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Director chosen to lead research


A leading researcher has been chosen to oversee efforts by the University of Alberta to explore challenges facing rural communities.

Lars Hallström has been named associate professor and inaugural director of the Alberta Centre for Sustainable Rural Communities, a strategic partnership between the U of A's Augustana Campus and the faculty of agricultural, life and environmental sciences. Hallström comes to the U of A from St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, where he served as an associate professor of political science and Canada Research Chair in public policy and governance. Most recently he took a leadership role in establishing the National Collaborating Centre for determinants of health, which looks at the social and economic factors that influence the health of Canadians. Over the years, his diverse research has focused on issues relating to small-scale forestry and woodlots, public health and the politics of environmental movements.

He holds a PhD from Purdue University and a BA from the University of Calgary.

"We are pleased to welcome Lars to the University of Alberta. His achievements and experience will allow him to address the critical issues confronting rural Alberta in a rapidly evolving, global economic landscape," said Carl Amrhein, the U of A's provost.

In his new position, Hallström will oversee the ACSRC's efforts to advance the U of A's varied rurally focused research and to forge practical connections to rural communities. The university's research touches on all aspects of rural life, including health and wellness and a variety of economic, environmental and social issues. Formed in 2008, the centre is based on Augustana Campus and will fill the gap in rural research and policy by fostering dialogue, promoting research and developing partnerships between the U of A and rural communities in Alberta and beyond.

"It is an honour to be the first director of the Alberta Centre for Sustainable Rural Communities," Hallström said. "By linking the Augustana campus with the Faculty of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Sciences, and then out to community-based organizations, it is my hope that we can increase not only the knowledge base relevant to the sustainability of rural Canada, but also exchange the growing knowledge about social, ecological and health systems in rural settings."

"Lars has demonstrated a tremendous ability to pull together networks of researchers, policymakers and community leaders on important rural issues. We're excited to have someone with his track record and energy shape the work of the centre as its inaugural director," said dean Roger Epp, dean.

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