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Breakthroughs and answers

Memorial University researchers awarded more than $9.1-million federal investment

By Jeff Green

Forty-five Memorial University researchers spanning 16 disciplines have received more than $9.1 million in federal funding.

The funding supports new and existing research projects ranging from high-resolution seabed mapping to Arctic carbon capture and from human agility and aging of the central nervous system to building Canada’s climate resiliency.

The investments, announced on June 14, come from a number of funding programs, including the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) Discovery Grants, Discovery Launch Supplements, Research Tools and Instruments and Ship Time programs; the Canada Research Chairs Program; and the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund.

“These inspiring and impressive results truly underscore the range of activities happening across our campuses.” — Dr. Tana Allen

Researchers in the faculties of Engineering and Applied Science, Humanities and Social Sciences, Medicine and Science; Grenfell Campus’s School of Science and the Environment; and the Marine Institute’s School of Fisheries and Centre for Fisheries Ecosystem Research share the funding.

“These inspiring and impressive results truly underscore the range of activities happening across our campuses,” said Dr. Tana Allen, vice-president (research). “Through these investments by the Government of Canada, our researchers are taking risks, creating new insight and making discoveries. My sincere congratulations to the recipients and the staff members who support and facilitate these important funding opportunities.”

Check back to the Gazette for future stories highlighting researchers and projects benefitting from this investment.

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council

Below is a listing of Memorial’s results from NSERC’s Discovery Grants, Discovery Launch Supplements, Research Tools and Instruments and Ship Time programs.

Discovery Grants

Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science

  • Dr. Sima Ahmad Alidokht, Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering, for Enhanced Surface Engineering of Multi-Principal Element Alloys Tribological Coatings through Utilization of Third-Bodies Analysis Insights for Harsh Environment Applications, $145,000
  • Dr. Ashutosh Dhar, Department of Civil Engineering, for Integrity of pipelines subjected to geotechnical loads, $215,000
  • Dr. Ahmed Elruby, Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering, for The Effect of Microstructural Defects on the Elastoplastic Behavior of Additively Manufactured Multi-metallic Parts, $140,000
  • Dr. Weimin Huang, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, for Ocean Remote Sensing Using High-frequency and Microwave Radars: Theoretical Models and Application Algorithms, $275,000
  • Dr .Lesley James, Department of Process Engineering, for Hybrid Data-Driven Molecular to Macro Upscaling for Clean Energy Storage, $268,500
  • Dr. Mohsin Jamil, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, for Innovative Power Electronics Technologies for Power Quality Improvements in Smart Grids, $195,000
  • Dr. Andrew Vardy, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, for Multi-Object Manipulation by Robot Swarms, $145,000
  • Dr. Sohrab Zendehboudi, Department of Process Engineering, for Assessment of Arctic Carbon Capture with Direct Air Capture (DAC) Technology, $230,000
  • Dr. Lihong Zhang, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, for Automated Synthesis of Analog and Mixed-Signal Integrated Circuits and Systems Powered by Advanced Machine Learning, $230,000
  • Dr. Yan Zhang, Department of Process Engineering, for Water and Wastewater Treatment by Porous Biopolymeric and Carbonaceous Composite Materials, $195,000

Total: $2,038,500

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Dr. Benjamin Misiuk, Department of Geography, for High-resolution seabed mapping in support of regional management and science priorities, $130,000

Total: $130,000

Faculty of Medicine

  • Dr. Craig Moore, Division of BioMedical Sciences, for MicroRNAs as regulators of cell phenotype and function in the central nervous system, $200,000
  • Dr. Michelle Ploughman, Division of BioMedical Sciences, for Human agility and aging of the central nervous system: Focus on sex differences, $195,000
  • Dr. Tevye Stachniak, Division of BioMedical Sciences, for Synapse specific optogenetic and chemogenetic tool development, $195,000

Total: $590,000

Faculty of Science

  • Dr. G. Todd Andrews, Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, for Brillouin Scattering Studies of Quantum van der Waals Solids and Related Materials, $170,000
  • Dr. Mark Berry, Department of Biochemistry, for Cellular processes involved in the functions of Trace Amine-Associated Receptors, $240,000
  • Dr. Dawn Bignell, Department of Biology, for Exploring the molecular mechanisms of plant pathogenicity in Streptomyces bacteria, $240,000
  • Dr. Jacqueline Blundell, Department of Psychology, for The long shadow of fear, $235,000
  • Dr. Graham Bodwell, Department of Chemistry, for Aromatization-based Methodology and Strategies for the Synthesis and Study of Nonplanar PAHs, $240,000
  • Dr. Robert Brown, Department of Biochemistry, for Examination of the effects on cellular functions by lipoprotein lipid hydrolysis products generated by lipoprotein lipase, $200,000
  • Dr. Candemir Cigsar, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, for Statistical Models and Methods for the Analysis of Complex Event History Data, $105,000
  • Dr. Zahra Farahnak, Department of Biochemistry, for Omega-3 fatty acids metabolism in aging, $145,000
  • Dr. Colin Farquharson, Department of Earth Sciences, for Development of new, integrated computer modelling and interpretation methods for geophysical and geological data, $255,000
  • Dr. Jay Henderson, Department of Computer Science, for Transitioning Users to Spatial Gesture Input, $120,000
  • Dr. Francesca Kerton, Department of Chemistry, for Using Green Chemistry to Build Up and Break Down Materials, $310,000
  • Dr. Christopher Kozak, Department of Chemistry, for Life in Plastic. Can it be Fantastic?, $240,000
  • Dr. Kaiyang Liu, Department of Computer Science, for Network Intelligence for Next-generation Cloud Computing, $125,000
  • Dr. Scott MacLachlan, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, for Design and Analysis of Algorithms for High-Performance Scientific Computing, $240,000
  • Dr. Marco Merkli, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, for Advancing the Rigorous Theory of Open Quantum Systems, $205,000
  • Dr. Oscar Meruvia-Pastor, Department of Computer Science, for Mobile Extended Reality Systems for 3D Telepresence and Telecollaboration, $145,000
  • Dr. Navid Nasr Esfahani, Department of Computer Science, for Information-Theoretically Secure Distributed Systems, $120,000
  • Dr. Vinicius Prado da Fonseca, Department of Computer Science, for Tactile sensing for the next generation of robotic and prosthetic manipulation, $125,000
  • Dr. Alexander Shestopaloff, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, for Robust identification of structure in complex data, $95,000
  • Dr. Talia Stockmann, Department of Chemistry, for Electrosynthesis of Nanocomposite Materials, $180,000
  • Dr. Stefan Wallin, Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, for Computer simulations of proteins in crowded and confined spaces, $140,000
  • Dr. Nan Zheng, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, for Statistical models and methods for complex data in fisheries and other ecological studies, $115,000

