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$8-million investment

Critical funding empowers researchers to take risks and make big discoveries

By Jeff Green

Memorial researchers have successfully secured more than $8 million in federal funding.

Research ranging from better understanding of how climate change affects fish ecology in Northern Labrador to improving oil spill response in harsh environments are among more than 40 awards from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

In total, NSERC is investing $8,084,955 at Memorial.

Scientists and scholars based in the faculties of Science; Medicine; Engineering and Applied Science; Business Administration; Humanities and Social Sciences; and the Marine Institute share the funding.

The investments come from several NSERC programs such as the Discovery Grants, Research Tools and Instruments Grants and the Discovery Accelerator Supplements Program.

Wide-range expertise

“Thanks to NSERC’s continued support, our leading-edge experts and early-career researchers are able to push the envelope and make vital scientific advancements in issues of global concern,” said Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research).

“This latest investment also speaks to Memorial’s growing wealth of multidisciplinary research expertise. There is strong support here for many of our early career researchers, as well as very strong support for our senior research leaders. I congratulate each of the recipients who secured their grants in an increasingly competitive environment and thank NSERC for its ongoing support.”

Diving deep

Dr. Katleen Robert
Dr. Katleen Robert
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Dr. Katleen Robert, Canada Research Chair in Ocean Mapping, School of Ocean Technology, Marine Institute, is receiving $152,500 to study the role of deep-water vertical habitats in controlling local and regional spatial biodiversity patterns.

She will use existing video datasets and collect new datasets from deep-water fjords in Newfoundland and Labrador and an upcoming offshore expedition in the Pacific.

“Having a Discovery Grant is crucial to my research as it opens the door to ship-time applications to work further offshore,” Dr. Robert told the Gazette.

“This funding will also allow me to hire a PhD student to work on a Schmidt Ocean Institute expedition planned for 2022, which aims at mapping in high resolution cold-water corals living on steep walls in the deep sea.”

‘Crucially important’

Dr. Xianta Jiang
Dr. Xianta Jiang
Photo: Submitted

Dr. Xianta Jiang, assistant professor, Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Science, is receiving a total of $157,500 for his study, Movement Intention Detection for Non-invasive and Intuitive Prosthetic Arm.

“My research program aims to improve the interface between amputees and prosthetic hands; that is, to make them as convenient as natural hands,” Dr. Jiang told the Gazette.

“This research has a great potential to improve the quality of life of upper limb amputees in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

One of Dr. Jiang's projects is a prosthetic simulator. The hand model is driven by the muscle deformation signals collected from a pressure sensor strap wore on the forearm. This simulator will be utilized for patient training and research experiment.
This simulator will be used for patient training and research experiment.
Photo: Submitted

He says NSERC’s funding is “crucially important” as an early-career researcher. Dr. Jiang says the external funding will get his research program off the ground.

“This award will allow me to support an active research team, including PhD, master’s and undergraduate students, acquire essential equipment and attract more external funding.”

Discovery Grants

Faculty of Science

  • Robert Bertolo, Department of Biochemistry, Creatine metabolism in young pigs, $235,000
  • Sukhinder Cheema, Department of Biochemistry, Understanding how maternal nutrition impacts offspring metabolism: The role of dietary fats, $165,000
  • Scott Harding, Department of Biochemistry, Dietary, energy balance, and behavioural factors affecting postprandial fructose metabolism and the impact on normal glucose and lipid metabolism, $140,000
  • Jaeok Park, Department of Biochemistry, Structural and functional studies of allosteric regulation of metabolic enzymes, $150,000
  • Suzanne Dufour, Department of Biology, A dynamic partnership: exploring the function and control of extracellular symbionts in thyasirid bivalves, $226,635
  • Kathryn Hargan, Department of Biology, Paleo-archives of past cultures, seabirds, and their changing connectivity to ecosystems, $140,000
  • Shawn Leroux, Department of Biology, Animals and the zoogeochemistry of elemental cycling, $200,000
  • Yolanda Wiersma, Department of Biology, Micro to mega-landscapes: harnessing a model system to understand landscape-scale ecological processing the boreal forest, $165,000
  • Lindsay Cahill, Department of Chemistry, Insights into fetal brain and placental metabolism using high-resolution magic angle spinning magnetic resonance spectroscopy, $120,000
  • Karl Jobst, Department of Chemistry, Sequencing the exposome: developing an integrated approach using nontargeted mass spectrometry and computational chemistry, $205,000
  • Xianta Jiang, Department of Computer Science, Movement intention detection for intuitive and non-intrusive prosthetic arm control, $145,000
  • Tao Cheng, Department of Earth Sciences, Micro and Nanoplastic Aggregation and Deposition in Subsurface Environments, $125,000
  • Penny Morrill, Department of Earth Sciences, Biogeochemistry of Serpentinizing Systems, $255,000
  • Armin Hatefi, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Statistical methodology for rank based sampling design and finite mixture models, $90,000
  • Yildiz Yilmaz, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Sampling Designs and Statistical Methods for the Analysis of Complex Life History and Genetic Data, $90,000
  • Annie Mercier, Department of Ocean Sciences, Reproduction and dispersal strategies in extreme environments: insights into persistence and shifts in marine biodiversity, $200,000
  • Uta Passow, Department of Ocean Sciences, The Biological Carbon Pump in the Anthropocene, $305,000
  • Matthew Rise, Department of Ocean Sciences, Molecular basis of fish antiviral responses, $345,000
  • Qiying Chen, Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, Photonic Micro-/Nano-Structures: Design, Properties, and Applications, $120,000
  • Stephanie Curnoe, Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, Theoretical studies of quantum magnets and strongly correlated metals, $120,000
  • Ian Neath, Department of Psychology, Assessing memory principles in individuals, models, and non-declarative memory, $200,000
  • Darlene Skinner, Department of Psychology, An examination of factors affecting the discrimination of heading direction, $140,000

