UNBC researchers receive funding worth $1.1 million

University of Northern British Columbia researchers received a combined $1.115 million over five years in new funding from the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery Grant program.

Seven UNBC researchers received Discovery Grants worth $1.075 million over five years. In addition, two UNBC researchers received Development Discovery Grants worth $40,000 over two years.

“UNBC researchers are advancing knowledge and translating complex ideas into practical solutions,” says UNBC President Dr. Daniel Weeks. “The seven outstanding faculty members receiving NSERC Discovery Grants this year are leaders in their fields and their work demonstrates the global impact of UNBC, a small University doing big research.”

The Discovery Grants Program supports ongoing research programs with long-term goals and all of the applications go through a peer-review process. The UNBC success rate for NSERC Discovery Grants this year is 85 per cent.

“The Discovery Grant program provides our researchers with the foundation to advance their research program and make impactful contributions to their field and mentor the next generation students,” says Dr. Geoff Payne, UNBC Interim Vice President Research and Graduate Programs. “The high success rate for UNBC applications validates the exceptional research culture on our campuses.”

The 2017 UNBC Discovery Grant Recipients are:

Chemistry Professor Dr. Stephen Rader will receive $200,000 to determine the role of each splicing component in C. merolae, a species of red alga. Dr. Rader will also seek to understand the regulation, biological consequences and evolution of splicing. The research will lead to breakthroughs in structure and function experiments on splicing mechanism and regulation.

Engineering Assistant Professor Dr. Asif Iqbal will receive $100,000 to explore building structural systems that will be suitable for tall wood structures. The research will lead to better seismic performance of tall wood structures.

Environmental Science Professor Dr. Peter Jackson will receive $195,000 to study the interaction between the atmosphere and complex terrain. The research will strengthen our understanding of current and future threats to air quality in B.C. using models, satellite data and novel sensors, and model the movement of mountain pine beetles and the fate of alpine glaciers due to climate change.

Biochemistry Professor Dr. Chow Lee will receive $140,000 to better understand the ribonuclease function of the endogenous form as well as the recently discovered secreted form of APE1. The NSERC proposed research is expected to provide insights into the ribonuclease function of APE1 in mammalian cells, which will help broaden our understanding of the regulation of gene expression and how the processes of DNA repair and RNA metabolism may be linked.

Physics Professor Dr. Matt Reid will receive $105,000 to advance applications of terahertz technology. His work will enhance innovation and industry adoption and will lead to new technologies appropriate for the wood products and photonics industries.

Engineering Associate Professor Dr. Thomas Tannert will receive $170,000 to advance research and solutions in wood-concrete composite floors and wood-concrete structural load-resisting frames. The research will have an impact on the structural use of wood and will increase its market share in a variety of residential and non-residential buildings.

Ecosystem Science and Management Associate Professor Dr. Oscar Venter will receive $165,000 to develop models that improve our understanding of how environmental pressures interact to drive biodiversity declines, and to map and project future cumulative pressures across the Canadian north.

Ecosystem Science and Management Professor Dr. Phil Burton and Environmental Engineering Professor Dr. Ron Thring each received Development Discovery Grants worth $20,000 over two years.

This research is directly funded by NSERC. The Research Support Fund, a tri-agency initiative of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), assists Canadian post-secondary institutions and their affiliated research hospitals and institutes with the expenses associated with managing the research funded by these three federal research-granting agencies.

-UNBC