CFI awards Brock more than $623,000 for specialized research equipment

Brock University’s newest Canada Research Chairs (CRC) will be purchasing state-of-the-art equipment thanks to funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

The CFI has awarded Paula Duarte-Guterman, Matthew Kwan, Danielle Sirianni Molnar and Newman Sze $623,933 for specialized infrastructure through its John R. Evans Leadership Fund.

“CFI’s investment in Brock University is critical support for the cutting-edge discoveries our researchers are making,” says Brock Vice-President, Research Tim Kenyon.

“This funding enables a better understanding of mental health in youth, diseases that affect us as we age, and how experiences remodel the brain across the lifespan — all areas that impact many people in society,” he says.

Assistant Professor of Psychology Paula Duarte-Guterman, who is Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Behavioural Neuroscience, studies how parenthood and aging remodels the hippocampus, the brain region responsible for learning and memory and the regulation of stress and anxiety.

She will be purchasing a laser scanning confocal microscope, which offers sharp imaging of cellular structures identified by fluorescent labels to investigate how cells are organized and interact with each other and measure the level of particular proteins in fixed tissue.

“This equipment will be instrumental to my research program to link how structural and physiological changes in the brain are associated with behaviour,” says Duarte-Guterman.

Assistant Professor of Child and Youth Studies Matthew Kwan, who is Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Youth Mental Health and Performance, studies how ‘movement behaviours’ — sleep, sitting and physical activity — impact youth.

He will be acquiring wearable activity monitoring devices that research participants wear on their chest and wrist that will collect information on autonomic nervous system activation, including heart rate variability and galvanic skin response (sweat gland activity).

Real-time data from these devices can be set to enable opportunities for Ecological Momentary Assessments — repeated sampling of subjects’ current behaviours and acute experiences — to gain further contextual data.

“The research being proposed with these devices enables new theoretical and methodological approaches for determining how we can improve movement behaviours and the mental health and well-being of Canadian youth,” says Kwan.

Associate Professor of Child and Youth Studies Danielle Sirianni Molnar, who is Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Adjustment and Well-Being in Children and Youth, studies perfectionism, stress and well-being in youth.

She will be setting up a lab that includes wired and wireless technology to measure a wide variety of data collected as participants view videos and listen to audio recordings related to stress.

“This infrastructure will enable us to objectively assess how perfectionism impacts specific stress and frustration processes in youth and their parents with cutting-edge physiological and behavioural measurements,” says Molnar.

Professor of Health Sciences Newman Sze, who is Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Mechanisms of Health and Disease, studies how early life adversities, stressful lifestyles and unhealthy diets can increase damage to the blood vessel lining in aging populations.

He will be purchasing a liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) platform, a powerful bioanalytical method used to study biomolecules.

“This CFI/JELF-funded instrument will enable the development of novel approaches to studying tissue degeneration in chronic disorders and the identification of associated treatments,” says Sze.

The John R. Evans Leadership Fund “helps institutions to recruit and retain outstanding researchers, acquire the tools that enable the innovative work of leading researchers and offer research support that, when combined with research support from our partner organizations, is highly competitive,” says the CFI website.

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