Queen's researchers receive $3.4 million boost

Queen's researchers receive $3.4 million boost

January 9, 2014


By Rosie Hales, Communications Officer

Eight Queen’s University researchers have received more than $3.4 million from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) in support of their innovative research projects.

The funding is part of NSERC’s Strategic Grants Program, which aims to increase research and training in areas that could strongly influence Canada’s economy, society or environment in the next 10 years in four target areas: environmental science and technologies; information and communications technologies; manufacturing; and natural resources and energy.

“Funding from NSERC and other partners is extremely important to our researchers and to Queen’s, which prides itself on being a first-class research institution,” says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). "These grants will increase research activity, further collaboration, and training of highly qualified personnel in fields that will strongly enhance our understanding of the environment and energy systems, priority areas of research outlined in the Queen’s Strategic Research Plan."   

The eight Queen’s researchers to receive Strategic Project Grants are:

Pascale Champagne (Civil Engineering, $592,170) – Dr. Champagne’s research focuses on bio-oil recovery, CO2 recycling by waste stream enhanced microalgal growth, and low energy CO2-related extraction. “This is funding will allow us to address some process and techno-economic inefficiencies that may make the microalgae cultivation for the production of biofuels and bioproducts feasible in Canada.” The research will provide a range of benefits to Canada including promoting the development of the renewable energy sector and reducing GHG emissions.

Brian Cumming (Biology, $334,740) – The funding granted to Dr. Cumming and colleagues is designed to distinguish point-source effects of oil sands emissions from non-point source effects of recent climate warming on lake production in northern Saskatchewan. This research (in partnership with the Saskatchewan Environment, SK Water Security Agency and Environment Canada) will investigate if oil-sands emissions have resulted in enhanced primary production on boreal lakes in northern Saskatchewan, or if recent climate change is responsible. If negative impacts are identified, our results will contribute to the development base-loading limits of nitrogen to sensitive lake ecosystems.

Michael Cunningham (Chemical Engineering, $353,160) – Dr. Cunningham and other researchers from Queen’s are partnered with FPInnovations to research stimuli-responsive crystalline nanocellulose (CNC) and microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) with the potential for applications in a range of forest sector products and markets, including opportunities for product differentiation and expansion into new markets.

Philip Jessop (Chemistry, $378,240) – Dr. Jessop was awarded this grant for proposed research in the area of switchable solids. He hopes to explore whether it’s possible to make solids that absorb water until a trigger is applied and if so, whether those solids could be used in industrial operations. “This is really a new direction for my group, so that makes it particularly exciting for us. We’re really grateful to NSERC for the opportunity to try out these ideas,” says Dr. Jessop.

John Smol (Biology, $365,200) –Dr. Smol and his team will extend their paleoenvironmental techniques to the study of lake trout lakes, as there are signs that many of these lakes might be in trouble. “By combining our paleo techniques with the modelling approach of our co-applicants (which includes Dr. Leon Boeman in Civil Engineering), and the expertise of our partners, we hope to provide data to facilitate evidence-based policy,” says Dr. Smol. “The protection and management of this valuable resource is of tremendous public interest.”

Ana Maria da Silva (Civil Engineering, $469,046) – Dr. da Silva and four other researchers from Queen's (Drs. Kevin Mumford, Peter Hodson, Stephen Brown and Allison Rutter) will study the contamination of river beds by oil spills and the impact on fish habitat. "This NSERC support will enable us to use advanced techniques in hydraulics, environmental chemistry and aquatic toxicology to, for the first time, make a concerted effort to address a problem of serious concern in Canada, as permeable river bed sediments often support large populations of salmonids by providing ground for spawning", says Dr. da Silva.

Ian Moore (Civil Engineering, $570,950) – Dr. Moore, in collaboration with Dr. Neil Hoult (Civil Engineering), graduate students and industry partners, will make major advances in their understanding of deteriorated sewers and water pipes. “This support from NSERC and our industry partners is allowing us to capitalize on the unique buried infrastructure test facilities recently funded by CFI and the Province of Ontario,” says Dr. Moore.

Praveen Jain (Electrical and Computer Engineering, $351,000) –Dr. Jain and his students will conduct cutting edge research in energy storage technology, something which is critical in the success of mass deployment of renewable energy generation sources. “It is timely funding that will allow Canada to compete with developed economies in the renewable energy sector. I am very thankful to NSERC for awarding this funding and giving me an opportunity to participate in the process,” says Dr. Jain.