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Dalhousie University researchers receive over $8 million in federal grants

Posted by Media Centre on September 8, 2017 in News

Halifax, NS - Fifty-seven Dalhousie University researchers from six different faculties have been announced as recipients of over $8 million in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s (NSERC) Discovery Grants.

The Discovery Grants (DG) program is NSERC’s largest and longest-standing program. By supporting ongoing research programs with long-term goals, Discovery Grants give researchers the flexibility to explore the most promising avenues of research as they emerge. Recipients are not only making an impact on their field of study, but are specializing in research with the potential to impact the world.

“To have so many of our faculty recognized with Discovery Grants demonstrates the significant impact of the creative and innovative research they are undertaking,” says Dr. Alice Aiken, Vice President Research at Dalhousie University. “These researchers are leaders in their fields. Their contributions are far reaching, and will benefit our province, our country and the world.”

In addition to the Discovery Grants, eight Dalhousie researchers were awarded Research Tools and Instruments funding for a total of $1,104,929; three were awarded Discovery Accelerator Supplements, for a total of $360,000; and twenty-two students were recipients of graduate and postdoctoral scholarships and fellowships, for a total of $2,126,000.

Today’s funding announcement was made by The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. A total investment of $515 million has been made by the federal government in NSERC Discovery Grants, graduate and postgraduate scholarships, and postdoctoral fellowships.

Highlights of successfully funded Dalhousie researchers:

Dr. Arunika Gunawardena, Programmed cell death in plant development
Faculty of Science

Dr. Gunawardeana, a professor in the Department of Biology, is focusing her research on programmed cell death (PCD), which is the process of cells self-destructing. Through studying perfectly formed holes in lace plants, she is aiming to understand how PCD works, and what mechanics protect certain cells from programmed cell death.

Dr. Gunawardena’s findings could have far reaching applications, from medicine to agriculture. This includes the potential for an increased shelf life of crops and vegetables. So far, the research has been featured on the cover of nine high-ranking international journals, including publications authored by a few of her students.

Dr. Ghada Koleilat, Carbon Nanotubes: Building Blocks for Power Textiles
Faculty of Engineering

The development of wearable technology that can be used for health monitoring and entertainment have led to high-tech applications is growing at an exponential pace. In order to meet the demands of today’s society, these wearable devices need to be able to survive stresses caused by flexing, twisting, stretching and exposure to random conditions.

Dr. Koleilat and her research team are using carbon nanotubes to develop low cost, high efficiency photovoltaics that can be used as a power source in textiles. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are one of the strongest materials discovered, and have high chemical and thermal tolerances.

The technology that Dr. Koleiat is developing can be applied to environmental sensors embedded in garments that would provide military personnel and first responders with the ability to assess the safety of their surroundings. The system is designed to be lightweight, low powered, indistinguishable from the fabric used, and extremely durable in harsh environments.

Dr. David Westwood, Effects of Prior and Future Movements on Current Actions
Faculty of Health

The ability to interact with the surrounding environment is fundamental to most human activities. This ability depends on the seamless integration of sensory, cognitive and motor functions.

Dr. Westwood is exploring the effect prior movements have on current ones, demonstrating that people are slower to make movements that repeat the direction of a prior action. His findings could lead to better rehabilitation programs for individuals with neurological disorders; improved techniques for training individuals to perform new skills; improved prosthetic devices that are controlled by signals recorded from the nervous system; and better design of tasks and devices that minimize the risk of potentially harmful movement errors.

As one of Canada’s leading research universities, Dalhousie attracted $140 in research funding last year. For a complete list of Dalhousie’s successfully funded applicants to the 2017 NSERC competition, please visit the NSERC website.


Media contact:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Dalhousie Research Services
Tel: (902) 494-4148
Cell: (902) 222-2817


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