Prince George, BC – UNBC researchers secured a combined $436,000 in funding through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) grants and scholarship programs announced on Monday. “These grants will allow UNBC researchers to probe, explore, and innovate on important topics that matter to people,” says UNBC President Dr. Daniel Weeks. “The researchers at UNBC and across British Columbia continue to lead Canada in important research and this funding from NSERC is a crucial piece that provides researchers with opportunities to make the next important breakthrough in their respective fields of study.”
Three NSERC Discovery Grants will help fund research projects in health care, biology, and computer science. An NSERC Research Tools and Instruments Grant will help fund the purchase of new imaging equipment. In addition to the research grants, UNBC received $52,500 for scholarships and fellowships for high-calibre students in eligible master’s or doctoral programs.
“NSERC’s ongoing support of research, training, and networking allows UNBC faculty to continue to conduct world-class research that has a direct impact on our region and our country,” says UNBC Vice-President Research Dr. Ranjana Bird. “All of our outstanding researchers who submitted Discovery Grant proposals this year were successful, which reflects the high quality of research at UNBC.”
Northern Medical Program Associate Professor Dr. Sarah Gray received a Discovery Grant worth $140,000 to continue her research to better understand which hormones play a role in regulating energy balance and how they do it. This work relates to how the body balances energy consumed through food intake and expended through actions such as thermogenesis (heat production) and the organism’s metabolic rate.
Ecosystem Science and Management Professor Dr. Russell Dawson will use $105,000 in Discovery Grant funding towards furthering his research on determining the important factors influencing reproductive effort and success of birds. Dawson is the Canada Research Chair in Avian Ecology and will examine how parent birds allocate resources between reproduction and their own self-maintenance, how elaborate ornaments such as bright plumage, which are indicators of the quality of individuals, influence mate choice decisions of females and patterns of paternity in socially monogamous birds, and the interactions between nest-dwelling parasites and their avian hosts.
Computer Science Professor Dr. Alex Aravind received a $90,000 Discovery Grant to develop, verify and prove, and conduct performance studies on a class of concurrent programs that solve synchronization problems. Concurrent programs allow multiple computations to occur simultaneously rather than sequentially. Until recently, except in some specialized domain like high performance computing, the (general purpose) computers had a single processor capable of running a single program sequentially at any time. Recently, the hardware technology has changed and now all the modern computers including handheld and embedded devices have multicore (or multiple) processors capable of running multiple programs simultaneously. This shift in the software development comes with a fundamental issue of synchronizing activities that compete for shared resources. Understanding synchronization issues in concurrent programming will allow software engineers to design simple, reliable, and efficient software for future systems including education, communication, entertainment, medical, and financial systems.
Biochemistry Professor Dr. Chow Lee, along with co-applicant Chemistry Professor Dr. Stephen Rader, will purchase a piece of equipment with imaging capability for proteins and nucleic acids analysis. The NSERC grant worth $48,999 will cover 90 per cent of the total $54,443 equipment cost, with the remaining funding coming from UNBC. The new device will replace a 14-year-old piece of equipment and will allow them to better understand the biochemical functions of proteins and ribonucleic acids in biological systems. Specifically, the equipment will allow Dr. Lee to understand the RNA decay processes as they relate to cancer. The equipment will allow Dr. Rader to better understand the pre-messenger RNA splicing mechanisms.