New VP Research settles in at Brock

Gary Libben looks out the window of his new office, where he gets a front-row view of the Cairns Family Health and Bioscience Research Complex.

Gary Libben looks out the window of his new office, where he gets a front-row view of the Cairns Family Health and Bioscience Research Complex.

Gary Libben was reminded of what he likes best about Brock during a cab ride along the Niagara Parkway.

Libben and his son hiked along the scenic route when the new Vice-President Research first arrived in Niagara last month. At the end of their day-long trek, they took a cab back.

When Libben told the taxi driver why he’d moved to the area, the driver was effusive in his praise of Brock. All three of his daughters had gone there, the driver said. In each case, he knew that their Brock experience had contributed to their success.

That’s when Libben realized the depth of Brock’s impact on Niagara.

“It was really very clear that there was the sense that the University is part of the community,” he said. “I was delighted.”

A former Associate Vice-President Research at the University of Calgary, Libben started his new job on Aug. 1. In addition to academic administration, Libben is a psycholinguist who studies how words are represented and processed in the mind.

Among his achievements: he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, former president of the Canadian Linguistics Association and co-founder of the Mental Lexicon Journal.

He was director of Words in the Mind, Words in the Brain, an international collaborative research project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. He has also done visiting professorships in Austria and the Netherlands.

Before this month, he’d only ever visited Niagara for conferences. Earlier this summer, he drove from Calgary to Niagara for his new job. He would like to see more research teams, and for Brock to establish more international research links, he said.

“I am really enjoying getting to meet so many new colleagues and getting to better understand the excellent research that is already conducted at Brock,” he said. “I’m looking to build upon our success to help make this a research-intensive university where we create knowledge that has impact in our communities, across the country, and around the world.”

Libben has moved to Niagara with his wife, Oda, who is a yoga instructor. They have two children – Maya, a postdoctoral researcher in neuropsychology at Harvard, and Josh, a student of political science at McGill who recently completed a masters degree in public policy at Concordia University. When he’s not working, the Montreal native likes to walk, camp and snowshoe.

Libben likes the area and the people he’s met so far. But one of his favourite parts is that working at Brock allows him to be part of Niagara.

“One of the things that attracted me to the position was the opportunity to get more involved in the community,” he said. “From a personal perspective, I know that this is something that I will greatly enjoy.”

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