Wednesday, March 04, 2009

One of the worst kept secrets on campus can finally be revealed.

U of S History Department Awarded Second Canada Research Chair

An associate professor in the Department of History has been awarded $500,000 over the next five years from the Government of Canada to conduct research on the treatment and care for individuals with mental illness.

Erika Dyck, the new Canada Research Chair (CRC) in the History of Medicine, is among the 134 Chairs announced recently by the CRC program, which was created to attract and retain excellent researchers in Canadian universities.

Dyck, a native of Saskatoon, recently authored a book on LSD medical experimentation, titled, Psychedelic Psychiatry: LSD from Clinic to Campus. The historian is now focusing on the political and medical attitudes towards mental illness and their influence on state-funded healthcare, the policy of deinstitutionalization and eugenics. Dyck will explore the relatively unstudied history of eugenics in Western Canada, including Alberta’s Sexual Sterilization Act, and the Saskatchewan government’s turning away from this historic practice of sterilizing “mentally-defective” people deemed unfit for parenthood.

The historical study of deinstitutionalization—the release of mental patients into the care of the community—will involve research groups in Vancouver and Nova Scotia. Working alongside fellow principal co-investigator, Megan Davies of York University, Dyck hopes her overall research program will inform current debates about mental health services. This research program will provide some much-needed historical perspective for contemporary debates over health and mental health care.

"Erika is one of this University's excellent young scholars and a terrific complement to the Department of History's strength in medical and health history." said Peter Stoicheff, Vice-Dean of the Humanities & Fine Arts in the College of Arts & Science. Sources close to What's Up can also confirm that Erika is an outstanding teacher.

Canada Research Chairs are awarded to exceptional emerging researchers, acknowledged by their peers as having the potential to lead in their field. They are nominated by their university and reviewed by a panel of experts from around the world. There are now a total of 25 CRC’s employed at the U of S.

Erika Dyck is the second CRC in the Department of History, joining Jim Miller, our senior CRC scholar in Native-Newcomer Relations.

Congratulations, Erika!