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Good things come in threes: A triad of exceptional research talent chooses the University of Ottawa

2010 FK Group
Karen Lillie, Adam Tanga, Ruby Heap and Michael Orsini

September 30, 2010

Originally posted: 2010

The University of Ottawa recently welcomed three outstanding visiting scholars from the United States thanks to the Canada-US Fulbright Program and the Killam Research Fellowship Program. During their stay at the University, Daniel Cahoy, Karen Lillie and Adam Tanga will contribute valuable skills and insights to their respective field through their research, guest lectures and student and faculty collaborations.

“We are very pleased and proud to welcome these three outstanding scholars at the University of Ottawa,” says Ruby Heap, an associate vice-president of research, former Fulbright Scholar at Atlanta’s Georgia Institute of Technology and former Fulbright Visiting Chair in Canadian Studies at Kennesaw State University. “Their research activities will undoubtedly foster future collaborations and partnerships.”

Both the Fulbright and Killam programs recognize excellence among graduate students, professors and professionals from Canada and the United States. The mandate of the Fulbright Program is to enhance mutual understanding between the peoples of Canada and the United States by supporting outstanding graduate students, faculty, professionals and independent researchers. In more than 150 countries worldwide, the program has long been regarded as the premiere academic exchange program and a signature honour for scholars.

Modeled much like the Fulbright award, the Canada Council for the Arts’ Killam research fellowships are likewise among the most prestigious fellowships in Canada. Recipients, chosen by a committee comprising eminent scientists and scholars, are given the unique opportunity to focus on their research on a full-time basis for two years.

“The presence of these star academics on our campus illustrates the cutting-edge research conducted by our faculty in the recipients’ respective field of study,” says Heap. “What is particularly exciting is that our visiting scholars this year include a seasoned researcher as well as a graduate and undergraduate student.”

Daniel Cahoy is the Fulbright Visiting Chair in International Humanitarian Law. As an associate professor of business law at the Smeal College of Business at Pennsylvania State University, he specializes in the teaching and study of intellectual property law, as well as related issues in technology law and general business law concepts. He has published numerous articles in academic law journals on topics such as intellectual property and alternative energy policy, reform of the U.S. patent system and the use of experimental economics to improve jury studies.

“I have always had an interest in the practical applications of my research and how other fields inform it,” says Cahoy. “As an intellectual property law academic, I have spent quite a bit of time researching the relationship between patents and socially important goods. In no other context is this relationship more important than access to essential medicines in the developing world.”

Cahoy explains that he has become keenly interested in stepping outside of the traditional scope of legal analysis on this topic and combining work in the field of human rights to create potentially more workable solutions to the problem.

“Because Canada has a widely recognized legal regime to facilitate the export of pharmaceuticals to developing countries, I have always desired to study this topic here, and contrast the environment to that in the United States,” he insists. “When the opportunity to work with uOttawa’s internationally known human rights and technology law faculty members through a Fulbright grant arose, I was extremely pleased.”

During the fall 2009 semester, Cahoy is associated with uOttawa’s Human Rights Research and Education Centre. He says he is excited about working with the Centre for numerous reasons, not the least of which is its privileged association with a law faculty that is rooted in both civil and common law traditions, as well as its proximity to government departments and agencies, teaching institutions, non-government and non-profit organizations in his field.

However, Cahoy says he is most looking forward to immersing himself and his family in the bilingual culture of Canada’s capital.

“This city is home to many institutions that embody Canadian heritage, and I have already had the opportunity to learn a lot in the short time I’ve been here.”

Karen Lillie, who hails from Princeton University, is a Fulbright Fellow in anthropology. By combining research interests in infectious diseases, medical anthropology and inequalities in matters of health, Lillie hopes to learn more about how on-the-ground understanding can inform policy decisions and ultimately improve health outcomes. “While the United States is trying to restructure its health care system, a grasp on how policy works is especially important now,” she says. “I also intend to start medical school in the fall of 2010 and hope that this experience at the University of Ottawa will make me a better doctor, one who has a greater understanding of various populations and diseases.”

While at the University of Ottawa, Lillie will endeavour to understand how the First Nations people of Canada—whom she feels are often marginalized and denied a voice in the majority population—perceive and manage their growing rate of infection with tuberculosis.

“I hope to speak with patients, physicians and policy makers regarding treatment of this Third World disease in a ‘first world’ nation,” she explains. “Hopefully this research will also help build connections between the U.S. and Canada. Since disease doesn’t recognize borders, it is important for the two nations to work together on public health issues.”

Lillie sees her year at uOttawa as an opportunity to further solidify her goal of building a lifelong relationship with Canada. “In addition to my research goals, I will strive to learn as much as I can about First Nations people, Ottawa and the Canadian healthcare system.”

Adam Tanga, a Killam Research Fellow studying political science with a minor in French at the University of Washington, is similarly hoping to take advantage of the capital’s bilingual culture to improve his French. “I will take back home a new outlook on Canada as a dynamic nation that has a proud cultural heritage, has contributed much to the world and merits much respect as a place for higher learning and as a field of study,” he says. “Academic exchange between the United States and Canada should be supported and increased especially through the Killam Fellowship Program. It’s an experience every student should consider.”

Tanga is particularly interested in Canadian-U.S. relations and parliamentary democracy and will no doubt benefit from the expertise found at the Institute for Canadian Studies to enhance his knowledge of how Canada and the U.S. relate to one another in a cultural, political and historical context.

Giving much credit to his teachers in Hawaii, Tanga admits his interest in politics began at an early age. “Learning about Hawaiian history introduced me to the power of geopolitics and globalization,” he explains. “What’s more, legal challenges involving my school and debate about native Hawaiians’ status vis-à-vis the federal government were very heated while I was in high school. It was my first real exposure to politics in action, and I have been hooked ever since.”