowledged by Alberta Venture Magazine as being among the province's 50 most influential people for 2013.

Drs. David Naylor (Physics and Astronomy) and Robert Sutherland (Neuroscience, Canadian Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience) made the 2013 list for their achievements in the lab -- outer space, in Naylor's case, and for Sutherland, advocating for the academic community as the President of the Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations.

Dr. David Naylor

As an instructor with the University of Lethbridge's physics department since 1981, David Naylor has taken his lab to the upper echelons of experimental astrophysics. Practically speaking, that means he designs and uses instruments that can measure incredibly small amounts of radiation and light.

His primary project for the last four years has been the Spectral and Photometric Imaging Receiver (SPIRE), a telescope on the Herschel Space Observatory, which was launched in 2009.

The Herschel is winding down its mission as it runs out of liquid helium to cool its instruments, but its 25,000 hours of studying the universe have already led to 250 peer-reviewed articles, a better understanding of the galaxy and spin-off businesses in the Lethbridge area.

Naylor himself was instrumental in establishing Blue Sky Spectroscopy, a private company that has won several contracts from the European and Canadian space agencies and delivered complex instrumentation to leading research teams across the planet. And the SPIRE's legacy is still in its infancy. Astronomers will analyze the prolific telescope's legacy of data for years to come.

Dr. Robert Sutherland

Rob Sutherland's day job is as a professor and chair of the University of Lethbridge's department of neuroscience, but his public profile this year has come as a result of his role as president of the Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations.

CAFA represents academic associations at the province's four research-intensive institutions (University of Lethbridge, University of Calgary, University of Alberta and Athabasca University).

They were all hit hard in the provincial budget in March, with cuts to their operating budgets of more than seven per cent. Sutherland was suddenly thrust into the limelight as a defender of tertiary education from both the budget cuts and the mandate letters sent to the institutions from Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk.

You can be sure the battle will continue for years as the provincial government continues its austerity measures and the universities fight to get their funding back up to – and beyond – prior levels.

The complete list of Alberta Venture's 50 most influential people for 2013 is available here.