From the well-being of Canada’s northern peatlands to the cost-effective production of customized wearable devices, dozens of University of Guelph research projects will be supported by an investment of more than $506-million from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)  announced today by François-Philippe Champagne, federal minister of innovation, science and industry.

In all, 41 U of G researchers will receive more than $7.7 million in multi-year funding from the Discovery Grants program, which supports research projects with long-term goals. The funding spans four colleges and 14 departments, with each project being supported for five years.

Among U of G awardees, two projects will receive Discovery Northern Research Supplements worth $110,000 over five years. Another ten U of G projects will receive one-time Discovery Launch Supplements for early career researchers worth a total of $125,000.

NSERC will also provide 50 U of G faculty with more than $1.5 million in one-time, one-year COVID-19 extensions to their existing Discovery research grants.

Seven researchers received more than $840,000 in one-time Research Tools and Instruments grants, which support the purchase of research equipment.

“This significant investment from the federal government underscores the breadth, depth and excellence of research expertise at the University of Guelph,” said Dr. Malcolm Campbell, vice-president (research). “The generous research support announced today will enable our researchers to advance the frontiers of our knowledge and understanding, to yield insight and innovation and to improve life for us all.”

“Congratulations to the University of Guelph for the recent announcements of NSERC Discovery Grants and Research Supplements outlining the continued leading work being done at the University of Guelph,” said Lloyd Longfield, MP for Guelph. “The Government of Canada is very pleased to continue our close partnership with the University of Guelph.”

NSERC Discovery Grants

U of G researchers will use NSERC Discovery Grants to study numerous topics in the physical and biological sciences, including aspects of agriculture and veterinary medicine. Among those projects are the following:

Dr. Susan Glasauer

School of Environmental Sciences
Ontario Agricultural College

Glasauer will study microorganisms in Canada’s northern peatlands, wetland ecosystems critical for mitigating the effects of climate change. Human activity has increased airborne dust and ash carried by precipitation to peatlands.

Glasauer and her team will investigate how microbes help peatlands mobilize the chemical components of dust and assess how dust affects the capacity of peatlands to store vast amounts of carbon.

Dr. Priyanka Pundir

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
College of Biological Science

Pundir explores the innate immune system, the body’s first line of defence against invading pathogens. The skin, as a physical barrier to infection, is a key part of the system. She and her research team will study how the skin’s microbiome — its community of resident microorganisms — contributes to skin health and resilience.

Pundir will also receive a Discovery Launch Supplement.

Dr. Mauricio Seguel

Department of Pathobiology
Ontario Veterinary College

Seguel studies how wildlife immune systems develop, especially early and late in life when the immune system is more sensitive to disease. With his research team, he will examine how early-life exposure to pathogens and microbiomes stabilizes specific immune traits in an animal population. They will also question how these traits impact the risk of spreading infectious disease.

Seguel will also receive a Discovery Launch Supplement.

Dr. Sheng Yang

School of Engineering
College of Engineering and Physical Sciences

Yang will devise a system for the cost-effective production of personalized smart wearable products like fitness trackers, smart helmets and biosensors. He and his team aim to combine the low unit costs of mass production, the flexibility of custom-made products designed in collaboration with the customer and additive manufacturing technologies such as 3-D printing.

Yang will also receive a Discovery Launch Supplement.