Waterloo researchers awarded more than $38.4 million
More than 290 Waterloo researchers will receive funding from the Government of Canada to support their research
More than 290 Waterloo researchers will receive funding from the Government of Canada to support their researchBy Angelica Marie Sanchez University Relations
The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) is a non-profit corporation that invests in research infrastructure at Canadian universities, colleges, research hospitals and non-profit research institutions. Since 1997, the CFI has been supporting Canadian researchers each year to carry out world-class research through grants and government funding.
On August 29, the Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages, announced the Government of Canada’s support for more than 4,700 world-class researchers and their research projects across Canada. These investments of more than $960 million through grants, scholarships and programs are part of the government’s ongoing support for Canada’s research ecosystem.
"Our government is funding the top-tier researchers and scientists whose work makes Canada a world leader in research and innovation,” says Boissonnault.
“These projects—from reimagining teacher education with Indigenous wisdom traditions to creating equity in mental health care to researching the impacts of space radiation and weather on Earth's climate—will help transform today's ideas into tomorrow's solutions. This is why Canada is an innovation leader."
The University of Waterloo is among other Canadian universities who will be receiving funding to support our research and innovation. Waterloo researchers will receive funding under the following grants, scholarships and programs:
The CFI invests in research infrastructures at Canadian universities, colleges, research hospitals and non-profit research institutions, providing researchers with the tools they need to be global leaders. The John R. Evans Leaders Fund helps institutions attract and retain researchers and provides support for the Canada Research Chairs Program.
The 13 Waterloo researchers who are receiving CFI funding through the John R. Evans Leaders Fund for their research projects are:
Professor, Sociology and Legal Studies
The Unseen-AI (U&AI) Lab
Dr. Lai-Tze Fan's research will examine the benefits and risks of rapidly developing artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. By investigating the design of sexist, racist and classist AI voice assistant software, racist facial recognition systems and exploitative AI hardware production, she will identify how AI produces human experiences that reinforce social inequalities. In response, Fan will create equitable human-AI experiences through her Unseen-AI Lab, contributing novel and multidisciplinary approaches that stop inequitable AI at the design and production stage. Fan's goal is to encourage EDI-enhanced change in AI design and to improve technological literacy.
The Government of Canada also appointed Fan as a Canada Research Chair in Technology and Social Change.
Professor, English Language & Literature
Cave Automatic Virtual Environment Research Nodes (CAVERNs)
The CAVERNs project focuses on user-to-user communication and interaction inside a Virtual Reality (VR) CAVE (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment). Randall’s goal is to establish best practices in designing scenarios for VR CAVEs that allow and encourage rich interactive communication between simultaneous users. This research will advance the state-of-the-art in VR-based communication practices and potential and we will explore the adoption of this work in professional and educational settings that have focused increasingly on remote and virtual interactions.
Professor, Kinesiology and Health Sciences
Development of a Comprehensive Laboratory for Evaluation of Tissue Mechanics
Recent improved understanding of osteoarthritis (OA) indicates that the disease is one of the entire joint and its associated tissues. The proposed equipment will fund an electrodynamic testing frame that allows for the advanced mechanical testing of materials. The unique capabilities of this equipment, combined with their unique collaborations within the School of Anatomy, will allow Knowles and his team to test joint tissues under conditions that mimic those in the human body. This information will be used to better understand the early stages of OA and help to develop models for improved diagnosis and therapeutic management of the disease.
Professor and faculty fellow, Computer Science
Scalable Infrastructure for Data-intensive Systems
Many problems in society can be solved by analyzing the enormous volume of data generated daily by business, scientific, medical and societal activities. Managing and analyzing this deluge of data from disparate sources and sectors requires novel, well-designed, and most notably scalable systems. The infrastructure requested in this proposal will facilitate computer systems research that creates novel solutions to the big data problem. Daudjee’s research will have both scientific value as well as significant benefits to society.
Professor, Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering
Dual-arm Mobile Manipulation: Human-centered Interaction for Human Spaces
Hu’s research project aims to enhance the capabilities of service and collaborative robots for operating in human environments (e.g., long-term care facilities, factories), by focusing on both physical and psychological safety. The project aims to develop innovative control frameworks that enable robots to adapt to the physical and mental state of humans using a combination of human factors, robot control and machine learning.
Professor, Systems Design Engineering
Emerging Natural Interactive Technologies to Support Older Adults' Social Connections and Digital Inclusion
Emerging technologies, such as Virtual Reality (VR) or Voice Interfaces, have the potential to support older adults’ social interactions through natural and immersive experiences. Yet, these are largely not designed for, nor with, older adults. New approaches are needed to ensure novel technology does not marginalize older adults and further their social isolation. Munteanu’s research proposes codesign methods for socially connecting voice-enabled VR experiences that give older adults ownership over the design process and empower them as content creators.
Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Resolving Ecosystem Scale Greenhouse Gas Dynamics of Human-impacted Freshwaters
DelSontro’s project aims to resolve the greenhouse gas dynamics of three types of waterbodies ubiquitous throughout Ontario and Canada: reservoirs, restored wetlands and lakes that freeze over winter. These waterbodies provide vital ecosystem services, such as flood control, hydropower, habitat, nutrient retention from urban and agricultural runoff and recreation. Understanding their role in our climate via their greenhouse gas dynamics will help in managing them in a climate-friendly manner with the goal of mitigating their climatic impacts.
Professor, Chemical Engineering
Engineering Multifunctional All-Liquid Soft Materials and Ultra-light Weight Aerogels
Kamkar’s focus is on developing materials with tailored functionalities for challenging applications. Kamkar and his team achieve this by controlling material characteristics via nano-scale chemistry, micro-scale assembly, and macro-scale additive manufacturing techniques. One of their notable achievements is their newly introduced manufacturing techniques to structure shapeless and flowing liquid-like suspensions. These liquids are based on a variety of nanomaterials. Kamkar and his team will then transform these structured liquids into ultra-lightweight aerogels that find applications in advanced fields and help address pressing environmental challenges.
Tianyuan (Amy) Li
Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
An Indoor Air Quality and Occupant Exposure Testing and Monitoring Laboratory
Canadians spend 90 per cent of their time indoors, so ensuring clean indoor air is crucial. Li and her team are building a cutting-edge research facility to study indoor air pollutants and their interactions with buildings and occupant activities. By investigating the effect of mitigation measures, they seek to develop new strategies that improve air quality while conserving building energy use. This research aims to improve the health and comfort of all Canadians in their living and working spaces.
Professor, Systems Design Engineering
Imaging System for the Development of Medical Microrobots
Veronika Magdanz’s research aims to develop a wireless magnetic microrobots for specific medical applications. Specifically, the research goal is to achieve active, targeted drug and cell delivery, as well as minimal invasive surgery with the help of biohybrid and biomimicking flexible robots. The main benefits of such biohybrid and bioinspired robots include remote controlled, tetherless action and adaptability to physiological environments.
This innovative approach has the potential to revolutionize medical applications by offering a highly targeted, action with less side effects. The main tasks in this project towards this long-term goal include the development and testing of the medical microrobots in a lab environment regarding their biocompatibility, structural integrity, precision control in 3D and therapeutic action. The requested system provides a platform for these in depth biological and micro robotic studies and will help validate the microrobots for their potential medical purpose.
A Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM) Optimized for the Visualization of Unstained Biological Specimens
Competitive research across nine departments and three faculties (Science, Engineering and Health) at the University of Waterloo requires access to a state-of-the-art workhorse transmission electron microscope (TEM). TEM provides critical high-resolution images of biospecimens such as cells, tissues, viruses, microorganisms and biomaterials that are necessary to gain molecular-level insights to advance fundamental research and to ensure compelling, novel outcomes to benefit Canadians.
Sciani’s funding will replace a broken and outdated TEM that has acted as a workhorse for more than 40 groups across the University with a state-of-the-art bio-TEM. The bio-TEM will enable the advancement of research that depends on recurring access to high-quality TEM images of different biological specimens and provide students with advanced training at the forefront of their respective fields.
Professor, Chemical Engineering
Live-imaging Confocal Microscopy of Dynamic Process for Regenerative Medicine Application and Biotechnology Development
Regenerative medicine has been a promising strategy in developing engineered functional tissue for transplantation and in vitro models for drug discovery and disease studies. The global regenerative medicine market size was valued at USD $27.29 billion in 2020. An ideal regenerative medicine solution should present the biomimicking stimuli to regulate cellular responses. Yim and her team aim to create biomaterials platforms to study the cell-materials interactions for the development of regenerative medicine solution. Using corneal and vascular applications as the focus areas, the long-term goal of Yim’s research is to develop novel regenerative medicine approaches for treating diseases.
Professor, Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering
Hyperspectral Imaging for Quantifying Methane from Anthropogenic and Natural Sources
Climate change is causing mass starvations, mass extinctions and growing social inequity, since its effects are most profoundly felt by equity-seeking groups. Methane is a particular concern since its global warming potential is approximately 100 times that of carbon dioxide over a 20-year span. Daun’s proposed equipment is an infrared hyperspectral camera that generates thousands of near simultaneous images, each at a distinct wavelength.
Waterloo researchers will transform this instrument into a highly accurate tool to quantify emissions of methane and other greenhouse gases from industrial sources, landfills and wetlands. Canadian industry will used this tool to improve their sustainability and avoid penalties under emerging environmental regulations. Data from this instrument will help derive more accurate climate change models, which legislators will use to develop effective policy, land use practices and environmental laws to reduce emissions and safeguard our future.
The fund’s name pays tribute to the outstanding contributions of John R. Evans, the first chair of the CFI’s board of directors.
The JELF grant is in partnership with CFI and the following organizations:
Canada Research Chair (CRC) program: new and renewed (cycle 2022-1)
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC): Discovery Research Program
Partnership Development Grants
The University of Waterloo acknowledges that much of our work takes place on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. Our main campus is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land granted to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River. Our active work toward reconciliation takes place across our campuses through research, learning, teaching, and community building, and is co-ordinated within our Office of Indigenous Relations.