University of Guelph scientists conducting cutting-edge research in climate change and subatomic physics received more than $3.2 million in federal support today.

The funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) will support two large U of G-led projects and a multi-university physics initiative involving Guelph that may yield new cancer treatments.

“This vital investment will allow our talented researchers to continue to push the boundaries of knowledge, answering fundamental questions while also making critical new discoveries,” said John Livernois, interim vice-president (research).

In total, CFI announced more than $256 million in funding today for 52  research institutions across Canada through the CFI’s Innovation Fund, with an additional $77 million to operate and maintain research infrastructure.

Prof. Claudia Wagner-Riddle, School of Environmental Sciences, said receiving $1-million for a project to improve agro-ecosystems under climate change was “truly exciting,” especially because 2015 is the International Year of the Soil.

She will build a new controlled-environment facility that will be the first of its kind in North America. Researchers will study soils year-round and use state-of-the-art instruments to look at trace amounts of gas as well as water quality and soil biodiversity.

Guelph has a long tradition of excellence in soil science, Wagner-Riddle said. “The novel field soil mesocosm system will provide our team with the potential to radically change our understanding of soil ecosystem processes that lead to enduring soil health and provide the knowledge needed for soil security in a changing climate,” she said.

Physics professor Carl Svensson received $1.4 million 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.

“We are deeply appreciative of the continued support of CFI in this second phase of the GRIFFIN project,” Svensson said. “It will ensure that Canadian researchers and students have access to the most advanced gamma-ray spectroscopy infrastructure and continue a position of global leadership in rare isotope science.”

Svensson heads a national team of researchers at institutions including U of G, TRIUMF, Simon Fraser University, Saint Mary’s University and Université de Montréal.

The new spectrometer will allow them to explore everything from subatomic particles to the origins of the universe. This sophisticated instrument will boost Canadian research and innovation in medical imaging, nuclear medicine, nuclear energy and monitoring of radioactive material, said Svensson.

Guelph physics professor Paul Garrett also received $800,000 out of a $13.5-million CFI grant for ARIEL at TRIUMF. This funding will support a project involving 19 national partners in producing rare isotopes for experiments in the physical and health sciences, including isotopes for treating diseases such as cancer.