Two new Canada Research Chairs named in the Faculty of Science

Software reuse and evolution and ecology expertise recognized by federal government.

News Staff - 03 May 2018

The Faculty of Science is proud to announce two new Canada Research Chairs (CRC), Sarah Nadi, assistant professor of computing science, and Kim Mathot, assistant professor biological sciences.

Reusing software for a speedier and safer society

Sarah Nadi, new CRC in software reuse and assistant professor in the Department of Computing Science

Sarah Nadi, new CRC in software reuse and assistant professor in the Department of Computing Science, is helping software developers reuse existing code to create new software more efficiently. With software's pervasiveness in everyday products, software reuse is now even more essential.

Software libraries provide software developers with a toolbox of high-quality programs and building blocks. Due to their complexity and poor documentation, developers often incorrectly use libraries with serious consequences, such as costly bugs and security vulnerabilities. Nadi's research aims to make it easier and safer for developers to use such Libraries.

Since the early days of software engineering, software reuse has been advocated as a way to improve both software quality and developer productivity. Software reuse saves developers from reinventing the wheel by allowing them to use existing code when building a new software system. The nature of Nadi's work-ranging from open-source systems to cryptography and from code recommenders to security APIs-lends itself to the interdisciplinary solutions demanded by today's society.

With her breadth and depth of knowledge, Nadi has her eyes on the future, curating a knowledge base as support for task-based code recommender systems with explanation

support, providing critical context for software reuse decisions. Nadi's international reputation has led to the creation of an established network of research collaborations spanning the globe from North America to Germany, Brazil, and Sweden as well as support from industry leaders such as IBM.

Chickadees and change: little birds, big learning

Kim Mathot, new CRC in evolution and ecology and assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences

Animals are constantly faced with decisions such as where, when, and how long to forage, with whom to mate, where to breed, etcetera. Uncertainty in decision making can have profound consequences, sometimes a matter of life or death.

Information is necessary for animals to adaptively adjust their behavior when conditions change. Yet, there is growing evidence that individuals differ consistently in how they value information over uncertainty. Using both theoretical and empirical approaches, Kim Mathot's research program addresses how and why individuals differ in the extent to which they value and act on information, how information is shared among individuals within groups, and the

adaptive value of gathering information to reduce uncertainty. Mathot, new CRC in evolution and ecology and assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, has studied birds for over a decade.

Mathot's interdisciplinary research sits at the intersection of ecology, physiology, and psychology. Much of her field work concentrates on chickadee populations in Alberta and their adaptation to harsh winter conditions. Mathot's research will contribute to our fundamental understanding the processes that shape complex patterns of phenotypic variation, including phenotypic plasticity, which in turn will provide insights into the

ability of individuals and populations to respond to changing environmental conditions.

To situate her work within the international context, Mathot maintains close collaborations with researchers around the world, including Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, the UK, and the US. She is also actively engaged in outreach efforts and encouraging learning opportunities with school-aged children.