Ten Trent University researchers will receive a combined $1.6 million through Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Discovery Grants to explore a diverse range of topics including the impact of climate change on vulnerable sub-Arctic ecosystems, virus-host interactions in frogs, and supercritical water, which will help guide next-generation technologies.
“Together, with the entire Trent community, I congratulate our researchers and applaud their achievements,” said Dr. Neil Emery, vice president Research and Innovation at Trent University. “During this unprecedented time, researchers representing Anthropology, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental and Life Sciences, Mathematics, Psychology and the Trent School of the Environment remain steadfast in their exploratory research programs with this NSERC investment.”
The NSERC Discovery Grants program funding, provided over five years, is part of a national announcement made by the Hon. Navdeep Bains, minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, allocating more than $492 million to some 2,400 researchers across the country.
Four of the Trent researchers, Dr. Karen Thompson, Dr. Erin Koen, Dr. Paul Szpak, and Dr. Xiaoying Wang, were also awarded Early Career Researchers (ECR) grants – an additional supplement of $12,500 in the researchers’ first year to help kick-start their careers.
“This is one our most successful NSERC years for Trent,” adds Dr. Paul Wilson, NSERC research mentor and professor of Forensic Science at Trent University. “This demonstrates the magnitude and breadth of talent, as well as research engagement, at the University.”
A summary of Trent research projects awarded funding is as follows:
Dr. Gary Burness, professor of Biology, received $235,000 to explore the environmental effects, thermal energetics, and avian life history variation. Professor Burness’s research explores whether mother birds prime their offspring in an adaptive way to cope with predicted environmental change, and will therefore help predict the capacity for bird populations to cope with climate change.
Dr. Craig Brunetti, professor of Biology and dean of Graduate Studies at Trent University, received $212,875 to explore virus-host interactions in frog virus 3 – a factor leading to globally threatened amphibian populations.
Dr. Sanela Martic, assistant professor of Forensic Science, received $180,000 to explore the solution and surface chemistry of peptides and proteins. Professor Martic’s research will support further application of portable instruments in detecting biomolecules, such as amino acids and proteins, in complex environments where many different substances are present.
Dr. Karen Thompson, assistant professor in the Trent School of the Environment, received $150,000 and an ECR grant for her research project linking microbial functioning to the fate of carbon in soil. Professor Thompson’s research will help characterize agricultural management practices that support ecosystems and soil health while helping the agricultural sector adapt to a changing climate.
Dr. Glen Brown, adjunct researcher with the Environmental and Life Sciences graduate program, received $140,000 for his research exploring climate change and vulnerability of the sub-Arctic ecosystem near Hudson Bay.
Dr. Michael Chan-Reynolds, assistant professor of Psychology, received $140,000 for his research exploring the relationship between word and number processing. The long-term goal of this research is to understand how visually presented words are processed.
Dr. Erin Koen, adjunct researcher with the Environmental and Life Sciences graduate program, received $140,000 and an ECR grant for her research exploring landscape connectivity for wildlife in a changing environment. This research explores how landscape connectivity influences ecosystems.
Dr. Paul Szpak, Canada research chair in Environmental Archaeology and assistant professor in Anthropology, received $140,000 and an ECR grant for his research exploring long-term variation in Arctic marine ecosystems through stable isotope analysis and fatty-acid biomarkers. Professor Szpak’s research will reconstruct long-term variation in the ecology of Arctic marine animals, such as polar bears, ringed seals, walruses, narwhals and beluga whales, over the last 12,000 years.
Dr. Igor Svishchev, professor of Chemistry, received $120,000 for his research exploring supercritical water, which holds much promise for ground-breaking advances in electrical power generation, hazardous waste destruction, carbon sequestration and largescale hydrogen production. Professor Svishchev’s research will help guide the development of next-generation energy technologies.
Dr. Xiaoying Wang, assistant professor of Mathematics, received $115,000 and an ECR grant to explore asymptotic and transient dynamics in predator-prey systems with spatial and temporal heterogeneity.
The Discovery Grants program is NSERC’s largest and longest-standing program, which is highly valued in the Canadian research community. The program supports ongoing research programs with long-term goals and allows researchers to explore the most promising avenues of research as they emerge.
About Trent University
One of Canada's top universities, Trent University was founded on the ideal of interactive learning that's personal, purposeful and transformative. Consistently recognized nationally for leadership in teaching, research and student satisfaction, Trent attracts excellent students from across the country and around the world. Here, undergraduate and graduate students connect and collaborate with faculty, staff and their peers through diverse communities that span residential colleges, classrooms, disciplines, hands-on research, co-curricular and community-based activities. Across all disciplines, Trent brings critical, integrative thinking to life every day. Today, Trent's unique approach to personal development through supportive, collaborative community engagement is in more demand than ever. Students lead the way by co-creating experiences rooted in dialogue, diverse perspectives and collaboration. In a learning environment that builds life-long passion for inclusion, leadership and social change, Trent's students, alumni, faculty and staff are engaged global citizens who are catalysts in developing sustainable solutions to complex issues. Trent's Peterborough campus boasts award-winning architecture in a breathtaking natural setting on the banks of the Otonabee River, just 90 minutes from downtown Toronto, while Trent University Durham Greater Toronto Area, delivers a distinct mix of programming in the east GTA.
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