U of L researchers receive $2.6 million in NSERC funding

University of Lethbridge researchers in biology, chemistry and biochemistry, geography, mathematics and computer science, physics and psychology will be able to pursue diverse areas of inquiry thanks to $2.64 million in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).

Canada’s Minister of Science, Kirsty Duncan, announced today $515 million in support for fundamental research through the NSERC 2017 competition for the Discovery Grants program, scholarships and fellowships.

“The Government of Canada is committed to investing in fundamental research and engineering that will improve and enrich our country’s knowledge economy,” says Duncan. “We believe in encouraging scientists’ cutting-edge ideas that will lead Canada to greater social and economic growth. I am particularly proud of the support offered to postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows who, thanks to today’s investment, will be exposed to advanced training experiences that will prepare them for the jobs and opportunities of tomorrow.”

“At the core of every research project, every laboratory and every discovery, there are people,” says Dr. B. Mario Pinto, NSERC president. “NSERC empowers these people to build an innovative, prosperous and inclusive society. NSERC Discovery Grants, scholarships and fellowships provide thousands of top researchers, students and fellows with the foundation they need to concretize their research ambitions and explore the unknown.”

“We are very proud of our researchers and this level of funding from NSERC clearly demonstrates the valuable work being done at the University of Lethbridge,” says Dr. Erasmus Okine, vice-president (research). “The funding is also spread throughout a number of disciplines, reflecting the strength of research activities across campus.”

Thirteen faculty members will receive Discovery Grants worth $2.16 million over five years. Their research projects include topics like human cell division. Dr. Roy Golsteyn (Biology) is investigating prairie plant extracts that inhibit cell division to better understand how cell division occurs. Dr. Philip Bonnaventure (Geography) studies mountainous terrains with the goal of advancing knowledge of the relationship between climate, topography and geology in these regions. Dr. Jacqueline Rice (Mathematics and Computer Science) will conduct research into how people use artificial languages, like those used for writing software, with the goals of improving software quality and readability.

Dr. Chris Hopkinson (Geography) is the recipient of a Discovery Accelerator Supplement worth $120,000 over three years. He is using satellite data and a Dynamic Ecosystem Landcover Transitions Assessment (DELTA) program to examine how forests and wetlands respond to disturbances in the climate system.

Drs. Fangfang Li (Psychology) and Saurya Das (Physics and Astronomy) will each receive Discovery Development Grants for research projects dealing with speech production in children and Quantum Gravity theory, respectively.

In addition, four students, namely Ryan Kung, Taylor Sheahan, Douglas Turnbull (Chemistry and Biochemistry) and Matthew Robbins (Physics and Astronomy) will receive $63,000 each over a period of three years in scholarships and fellowships.

“We pride ourselves in creating opportunities for our students to excel in their research endeavours. Their ability to seize these opportunities while working under the tutelage of world-class supervisors is rewarded in these scholarships,” says Okine.