U of G has received more than $2.2 million from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) for five strategic team research projects centred around sustainability.

“These awards highlight U of G’s strength, leadership and dedication to research that produces real solutions to real-life issues,” says Prof. Kevin Hall, vice-president (research).

“The innovations that will result from the projects supported by NSERC will help create healthier environments and ecosystems and sustainable energy, which are important to enhancing scientific discovery and to Canadian society and its economy.”

The funding comes from NSERC’s strategic projects grants program, which supports established research programs in targeted areas, including healthy environments and ecosystems, quality food, sustainable energy systems and advanced communication and information management. Each project is supported for three years.

Prof. Liz Boulding is one of three faculty in the Department of Integrative Biology to receive funding. She was awarded $563,588 for her work on genomic selection and mapping of Atlantic salmon populations.

“My collaborators and I hope this will allow us to take ecologically sustainable aquaculture to the next level by using information from genetic markers coupled with traditional animal breeding to produce faster-growing and more disease-resistant fish.”

Her team will analyze historical DNA samples from Cooke Aquaculture’s elite broodstock from New Brunswick, as well as the wild populations that produced the broodstock.
“This will help Fisheries and Oceans Canada understand local adaptation by endangered wild Atlantic salmon from the Bay of Fundy,” she says.

Boulding’s colleague Prof. John Fryxell received $252,000 to assess the long-term viability of woodland caribou in Ontario. A number of initiatives are underway in Ontario and across the country to reverse the troubling decline in caribou numbers throughout much of the boreal forest zone, says Fryxell. The Guelph program will help integrate the results of ongoing field studies into a comprehensive computer modelling tool. Among other things, it will be used to evaluate caribou viability in response to long-term climate-change scenarios, he says.

“This will help a large set of stakeholders find the best solution to an environmental, social and economic challenge in the Far North.”

Also in the Department of Integrative Biology, Prof. Merritt Turetsky received $399,400 to develop the first peatland hydrological and wildfire model to predict fire danger and combustion patterns under both pristine and drought conditions.

In the Department of Plant Agriculture, Prof. Barry Shelp will use his $431,734 award to improve understanding of the mechanisms responsible for physiological disorders in stored apples. This could lead to improved diagnostic technologies for the $164-million-a-year apple industry.

In the Department of Chemistry, Prof. Peter Tremaine was awarded $587,970 for research that improves understanding of the conditions that will be encountered in the novel “Generation IV” CANDU supercritical water-cooled reactor that will come online in 2025.