Feds support research to strengthen economy and quality of life of Canadians

(Edmonton) On Jan. 20 the federal government announced an annual investment of $1.6 million over the next three years from 11 University of Alberta early-stage science and engineering projects, in an ongoing commitment to support new research in areas that have been identified as priorities for Canadians.

“Getting new research projects off the ground can be difficult, in large part because new, and as yet untried, ideas can seem too risky for funding investment,” said U of A President Indira Samarasekera. “That’s what makes NSERC’s Strategic Project Grants program so vital to the ongoing generation and pursuit of truly new ideas at universities like the U of A. My congratulations to the 11 researchers and their teams who were successful in achieving this funding at such a critical early stage.”

The 11 projects—eight of which originate in the Faculty of Engineering, two in the Faculty of Science and one in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences—were awarded grants through the Government of Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s Strategic Project Grants Program. The goal of the program is to increase research and training in targeted areas—environmental science and technologies, information and communications technologies, manufacturing, and natural resources and energy—that could strongly enhance Canada’s economy, society and environment within the next 10 years.

“These grants form an important part of the wide-ranging NSERC funding received by our researchers at so many stages in their careers, from student support to discovery grants to industry collaborations,” said Lorne Babiuk, U of A vice-president (research). “The university looks forward to continuing to partner with NSERC to advance our common goals for research, training, and technology transfer and commercialization, for the benefit of all Canadians.”

In total, the government will invest $55 million through NSERC’s Strategic Project Grants Program in support of more than 120 research teams.

NSERC is a federal agency that helps make Canada a country of discoverers and innovators. The agency supports some 30,000 post-secondary students and post-doctoral fellows in their advanced studies. It promotes discovery by funding more than 12,000 professors every year and fosters innovation by encouraging more than 1,500 Canadian companies to participate and invest in post-secondary research projects.


  • Roger Zemp, $118,500, Faculty of Engineering
    Capacitive Micromachined Ultrasound Transducers with improved electrical safety and minimal charge effects
  • Yindi Jing, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, $147,400
    Future ubiquitous green mesh relay network design based on distributed beamforming
  • Daniel Sameoto, Department of Mechanical Engineering, $66,500
    Sensitive synthetic dry adhesives for pick and place application in Micro-electro-mechanical Systems
  • Robert Hayes, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, $119,365
    Advanced natural gas engine catalytic converter for methane and greenhouse gas reduction
  • Jingli Luo, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, $90,500
    Fuel cell for co-production of electricity and colbalt from syngas
  • James Cahill, Department of Biological Sciences, $96,373
    Pine regeneration following mountain pine beetle attack
  • Christopher Backhouse, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, $232,000
    Automated, miniaturized pathogen detection systems
  • Michael Gäenzle, Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, $150,000
    Functional glycans from lactic acid bacteria
  • Christine Szymanski, Department of Biological Sciences, $189,696
    Novel crops expressing bacteriophage tailspike proteins for reduction of food-borne pathogens at source
  • Alan Lynch, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, $200,180
    Inspection system for electrical transmission lines using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
  • Witold Pedrycz, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, $183,000
    Unified decision-support surveillance and risk assessment architecture for livestock production systems, public and animal health and rural communities.