Ontario government investing in ‘Ontario made’ innovative research in the Faculty of Science

Friday, July 30, 2021

From using microbes to breakdown contaminates in landfills to learning how to conserve our amphibian populations in the face of climate change, the Government of Ontario has awarded three Waterloo Science researchers $140,000 each to advance ‘Ontario made’ research and innovation. 

Early Researcher Awards 

Barbara KatzenbackProfessor Barbara Katzenback from the Department of Biology is leading the project “Conservation of amphibian populations by using biological tools to understand amphibian-virus-environment interactions and disease outcomes.” This project will develop new biological tools to uncover differences in frog antiviral immune responses and to understand and predict the impact of anthropogenic factors (climate change) on frog immune function. This research will aid provincial government policy makers and conservation agencies in developing strategies to protect amphibians and their wetlands. 



Laura Hug

Professor Laura Hug from the Department of Biology is leading the project “Novelty and utility: identifying microbial populations transforming contaminants in municipal waste sites.” The proposed research will identify microbial functions involved in decontaminating toxic and hard to degrade wastes in landfills. These microbes represent low-cost, non-disruptive solutions that allow efficient and cost-effective remediation of contaminated sites across Ontario, saving the provincial government, municipalities, and site owners money during contaminant clean-up. 




Rodney SmithProfessor Rodney Smith from the Department of Chemistry is leading the project “Learning to control the electrochemical conversion of carbon dioxide into useful chemicals.” This will enable the development of rational strategies to resolve efficiency and selectivity issues by developing leading-edge experimental techniques to examine reaction systems during operation. The improved economic feasibility of electrochemical CO2 reduction will facilitate translation of the technology to Ontario’s chemical manufacturing sector and improve Ontario’s ability to compete in emerging clean-technology markets. 




“Ensuring Ontario’s researchers have access to state-of-the-art technology, talent and equipment has never been more important than it is now as we support our world class research institutes, research hospitals and postsecondary institutions across the province,” said Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “This funding helps to ensure researchers have the necessary supports in place to make discoveries that advance knowledge, inspire advances in technology, drive our economic competitiveness, and create a better future for the people of Ontario.”  

These projects are three of the nine projects selected at the University of Waterloo for early researcher awards by the Government of Ontario. A total of 176 projects are funded though this province wide initiative, totaling $70.4 million awarded to researchers. The funding being delivered through the Ontario Research Fund and Early Researcher Awards programs will support the development of homegrown ideas, products and technologies.