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REF NO.: 181

SUBJECT: Memorial receives more than $6 million to support innovative research related to natural sciences and engineering

DATE: June 24

Faculty members and graduate students from Memorial University are among the recipients of grants and scholarships awarded recently by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

Memorial faculty members collected a combined total of $5,304,397 over five years, which will further the discoveries of research in fields related to natural sciences and engineering. Of the 45 awards announced, 24 Discovery Grants were awarded to the Faculty of Science; one each for the School of Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Faculty of Arts and the Fisheries and Marine Institute; 11 within the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science; and two for the Faculty of Business Administration. Discovery Grants provide core funding and freedom so Canada’s best researchers can pursue their most promising ideas and breakthrough discoveries.

Three Research Tools and Instruments Grants were awarded to the Faculty of Science to pay for new equipment, and one Discovery Accelerator Supplement was awarded to the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, which will provide substantial and timely resources to researchers who have a superior research program that is highly rated in terms of originality and innovation.

A combined total of $696,500 in scholarships over two- and three-year instalments were awarded to students: two doctoral students from the faculties of Science and Engineering and Applied Science were awarded Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarships to pursue doctoral studies. Six students from the Faculty of Science and the School of Pharmacy were awarded scholarships from NSERC’s Postgraduate Scholarships-Doctoral Program, which supports high-calibre students who are engaged in doctoral programs in the natural sciences or engineering.

 “On behalf of Memorial University, I congratulate each of the recipients of the grants and scholarships announced today,” said Dr. Gary Kachanoski, president and vice-chancellor, Memorial University. “Their hard work and dedication to the advancement of innovative research will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on the prosperity and quality of life of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and beyond.”

“These grants afford Memorial’s researchers with unique opportunities to engage in novel, potentially groundbreaking research,” said Dr. Richard Marceau, vice-president (research), Memorial University. “They also recognize the wealth of research expertise present at Memorial and will contribute to exploring new avenues in support of industry and society as a whole in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

 “These scholarships recognize the future potential of our talented graduate students,” said Dr. Faye Murrin, dean pro tempore, School of Graduate Studies, Memorial University.  “This support will go a long way in helping our students develop expertise in their chosen fields and in enhancing the research reputation of Memorial.”

The announcement was made in Oshawa, Ont., at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology by Ed Holder, minister of State (Science and Technology). The program reflects a $340-million investment in more than 3,800 researchers at more than 70 universities.

The awards announced comprise the 2015 competition results for NSERC’s Discovery Grants, Discovery Accelerator Supplements, Discovery Development Grants, Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarships, Postgraduate Scholarships, Post-doctoral Scholarships and Research Tools and Instruments Grants.

The Discovery Grants Program assists in promoting and maintaining a diversified base of high-quality research capability in the natural sciences and engineering in Canadian universities, fostering research excellence and providing a stimulating environment for research training.

For a complete list of recipients, please visit  

Discovery Grants

Faculty of Science

  • Dr. Robert Bertolo, Department of Biochemistry, Creatine metabolism in young pigs
  • Dr. Suzanne Dufour, Department of Biology, The control of extracellular bacterial symbionts in thyasirid bivalves
  • Dr. (Dawn) Heather Marshall, Department of Biology, Genetic and genomic investigations of hereditary and infectious wildlife diseases in non-model organisms
  • Dr. Eric Vander Wal, Department of Biology, The eco-evolutionary dynamics of habitat- and density-dependent animal behaviour
  • Dr. Yolanda Wiersma, Department of Biology, Micro to mega-landscapes: scaling arboreal lichen pattern and processes in the boreal rainforest
  • Dr. Christina Bottaro, Department of Chemistry, Interfacing mass spectrometry with new materials developed for fast targeted analysis
  • Dr. Michael Katz, Department of Chemistry, New frontiers in metal-organic frameworks: chemical, optical, and electrochemical control of pore size/aperture
  • Dr. Antonina Kolokolova, Department of Computer Science, Efficient computation in the real world
  • Dr. Harold Wareham, Department of Computer Science, Efficient options for characterizing and deriving groups of interactive agents
  • Dr. John Hanchar, Department of Earth Sciences, Crystallization, alteration, and ore-forming processes of iron oxide apatite (IOA) ores and related host rocks in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile
  • Dr. Penny Morrill, Department of Earth Sciences, Investigating microbial carbon transformations in the ultramafic biosphere and carbon fluxes through serpentine spring portals
  • Dr. Thomas Baird, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Equivariant topology and symplectic geometry
  • Dr. Candemir Cigsar, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Statistical methods for the analysis of recurrent events and event history data    
  • Dr. Danny Dyer, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Time and motion in graphs
  • Dr. Asokan Mulayath Variyath, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Variable selection in joint modelling of longitudinal and survival data and multi-response optimization in designed experiments
  • Dr. Brajendra Sutradhar, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Parametric and/or semi-parametric dynamic mixed models for discrete spatial and/or longitudinal data
  • Dr. Patrick Gagnon, Department of Ocean Sciences, Mechanisms of stability of urchin-dominated barrens in Southeastern Newfoundland
  • Dr. Gordon Andrews, Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, Brillouin light scattering studies of two-dimensional layered materials systems
  • Dr. Brad DeYoung, Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, Ocean dynamics in the Northwest Atlantic
  • Dr. Mykhaylo Evstigneev, Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, Building the bridge from atomistic to stochastic modelling of nanoscale friction phenomena
  • Dr. Jacqueline Blundell, Department of Psychology, Neural mechanisms underlying associative and non-associative fear memories
  • Dr. Darlene Skinner, Department of Psychology, The role of the head direction cell circuit in behavioural demonstrations of direction learning
  • Dr. Aimée Surprenant, Department of Psychology, Testing the generality of the specificity principle of memory
  • Dr. David Wilson, Department of Psychology, Sexual selection under social constraints

