Local MPs get a look at federally funded research

Two Niagara politicians toured Brock University labs Tuesday after researchers were awarded $2.4 million in federal government funding.

Members of Parliament Vance Badawey (Niagara Centre) and Chris Bittle (St. Catharines) saw first-hand the impact of Brock’s research on the Niagara community and beyond. The labs they toured are two examples of the 2016 science research that the federal government is funding at Brock University.

The federal granting agency Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) announced the results of the 2016 Discovery Grants, scholarships and fellowships competitions for universities across the country June 23.

“I am pleased to be on campus again today to continue the already well established relationship between Brock and the Government of Canada,” says Bittle.

“I am excited to see this investment of $2.4 million in NSERC grants to support a number of the key researchers who call Brock home,” he says. “The ability of our local post-secondary institutions to attract and help foster key researchers who continue to conduct some of the most cutting-edge research in their fields, highlights the strength of our University. I congratulate all those receiving funds on a job well done, you continue to make Brock and Niagara proud.”


“This money will help fund 22 cutting-edge projects at Brock University,” says Badawey. “Investments such as these ensure that our community will continue to develop the next generation of researchers and innovators who will help grow the Niagara Region and create jobs in new and emerging sectors.”

During their June 28 tour, Bittle and Badawey visited Professor of Psychology Catherine Mondloch, whose research aims to understand the mechanisms underlying the development of expert face recognition across the lifespan.

Understanding how we recognize faces can help caregivers or the public look for older adults who may have wandered away from home, or assist teachers in recognizing grandparents who come to pick children up from school. Eyewitness testimonies can also be given a boost with more knowledge on face recognition.

As well, the MPs called on Assistant Professor of Health Sciences Adam MacNeil, whose research team identified the activation of several enzymes in the formation of mast cells and is now working to better understand the cell-signaling mechanism in this process.

Given the breadth of important roles mast cells play in defending us from bacteria, viruses and parasites, as well as their driving role in pathologies like allergy and asthma, the results obtained could have broad biological applications.

“Brock’s researchers did extremely well in this year’s NSERC competition,” says Associate Vice-president Research (Natural and Health Sciences) Joffre Mercier. “We are very proud of the outstanding work our researchers are doing at Brock.”

The $2.4 million funding includes studies being done under the Discovery Grant and the Discovery Development Grant programs.

Subject areas of some of these grants include: how experience influences expert face recognition; how mast cells form from bone marrow; documenting climate-induced changes to the landscape and water in Old Crow Flats, Yukon; and examining the Plio-Pleistocene paleoceanography of the northern and western Pacific.

Also included is $262,500 funding in graduate student scholarships. The research ranges from the role of hormones in sleep loss to how West Nile is spread in Ontario to examining the eastern carpenter bee.

“NSERC funding provides our graduate students with much needed financial support to continue with projects that are pushing the boundaries of research in exciting directions,” says Mike Plyley, Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

“The scholarships are true recognition to graduate students that the scope and calibre of their work hold great promise in contributing to discovery and innovation in Canada.”

To see a full list of researchers receiving funding, see the related story in The Brock News.

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