Dr. Diana De Carvalho says she is “energized” that the federal government is getting back to the basics in a big way when it comes to supporting researchers across the country.
Significant support for recommendations made by the Fundamental Science Review Panel is a central pillar of Budget 2018, which was tabled on Feb. 27.
The budget includes substantial new funding for Canada’s tri-council granting agencies, increasing and stabilizing the budget of the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and funding initiatives to enhance diversity and strengthen the future generation of emerging researchers like Dr. De Carvalho, ensuring they have the critical support they need to fuel scientific breakthroughs.
“Federal funding is essential to me as a researcher, especially at this early point in my career,” said Dr. De Carvalho, assistant professor, Faculty of Medicine, who is cross-appointed to the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation and is the Canadian chiropractic research foundation professor in spine biomechanics.
“Not only has it provided me with the ability to start my research lab and program by supporting graduate students and purchasing research equipment, it also places me in a better position to be successful with future funding opportunities.”
Dr. De Carvalho has received approximately $250,000 in federal funding from both CFI and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) for her research, which focuses on the effects of prolonged sitting. Her research aims to develop prevention strategies to keep people healthy — especially at work.
A big boost for research funding was one of the key recommendations of the Fundamental Science Review Advisory Panel, which released its report last year and is commissioned by Kirsty Duncan, federal Science minister.
Innovation and knowledge creation
A greater focus on research will usher in a new era for innovation and knowledge creation, says Dr. Madeleine Mant, Memorial’s latest Banting post-doctoral fellow.
Dr. Mant is receiving $70,000 a year for two years from the federal government for her specialized multidisciplinary research on human skeletal remains and historical documents. Her research focuses on how historical health-related events affected the lifestyles and activities of individuals in the past, particularly the poor.
“The Banting post-doctoral fellowship has allowed me to focus exclusively on research since my arrival at Memorial University in September 2017,” Dr. Mant told the Gazette.
“This invaluable investment in my research program is allowing me to explore new avenues to bring the past to life through an exploration of the archaeology and history of health in Newfoundland and Labrador. There is no better place to investigate the history of the province than right on the ground here at Memorial.”
President Gary Kachanoski says increased funding from the federal government is crucial to strengthening Memorial’s international research capacity and reputation, which help attract the best talent to Newfoundland and Labrador.
“The research and innovation funding in this budget is extremely good news for this province and for Memorial University,” said Dr. Kachanoski.
“This federal government is incredibly supportive of the important role our university plays in developing new knowledge, fostering discovery research and driving innovation here at home and abroad. I join other universities across the country in thanking the federal government for fully embracing the critical role fundamental research plays in creating a stronger economy for future generations.”
For more information on how Budget 2018 affects universities, please see Universities Canada’s commentary.
Recent federal funding
In 2016-17 Memorial’s researchers received nearly $43 million in research funding from the federal government, including the granting councils.
Since being elected in October 2015, the current federal Liberal government has also championed many Memorial projects, announcing large-scale investments that expand Memorial’s research and innovation capacity. Those investments, from a wide variety of major federal funding opportunities (such as the New Building Canada Fund, the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the CFI Innovation Fund) include the following:
- Nearly $100 million for the new Core Science Facility;
- Nearly $100 million for the creation of the Ocean Frontier Institute, a historic research partnership among Memorial University, Dalhousie University and the University of Prince Edward Island;
- More than $14 million for a new Animal Resource Centre;
- More than $8 million to support public engagement and innovation, and new technologies and network upgrades at the Battery Facility;
- $3 million for the Marine Institute’s Holyrood Marine Base;
- More than $6.7 million for the creation of the Harsh Environment Research Facility, one of the most advanced icing wind tunnel and wave tank integrated laboratories in the world; and
- More than $4.8 million for Memorial’s development of autonomous marine observation systems.
In recent years, the federal government has also invested more than $4 million into Memorial through the Canada Research Chairs Program; more than $1.3 million for infrastructure and equipment through the CFI John R. Evans Leaders Fund; more than $1.5 million from Genome Canada; and $5 million through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) Strategic Network Grants.
“These federal investments have each involved matching funding from other external stakeholders,” said President Kachanoski.
“Memorial University looks forward to continuing to work with Newfoundland and Labrador partners to build strategies to maximize the benefits to the community through world-leading research investments in the years to come.”