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Nine Trent University Professors Receive Over $1 Million in NSERC Funding

June 23, 2016

Funded projects range from risks to migratory shorebirds to the highs and lows of calcium in the environment

Nine distinguished Trent University researchers have received $1,096,945 in combined funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to support groundbreaking research in both the environmental and health sciences including research on risks to migratory shorebirds, the highs and lows of calcium in the environment, and carbon cycling in freshwater.

“We’re very happy with the outcomes in this year’s NSERC competition. We’re enjoying a 67 per cent success rate, which is a steady increase over last year’s 58 per cent,” said Dr. Neil Emery, vice-president, Research and Innovation. “What is particularly exciting is that we now hold grants in eight of the nine categories of applications for which Trent faculty can compete, which speaks not only to the excellence of our researchers, but also to the growing capacity of the research enterprise at the institution. We have exceptional faculty working to advance the national research agenda and this is a win-win for our university, our students, and the greater Canadian public.”

Trent professors Dr. Christopher Kyle, Dr. Douglas Evans, Dr. Wenying Feng, Dr. Mark Parnis, Dr. Shaun Watmough, Dr. David Patton and Dr. Erica Nol are recipients of NSERC’s Individual Discovery Grant, while Dr. Maggie Xenopoulos received a Research Tools and Instruments Grant.

NSERC’s Individual Discovery Grants assist in promoting and maintaining a diversified base of high-quality research capability in natural sciences and engineering in Canadian universities, fostering research excellence, and providing a stimulating environment for research training while NSERC’s Research Tools and Instruments grants support the purchase of research equipment.

“This investment will allow many of Canada’s scientists and engineers to explore the frontiers of knowledge where they can make exciting new discoveries,” said the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, during the NSERC announcement made earlier today in McMaster University. “Our government is committed to investing in these future research leaders and in the cutting-edge ideas that will lead Canada to social and economic growth for a better tomorrow.”

A summary the Trent University research projects awarded grants from NSERC is as follows:

Dr. Christopher Kyle, Forensics        

Immunogenetic Interactions: Assessing the Capacity of Northern Species to Adapt to Infectious Disease

Discovery Grant ($145,000 over five years)

Using cutting-edge genomic technologies to further our understanding of how species' genomes interact with their environments, Professor Kyle’s research works to enhance effective and targeted management actions, aimed at mitigating the negative impacts of infectious diseases on human and wildlife health, biodiversity, and food security.

Dr. Douglas Evans, Environmental Resource Studies        

Source Partitioning of Metal Contaminants Using Stable Isotope Fractionation

Discovery Grant ($125,000 over five years)

Contaminated environments, particularly highly contaminated sites, tend to be complex, often resulting from multiple sources of emission. Professor Evan’s research will aim to develop tools that can be used in the management of environments contaminated by inorganic substances such as cadmium, zinc, and mercury. The direct impact of Prof. Evan’s research will be the potential to reduce metal pollution to one of the earth's most contaminated environments.

Dr. Wenying Feng, Mathematics

Fixed Point Theory, Nonlinear Differential Equations and Computational Algorithms on Data Analytics

Discovery Grant ($80,000 over five years)

Dr. Feng’s research works to connect three closely related areas in applied mathematics and computing, fixed point theory, nonlinear differential equations and computational algorithms, together to bring them from theory to real-world applications for data analytics.

Dr. Mark Parnis, Chemistry   

Modelling Molecular Partitioning to Complex Media

Discovery Grant ($110,000 over five years)

Professor Parnis’ research focuses on the development of new theoretical models and methods for estimating the properties of chemicals in environments that are considered to be of importance in environmental monitoring and regulatory policy work. His research will help in the development of new environmental monitoring approaches, and techniques that will inform government regulatory policy.

Dr. Shaun Watmough, Environmental Resource Studies

Calcium in the environment: the highs and the lows

Discovery Grant ($295,000 over five years)

Using state-of-the-art techniques and novel experimental studies, Professor Watmough’s research will evaluate the impacts of changing calcium concentrations in Canada’s environment, and investigate calcium biogeochemistry, which is necessary to protect vast regions of Canada's Boreal Eco zone.

Dr. David Patton, Physics     

Multi-wavelength Observations and Hydrodynamical Simulations of Interacting Galaxies

Discovery Grant ($140,000 over five years)

Professor Patton’s research involves a study of interacting galaxies, with the underlying goal being to provide a deeper understanding of the role that galaxy-galaxy interactions play in the evolution of galaxies. The observational and theoretical components of Prof. Patton’s research will allow him to continue to play a leading role in the study of interacting galaxies, in collaboration with researchers at a variety of institutions.

Dr. Erica Nol, Biology

Identifying risks to populations of migratory shorebirds

Discovery Grant ($30,000)

Aimed at understanding the degree of variability in an individual shorebird’s habitat selection patterns during breeding, migration, and overwinter, Professor Nol’s research looks to understand whether there is flexibility in habitat cues that will provide the ability for shorebirds to respond to changing habitats during each season.

Dr. Maggie Xenopoulos, Biology

Total Organic Carbon Analyzer for Carbon Cycling in Freshwater

Research Tools and Instruments Grant ($51,945)

With this grant, Professor Xenopoulos will purchase equipment to help her examine dissolved organic carbon in water, and the links this may have to primary production, food web trophic pathways, and fish production and health in lakes and rivers in Ontario. The data collected will be used for scientific policy.

Dr. Rachel Wortis, Physics

Strong Interactions and Disorder in Electron Systems

Discovery Grant ($120,000 over five years)

Condensed matter physics is the study of the diverse physical properties which arise from the essential ingredients of electrons, nuclei and electromagnetic forces. Professor Wortis’ research program aims to build understanding of the properties of systems in which the energy scale associated with the interactions between particles, especially at very short length scales, dominates the kinetic energy. The focus of this research is understanding the effect of disorder in strongly interacting systems.