Bolstering support for research focused on big ideas


Bolstering support for research focused on big ideas

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council has announced $14.3M in funding to Queen's researchers to advance their innovative STEM and health research projects.

August 29, 2023


[Queen's Art of Research Photo: "Colourful Cells" by Nathalia Yun Kim
Queen's Art of Research Photo: "Colourful Cells" by Nathalia Yun Kim – This image depicts bladder tissue with Hunner lesion, an inflammatory disease. The image was acquired using imaging mass cytometry, a technology that allows the visual and computational analysis of the spatial distribution of dozens of protein markers on thousands of colourful cells within the tissue.

Pursuing transformational research can be a long road. To make an impact on addressing major social issues or work towards ground-breaking discoveries researchers need sustained support to fully realize their projects.

Today, the Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages announced $11.8M in funding for Queen’s from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s (NSERC) Discovery and Research Tools and Instruments (RTI) programs. Intended to support ongoing research with long-term goals, the Discovery programs provides multi-year grants that support operating funds and facilitate access to funding from other programs. The RTI grants program supports the purchase of critical research equipment necessary to pursue breakthrough research. The NSERC announcement is part of a larger $960M suite of funding announced by the federal government.

"Our government is funding the top-tier researchers and scientists whose work makes Canada a world leader in research and innovation," says the Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages. "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." 

In total, 43 Queen’s researchers are recipients of Discovery and RTI program grants as part of today’s announcement. Additionally, in recognition of the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic presented to advancing research, Minister Boissonnault announced a 1-year extension of existing NSERC funds. At Queen’s, 57 researchers will be receiving an additional $2.5M to support their active projects. 

The Discovery-funded Queen’s projects:

Subatomic Physics Discovery Grant

Mark Chen (Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy): SNO+ Scintillator Phase and Tellurium Operations (2023-2025) – $2,960,000

Discovery Grant


Robert Colautti (Biology): The Genetic Basis of Rapid Evolution and Constraints on the Spread of an Invasive Plant – $195,000

Biomedical and Molecular Sciences

Faith Brennan (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences): Microglia-Astrocyte Cross-Talk in the Central Nervous System – $177,500

Sarah Dick (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences): Investigating the Mechanisms of Cardiac Macrophage Self-Renewal – $212,500

Katrina Gee (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences): Deciphering the Molecular Mechanisms of IL-27-Mediated Innate Anti-Viral Immune Responses – $225,000

Neil Magoski (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences): Plasticity of Electrical Transmission Regulates Synchronous Activity in Neurons that Control Reproduction – $260,000

Chemical Engineering

Kevin De France (Chemical Engineering): Functional Materials from Cellulose and Protein – $172,500

Paul Hungler (Chemical Engineering): Development of Adaptive Mixed Reality Simulation for Training and Education Using Multimodal Machine Learning – $192,500


Philip Jessop (Chemistry): Chemical Applications of Carbon Dioxide with Water and Amines – $415,000

Lucia Lee (Chemistry): Functional Structures Based on Main-group Supramolecular Interactions – $152,500

Nicholas Mosey (Chemistry): Materials for Energy Applications via Advanced Chemical Simulations – $260,000

Kevin Stamplecoskie (Chemistry): Tailoring the Excited State Properties of Metal Clusters for Photonics Applications – $195,000

Civil Engineering

Leon Boegman (Civil Engineering): Physical-Biogeochemical Flux Paths in Lakes and Coastal Oceans – $105,000

Amir Fam (Civil Engineering): Fundamentals of Laboratory-Based Rolling Versus Pulsating Loading Fatigue of Bridges Built with High Performance Materials – $295,000

Jason Olsthoorn (Civil Engineering): Quantifying the Impact of Climate Change on Mixing in Lakes – $162,500

Xiaying Xin (Civil Engineering): Development of Nanobubble-Enhanced Visible-Light-Driven Photocatalytic Water Disinfection Systems – $185,000


Hesham Elsawy (Computing): Towards Diverse, Intelligent, and Perceptive 6G Network Architecture: Theoretical Foundations and Optimization Schemes – $172,500