Total: $3,990,000

Grenfell Campus

  • Dr. Robert Bailey, School of Science and the Environment for Algebraic Graph Theory and Related Topics, $120,000
  • Dr. Christina Smeaton, School of Science and the Environment, for Rooting for net zero emissions: Building Canada’s climate resiliency through the development of carbon smart composting methods and organic fertilizers, $135,000

Total: $255,000

Marine Institute

  • Dr. Matthew Robertson, Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research, School of Fisheries, for State-of-the-art modeling approaches for incorporating ecosystem knowledge into Canadian fisheries stock assessments, $145,000

Total: $145,000

Discovery Launch Supplements

These grants provide resources to support early career researchers as they establish a Discovery Grant-funded research program.

Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science

  • Dr. Sima Ahmad Alidokht, Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering, for Enhanced Surface Engineering of Multi-Principal Element Alloys Tribological Coatings through Utilization of Third-Bodies Analysis Insights for Harsh Environment Applications, $12,500
  • Dr. Ahmed Elruby, Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering, for The Effect of Microstructural Defects on the Elastoplastic Behavior of Additively Manufactured Multi-metallic Parts, $12,500

Total: $25,000

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Dr. Benjamin Misiuk, Department of Geography, for High-resolution seabed mapping in support of regional management and science priorities, $12,500

Total: $12,500

Faculty of Medicine

  • Dr. Tevye Stachniak, Division of BioMedical Sciences, for Synapse specific optogenetic and chemogenetic tool development, $12,500

Total: $12,500

Faculty of Science

  • Dr. Zahra Farahnak, Department of Biochemistry, for Omega-3 fatty acids metabolism in aging, $12,500
  • Dr. Jay Henderson, Department of Computer Science, for Transitioning Users to Spatial Gesture Input, $12,500
  • Dr. Kaiyang Liu, Department of Computer Science, for Network Intelligence for Next-generation Cloud Computing, $12,500
  • Dr. Navid Nasr Esfahani, Department of Computer Science, for Information-Theoretically Secure Distributed Systems, $12,500
  • Dr. Vinicius Prado da Fonseca, Department of Computer Science, for Tactile sensing for the next generation of robotic and prosthetic manipulation, $12,500
  • Dr. Alexander Shestopaloff, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, for Robust identification of structure in complex data, $12,500
  • Dr. Nan Zheng, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, for Statistical models and methods for complex data in fisheries and other ecological studies, $12,500

Total: $87,500

Grenfell Campus

  • Dr. Christina Smeaton, School of Science and the Environment, for Rooting for net zero emissions: Building Canada’s climate resiliency through the development of carbon smart composting methods and organic fertilizers, $12,500

Total: $12,500

Marine Institute

  • Dr. Matthew Robertson, Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research, School of Fisheries, for State-of-the-art modeling approaches for incorporating ecosystem knowledge into Canadian fisheries stock assessments, $12,500

Total: $12,500

Research Tools and Instruments

Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science

  • Dr. Bing Chen, Department of Civil Engineering, for Multi-Functional Wave Tank Platform for Marine Oil Pollution and Spill Response Research and Training (Wave-POL), $145,661
  • Dr. Xili Duan, Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering, for A Rheometer System for Energy and Harsh Environment Research, $143,846

Total: $289,507

Faculty of Medicine

  • Dr. Jessica Esseltine, Division of BioMedical Sciences, for Monitoring the electrical activity of excitable cells, $150,000
  • Dr. Tevye Stachniak, Division of BioMedical Sciences, for Electrophysiology rig for synapse specific optogenetic tool development, $122,595

Total: $272,595

Ship Time program

Marine Institute

  • Dr. Maxime Geoffroy, Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research, School of Fisheries, for Comprehensive survey of the northern Baffin Bay and Pikialasorsuaq marine ecosystems, $240,000

Total: $240,000

Canada Research Chairs Program

Two Memorial researchers have been renewed as Canada Research Chairs:

  • Dr. Touati Benoukraf, Division of BioMedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, renewed as Memorial’s Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Bioinformatics for Personalized Medicine
  • Dr. Heather Reader, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, renewed as Memorial’s Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Chemistry of the Ocean and Atmosphere

Tier 2 Chairs, tenable for five years and renewable once, are valued at $100,000 annually for five years.

Total: $1,000,000

Canada Foundation for Innovation

John R. Evans Leaders Fund, affiliated with the Canada Research Chairs Program

  • Dr. Heather Reader, Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Chemistry of the Ocean and Atmosphere, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, for Laboratory for Marine Blue Carbon Analysis, $75,000

Total: $75,000

Learn more about research at Memorial and check out Research Strategy 2023-28 to learn how we’re moving ideas forward.


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