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Three university professors awarded new funding for cutting-edge research

Federal investment promotes science excellence; supports labs and equipment

North Oshawa location, University of Ontario Institute of Technology.
North Oshawa location, University of Ontario Institute of Technology.

Innovative research at University of Ontario Institute of Technology will get a major boost thanks to a new investment by the Government of Canada. The research focuses on diverse areas of study, including energy grid security, workplace safety and the health risks of prolonged sitting.

Three research infrastructure projects at the university are part of more than $52 million in funding announced August 15 in Sudbury, Ontario by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science. The investment, provided through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF), will allow researchers from 51 universities across the country to carry out groundbreaking research in excellent facilities.

The JELF offers important research support to Canadian universities, helping them to attract and retain top talent—particularly early-career researchers—with funding to purchase state-of-the-art equipment.

2017 JELF-funded projects at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology:

Health and Human Performance Laboratory
Researcher: Shilpa Dogra, PhD, Faculty of Health Sciences, Kinesiology

Active living can prevent the onset of chronic conditions and help older adults live independent lives. It can also help individuals with existing chronic conditions improve their health and quality of life. However, a large proportion of Canadians remain inactive.

Dr. Dogra will investigate the effects of reducing prolonged sitting time and engaging in different intensities of exercise in older adults and adults with respiratory diseases such as asthma. Work from her laboratory will inform the optimal exercise prescription for successful and healthy aging.  

Energy Automation and Management Infrastructure for Smart Resilient and Self-healing Grid Research Laboratory
Lead researcher: Walid Morsi Ibrahim, PhD, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science

The Conference Board of Canada says the 50-year-old Canadian electric power grid is vulnerable to cyberattack. The Board estimates it will cost almost $300 billion to upgrade and reinforce this vital infrastructure by 2030.

At the same time, environmental and financial considerations are driving governments to integrate new renewable energy sources, electric vehicles and energy storage systems into the grid. Managing these new elements will also require proper security measures.

Dr. Morsi’s research team is developing new techniques to automate and manage the electricity grid to improve efficiency, reliability, resiliency and self-healing capabilities. Applications include advanced monitoring systems, advanced knowledge discovery tools and cybersecurity measures.

Eye-Link II Tracking and Eego MyLab Systems to Study Multi-sensory Integration
Researchers: Bernadette Murphy, PhD, and Paul Yielder, PhD, Faculty of Health Sciences

Most of us have experienced reaching for–and missing–an object. Others may have had days when they make more typos than usual. Sensorimotor integration (SMI) is the brain’s ability to use sensory information from the body to formulate appropriate outputs to muscles. Plasticity is the brain’s ability to change in response to training.

Dr. Murphy and Dr. Yielder will use eye tracking and electroencephalography (EEG) systems to study how SMI and brain plasticity are impacted by altered sensory input. The research will consider neck pain and fatigue, experimentally induced pain, and the use of preferred and non-preferred limbs when learning to perform new movements.

This research will provide critical knowledge toward improving strategies for workplace and technology design, while decreasing injury risk and improving worker performance.

Quotes

“Ensuring that our scientists are well-prepared with the absolute paramount in tools and equipment for research and discovery is what we’re here for. These journeys can lead to achievements such as an improved economy and a better job market, and can also fuel an active research community here in Canada and internationally.” 
The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science

"Good research provides the evidence required for good policy. It is the evidence researchers produce that informs government decisions, benefiting our economy, improves our environment and betters our health. I am proud of the investments our Government is making in the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, as they will ultimately benefit the residents of Durham Region."
Celina Caesar-Chavannes, Member of Parliament for Whitby

“State-of-the-art equipment and facilities play a central role in ensuring the new generation of researchers can make breakthrough discoveries and fuel Canadian innovation. These facilities will also act as magnets for international collaborations and for the recruitment of the best students and postdoctoral fellows from around the world.”
Roseann Runte, President and CEO, Canada Foundation for Innovation

“These awards speak to the leading-edge research that is a hallmark of the university’s capacity for innovative discovery. The exciting research made possible through the purchase of new equipment from these CFI JELF awards will further enhance the University of Ontario Institute of Technology’s leadership in the strategic research areas of Energy and the Environment, and Human Health and Community Wellness.”
Douglas Holdway, PhD, Interim Vice-President, Research, Innovation and International, University of Ontario Institute of Technology

Quick facts

  • The JELF helps a select number of exceptional researchers at institutions across the country conduct leading-edge research by giving them the tools and equipment they need to be or become leaders in their field.
  • Total capital funding for this announcement was $52 million, including $12 million awarded under the CFI’s Infrastructure Operating Fund to help institutions with the incremental operating and maintenance costs associated with the acquisition of new infrastructure.

 

About the Canada Foundation for Innovation

For 20 years, the CFI has been giving researchers the tools they need to think big and to innovate. And a robust innovation system translates into jobs and new enterprises, better health, cleaner environments and, ultimately, vibrant communities. By investing in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment in Canada’s universities, colleges, research hospitals and non-profit research institutions, the CFI also helps to attract and retain the world’s top talent, to train the next generation of researchers and to support world-class research that strengthens the economy and improves the quality of life for all Canadians.

@InnovationCA
CFI YouTube channel

Media contact

Bryan Oliver
Communications and Marketing
University of Ontario Institute of Technology
905.721.8668 ext. 6709
bryan.oliver@uoit.ca

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