John Spray received $425,000 over five years to support his research. Credit: UNB Media ServicesDozens of University of New Brunswick (UNB) scientists have been awarded a combined total of $4.3 million in grants and scholarships from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). The funding is part of a larger $465 million in funds for scholarships, fellowships, research supplements and equipment grants announced by Kirsty Duncan, federal minister of science, at an event at Hamilton’s McMaster University today.

UNB’s 34 recipients include John Spray, professor of Earth Sciences and director of the Planetary and Space Science Centre (PASSC), who received $425,000 over five years to support his research into shock-related processes in planetary materials, or how solid materials react to high-speed deformation and damage.

A large portion of the grant money will go towards supporting students at the undergraduate, graduate and potentially even postdoctoral levels, as Dr. Spray builds and expands his team. His research will adopt three approaches – the first being laboratory experiments using impact tests.

“We can hit materials very, very hard and fast to try to copy what happens when asteroids hit planets, and look at the shock waves generated and the damage caused,” Dr. Spray said. “This can cause melting and unusual transformations in materials. For example, graphite, which is a type of carbon, can be transformed into diamond under shock loading.”

The second approach will involve examining terrestrial impact structures – learning about how craters on Earth are made and how that knowledge can be applied to other planets and planetary bodies, such as the moon and Mars. Finally, he and his team will continue to study extraterrestrial materials.

The results will help to support an aspect of Dr. Spray’s wider research efforts into developing materials to help better protect people and infrastructure from high-speed impact damage.

“In terms of body armour for security forces or armouring vehicles to help protect the people inside, we can contribute to the development of new materials based on our knowledge of how solids respond to shock and high-speed impact. It could even extend to sports gear, including helmets.”

UNB’s other recipients include Cheryl Patten, associate professor in the department of biology, who received $145,000 over five years to support her research into the molecular mechanisms of plant growth-promotion by beneficial soil bacteria. Yonghao Ni, professor of chemistry and chemical engineering, received $185,000 over five years to help develop new technologies for the pulp and paper industry. Four doctoral students also received scholarships to help fund their research.

“We are proud of these faculty members and students and the work they do, happy that the strength of their research programs and abilities have been recognized and supported by NSERC,” said UNB’s President and Vice-Chancellor Eddy Campbell.

