Researchers receive major federal funding – TRU Newsroom

Researchers receive major federal funding – TRU Newsroom

June 14, 2024 at 12:56 pm  Education, Kamloops, News

Dr. Emily Studd is one of six TRU faculty members to receive substantial research grants.

Six Thompson Rivers University (TRU) researchers have been awarded a combined total of $937,500 through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) Discovery Grants (DG) program — funding that will bolster research in natural sciences and engineering. The grants support ongoing research programs with long-term goals as they provide vital operating funds over a five-year period.

Through these grants, the researchers can expect to secure long-term resources essential for their projects, which enhances their ability to pursue groundbreaking work. This financial support not only aids in sustaining their research work, but also stimulates excellence, ensuring that Canadian universities remain at the forefront of scientific discovery and innovation.

Discovery Grants

Four TRU researchers were awarded DGs, including Dr. Yue Zhang, assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. Zhang is exploring genomic evolution through mathematical and statistical approaches on plant species.

Dr. Matt Reudink, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, focuses on understanding how events occurring throughout the year interact to shape the evolution, ecology, and conservation of birds. He is especially interested in tracking the movement of individuals — whether across continents in migratory birds or in residential back yards, as with urban-dwelling mountain chickadees.

“Students in my lab conduct fieldwork across Canada, the US, and on the tropical wintering grounds, working with collaborators across the globe,” said Reudink. “The NSERC Discovery Grant will allow me to expand the scope of our work on understanding the impact of urbanization on mountain chickadees, explore the evolution of moult (feather replacement) on the tropical wintering grounds in Jamaica, begin new field studies on the evolution of ornamental plumage and continue our work on the impact of climate change and urbanization on declines and range shifts in at-risk bird species.”

Dr. Emily Studd, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, aims to determine how changing seasonality, like shortening winters, is impacting the structure and function of Canadian ecosystems. Her research team is focused on activity variation in wildlife as it is a key component of the daily and seasonal shifts seen in the structure of ecosystems. This research combines the field-based use of state-of-the-art wildlife research technologies across northern and western Canada with mathematical modelling approaches to understand these seasonal and activity processes that govern the biodiversity of ecosystems.

“The Discovery Grant provides the ability to hire and train the next generation of wildlife researchers and investigate basic ecological questions that fill critical knowledge gaps in our understanding of how ecosystems function. Without the support of these funds, this research would not be possible,” said Studd.

Dr. Rick Brewster, a professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, studies complex resource allocation problems such as scheduling and the frequency assignment problem. The design of efficient algorithms for solving these problems involves an interplay of mathematics and computing science. The development of new mathematics leads to the design of algorithms, and the implementation of new algorithms drives the development of supporting mathematics.

“The main use of the funds is to support students at the undergraduate and graduate levels to train Canada’s next generation of scientists,” said Brewster.

Developmental Discovery Grants

Two TRU researchers were awarded Developmental Discovery Grants, including Dr. Heather Price, professor in the Department of Psychology. Price, who is also a Canada Research Chair in Culture and Communities, Children and the Law, is studying ways to identify the boundaries of repeated events and to better understand how and when a person will remember what happened one time from a series of similar experiences. As a result of this new knowledge, Price and her team can develop ways to facilitate participation in the justice system for victims and witnesses of repeated crimes.

Dr. Kingsley Donkor, professor in the Department of Chemistry, seeks to develop novel and sensitive analytical methods to characterize the fate and stability of emerging micropollutants such as cannabinoids (the organic compounds found in cannabis) and bisphenols (a chemical produced in the production of polycarbonate plastics) on the environment. He also aims to study the impact of the degradation of these micropollutants on human health, aquatic life and the environment.

“The NSERC grant would provide funds for essential supplies needed to ensure the feasibility of the study and achieve the goals of the research. In addition, it would allow me to hire our students to participate in scientific research,” said Donkor.

The DG program is instrumental in promoting and maintaining a diverse base of high-quality research capabilities within Canadian universities, particularly in the natural sciences and engineering fields. The program aims to nurture ideas with the greatest potential to advance these disciplines by improving access to additional funding opportunities and fostering an environment conducive to research training.

Read the Government of Canada news release here.

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