Dr. Luc Beaulieu, assistant professor in the department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, is the recipient of the 2008 Petro-Canada Young Innovator Award at Memorial University; a prize valued at $25,000.
His innovative research involves the development of a unique method of detecting and measuring airborne viruses. In particular, Dr. Beaulieu, with collaborator Dr. Ken Hirasawa from the Faculty of Medicine, proposes to use cantilever sensors to detect the influenza virus.
Cantilever sensors are micrometre sized beams supported at one end, which are about the same width as a human hair. To detect influenza, Dr. Beaulieu will attach specific antibodies to the surface of the cantilever which are receptive to a single strain of the virus. In theory, when the virus binds with the antibodies on the cantilever, a surface stress will be generated which, in turn, will cause the cantilever to bend. The amount of bending is then used to infer the concentration levels of the virus.
“To my knowledge there are no other groups attempting to use cantilever sensors for detecting the influenza virus,” said Dr. Beaulieu. “However, I am confident that one day cantilever sensors can be implemented into continuous air monitoring systems and have a significant impact on our health care system by reducing the current economical burden caused by the influenza virus.”
"The calibre of submissions for this year's Young Innovator Award demonstrates the outstanding educational and scientific capabilities within our province," said Alan Brown, regional manager, East Coast Canada with Petro-Canada. "We're delighted to be supporting the work of Dr. Beaulieu and to be supporting research, development and the applied sciences at Memorial University."
“Mr. Beaulieu’s work is indicative of the kind of high quality and innovative research being carried out at Memorial University. We are very proud of him, and congratulate him for working to improve the health and well-being of our people and people everywhere,” said Dr. Eddy Campbell, acting president of Memorial University. “We also want to thank Petro-Canada for their ongoing contribution to fostering excellence in research at Memorial.”
Petro-Canada is a strong supporter of Memorial University. The Petro-Canada Young Innovator Award Program was started in 1998 as part of a $500,000 contribution to the university’s Opportunity Fund campaign. The award recognizes and fosters the work of outstanding and innovative young researchers at Canadian universities, colleges and major research institutes.
An event honouring Dr. Beaulieu will be held at a later date.