Funding for exploration and discovery: Memorial researchers receive more than $6.7 million from NSERC

Jun 24th, 2016

By Jeff Green

Dr. Sarah Power has received $150,000 in NSERC funding.
Funding for exploration and discovery: Memorial researchers receive more than $6.7 million from NSERC

Nearly $7-million in new federal funding will accelerate more than 50 individual research projects on three of Memorial’s campuses in areas ranging from resource management to ocean sciences to enhanced oil recovery.

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) announced a total of $6.79 million over five years for 53 projects at Memorial led by early-stage, mid-career and established researchers, as well as doctoral students.

The funding is awarded through NSERC’s Discovery Grants, scholarships and fellowships competitions.

“Through our Strategic Research Intensity Plan, Memorial is committed to strengthening our university’s diverse research activities, fostering research excellence and increasing scholarly output,” said Dr. Richard Marceau, vice-president (research). “The ongoing collaboration and support of the federal government, including its Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, enhances Memorial’s research expertise in a range of disciplines. Our researchers and graduate students have earned these grants through an increasingly competitive process. I offer my sincerest congratulations to each of our successful researchers.”

NSERC’s investment was announced Thursday, June 23.

Researchers from Grenfell Campus, Medicine, Biology, Biochemistry, Human Kinetics and Recreation, Chemistry, Ocean Sciences, Physics and Physical Oceanography, Psychology, the Marine Institute, Mathematics and Statistics, Earth Sciences, Computer Science, Geography and Engineering and Applied Science are among those who received awards.

Included in Memorial’s investment is nearly $600,000 for research projects led by doctoral students. Dr. Aimée Surprenant, dean, School of Graduate Studies, says NSERC’s funding will help advance important research studies led by talented emerging researchers in the faculties of science and medicine.

“We know that Memorial University is home to some of the best and the brightest graduate students in the country,” said Dr. Surprenant. “We are delighted by the success of our students in winning such prestigious awards and are pleased that NSERC has chosen to support the research of these emerging scholars.”

Dr. Sarah Power, assistant professor, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and joint-appointed with the Faculty of Medicine, is receiving a total of $150,000 over five years.

Dr. Power’s research interests are in developing brain-computer interface technologies for monitoring mental workload in safety-critical occupations such as pilots, air-traffic controllers and other industrial operators.

“The ultimate goal will be to get a continuous, objective estimation of the cognitive strain on the individual based just on their brain signals, so that appropriate action can be taken to reduce the potential for error during periods of extreme demand or overload,” said Dr. Power, a Memorial alumna, in an interview with the Gazette.

“My NSERC proposal is quite unique as I will work toward developing a technology that not only can detect the level of mental workload experienced by the user, but also the level of stress they are feeling and the specific type of mental resources that are being taxed. This work has not been attempted before and will be quite challenging, so I’m quite excited to get started and make a meaningful contribution to the field.”

Dr. Alison Malcolm, associate professor of geophysics and NSERC Chevron Industrial Research Chair in Reservoir Characterization, Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Science, is receiving $265,000, which will allow her to hire and train upwards of 10 new undergraduate and graduate students.

Dr. Malcolm and her team are studying cracks and their effect on seismic waves.

“Cracks are important in a number of applications and because they play a key role in two interesting phenomena: scattering of waves and non-linear interactions of waves,” she explained. “Together, we will learn about the way that waves interact with cracks and what can be learned from these interactions about how cracks are distributed throughout the subsurface.

“This helps us to better prepare for a variety of applications including geothermal energy, unconventional oil and gas and at a much larger scale better understanding of earthquake mechanisms,” she added. “NSERC’s support will allow us to spend more time in the laboratory really understanding what we see in our data and how that relates to the structure of rocks at the grain-to-grain contact level.”

Emilie Novaczek, PhD student in the Department of Geography, is receiving $63,000 over the next three years for a project focused on the relationship between seafloor habitat and climate change. She says the NSERC funding is “crucial,” as it provides stability for her research.

“There has been lots of research on the impacts of rising temperatures, increased acidification and changes in oxygen availability on marine fish distribution, but we don’t know how these changes interact with the availability of habitat on the seafloor,” Ms. Novaczek told the Gazette.

“I will be exploring acoustic seafloor data to look at habitat availability, fragmentation and shifts in the distribution of marine fish as climate and oceanographic conditions change.”

 Below is the list of Discovery grant recipients:

Grenfell Campus

  • Aleksandrs Aleksejevs, physics, Precision Tests of the Standard Model and Low Energy Hadronic Interactions
  • Robert Bailey, computational mathematics, Graphs, Designs, Codes and Groups: Topics in Algebraic Combinatorics
  • Jianghua Wu, sustainable resource management, Examining the Impacts of Agricultural Drainage on Carbon Cycling of Northern Peatlands

Faculty of Medicine

  • Kensuke (Ken) Hirasawa, Division of BioMedical Sciences, Regulation of Translation Initiation Under Stress Conditions
  • Craig Moore, Division of BioMedical Sciences, Investigating Bioenergetics and Mitochondrial Function in Immune Cells
  • Matthew Parsons, Division of BioMedical Sciences, The Dynamics of Excitatory Neurotransmission
  • Jacqueline Vanderluit, Division of BioMedical Sciences, The role of Bcl-2 family proteins in developmental neurogenesis
  • Diana De Carvalho, Alteration and Recovery of Lumbar Spine Mechanics to Flexed Postures
  • Yanqing Yi, Statistical Modelling for Adaptive Design of Clinical Trials: Optimality and Efficiency 

