NSERC invests more than $7.6 million in Waterloo scientists pushing the boundaries of knowledge

Monday, June 22, 2015

More than 43 researchers from Waterloo Science are part of the 3,800 Canadian researchers receiving funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) today.

The announcement was made this morning at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology by the Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology).

A key pillar of our government’s updated Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy is ensuring Canada develops, attracts and retains the world’s most talented researchers,” said the Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology).

This funding supports transformational research spanning the sciences and all departments and schools within Science. It will help Waterloo scientists as they make new discoveries in science and engineering that push the boundaries of knowledge, create jobs, opportunities and improve the quality of life of Canadians.

Waterloo Science Discovery Grant recipients include:

Department of Biology

  • Paul Craig, Bernie Duncker, Bruce Greenberg, Roland Hall, Brendan McConkey, Bruce Reed and David Rose

Department of Chemistry

  • Vassili Karanassios, Holger Kleinke, Sonny Lee, Juewen Liu, Linda Nazar, Pavle Radovanovic and Derek Schipper

Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

  • Nandita Basu, Hans Dürr, Fereidoun Rezanezhad and Chris Yakymchuk

Department of Physics and Astronomy

  • Niayesh Afshordi, Asimina Arvanitaki, Melanie Campbell, Jeff Chen, Kyung Soo Choi, Thomas Jennewein, David Kubiznak, Jan Kycia, Robert Mann, Lee Smolin, Philip Schuster and Pedro Vieira

School of Optometry and Vision Science

  • Elizabeth Irving, Jacob Sivak and Benjamin Thompson

School of Pharmacy

  • Jamie Joseph and Paul Spagnuolo

NSERC’s Discovery Grants Program is our flagship. It invests in the full range of science and engineering disciplines and thus builds the strong foundation that is a necessary prerequisite for innovation,” said B. Mario Pinto, President, NSERC.

Additionally, nine Waterloo researchers received NSERC grants to support research tools and instrumentation. They include: Kyung Soo Choi, Jean Duhamel, Lyndon Jones, Tong Leung, Adrian Lupascu, Vadim Makarov, Elizabeth Meiering, Alberto Germán Sciaini and David Spafford.

Along with the scientists and engineers receiving Discovery Grants, seven Waterloo researchers were awarded a new pilot Discovery Development Grant Program from NSERC. This new initiative is targeted at researchers working at small universities, enabling them to contribute to a diversified and competitive research base across Canada.

Ben Thompson, an Associate Professor in the School of Optometry and Vision Science, will use the $120,000 supplement along with a $310,000 Discovery grant to research why human brain plasticity decreases with age and how it can be restored.

Brain plasticity is vital for developing functions, such as vision, and learning new skills and is at its prime in young children. As humans get older, brain plasticity decreases and makes acquiring new skills or re-learning body functions much more difficult. Thompson hopes his research will help adults requiring rehabilitation, such as those recovering from strokes, to relearn functions such as proper eyesight, speech and limb control.

The DAS funding is truly significant and will enable me to move the research forward at a much faster pace,” said Thompson. “This funding will allow me to hire a high-quality research team and leverage the international partnerships involved in this cutting-edge research.”

The Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarships and the NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships and Postdoctoral Fellowships, which provide financial support to high calibre scholars engaged in a doctoral program in the natural sciences or engineering, were also announced today. Seven Waterloo Science graduate students will share more than $500,000 in federal research funding.

The awards announced today are the results of the 2015 competition for NSERC’s Discovery Grants, Discovery Accelerator Supplements, Discovery Development Grants, Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarships, Postgraduate Scholarships, Postdoctoral Fellowships and Research Tools and Instruments Grants.