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Solid foundation

More than $8 million in federal investment energizes discovery-based research

By Jeff Green

Memorial is receiving a major research boost.

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) is investing more than $8 million into areas ranging from climate change and marine biodiversity to agricultural management and learning and forgetting in extreme environments.

Researchers in the faculties of Science; Medicine; Engineering and Applied Science; the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation; Grenfell Campus; and the Marine Institute are benefitting from the investment.

“This significant investment by the federal government ensures established and early-career researchers have the support they need to succeed,” said Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research). “The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada remains one of our university’s most important funding partners. I thank the agency and the Government of Canada for their continued investments. I also offer congratulations to each of our awardees as they move forward with their innovative research.”

The new funding comprises the 2019 competition results for NSERC’s Discovery Grants, Discovery Accelerator Supplements Program, Discovery Launch Supplements, Research Tools and Instruments Grants, as well as Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship-Doctoral Scholarships, Postgraduate Scholarships-Doctoral and Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship-Master’s Scholarships.

Making a difference

Dr. Aimée Surprenant, associate vice-president (academic) and dean, School of Graduate Studies, says the financial support gives emerging researchers a solid foundation for their cutting-edge studies.

“This funding will give some of the most promising master’s and PhD students the support they need to make an important difference in their lives and the lives of others,” she said. “Thanks to the continued support from the Government of Canada, our students will be well-equipped to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.”

‘Crucial’ support

Dr. Arnault Le Bris, research scientist with the Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research at the Marine Institute, is receiving more than $175,000 for his research project, Modelling Groundfish Spatial Dynamics in the Northwest Atlantic.

Dr. Arnault Le Bris in the field placing satellite tags on an Atlantic halibut.
Dr. Arnault Le Bris in the field placing satellite tags on an Atlantic halibut.
Photo: Submitted

His research interests include understanding and quantifying processes that drive the dynamics of marine fish and shellfish populations.

“As an early career scientist, receiving the NSERC Discovery Grant and the Accelerator Supplement is crucial to financially support my first graduate students,” said Dr. Le Bris, who is originally from the Brittany region in France and is a Memorial alumnus (PhD ’14).

“It also gives me more flexibility to enable them to attend specific conferences and participate in professional development activities such as summer schools or highly technical courses and workshops.”

His past and present work has focused on evaluating how climate variability and change affects the productivity of living marine resources and how to better consider fish migration in the assessment and management of fishery resources.

Training students

Dr. Ashlyn Swift-Gallant, assistant professor, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Science, is also receiving more than $175,000 to further her project, Sexual Differentiation of the Brain and Behaviour: Central and Peripheral Targets of Androgen.

Dr. Ashlyn Swift-Gallant
Dr. Ashlyn Swift-Gallant
Photo: Submitted

Her research examines the role hormones play in the development of the brain and behaviour with the overall goal of understanding how individual differences develop.

“I am thrilled to hear that my lab will be granted funds from NSERC to pursue research questions centred on how sex hormones contribute to individual differences in behaviour,” said Dr. Swift-Gallant, who joined Memorial in September 2018.

“Specifically, with these funds we will use transgenic technology to investigate where in the brain, and outside of the brain, testosterone works to shape the nervous system to mediate socio-sexual behaviours.”

She says NSERC funding is important as it will allow her to establish her research program.

“Importantly, these funds will also allow me to train graduate and undergraduate students in the techniques of behavioural neuroscience to conduct research evaluating how hormones in early-life shape our behaviour.”

A list of the various NSERC award recipients can be found below.

