Go to page content

Cutting-edge innovation

Nearly $8 million invested to accelerate diverse research discoveries

By Jeff Green

Memorial researchers have secured nearly $8 million in competitive funding for research projects ranging from childhood amnesia to ocean biodiversity to renewable energy systems.

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) announced the results of its 2022 Discovery Research Programs competition on June 23.

In total, NSERC is investing $7,900,226 at Memorial.

Researchers based in the faculties of Science, Medicine, Engineering and Applied Science, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Business Administration, as well as the School of Science and the Environment share the funding.

‘Better decision-making’

Smiling, Dr. Julissa Roncal leans against a glass rail.
Dr. Julissa Roncal
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Dr. Julissa Roncal, associate professor, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, is awarded a Discovery Grant valued at $200,000 for the project, The Role of palaeogeographical and ecological factors on the evolution and assembly of plant communities.

Dr. Roncal’s research integrates fields such as biogeography, geology and ecology to understand the origin of plant diversity.

She is hoping to reconstruct past events and figure out how – and when – certain plants originated and migrated among tropical environments.

“I want to learn how much do past geological events — like mountain formation and landmass reconfiguration — influence the origin and movement of plants in the Caribbean and the Andes,” Dr. Roncal told the Gazette.

“A better understanding of how biodiversity was formed over the course of millions of years will allow better decision-making for its preservation.”

The Caribbean is among the top five world biodiversity hotspots and has not been studied as much as other tropical regions. Dr. Roncal says federal investments allow her to expand her research activities.

“NSERC’s funding is crucial to attract high-quality students whose skills and insight will improve the quality of research we do at Memorial,” she noted. “NSERC provides a baseline funding that allows me to collaborate with researchers nationally and abroad, and secure additional external funding for field and lab expenses on our study plants.”

‘Extremely valuable’

Wearing glasses, Dr. Ginger Ke smiles.
Dr. Ginger Ke
Photo: David Howells

Dr. Ginger Ke, professor, Faculty of Business Administration, is receiving a Discovery Grant valued at $130,000, for the project, Transportation of Hazardous Materials: Uncertainty, Behaviour and Time-Dependency.

“Generally speaking, this funding is extremely valuable in terms of highly qualified personnel supervision, generating and exploring innovative research ideas, supporting academic publications and communications, and enhancing public engagement and knowledge transformation,” she told the Gazette during an interview.

Her research proposal focuses on dealing with several practical issues existing in the transportation of hazardous materials (hazmat) – everything from uncertainties, disruptions, time-dependency such as changing traffic flows, and driver behaviours.

“Due to the harmful nature of hazardous materials, effectively managing these issues can mitigate the corresponding risk — including storage, transportation, processing — to the greatest degree, and therefore are very necessary from the perspectives of the hazmat carriers and the government,” Dr. Ke noted.

A professor of management science and operations management, Dr. Ke’s research interests include supply chain management, transportation and logistics and decision analysis.

Through the support of NSERC, she is hoping to provide real-life solutions to the transportation industry and insight on regulatory policies. As well, she and her team hope to integrate “behavioural and cognitive factors into the hazmat transportation planning, such that the impact of human behaviour can be well-managed.”

‘Foundational support’

“NSERC’s Discovery Research Program provides critical foundational support to emerging and established researchers, allowing them to take risks and make discoveries, build collaborations with international partners and find answers to challenges facing our world,” said Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research).

“Memorial’s interdisciplinary researchers are leaders in their respective fields. This latest funding empowers our teams to continue innovative work that has a global reach and local impact. Congratulations to our latest recipients. I look forward to seeing the outcomes of their work.”

The funding comes from programs such as Discovery Grants; Discovery Launch Supplements; Discovery Horizons; Northern Research Supplements; and Research Tools and Instruments.

Below is a listing of Memorial awardees.

