Landslide of U of A projects tapped for federal funding

Professor emeritus David Cruden’s examination of landslides is one of 125 U of A projects sharing $4.2 million in NSERC Discovery Grant funding.


(Edmonton) The Government of Canada has announced an investment in 125 University of Alberta-led projects in an ongoing effort to further drive scientific discovery.

The awards announced on June 26, comprise the 2014 competition results for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s Discovery Grant program. They are worth $4.2 million annually for the next five years for university researchers investigating a wide range of research projects in areas such as computer science, environmental sciences, life sciences and engineering.

The renewal of an NSERC Discovery Grant for professor emeritus David Cruden’s research on Landslide Hazard in Western Canada adds another five years to the 40 years for which NSERC and its predecessor have supported the work of his students and colleagues.

Cruden, who came to the U of A in 1971 with a joint appointment in geology and civil engineering, is recognized internationally as a leader in engineering geology and the application of risk to geohazards.


The research undertaken by Cruden’s team follows closely the work done by John Allan, the founder and first chair of the U of A’s geology department, whose tenure as chair ran from 1912 to his retirement in 1949. One of Allan’s many contributions to provincial geology came in the 1930s when he successfully advised the provincial government to relocate the community of Lime City—which sprung up out of the rubble of the famed 1903 Frank Slide—and the highway through the Crowsnest Pass away from the danger of a second slide.


Over the years, Cruden and his team have continued Allan’s legacy by developing policy and guidelines for the management of large landslides in Western Canada, and his advice has been sought by consultants and governments around the world.

Recently, Cruden took his admiration for Allan a step further, co-authoring John Allan: The Founding of Alberta's Energy Industries, an annotated collection of the adventurer/researcher’s photographs in celebration of the centennial of what is now the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

“One of the pleasures of research at the University of Alberta has been exploring its long history,” said Cruden.

This latest round of funding brings NSERC’s total discovery grant investment in the U of A to more than $19.5 million annually and supports more than 600 U of A natural sciences and engineering researchers. The Discovery Grants Program supports ongoing programs of research rather than a single short-term project or collection of projects.

Along with the Discovery Grants, eight U of A researchers won awards from NSERC’s Discovery Accelerator Supplements Program, which provides Discovery Grant recipients with timely additional resources in order to accelerate progress and maximize the impact of the research program. These grants are worth $40,000 annually for three years.

NSERC also handed out a pair of Northern Research Supplement grants worth a total of $36,000 annually for five years. This program has been established to help augment and promote Canadian university-based northern research and training.

Another seven projects were awarded $720,000 from NSERC’s Research Tools and Instruments Grants Program, which supports Discovery Grant recipients with the purchase or development of research equipment.

Finally, NSERC announced the winners of the 2014 Scholarships and Fellowships Competition. All told, the U of A received 13 Postgraduate Scholarships (Doctoral) worth $21,000 annually for two or three years, 15 Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarships (Doctoral) worth $35,000 annually for two or three years and six Postdoctoral Fellowships worth $40,000 annually for two years.