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More than $1.3M in federal research support for Memorial

New funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has pumped $1,318,771 into research projects at Memorial University for the current fiscal year. 

The funding falls under the NSERC’s 2011 Discovery Grant, Discovery Accelerator Supplements and Research Tools and Instruments programs and was announced in late June.

Discovery Grants support ongoing programs of research in every scientific and engineering discipline.

At Memorial, 35 researchers from earth sciences, engineering and applied science, biochemistry, mathematics and statistics, geography, the Ocean Sciences Centre, medicine, biology, chemistry, computer science, physics and physical oceanography and business administration received awards.

Of the Memorial researchers who received Discovery Grants, three received a Discovery Accelerator Supplement. The Accelerator Supplements are awarded to top-ranked researchers who show strong potential for becoming international leaders in their respective fields.

Dr. Rodolphe Devillers, Department of Geography, will be designing methods for evaluating and communicating the quality of open source maps. Just as Wikipedia uses a collaborative approach to an encyclopedia, open source mapping takes a collaborative approach that has the potential to be more up-to-date and accurate than traditional maps, which may only be updated every 25 years. Dr. Devillers hopes to link collaborative mapping to more traditional cartography so that users can have the best of both worlds.

Dr. Kurt Gamperl, Ocean Sciences Centre, received support to study environmental influences on fish heart health. The study will look at everything, from the fish as a whole to the minute details of its genome. The study will help researchers understand how fish deal with environmental stressors and will shed light on how changing environments will affect fish populations and fisheries.

Dr. Michiru Hirasawa, Faculty of Medicine, received funding to investigate nerve transmission in the brain. Nerve transmission (synaptic transmission) is essential to every function of the nervous system, and this research will investigate how a certain type of transmission is regulated within the brain. This will help researchers understand more about how the nervous system, and disease that affect the nervous system, function.

The Accelerator Supplements Program was initiated in 2008, and these are the first three to be awarded to Memorial University faculty.

Dr. Christopher Loomis, vice-president (research) at Memorial, said this federal funding speaks well of the work of Memorial researchers.

"These NSERC Discovery grants have been earned in an increasingly difficult and competitive environment. They are evidence of the research excellence we aspire to grow at Memorial and I extend sincere congratulations to all our researchers who were successful in this competition."

Dr. Loomis also noted the significance of the three Accelerator Supplements.

"These awards, which are a first for Memorial University, will enable Drs. Devillers, Gamperl and Hirasawa to better capitalize on the groundbreaking nature of their research. We are proud of the additional support they have secured and the manner in which they have distinguished themselves among their peers."

Recipients of NSERC Discovery Grants
* denotes Accelerator Supplement recipient 
• Dr. Ali  Aksu, Earth Sciences, marine geological studies
• Dr. Shafiq  Alam, engineering and applied science, recovery of gold from dilute solutions by using some biomass wastes
• Dr. Aleksandrs Aleksejevs, Grenfell Campus, precision tests of the standard model and properties of hadrons in the effective field theories
• Dr. Valerie Booth, biochemistry, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) studies of antimicrobial peptides in intact cells
• Dr. Robert Brown, biochemistry, identification of genes and signalling pathways modulated by extracellular hydrolysis products of triglycerides and phospholipids
• Dr. Hermann Brunner, mathematics and statistics, nNumerical analysis of finite-time blow-up in nonlinear integro-differential equations
• Dr. Stephen Butt, engineering and applied science, remote characterization of geological and geotechnical materials and structures
• Dr. Sukhinder Cheema, biochemistry, dietary lipids and regulation of gene expression: role of maternal nutrition 
• Dr. Sherri Christian, biochemistry, molecular mechanisms regulating cell fate
• Dr. Rodolphe Devillers*, geography, designing methods for evaluating and communicating the quality of volunteered geographic information
• Dr. Kurt Gamperl*, Ocean Sciences Centre, environmental influences on fish cardiovascular function and control
• Dr. Robert Helleur, chemistry, applied mass spectrometry in occupational allergen monitoring and in biomass to bio-fuels/chemicals research
• Dr. Kensuke Hirasawa, medicine, IRES-mediated translation during cellular stress  
• Dr. Michiru Hirasawa*, medicine, plasticity of spontaneous synaptic transmission in the hypothalamus
• Dr. Ratnajothi Hoover, biochemistry, a multitechnique study of the structure of pulse starches at different levels of granule organization and their physicochemical properties
• Dr. Lesley James, engineering and applied science, quantification of the concentration dependent diffusivity and dispersivity of light hydrocarbons in heavy oil
• Dr. Shawn Kenny, eEngineering and applied science, mechanical integrity of buried energy pipelines
• Dr. Christopher Kozak, chemistry, transition metal complexes for homogeneous catalysis
• Dr. Yuri Muzychka, engineering and applied science, heat transfer and fluid flow in compact energy systems and microelectronics cooling devices
• Dr. Chun-Hua Ou, mathematics and statistics, study of applied dynamical systems in physical/biological sciences via asymptotic methods
• Dr. Lourdes Peña Castillo, computer science, discovering gene regulatory networks through combination of diverse large-scale biological evidence
• Dr. Stephen Piercey, earth sciences, metallogeny of ores in volcanic and sedimentary basins
• Dr. Martin Plumer, physics and physical oceanography, simulations of complex phenomena for applied magnetism
• Dr. Danny Summers, mathematics and statistics, studies in theoretical space physics
• Dr. Manish Verma, business administration, marine and surface transportation of hazardous materials
• Dr. Krishnamurthy Vidyasankar, computer science, atomicity and consistency issues in service composition and transactional memory
• Dr. Yan Zhang, engineering and applied science, development of cost-effective and environmentally friendly technologies for the production of pharmaceuticals and biofuels
• Dr. Yuming Zhao, chemistry, synthesis and applications of conjugated polymers with controllable microporosity and electroactivity

Recipients of NSERC Research Tools and Instruments Grants
• Dr. Abir Igamberdiev, biology, fluorescence spectrometer for advanced research in plant physiology, biochemistry and molecular biology
• Dr. Andrew Lang, biology, high-throughput sequencer for life science research
• Dr. George Mann, engineering and applied science, co-ordinated control and navigation of field robots
• Dr. Fereidoon Shahidi, biochemistry, spectrophotometer with diode array detector
• Dr. Bruno Stuyvers, medicine, equipment for the measurement of sarcomere dynamics
• Dr. Susan Ziegler, earth sciences, an isotope ratio mass spectrometer for tracking pathways of carbon flow within extreme and changing environments

Jul 22nd, 2011

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