Discovery Grants

Faculty of Science

  • Dr. Carole Peterson, Department of Psychology, Childhood amnesia and early memories in children and adults, $235,000
  • Dr. Iain McGaw, Department of Ocean Sciences, Using more natural acclimation regimes to study the physiological responses of decapod crustaceans to environmental perturbations, $195,000
  • Dr. Anthony Gamperl, Department of Ocean Sciences, Advancing Our Understanding of How Cardiovascular Control, Function and Plasticity Influence Fish Performance and Ecophysiology, $390,000
  • Dr. Shyamchand Mayengbam, Department of Biochemistry, Investigating novel roles of B-vitamins in gut-host interactions, $130,000
  • Dr. Yuming Zhao, Department of Chemistry, Development of New Organic Electronic and Optoelectronic Materials, $145,000
  • Dr. Michael Katz, Department of Chemistry, Exploring secondary interactions in Metal-Organic Frameworks, $240,000
  • Dr. Christina Bottaro, Department of Chemistry, Advancing Design and Application of Porous Polymeric Sorptive Phases for Direct Introduction Mass Spectrometry, $145,000
  • Dr. Erika Merschrod, Department of Chemistry, Composite nanomaterials: small-scale control and mapping, large impact on science and society, $145,000
  • Dr. Terrence Tricco, Department of Computer Science, Computational Fluid Dynamics in the Exascale Era of Computation, $125,000
  • Dr. Amilcar Soares, Department of Computer Science, Using data augmentation, active learning, and visual analytics for learning with limited examples on mobility data sets, $125,000
  • Dr. Qiang Ye, Department of Computer Science, Intelligent Networking and Computing for Next-Generation Wireless Applications, $130,000
  • Dr. Paul Snelgrove, Department of Ocean Sciences, Sustaining Biodiversity and Functioning in a Changing Ocean, $200,000
  • Dr. Julissa Roncal, Department of Biology, Role of palaeogeographical and ecological factors on the evolution and assembly of plant communities, $200,000
  • Dr. David Wilson, Department of Psychology, The ecology and evolution of amplitude in animal acoustic communication systems, $200,000
  • Dr. Craig Purchase, Department of Biology, Natural and sexual selection linkages across the biphasic life cycle: experimental insight from fish, $140,000
  • Dr. Eric Vander Wal, Department of Biology, The puzzle of being social in space, $325,000
  • Dr. Pavan Kumar Kakumani, Department of Biochemistry, PIWI-interacting RNA-guided somatic gene regulation in cell homeostasis and differentiation, $155,000
  • Dr. Andrew Lang, Department of Biology, Bacterial gene transfer agents: mechanisms and applications, $200,000
  • Dr. Sherri Christian, Department of Biochemistry, Role and regulation of extracellular vesicles generated in response to stimulation of CD24 on B lymphocytes, $240,000
  • Dr. Eric Thiessen, Department of Earth Sciences, Dynamics and tectono-metamorphic framework of ultra-high temperature orogenic systems, $130,000
  • Dr. Yiqiang Zhou, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Topics in Noncommutative Ring Theory, $90,000
  • Dr. David Pike, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Combinatorial Designs, Graphs, and Networks, $135,000
  • Dr. Chunhua Ou, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Wave propagation study of abstract dynamical systems with applications, $105,000
  • Dr. Thomas Baird, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Geometry and Topology of Moduli Spaces, $90,000
  • Dr. Jahrul Alam, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Development of a hierarchical scale-adaptive large-eddy simulation method for the study of turbulence, $105,000
  • Dr. James Leblanc, Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, Automated analytic solutions to many-electron problems, $205,000

Total: $4,525,000

Faculty of Medicine

  • Dr. Robert Gendron, Division of BioMedical Sciences, Biology of eyes of North Atlantic teleosts, $140,000
  • Dr. Anil Zechariah, Division of BioMedical Sciences, Exploring the Role of TRPV4 in Regulating Choroid Plexus Functions and CNS Homeostasis in the Healthy Brain, $140,000
  • Dr. Jacqueline Vanderluit, Division of BioMedical Sciences, The role of Bcl-2 proteins in cell fate determination during neurogenesis, $160,000

Total: $440,000 

Grenfell Campus

  • Dr. Camille Ouellet Dallaire, School of Science and the Environment, Interdisciplinary and interscalar modelling of riverine ecosystem services to support cumulative impact assessment in Canadian watersheds, $155,000
  • Dr. Shegufta Shetranjiwalla, School of Science and the Environment, Modification and Life Cycle Analyses of Upcycled Architectures from Boreal, Marine and Commodity Polymer Waste: Circularity and Structure-Morphology-Properties, $130,000

Total: $285,000

Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science

  • Dr. Bipul Hawlader, Department of Civil Engineering, Large deformation behavior of soil in landslides and soil–structure interaction, $180,000
  • Dr. Doug Smith, Department of Ocean and Naval Architectural Engineering, Using functional modelling to assess system performance and resilience in socio-technical systems, $120,000
  • Dr. Stephen Butt, Department of Process Engineering, Investigation of drilling penetration mechanisms for drilling optimization and real-time estimation of formation properties, $215,000
  • Dr. Ashraf Khan, Depr, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Innovative High-Efficiency and High-Reliability Power Electronics Technologies for Renewable Energy Systems, $130,000
  • Dr. Yuri Muzychka, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Transport in Single and Multiphase Flows with and without Phase Change, $160,000
  • Dr. Samer Nakhla, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Analysis and Characterization of Advanced Composites for Competitive Failure Models, $135,000

