Faculty and student researchers buoyed by NSERC funding

A diverse and comprehensive group of University of Lethbridge researchers was awarded $1.98 million in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) this week, part of $558 million in total funding to post-secondary researchers and students, the largest investment in research from NSERC this year.

Projects in chemistry & biochemistry, neuroscience, kinesiology & physical education, mathematics & computer science, environmental science, biology and psychology all received funding support.

In addition, eight graduate students received $336,000 in funding, further broadening the impact of the federal government’s investment in research activities at the U of L.

“Canada supports science and our talented researchers. We are delivering on our historic investment in research and in the next generation of scientists. These remarkable researchers and students we are celebrating are working to make the world a better place and to secure a brighter future for all Canadians,” says The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport.

Dr. Erasmus Okine, the University’s vice-president (research) says he is impressed with the breadth of research being funded.

“It speaks to the level of activity we have going on throughout the institution, and the variety of issues our researchers and students are tackling,” says Okine. “This level of funding is a recognition by NSERC that our people are making a real difference through their research work and will continue to do so.”

Projects in chemistry & biochemistry, neuroscience, kinesiology & physical education, mathematics & computer science, environmental science, biology and psychology all received funding support. Dr. Robert Sutherland’s study in the Department of Neuroscience, Hippocampus and memory: A systems level approach, earned $285,000 over five years, the largest award of the funded projects.

Sutherland describes the hippocampus as being situated at the hub of a set of distributed cortical networks that represent movement and perceptual information. Amnesia is the most prominent effect of damage to or dysfunction of the hippocampus and most forms of human memory disorder involve the hippocampus.

“The current proposal examines, in detail, how the interactions between the hippocampus and other cortical networks establish long-­term memories,” says Sutherland, director of the Canadian Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience. “We will discover exactly which types of information depend on the hippocampus and how the hippocampus modifies the functioning of the cortex through long-term interactions.”

Dr. Louise Barrett, Canada Research Chair in Cognition, Evolution and Behaviour and member of the U of L’s Department of Psychology, will receive $200,000 over five years (plus an accelerator supplement of $120,000 over three years) for her project, Behavioural Flexibility, Fertility and Social Network Influences in Human and Non-Human Primates.

In her work, Barrett aims to understand how evolutionary processes influence the behaviour of human and non-human primates.

“More specifically, I am interested in exploring those aspects that we share with other primate species, and those that make us different,” she says.

Other funded researchers include:

Dr. Matthew Tata, neuroscience; Dr. Steven Mosimann, chemistry & biochemistry; Dr. Marc Roussel, chemistry & biochemistry; Dr. Athanasios Zovoilis, chemistry & biochemistry; Dr. Marc Bomhof, kinesiology & physical education; Dr. John Anvik, mathematics & computer science; Dr. Alexey Popov, mathematics & computer science; Dr. David Euston, neuroscience; Dr. Sergio Pellis, neuroscience; Dr. Stephanus Henzi, psychology; Dr. Cameron Goater, biological sciences; Dr. Majid Mohajerani, neuroscience.

Graduate students who received funding include:

Elijah Dueck, chemistry & biochemistry; Lukas Grasse, neuroscience; Samantha Krause, psychology; Kailyn Nelson, environmental science; Candace Burke, neuroscience; Serena Jenkins, neuroscience; Justin Lee, neuroscience; Conner MacNeil, chemistry & biochemistry.