Ontario Government Invests $10.6 Million in U of G Research

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The University of Guelph will receive more than $10.6 million to support research ranging from improved farming and species identification to subatomic physics and biomaterials to recycling of e-waste and fighting cancer.

The announcement was made on campus today by Liz Sandals, minister of education and MPP for Guelph.

The funding for 16 projects comes from the Ontario Research Fund’s Research Excellence and Research Infrastructure programs and the province’s Early Researcher Awards.

“This is an incredible investment from the provincial government,” said Malcolm Campbell, vice-president (research).

“It provides critical funding for some of the University’s most reputable research initiatives, supports promising young faculty who will be tomorrow’s research leaders, and speaks to our reputation and ability to translate knowledge into innovations that benefit society and the economy.”

Nearly $3.2 million will go to the Bioproducts Discovery and Development Centre (BDDC), which makes bio-based materials for use in auto parts, packaging and consumer products.

BDDC members are among eight researchers from four Ontario universities who will work with government and industries in Canada and globally.

“My colleagues and I applaud the government for investing in innovative bio-based technologies being developed in Ontario,” said Prof. Amar Mohanty, BDDC director and holder of the Ontario Premier’s Research Chair in Biomaterials and Transportation.

BDDC has become an innovation hub for sustainable materials manufacturing that is essential to Canada’s future, he said. “With our new project, we are not only committed to addressing issues of environmental sustainability but also to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels.”

Integrative biology professor Paul Hebert will receive more than $3.5 million to further the use of DNA barcoding to survey, manage and protect biodiversity.

Past provincial support has allowed the U of G-based Biodiversity Institute of Ontario (BIO) to gain global recognition and attract worldwide partners, said Hebert, BIO director and scientific director of the International Barcode of Life Project.

This latest grant “will allow us to demonstrate the power of DNA barcoding to advance bio-surveillance — progress that will aid agriculture, fisheries and forestry while also helping to protect the species which share our planet. My colleagues and I are deeply grateful.”

Prof. Claudia Wagner-Riddle, School of Environmental Sciences, received a $1-million Research Infrastructure grant to improve agro-ecosystems under climate change. She will build a new controlled environment facility — the first of its kind in North America — to study soils year-round.

Physics professor Carl Svensson received $925,000 to complete construction of the GRIFFIN instrument (Gamma-Ray Infrastructure for Fundamental Investigations of Nuclei) at TRIUMF, a world-leading subatomic physics laboratory in Vancouver. Svensson heads a national team that will use the new spectrometer to explore everything from subatomic particles to the origins of the universe.

Chemistry professor Kathryn Preuss will use a grant worth almost $400,000 to support the advanced materials research consortium. That group is creating molecule-based materials with novel functions to handle waste such as e-waste, nanoparticle waste, and materials from mining and metallurgy.

Molecular and Cellular Biology professor Jim Uniacke received two grants to support his work on protein synthesis in human cancer cells: a $140,000 Early Researcher Award and $124,470 for infrastructure.

Six other U of G professors also received Research Infrastructure grants, as follows:

  • Tariq Akhtar, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, $117,687, plant metabolic biochemistry laboratory;
  • Anthony Mutsaers, Department of Clinical Studies, $125,256, translational oncology research laboratory;
  • Jonathan Newman, School of Environmental Sciences, $124,671, biology, ecological invasions and climate change;
  • Linda Parker, Department of Psychology,  $124,908, neurochemical basis of behaviour;
  • Scott Ryan, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, $251,717, neurodevelopment and degeneration laboratory; and
  • Tina Widowski, Department of Animal and Poultry Science, $115,916, animal welfare assessment.

Other professors receiving $140,000 Early Researcher Awards, intended to advance the careers and research programs of promising young faculty, are, as follows:

  • Shohel Mahmud, Engineering, energy harvesting from low potential sources;
  • David Mutch, Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, nutrigenomics and metabolic syndrome; and
  • Kieran O’Doherty, Psychology, science policy and public values.