Nearly $1-million infrastructure investment big boost for cutting edge research

Aug 11th, 2021

By Jeff Green

From top, Dr. Mohammad Al Janaideh and Kelly Hawboldt.
Nearly $1-million infrastructure investment big boost for cutting edge research

Five diverse projects are benefitting from more than $970,000 in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

On Aug. 11, the CFI announced the latest results of its John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF), which provides foundational support to Canadian researchers.

Learn more about the announcement and projects.

The funding will allow Memorial to acquire highly specialized infrastructure to be used for studies ranging from developing technology to extract bioproducts from fishery and forestry biomass residues to a suite of instrumentation to examine environmental pollutants.

Researchers based in the faculties of Science, Engineering and Applied Science, Medicine and Grenfell Campus share the total investment of $973,832.

“The ongoing support from the Canada Foundation for Innovation ensures our researchers have the leading-edge tools and equipment they need to tackle pressing issues facing our communities, while training the next generation of innovators,” said Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research).

“This investment enhances Memorial’s research capacity and strengthens our global reputation for pioneering research. Memorial is very grateful to the CFI and I offer big congratulations to our latest recipients.”

Funding breakdown

Drs. Kelly Hawboldt (Project Leader, Department of Process Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science), Sukhinder Cheema (Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science) and Raymond Thomas (School of Science and the Environment, Grenfell Campus) are receiving $94,914 for the project, Supercritical extraction system to develop innovative bioproducts from fishery and forestry biomass residues.

Drs. Karl Jobst (Project Leader, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science), Edward Randell (Laboratory Medicine, Faculty of Medicine) and Atanu Sarkar (Division of Community Health and Humanities, Faculty of Medicine) are receiving $299,999 for the project, A multidimensional separations laboratory to sequence the exposome.

Dr. Michael Katz (Project Leader, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science) is receiving $162,000 for the initiative, Breaking Through to a Cleaner Tomorrow.

Drs. Kathryn Hargan (Project Leader) and Andrew Lang – both in the Department of Biology, Faculty of Science – are receiving $118,159 for their project, Application of molecular biomarkers and genomics to track environmental change.

Drs. Mohammad Al Janaideh (Project Leader, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science), Alison Malcolm (Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Science) and Lihong Zhang (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science) are receiving $298,760 for their project, Advanced Measurement and Characterization for Microstructures and Microsystems Research.

Reconstructing evolutionary history

Dr. Hargan says their project brings together a variety of fields of study including molecular biology, microbiology, limnology and chemistry to do paleoecological studies – which, broadly defined, is the study of the composition and distribution of past ecosystems.

“This will help us gain a complete understanding of the ecosystems we study and understand how species using those ecosystems have responded to environmental change,” Dr. Hargan told the Gazette during a recent interview.

“This funding is crucial to enable us to carry out this research. This ranges right from sample collection to processing to data generation, analysis and management,” she added.

Dr. Hargan noted they hope to learn about the dynamics of populations, species and communities in changing environments.

She said this “will provide a powerful new approach for reconstructing the evolutionary history of ecosystems and predicting how species will respond to future change.”

“We will also develop new biomarkers and tools that can be applied in many other paleoecological studies.”

The new infrastructure will make Memorial a national and international focal point for this field of science.

First in Canada

Dr. Al Janaideh and his collaborators will utilize new high-tech equipment to better characterize material vibration response for advancing microstructures, microsystems, and Micro-Electro-Mechanical-Systems research.

He says the infrastructure will be first of its kind in Canada to provide ultra-precise measurements.

“It provides real-time high precision 3D measurements and visualizations with picometre resolution,” Dr. Al Janaideh explained.

To put that into perspective, a picometre is one trillionth of a metre.

Their studies range from the design, characterization and control of micro-positioning robotic systems to developing innovative ways to design innovative vibration-based energy harvesters to scavenge electrical power from ambient energy resources.

The equipment will also be used to better understand how waves move within rocks for earthquake monitoring and modelling, as well as for exploration for oil and gas and monitoring reserves.

“We hope to learn more about the dynamics of the microstructures and microsystems in 3D considering the change in the physical properties under different operating conditions,” Dr.  Al Janaideh added.

The JELF program aims to help universities attract and retain top talent from around the globe by providing researchers with the highly specialized infrastructure they require to be leaders in their field.



Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000