Ontario awards $1.6 million to Faculty of Science researchers

Monday, April 7, 2014

Province of Ontario logoFaculty of Science researchers received funding from the Ontario Research Infrastructure and Early Researcher Award Programs. The announcement recognizes Ontario’s strong support for fundamental and applied research at the University of Waterloo and Faculty of Science.

Our government is proud to support researcher’s scientific discoveries in Waterloo Region, a region that is renowned as a centre of collaboration and innovation and offers a dynamic and forward-thinking base for a wide range of industries,” said Reza Moridi, Ontario Minister of Research and Innovation.

The Ontario Research Fund – Research Infrastructure program provides institutions with funds to cover the cost of modern facilities and equipment. Professor Brian Kendall from the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences was awarded $480,000 in support of a new cutting-edge mass spectrometry facility. Kendall is studying how metal concentrations and isotope compositions will improve natural resource exploration activities and reduce environmental contamination.

The Ontario Early Researcher Award program provides $140,000 in funding to new and promising researchers while providing benefits for Ontario and job opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and research assistants.

Winners of the 2014 Early Researcher Awards include faculty from the departments of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Physics and Astronomy, and Biology:

  • Professor Nandita Basu (Earth and Environmental Sciences, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Water Institute)  investigates the ecosystem impacts of nitrogen and phosphorus on the ecosystem in an effort to improve water quality in Ontario;
  • Professor Matteo Mariantoni (Physics and Astronomy and Institute for Quantum Computing) studies of quantum error correction will build Ontario’s reputation for excellence in the field of information technology;
  • Professor Matt van der Meer (Biology and Centre for Bioengineering and Biotechnology) conducts research on the human brain to identify ways to help problem gamblers curb their behaviour; and
  • Professor Christopher Wilson's (Electrical and Computer Engineering, Physics and Astronomy, and Institute for Quantum Computing) work to develop a quantum network will significantly boost the province’s $85 billion information and communications technology industry.

2014 Early Researcher Award winners from the Perimeter Institute are also adjunct faculty members in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

  • Dmitry Abanin is a pioneer in the theory of graphene, a revolutionary material now finding its first applications in a wide variety of devices. Abanin is working to develop a deeper theoretical understanding of the broader class of materials to which graphene belongs.
  • Bianca Dittrich is working to discover whether space itself is built out of some kind of fundamental building blocks, called spacetime atoms. This is one promising way to unify the theory of quantum mechanics with Einstein’s theory of gravity, into a theory of quantum gravity.
  • Davide Gaiotto is working to extend the basic vocabulary of physics by discovering and defining new classes of quantum field theories. His research has led to unexpected progress in mathematics, and is aimed at a deeper understanding of the laws governing the universe.
  • Natalia Toro has invented ways to use existing particle accelerators to search for possible forces of nature beyond the four we know about and is developing a startling new theory about the way known forces might work.