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The 24 foreign scholars recruited by Canadian universities. See bios here. Collage: Canada 150 Research Chairs.

Seoul-born Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, a professor at Brown University known for her work on fake news, is moving to Canada. So is Alan Aspuru-Guzik, a Harvard chemistry professor working on quantum computing and artificial intelligence.

What's going on: They are among 24 top academic minds around the world wooed to Canada by an aggressive recruitment effort offering ultra-attractive sinecures, seven-year funding arrangements — and, Chun and Aspuru-Guzik said in separate interviews with Axios, a different political environment from the U.S.

The background: The "Canada 150 Research Chairs Program" is spending $117 million on seven-year grants of either $350,000 a year or $1 million a year. It's part of a campaign by numerous countries to attract scholars unhappy with Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, and other political trends, sweetened with unusually generous research conditions.

  • Chun, who grew up in Canada and has lived in the U.S. since 1992, said she will launch a new "digital democracies group" at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, which will take on the problem of the online echo chamber.
  • She spoke of wanting to live in a country "with a strong commitment to public education, funding research and universal health care." "That makes a real difference to society," she said. She added, "Some of my friends work in climate research. Funding for that is disappearing and that’s disturbing."

Aspuru-Guzik tells a similar story. He will become a professor of computer science at the University of Toronto. He will have a concurrent position at the Vector Institute, an artificial intelligence research center where Geoffrey Hinton, the father of machine learning, is chief scientific adviser.

  • After 20 years in the U.S., Aspuru-Guzik worried watching the rise of the Christian Right and then the Tea Party. When Trump won election in 2016, that was the final straw.
  • Harvard came back with a "generous" counter-offer, it wasn't enough.
  • "They couldn't change the president. And they couldn't change the zeitgeist," Aspuru-Guzik said. "So I left."

The bottom line: "Canada is not perfect — “not a utopia,” Aspuru-Guzik said. “But I place my bets on Canada rather than the U.S. as a place for my kids to grow up.”

Editor's note: We corrected the spelling of Simon Fraser University.

Go deeper

Senate GOP pushes DOJ to roll back Trump oversight rule

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Senate Republicans want the Justice Department to roll back Trump-era restrictions on congressional oversight criticized at the time as an attempt to insulate the Trump administration from Democratic investigators, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: While some Republicans spoke out against the DOJ guidance at the time, it was mostly Democrats who attacked it as a constitutionally dubious effort to scuttle congressional oversight. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and the GOP is making similar arguments with Biden in the White House.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
56 mins ago - Economy & Business

The great venture capital resignation

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

A growing number of top VCs are calling it quits, long before typical retirement age.

Between the lines: Generational turnover isn't new for venture capital, but in the past it's been born of lean times. What we're seeing now is the byproduct of unprecedented success.

Top economic regulators stressed by vacancies

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The boom times are all around us (from corporate deal sprees to the breakneck rise of cryptocurrency) — and the agencies in charge are stretched thin trying to police it.

Why it matters: Overwhelmed staff and a slew of vacant posts could set back President Biden's big regulatory agenda.

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