Faculty of Science

  • Ratnajothi Hoover, Department of Biochemistry, Unravelling the Factors that Influence Starch Chain Realignment and Interactions Within the Amorphous and Crystalline Domains of Waxy Normal and High Amylose Starches of Different Botanical Origins on Annealing
  • Ryan Mailloux, Department of Biochemistry, Controlling mitochondrial bioenergetics with protein S-glutathionylation redox switches
  • Fereidoon Shahidi, Department of Biochemistry, Enhancement of Bioactivity and Bioaccessibility of Food Phenolics: Structure Modification and Release from Food Matrices
  • Craig Purchase, Department of Biology, Gamete Ecology in Variable Environments
  • Brian Staveley, Department of Biology, Signalling Mechanisms Integrating Cell Survival, Organismal Growth and Stress-resistance in Drosophila
  • Michael Katz, Department of Chemistry, A Gas Adsorption Analyzer for the Study of Porous Materials
  • Christopher Kozak, Department of Chemistry, Designing Complexes for Homogenous Catalysis and Polymerization
  • Raymond Poirier, Department of Chemistry, Electronic Structure Theory: Algorithms, Applications and Cheminformatics
  • Raymond Thomas, Department of Chemistry, Oxylipins: novel sources of soybean disease tolerance against Phytophthora sojae infection
  • Yuming Zhao, Department of Chemistry, New Redox-Active Organic pi-Conjugated Building Blocks for Functional Nanoscale Materials and Devices
  • Ting Hu, Department of Computer Science, Robustness and Evolvability of Evolutionary Algorithms
  • Alison Malcolm, Department of Earth Sciences, Sensing Cracks in the Earth Using Multiple Scattering and Nonlinear Elasticity
  • Duncan McIlroy, Department of Earth Sciences, Ediacaran organism-sediment interactions
  • Alexander Bihlo, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Geometric foundation of invariant and conservative parameterization schemes
  • Chunhua Ou, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Applied dynamical systems and asymptotic analysis
  • David Pike, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Combinatorial Designs and Graph Theory
  • Danny Summers, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Studies in Radiation Belt Physics
  • Yiqiang Zhou, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Topics in noncommutative ring theory
  • Kurt Gamperl, Department of Ocean Sciences, Understanding What Limits Fish Cardiovascular Performance and Environmental Responses
  • Iain McGaw, Department of Ocean Sciences, Balancing the demands of physiological processes: Decapod crustacean feeding and digestion in hypoxia
  • Luc Beaulieu, Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, Experimental and Numerical Studies of Cantilever Sensors
  • Martin Plumer, Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, Simulations of Complex Order in Thin-Film Magnetic Systems
  • Stefan Wallin, Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, Computational studies of conformational switching in proteins: function and evolution
  • Christina Thorpe, Department of Psychology, Time-Place Learning, Circadian Rhythms, and Memory

School of Human Kinetics and Recreation

  • Kevin Power, Examining the supraspinal and spinal contributions to rhythmic movement in humans

Marine Institute

  • Noel Cadigan, Advanced fish stock assessment models

Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science

  • Bipul Hawlader, Department of Civil Engineering, Effects of Ground Movement on Oil and Gas Pipelines and Piles
  • Stephen Czarnuch, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Human motion tracking-by-detection using point cloud data from multiple depth sensors
  • Xiaodong Liang, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Advanced Dynamic Load Modeling for Modern Smart Grids
  • Sarah Power, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Task- and emotion-aware passive brain-computer interface for mental workload monitoring
  • Yuri Muzychka, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Heat Transfer and Fluid Flow in Micro and Mini Scale Devices
  • Lorenzo Moro, Department of Ocean and Naval Architectural Engineering, Development of a design procedure for the prediction of structure-borne noise generated by the reciprocating machines installed on board ships
  • Bruce Quinton, Department of Ocean and Naval Architectural Engineering, Effects of Moving Ice Loads on Damage to Hull Structures
  • Brian Veitch, Department of Ocean and Naval Architectural Engineering, Experimental Investigation of Propeller Wake Wash
  • Stephen Butt, Department of Process Engineering, Investigation of drilling penetration mechanisms and early kick detection to improve drilling performance, efficiency and safety
  • Lesley James, Department of Process Engineering, The Role of Nanoparticles in Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR)

TOTAL: $6,078,500

Below is the list of Discovery Accelerator Supplements

  • Alison Malcolm, Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Science, Sensing Cracks in the Earth Using Multiple Scattering and Nonlinear Elasticity

TOTAL:$120,000

Below is a listing of NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships – Doctoral, School of Graduate Studies

  • Kathleen Fifield, Division of BioMedical Sciences
  • Nader AbuSara, Department of Biology
  • John MacInnis, Department of Chemistry
  • Jennifer Murphy, Department of Chemistry
  • Hart Plommer, Department of Chemistry
  • Nicole Smith, Department of Ocean Sciences
  • Emilie Novaczek, Department of Geography

 TOTAL: $591,500

 

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