Discovery Grants

Faculty of Science

  • Helene Volkoff, Department of Biology, The endocrine regulation of feeding in fish
  • Travis Fridgen, Department of Chemistry, The Physical Chemistry-Structures, Energetics, and Reactions-of Self Assembled Metal Cationized Complexes in the Gas Phase
  • Francesca Kerton, Department of Chemistry, Earth abundant element catalysts – Fe, B, Al not feeble compounds for polymer production and conversion of carbon dioxide
  • Heather Reader, Department of Chemistry, Investigating the role and chemical nature of dissolved organic matter in marine environments
  • Christopher Rowley, Department of Chemistry, Computational Methods for Modeling Drug Kinetics
  • Talia Stockmann, Department of Chemistry, Electrochemical dynamics of nanoparticles suspended in an ionic liquid or organic ionic plastic crystal
  • Lourdes Peña Castillo, Department of Computer Science, Deciphering gene regulation in Bacteria
  • Luke Beranek, Department of Earth Sciences, Tectonics, stratigraphy, and natural resource potential of magma-poor rift margins
  • Aphrodite Indares, Department of Earth Sciences, Deciphering the metamorphic record of orogenic belts
  • Yuri Bahturin, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Graded algebras and applications
  • Scott MacLachlan, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Design and Analysis of Algorithms for High-Performance Scientific Computing
  • Alwell Oyet, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Analyzing unequally spaced familial-longitudinal and familial-spatial data
  • Hamid Usefi, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Rigidity in enveloping algebras
  • Xiaoqiang Zhao, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Spatial and temporal dynamics of evolution systems with applications
  • Amanda Bates, Department of Ocean Sciences, Interplay between summer and winter climate change in reshaping marine biodiversity
  • Iakov Afanassiev, Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, Turbulent oceans and atmospheres of the rotating planets: down to small scale
  • Michael Morrow, Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, Peptide-induced reorganization of lipid assemblies
  • Anand Yethiraj, Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, Driven, directed or crowded: dynamics of soft matter near and far from equilibrium
  • Leonard Zedel, Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, Development of Acoustical Oceanographic Techniques
  • Pierre-Paul Bitton, Department of Psychology, Active photolocation: A new frontier in active sensing
  • Darcy Hallett, Department of Psychology, Conceptual and Procedural Knowledge in Mathematical Cognition
  • Ashlyn Swift-Gallant, Department of Psychology, Sexual Differentiation of the Brain and Behaviour: Central and Peripheral Targets of Androgens
  • Susan Walling, Department of Psychology, Norepinephrine and Brain Resource Allocation

Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science

  • Noori M. Cata Saady, Department of Civil Engineering, Investigating Low Temperature Dry Anaerobic Digestion of Nitrogen Rich Organic Feedstock
  • Hodjat Shiri Ghaleh Jugh, Department of Civil Engineering, Riser-Soil-Fluid Interactions for Steel Catenary Risers
  • Salim Ahmed, Department of Process Engineering, Probabilistic predictive warning system for process operations
  • Octavia Dobre, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Non-Orthogonal Radio Access with Security Provisioning for Future Wireless Networks
  • Kelly Hawboldt, Department of Process Engineering, Valorization of biomass residues to treat produced/natural gas
  • Syed Imtiaz, Department of Process Engineering, A model predictive early warning system for disturbance type faults
  • Mohammad Iqbal, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Dynamic Modeling and Control of Hybrid Power Systems
  • Wei Qiu, Department of Ocean and Naval Architectural Engineering, Ship Slamming in Waves
  • Lihong Zhang, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Machine-Learning-Driven Synthesis Methodologies for Analog and RF Integrated Circuits in Advanced Nanometer Technologies
  • Ting Zou, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Mechanism Design and Control of Bio-inspired Inspection Robots

Marine Institute

  • Arnault Le Bris, Modelling groundfish spatial dynamics in the Northwest Atlantic

Grenfell Campus

  • Lakshman Galagedara, School of Science and Environment, Integrated EMI-GPR surveys can support precision agriculture by monitoring and evaluating the effects of land uses and agricultural management
  • Telex Magloire Ngatched Nkouatchah, School of Science and Environment, Design, Analysis, and Optimization of Energy-Efficient and Secure Next-Generation Wireless Systems and Beyond

