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Creating the future workforce

NSERC’s CREATE Program supports Queen’s researchers in student training.

Two Queen’s University researchers are leading groups that have been awarded a combined $3.3 million in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) as part of their Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) Program to provide innovative training to students in the areas of photonics, and water sustainability.

The CREATE program will provide groups led by Queen’s associate professors James Fraser (Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy) and Stephen Brown (Chemistry) with support for the training of teams of highly qualified students through the development of innovative training programs, and facilitate the transition of new researchers from trainees to productive employees in the Canadian workforce.

“The CREATE program highlights the often inextricable link between research and student training,” says Jim Banting, Acting Vice-Principal (Research). “Impressively, Queen’s secured two of 18 CREATE grants distributed nationwide, and we look forward to seeing the unique and transferable learning and training opportunities presented to the undergraduates and graduate students who participate in the MAPS and LEADERS projects.”

Dr. Fraser will receive $1,649,185 over six years for his CREATE – Materials for Advanced Photonics and Sensing (CREATE-MAPS) project, which will provide 42 graduate students and 22 undergraduate students with comprehensive training designed to help them compete in a photonics industry that has been experiencing unprecedented international growth. Demand for photonic materials and their manufacturing – including novel light sources, optical sensors, and more – has grown from a $2.5 billion global industry in 2011, to a $10.9 billion industry in 2017.

Dr. Brown has been awarded $1,650,000 over six years for his Leaders in water and watershed sustainability (The LEADERS Project), which will bring 44 graduate students and 24 undergraduate students to the forefront of water research through interdisciplinary approaches to developing water-related science and policy. The project will ensure students develop the broad base of skills required of contemporary water professionals – including working with environmental samples and data, liaising with stakeholders and presenting expert information clearly, and working with sustainability programs and environmental assessments. Industry experts are predicting a five per cent annual growth in the $2 billion environmental consulting and services sector, with a demand for 500,000 new employees in the sector.

The NSERC CREATE grants were announced by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, at the Université de Sherbrooke in Sherbrooke, Québec on July 16.

For more information on the program and for a full list of recipients, please visit the NSERC website.