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Concordia researchers receive more than $7 million in federal funding

Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council lends its support to 50 ‘cutting-edge’ projects at the university
June 27, 2016
By Cléa Desjardins

Major new federal funding will support innovative research projects at Concordia in areas ranging from biology to geography to computer science. 

On June 23, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) announced a total of $7,001,931 over five years for 50 projects at Concordia, to be led by early-stage, mid-career and established researchers, as well as doctoral students. 

The funding is awarded through NSERC's Discovery Grants and its scholarships and fellowships competition.

The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, federal minister of science, said that the investment will allow many of Canada’s scientists and engineers to explore the frontiers of knowledge where they can make exciting new discoveries. 

“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."

NSERC's support enhances Concordia's research expertise in a range of disciplines. Researchers from Biology; Psychology; Chemistry and Biochemistry; Computer Science and Software Engineering; Mathematics and Statistics; Building, Civil and Environmental Engineering; and Mechanical and Industrial Engineering are among those who received awards.

Karen Li Karen Li

New discoveries

For psychology professor Karen Li, the funding will help accelerate research aimed at promoting independent aging. 

"High-level cognitive control processes are implicated in complex activities such as multi-tasking and coordinated action and can influence the success or failure of activities of daily living in old age,” she says.

“My recently awarded NSERC grant will support experimental work to understand two fundamental cognitive mechanisms underpinning these types of complex activities.”

Radu Zmeureanu, a professor in the Department of Building, Civil and Environmental Engineering, is equally excited about the funding.

Radu Zmeureanu Radu Zmeureanu

"The new NSERC Discovery Grant I received to support my research in the optimization of design and operation strategies of sustainable buildings has a strong symbolic value — behind the good financial support, of course!” he says. “It was awarded through a severe evaluation process by colleagues in my own discipline from Canada and abroad.”

John Capobianco, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry heads the Lanthanide Research Group. He was awarded a Discovery Grant which increased his NSERC funding by 33 per cent. "This will lead to a greater numbers of graduate students being trained at the highest level in the field of nano-biomedicine and other innovative nanotechnologies at the forefront of research today," he says.

Pascale Biron, a professor in the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment, was awarded $35,000 per year for five years to support her study of river dynamics and resilience of fluvial systems in perturbed environments. She says NSERC Discovery Grants are hugely important for her work, as they are one of the very few sources of funding for fundamental research.

“It provides freedom to explore new ideas, without having specific project deliverables. These new ideas can then be integrated into more applied research projects," she says. "It is also great for training graduate students as we can use these grants not only to provide stipends, but also to cover travel expenses for conferences. This is often not allowed with other sources of funding.”

Biron also points out that since Discovery Grants are for five years, which is longer than many other grants, "they help us make longer-term commitments for students, particularly at the PhD level.”

Suong Van Hoa, a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, obtained a $125,300 NSERC Tools and Instrument grant, which he'll use to acquire a drop weight impact testing machine.

"The work is for the study of the dynamic behaviour of composite structures by the group of researchers which includes myself, Catharine Marsden, Mehdi Hojjati, and Rajamohan Ganesan." says Van Hoa.

"Concordia has never had a strong impact testing machine before. Its acquisition will help us take on many projects that are important for the aerospace, as well as automotive, industries."

A foundation for innovation and sustainability

Also included in the funding is $465,500 for research projects led by doctoral students, which will help advance important studies led by talented emerging researchers in Building, Civil and Environmental Engineering; Mechanical and Industrial Engineering; and Biology.

"Discoveries build the necessary foundation for an innovative, prosperous and sustainable society,” says B. Mario Pinto, president of NSERC.

“A diversified and high-quality research base requires us to provide equality of opportunity across gender and culture. Bringing together multiple points of view strengthens our science, technology and innovation ecosystem and extends its many benefits more equally.” 

Find out more about research at Concordia.

For a complete list of Concordia's newly funded projects, consult the NSERC website.


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