Total: $3,881,635

Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science

  • Bing Chen, Department of Civil Engineering, Intelligent decision support for marine oil spill response in harsh environments, $440,000
  • Eric Gill, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Radio Wave Scattering from Rough Surfaces Theory and Application to Maritime Remote Sensing with HF and other Radar Technologies, $275,000
  • Faisal Khan, Department of Process Engineering, Safety and Risk Management in the New Generation of Digitalized Oil and Gas Operations, $450,000
  • Kevin Pope, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Multiphase Processes with Phase Change in Energy Systems, $135,000
  • Reza Shahidi, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Time-domain processing for ocean surface parameter extraction from HF-radar data and related applications, $140,000
  • Rocky Taylor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Compressive Ice Failure during Indentation with Temporally and Spatially Nonuniform Interface Conditions, $155,000
  • Greg Naterer, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Heat Transfer in Dispersed Multiphase Flows with Droplets and Particles, $275,000
  • Jianming Yang, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Random Vibration of an Internal Gear in Planetary Gear Trains Subjected to Sequential Moving Loads, $135,000

Total: $2,005,000

Faculty of Medicine

  • Michiru Hirasawa, Division of Biomedical Sciences, Neuronal and non-neuronal excitatory transmission in the hypothalamus, $210,000

Total: $210,000

Faculty of Business Administration

  • Jeffrey Parsons, A design theory for observational crowdsourcing, $175,000

Total: $175,000

Marine Institute

  • Jonathan Fisher, Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research, Functional traits inform ecosystem processes in marine systems, $165,000
  • Maxime Geoffroy, Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research, Minnigiak: Forage fish ecology and population dynamics in northern Labrador under a changing climate, $140,000
  • Katleen Robert, School of Ocean Technology, Quantifying the distinctiveness of deepwater vertical habitats, $140,000

Total: $445,000

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Evan Edinger, Department of Geography, Northern North Atlantic biogenic calcium carbonate production: geographic variation and vulnerability to climate change, $180,000

Total: $180,000

Discovery Grants total: $6,896,635

Discovery Accelerator Supplements Program

  • Suzanne Dufour, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, A dynamic partnership: exploring the function and control of extracellular symbionts in thyasirid bivalves, $120,000

Total: $120,000

Research Tools and Instruments Grants Program

Faculty of Science

  • Eric Vander Wal, Department of Biology, Fogo Island Long-Term Individual-Based Monitoring Program Remote Monitoring Tools, $94,000
  • Hamid Usefi, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Dedicated high-powered workstation for machine and deep learning in genomics and industry, $23,948
  • Iain McGaw, Department of Ocean Sciences, Replacement of key laboratory infrastructure for measuring aquatic animal metabolism, $46,297

Total: $164,245

Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science

  • Baiyu Zhang, Department of Civil Engineering, Gas Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry for Characterization of Oil and Dispersants in Canadian Marine Environments, $150,000
  • Mohammed Al Janaideh, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Nanometer-Resolution High-Speed Planar Positioning System, $150,000
  • Sohrab Zendehboudi, Department of Process Engineering, An integrated oil­water separation apparatus to separate free, dispersed and emulsified oil contaminations from oil­water mixture, $150,000
  • Ting Zou, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Equipment System for the Development of Bio-inspired Inspection Robots, $149,575

Total: $599,575

In addition to the NSERC competition results posted on June 17, Memorial researchers have also secured the following grants:

Discovery Grants – Northern Research Supplements Program

  • Kathryn Hargan, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Paleo-archives of past cultures, seabirds, and their changing connectivity to ecosystems, $50,000
  • Annie Mercier, Department of Ocean Sciences, Faculty of Science, Reproduction and dispersal strategies in extreme environments: insights into persistence and shifts in marine biodiversity, $67,000
  • Evan Edinger, Department of Geography, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Northern North Atlantic biogenic calcium carbonate production: geographic variation and vulnerability to climate change, $75,000

Total: $192,000

Discovery Launch Supplements

  • Jaeok Park, Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science, Structural and functional studies of allosteric regulation of metabolic enzymes, $12,500
  • Kathryn Hargan, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Paleo-archives of past cultures, seabirds, and their changing connectivity to ecosystems, $12,500
  • Lindsay Cahill, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Insights into fetal brain and placental metabolism using high-resolution magic angle spinning magnetic resonance spectroscopy, $12,500
  • Karl Jobst, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Sequencing the exposome: developing an integrated approach using nontargeted mass spectrometry and computational chemistry, $12,500
  • Xianta Jiang, Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Science, Movement intention detection for intuitive and non-intrusive prosthetic arm control, $12,500
  • Armin Hatefi, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Faculty of Science, Statistical methodology for rank based sampling design and finite mixture models, $12,500
  • Reza Shahidi, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Time-domain processing for ocean surface parameter extraction from HF-radar data and related applications, $12,500
  • Maxime Geoffroy, Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research, Marine Institute, Minnigiak: Forage fish ecology and population dynamics in northern Labrador under a changing climate, $12,500
  • Katleen Robert, School of Ocean Technology, Marine Institute, Quantifying the distinctiveness of deepwater vertical habitats, $12,500

Total: $112,500


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