The Canada Foundation for Innovation’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF) has awarded more than $1.5 million for nine research projects at Concordia.
The JELF program enables outstanding researchers to undertake cutting-edge work by providing them with the foundational research infrastructure required to be leaders in their field.
Here’s a brief overview of the research projects in the Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science and Faculty of Arts and Science that received funding.
Advancing artificial intelligence models for natural language processing, computer vision and speech recognition
Eugene Belilovsky and Mirco Ravanelli, assistant professors in the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering, received $189,494 for a new intelligence processing unit (IPU) server.
This advanced server is designed to handle massive amounts of data and perform complex calculations very quickly, making it the perfect tool for developing advanced artificial intelligence (AI) applications. Belilovsky and Ravanelli plan to employ this IPU server to create new algorithms and models that can be used to train AI systems for natural language processing, computer vision and speech recognition.
Studying the link between poor sleep and memory decline in older adults
Emily Coffey, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, was awarded $106,008. Her lab is studying the link between poor sleep and memory decline in older adults with the goal of developing treatments.
Coffey is applying a technique known to enhance memory that measures tiny magnetic fields in the brain and uses deep learning–based algorithms to detect and stimulate neural patterns with quiet sounds. The funds will go to updating equipment to make recordings and study the effect of sleep on memory in everyday tasks.
Designing new materials to harvest water from the air
Ashlee Howarth, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, received $240,780 to design and synthesize new materials that can capture water from the air. Howarth’s project will develop metal–organic frameworks, which are porous materials that can capture water in the air in both humid and arid climates.
They work by attracting and binding water molecules to their surface, forming a thin film. As climate change threatens our freshwater supply, these innovative materials can generate clean, drinkable water in remote communities in Canada or be integrated into existing municipal infrastructure in urban areas.
Developing face masks that can analyze human breath and detect diseases
Sana Jahanshahi-Anbuhi, assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering and Concordia University Research Chair in Stable Bio/Chemosensors, has been granted $132,968 to create an innovative solution to disease detection — a wearable face mask embedded with biosensors that can analyze chemicals in exhaled breath samples.
The masks will use nanoparticles made of gold to detect molecules, as well as small, portable and low-cost paper-based devices to detect and analyze substances for diagnostic testing. This research project could revolutionize global health by enabling remote health-care monitoring through stable sensors in face masks.
A new high-speed testing system for electric cars
Chunyan Lai, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, received $171,632 for a new high-speed testing system for electric vehicles (EV). The new system will test a vehicle’s powertrain, which is an assembly of the components of a car that transfer power from the engine to the wheels.
The new equipment can test powertrain components at a speed of up to 12,000 revolutions per minute, which is nearly double the speed that the current facility can handle. The system will allow Concordia’s Power Electronics and Energy Research (PEER) Group to evaluate the entire EV powertrain system under various driving cycles and develop unique research expertise in automotive electrification.
Tracking fish to predict how they’ll respond to climate change
Eric Pedersen, an assistant professor in the Department of Biology, has secured $214,133 to create a network of underwater microphones designed to track the movement of fish. This cutting-edge technology will allow researchers to track the movement of many fish at once in Quebec’s James Bay and eastern St. Lawrence River.
The goal is to understand how fish respond to environmental change, such as increasing water temperatures. The data collected will provide valuable insights into sustainable fisheries management and the changing behaviour of fish in cold-water ecosystems over time.
Optimizing materials for next-generation solar and thermoelectric devices
Ingo Salzmann, assistant professor of physics, chemistry and biochemistry, was awarded $247,199 to create better materials for the next generation of sustainable energy devices.
From solar panels to devices that can convert wasted heat into electricity, Salzmann’s lab will use cutting-edge equipment to study the properties of these materials and optimize them for maximum efficiency and reliability. This research can help us move closer to a world powered by clean and renewable energy.
Revealing the microscopic details of our brains’ neural networks
Christopher Steele, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, was granted $108,816 for a new microscope that will reveal the microscopic details of our brains’ connectional architecture.
By mapping out the intricate neural network of the cerebellum — a highly connected region of the brain — Steele hopes to gain a better understanding of how our brains work and develop new treatments for stroke-related damage and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Improving the efficiency of airplanes by developing better coatings
Pantcho Stoyanov and Deniz Meneksedag Erol, professors in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, received $180,110 to develop cutting-edge coatings for materials used in aircraft engines.
The new coatings will lead to higher-efficiency airplanes by reducing fuel burn, noise level and pollution. With these improved coatings, the Canadian manufacturing and oil and gas industries can become more competitive in the global market, while also reducing their environmental impact.
Learn more about research at Concordia.