School of Human Kinetics and Recreation

  • Heather Carnahan, Learning and Forgetting in Extreme Environments

Faculty of Medicine

  • Jessica Esseltine, Division of BioMedical Sciences, Connexins in Mouse and Human Stem Cell Pluripotency
  • Curtis French, Discipline of Genetics, Assessing defects in embryonic development due to loss of protein fucosylation
  • Benjamin Zendel, Community Health and Humanities, Individual differences across the lifespan in auditory perception

Discovery Accelerator Supplements Program

Faculty of Science

  • Anand Yethiraj, Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, Driven, directed or crowded: dynamics of soft matter near and far from equilibrium

Discovery Launch Supplement – 2019

Faculty of Medicine

  • Jessica Esseltine, Divison of BioMedical Sciences, Connexins in Mouse and Human Stem Cell Pluripotency
  • Curtis French, Discipline of Genetics, Assessing defects in embryonic development due to loss of protein fucosylation
  • Benjamin Zendel, Community Health and Humanities, Individual differences across the lifespan in auditory perception

Faculty of Science

  • Heather Reader, Department of Chemistry, Investigating the role and chemical nature of dissolved organic matter in marine environments
  • Talia Stockmann, Department of Chemistry, Electrochemical dynamics of nanoparticles suspended in an ionic liquid or organic ionic plastic crystal
  • Amanda Bates, Department of Ocean Sciences, Interplay between summer and winter climate change in reshaping marine biodiversity
  • Pierre-Paul Bitton, Department of Psychology, Active photolocation: A new frontier in active sensing
  • Ashlyn Swift-Gallant, Department of Psychology, Sexual Differentiation of the Brain and Behaviour: Central and Peripheral Targets of Androgens
  • Susan Walling, Department of Psychology, Norepinephrine and Brain Resource Allocation

Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science

  • Noori M. Cata Saady, Department of Civil Engineering, Investigating Low Temperature Dry Anaerobic Digestion of Nitrogen Rich Organic Feedstock
  • Hodjat Shiri Ghaleh Jugh, Department of Civil Engineering, Riser-Soil-Fluid Interactions for Steel Catenary Risers
  • Ting Zou, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Mechanism Design and Control of Bio-inspired Inspection Robots

Marine Institute

  • Arnault Le Bris, Modelling groundfish spatial dynamics in the Northwest Atlantic

Research Tools and Instruments Grants

Faculty of Science

  • Sherri Christian, Department of Biochemistry, Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis (NTA) System for Quantification and Analysis of Biologically Relevant Nanosized Particles
  • Francis Bambico, Department of Psychology, Neurophotometry system: a cost-efficient, versatile tool for behavioural circuits analyses

Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science

  • Bing Chen, Department of Civil Engineering, vEER: A Visualization Platform for Environmental Emergency Response Decision Support
  • Mohammad Al Janaideh, Department of Mechanical Engineering, 3-D Laser Doppler Vibrometer for Versatile Engineering and Scientific Measurements

NSERC Postgraduate Doctoral Scholarships

Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship – Doctoral Scholarship valued at $35,000 per year

  • Stanislav Opanasenko, Mathematics and Statistics
  • Katie Goodwin, Geography
  • Katrien Kingdon, Biology

Postgraduate Scholarship – Doctoral valued at $21,000 per year

  • Melissa Cook, Earth Sciences
  • Anna Crofts, Geography
  • Stephen Handrigan, Mechanical Engineering
  • Levi Newediuk, Biology

Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarshp – Master’s Scholarship valued at $17,500 per year

  • Sydney Collins, Cognitive and Behavourial Ecology Program
  • Ty Colvin, Biology
  • Marisa Dusseault, Physics
  • Robert Gill, Biochemistry
  • Kyle Hall, Physics and Physical Oceanography
  • Joanie Kennah, Cognitive and Behavourial Ecology Program
  • Brittany Pittman, Mathematics and Statistics
  • Lynsay Spafford, Environmental Science
  • Marie Wasef, Psychology

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