Nick Graham (Computing): Fostering Collaboration through Digital Games – $260,000

Ting Hu (Computing): Interpretable and Explainable Learning with Evolutionary Computing – $205,000

David Skillicorn (Computing): Data Analytics in Adversarial Settings – $180,000

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Melissa Greeff (Electrical and Computer Engineering): Toward Resilient Multi-Robot Collaboration in Emergencies – $167,500

Ning Lu (Electrical and Computer Engineering): Constrained Online Learning for Wireless Computing Networks – $250,000

Joshua Marshall (Electrical and Computer Engineering): Mobile-Robot Navigation, Control, And Mapping in Spatiotemporal Worlds – $210,000

Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering

Daniel Layton-Matthews (Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering): Application of Non-Traditional Isotopes at Higher Spatial Resolution to Element Cycling in Mineral Deposits – $175,000

David McLagan (Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering): Seeing the Forest from The Trees: Understanding Pollutant Biogeochemical Cycling Between Vegetation and Air, Fire, Soil, and Water – $187,500

Kinesiology and Health Studies

Brendon Gurd (Kinesiology and Health Studies): Mechanisms Controlling Mitochondrial Biogenesis in Human Skeletal Muscle – $220,000

Mathematics and Statistics

Maria Teresa Chiri (Mathematics and Statistics): Evolution Problems for Moving Sets – $162,500

Felicia Magpantay (Mathematics and Statistics): Transient Dynamics in Deterministic and Stochastic Systems from Eco-Epidemiology – $195,000

James A. Mingo (Mathematics and Statistics): Random Matrices and Higher Order Freeness – $185,000

Mechanical and Materials Engineering

Jackson Crane (Mechanical and Materials Engineering): Detonation Chemistry and Propagation Dynamics: Experiments and Models for Next-Generation Engines – $197,500

Claire Davies (Mechanical and Materials Engineering): Participation Requires Communication:  Developing Accessible Communication Devices – $250,000

Yong Jun Lai (Mechanical and Materials Engineering): Development of Ultrasensitive Biosensors for Rapid Pathogen Detection – $210,000

David Rival (Mechanical and Materials Engineering): In Situ Lagrangian Measurements – $250,000

Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining

Julian Ortiz (Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining): Towards Geometallurgical Digital Twins: Stochastic Models for Risk Management of Mining Systems – $210,000


David Hauser (Psychology): How Do Vaccine Resistors Recruit Evidence to Support their Beliefs and Meta-Beliefs? – $202,500

Jonathan Smallwood (Psychology): States of Mind and Brain – Understanding the Neural Basis Behind Different Thought Patterns – $295,000

Sari van Anders (Psychology): Social Neuroendocrinology and the Evolution of Diversity in Human Intimacy – $350,000

Public Health Sciences

Wei Tu (Public Health): Statistical Learning and Inference for Sparse and Heterogeneous Functional and Longitudinal Data – $147,500

Smith School of Business

Vedat Verter (Smith School of Business): Predictive and Prescriptive Analytics for Delivery of Mental Health Care – $210,000

Research Tools and Instruments Grant

John Allingham (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences): Protein Structure Determination Facility Upgrade – $85,434

Chantelle Capicciotti (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences): A Benchtop SPR Instrument for High-Throughput Interrogation of Protein-Ligand Interactions – $136,528

Aris Docoslis (Chemical Engineering): A Raman Spectroscopy System for (Bio)Chemical Analyses and Materials Characterization – $149,500

Christian Muise (Computing): Customizable Platform for Autonomous Agriculture Research – $146,183

Nir Rotenberg (Physics, Engineering Psychics, and Astronomy): Tunable Pulse-Shapers for the Exploration of Dynamic Photon-Photon Interactions – $149,936

To learn more about this round of Discovery Grants, visit the NSERC website. You can also read about Queen’s success in recent SSHRC Partnership and Insight and CFI JELF grants competitions in the Queen's Gazette.

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