Total: $940,000

Faculty of Business Administration

  • Dr. Ginger Ke, Transportation of Hazardous Materials: Uncertainty, Behavior and Time-Dependency, $130,000

Total: $130,000

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Dr. Gerald Singh, Department of Geography, Developing Dynamic Ecological Impact Assessment Models to Protect Canada’s Oceans in the Emerging Blue Economy, $190,000

Total: $190,000

Discovery Launch Supplements

Faculty of Science

  • Dr. Shyamchand Mayengbam, Department of Biochemistry, Investigating novel roles of B-vitamins in gut-host interactions, $12,500
  • Dr. Terrence Tricco, Department of Computer Science, Computational Fluid Dynamics in the Exascale Era of Computation, $12,500
  • Dr. Amilcar Soares, Department of Computer Science, Using data augmentation, active learning, and visual analytics for learning with limited examples on mobility data sets, $12,500
  • Dr. Qiang Ye, Department of Computer Science, Intelligent Networking and Computing for Next-Generation Wireless Applications, $12,500
  • Dr. Pavan Kumar Kakumani, Department of Biochemistry, PIWI-interacting RNA-guided somatic gene regulation in cell homeostasis and differentiation, $12,500
  • Dr. Eric Thiessen, Department of Earth Sciences, Dynamics and tectono-metamorphic framework of ultra-high temperature orogenic systems, $12,500

Total: $75,000

 Grenfell Campus

  • Dr. Camille Ouellet Dallaire, School of Science and Environment, Interdisciplinary and interscalar modelling of riverine ecosystem services to support cumulative impact assessment in Canadian watersheds, $12,500
  • Dr. Shegufta Shetranjiwalla, School of Science and the Environment, Modification and Life Cycle Analyses of Upcycled Architectures from Boreal, Marine and Commodity Polymer Waste: Circularity and Structure-Morphology-Properties, $12,500

Total: $25,000

Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science

  • Dr. Doug Smith, Department of Ocean and Naval Architectural Engineering, Using functional modelling to assess system performance and resilience in socio-technical systems, $12,500
  • Dr. Ashraf Khan, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Innovative High-Efficiency and High-Reliability Power Electronics Technologies for Renewable Energy Systems, $12,500

Total: $25,000

Department of Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Dr. Gerald Singh, Department of Geography, Developing Dynamic Ecological Impact Assessment Models to Protect Canada’s Oceans in the Emerging Blue Economy, $12,500

Total: $12,500

 Faculty of Medicine

  • Dr. Anil Zechariah, Division of Biomedical Sciences, Exploring the Role of TRPV4 in Regulating Choroid Plexus Functions and CNS Homeostasis in the Healthy Brain, $12,500

Total: $12,500

Discovery Horizons

  • Dr. Max Liboiron, Department of Geography, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indigenous and Decolonial quantitative methodologies, $497,235

Total: $497,235

Northern Research Supplement

  • Dr. Eric Thiessen, Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Science, Dynamics and tectono-metamorphic framework of ultra-high temperature orogenic systems, $60,000

Total: $60,000

Research Tools and Instruments

Faculty of Science

  • Dr. Ashlyn Swift-Gallant, Department of Psychology, Stereology with Artificial Intelligence for Examining Cells and Circuits in Neuroscience Research, $119,647
  • Dr. Lindsay Cahill, Department of Chemistry, Science High resolution magic angle spinning NMR probe for biological tissue samples, $112,774
  • Dr. Karl Jobst, Department of Chemistry, A comprehensive platform to enable high-throughput sample preparation and multidimensional separation for exposomics research, $113,884
  • Dr. Xianta Jiang, Department of Computer Science, Equipment System for Developing Natural Control Interface of Next Generation Affordable Prosthetic Hands, $88,983
  • Dr. Susan Ziegler, Department of Earth Sciences, Total carbon and nitrogen analyzer for biogeochemical research spanning the terrestrial-aquatic-extraterrestrial realms, $67,184
  • Dr. Anand Yethiraj, Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) setup for short-time diffusion and microrheology studies in soft and biological materials, $30,619

Total: $533,091

Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science

  • Dr. Weimin Huang, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, A 12-element Phased-array High Frequency Surface Wave Radar for Ocean Remote Sensing, $149,900

Total: $149,900


To receive news from Memorial in your inbox, subscribe to Gazette Now.


Latest News

Indigenous voices

Preserving Indigenous languages for future generations

U.K. connection

New general manager appointed for Harlow Campus

Relationships First

Funding will support restorative justice program

Hands-on STEM

Memorial graduate students create programming for entire northern school

Op-ed: Kelly Anne Butler

Indigenization of the academy — a collective responsibility

Waiting for this day

Nursing graduate ready to cross the convocation stage