 School of Pharmacy

  • Dr. John Weber, Chemical analyses and biological activities of berries and their components

 Faculty of Medicine

  • Dr. Mani Larijani, Division of BioMedical Sciences, Ancient biological functions of present day DNA-damaging enzymes involved in the immune system

 Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science

  • Dr. Tahir Husain, Low cost water filtration technology for small communities
  • Dr. Jonathan Anderson, Tools and trade-offs for security adaptation
  • Dr. Xili Duan, Heat transfer and phase change materials for thermal energy storage and thermal management applications
  • Dr. Eric Gill, Radio wave scattering from rough surfaces – theory and application to ocean remote sensing with HF and marine radar
  • Dr. Benjamin Jeyasurya, Power system stability monitoring and control using synchrophasors
  • Dr. Samir Nakhla, Composite structures for offshore and harsh environment applications
  • Dr. Greg Naterer, Entropy based design and convective heat transfer in multiphase flows
  • Dr. Mohammad Rahman, Scaling laws for multiphase flow in pipelines and wellbores
  • Dr. Mohamed Shehata, Vision algorithms for emerging applications
  • Dr. Rocky Taylor, Mechanics of iceberg and sea ice failure in offshore engineering applications
  • Dr. Jianming Yang, Dynamics and fatigue analysis of planetary gear trains under random loading

 Faculty of Arts

  • Carissa Brown, Department of Geography, Non-climatic controls on tree species distributions under climate change

 Fisheries and Marine Institute

  • Dr. Deepika Dave, A bio-processing strategy for full utilization of sea cucumbers for production of high value nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals

 Faculty of Business Administration

  • Dr. Ginger Ke, Transportation of hazardous materials: management, co-ordination and optimization
  • Dr. Jeffrey Parsons, Using concept lattices to reconcile semantic heterogeneity in data

 Research Tools and Instruments Grants Program

  • Dr. Susan Ziegler, Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Science, Preparatory tools for investigating trace environmental signatures
  • Dr. Anthony Gamperl, Department of Ocean Sciences, Faculty of Science, Echocardiographic equipment for marine organism and small mammal research
  • Dr. Annie Mercier, Department of Ocean Sciences, Faculty of Science, Upgrade and expansion of microscopy and imaging suite for multifaceted studies

 Discovery Accelerator Supplements

  • Dr. Eric Gill, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Radio wave scattering from rough surfaces – theory and application to ocean remote sensing with HF and marine radar

  NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships – Doctoral

  • Sara Klapstein, Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Science
  • Catherine Little, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science
  • Bonita McCuaig, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science
  • Emaline Montgomery, Department of Ocean Sciences, Faculty of Science
  • Tyler Ensor, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Science
  • Matthew Lamont, School of Pharmacy

NSERC Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarships-Doctoral

  • Jessica Besaw, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science
  • Hamed Tebianian, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science

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For more information, please contact Krista Davidson, communications co-ordinator, Office of the Vice-President (Research), (709) 864-4073 or



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