UNB NSERC Discovery Grant and Scholarship Awardees

  • Adam, Allan – Professor, Chemistry; High resolution laser spectroscopy of small gas-phase metal-containing molecules; $28,000/year for 5 years
  • Albert, Wayne – Professor and Dean, Kinesiology; Manual material handling performance and fatigue; $25,000/year for 5 years
  • Chopin, Thierry – Professor, Biology; Scientific Director, Canadian Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture Network; Developing the seaweed and plant components of integrated multi-trophic aquaculture and aquaponics and their applications within a biorefinery approach; $28,000/year for 5 years
  • Chui, Ying-Hei – Professor, Forestry and Environmental Management; Director, Wood Science and Technology Centre; Innovative nail laminated timber-concrete composite floor deck system; $25,000/year for 5 years
  • Colpitts, Bruce – Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering; Harmonic Radar Systems for Insect Tracking; $30,000/year for 5 years
  • Culp, Joseph – Research Professor, Biology; Project Chief, National Water Research Institute; Development of Functional Trait Measures for Assessing Stream Ecosystem State; $30,000/year for 5 years
  • Cwynar, Les – Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Biology; Paleosymmetry: tipping points and the dynamics of range contractions; $25,000/year for 5 years
  • Dare, Peter – Professor, Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering; Advances in terrestrial laser scanning; $20,000/year for 5 years
  • Dyker, C. Adam – Assistant Professor, Chemistry; Ylidic Substituents for Electron Rich Organic Materials with Synthetic and Energy Storage Applications; $28,000/year for 5 years
  • Eic, Mladen – Professor, Chemical Engineering; Fast screening of adsorbents: from equilibrium and kinetics to bench scale process tests; $27,000/year for 5 years
  • Graves, Stephanie – Researcher, Biology; Ecotoxicology; $21,000/year for 5 years
  • Hamza, Abdelhaq – Professor, Physics; Ionospheric Turbulence, Scintillations and Space Weather Forecast; $20,000/year for 5 years
  • Holloway, Gordon – Professor, Mechanical Engineering; Droplet Transport in Flow Turbulence; $22,000/year for 5 years
  • Ignaszak, Anna – Assistant Professor, Chemistry; Electrochemical sensing probe for chemical oxygen demand (COD) assay in waste water: molecular-scale particle design, electrode engineering and system; $27,000/year for 5 years
  • Kershaw, John – Professor, Forestry and Environmental Management; Associate Dean, School of Graduate Studies; Copulas as a link for modeling stand structure and development; $20,000/year for 5 years
  • Kucerovsky, Dan – Professor, Mathematics and Statistics; Expanding the boundaries of the Elliott classification program: Quantum groups and Quaternions; $16,000/year for 5 years
  • Lavery, Jacqueline – Researcher, Biology; $35,000/year for 3 years
  • MacQuarrie, Kerry – Professor, Civil Engineering; Science Director, Canadian Rivers Institute; Improving our understanding and predictions of the impacts of groundwater extraction on small streams; $22,000/year for 5 years
  • McFarlane, Christopher – Associate Professor, Earth Sciences; Development of in-situ geochronology methods with applications to ore deposits; $21,000/year for 5 years
  • Mohammadi, Mohsen – Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering; Sustainable Lightweighting Strategies: Long Fiber Reinforced Thermoplastic Composites for Structural Automotive Applications; $22,000/year for 5 years
  • Ni, Yonghao – Professor, Chemistry; Director, Dr. Jack McKenzie Limerick Pulp and Paper Centre; Development of new technologies for the pulp and paper industry; $37,000/year for 5 years
  • Oh, Won Taek – Assistant Professor, Civil Engineering; Tools for estimation of the stability of unsupported trenches extending the mechanics of unsaturated soils; $23,000/year for 5 years
  • Patten, Cheryl – Associate Professor, Biology; Molecular mechanisms of plant growth-promotion by beneficial soil bacteria; $29,000/year for 5 years
  • Pavey, Scott – Assistant Professor, Biology, Canada Research Chair in Aquatic Molecular Ecology and Ecological Genomics; Functional ecology of genes in fisheries conservation; $24,000/year for 5 years
  • Rahim, M. Abdur – Professor, Business Administration; Integrated Optimization Modelling in Quality Control, Production Planning, Inventory Control and Maintenance; $20,000/year for 5 years
  • Ray, Suprio – Assistant Professor, Computer Science; High performance Big Data Systems for spatial, spatio-temporal and graph data management; $18,000/year for 5 years
  • Spray, John – Professor, Earth Sciences; Director, Planetary and Space Science Centre; Shock-related processes in planetary materials: Earth and beyond; $85,000/year for 5 years
  • Tang, Feng – Researcher, Biology; Aquatic ecology and limnology; $21,000/year for 3 years
  • Thomas, Michael – Professor, Civil Engineering; Concrete Durability: Linking Material Properties and Field Performance; $25,000/year for 5 years
  • Voyer, Daniel – Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Psychology; Correlates of perceptual asymmetries in dichotic listening; $32,000/year for 5 years
  • Wilson, Jacob – Researcher, Mechanical Engineering; $21,000/year for 3 years
  • Xiao, Huining – Professor, Chemical Engineering; Responsive and cellulose-fibre based adsorbents for water clarification and disinfection $27,000/year for 5 years
  • Yan, Guohua – Associate Professor, Mathematics and Statistics; Statistical inference in zero-inflated random effects models with missing data $13,000/year for 5 years
  • Zhang, Yun – Professor, Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering; Improving the Quality and Spatial Resolution of Super-spectral and Hyper-spectral Images through Sensor Fusion; $34,000/year for 5 years

About UNB

The University of New Brunswick (UNB) is Canada’s oldest English-language university. Founded in 1785, the multi-campus institution has a rich history and a dynamic focus on innovation, experiential learning and entrepreneurship. UNB has more than 10,500 students from nearly 100 countries while several thousand more take UNB courses online and at partner institutions around the world.

About NSERC

NSERC invests over $1 billion each year in natural sciences and engineering research in Canada. Our investments deliver discoveries – valuable world-firsts in knowledge claimed by a brain trust of over 11,000 professors. Our investments enable partnerships and collaborations that connect industry with discoveries and the people behind them. Researcher-industry partnerships established by NSERC help inform R&D, solve scale-up challenges, and reduce the risks of developing high-potential technology.

NSERC also provides scholarships and hands-on training experience for more than 30,000 post-secondary students and post-doctoral fellows. These young researchers will be the next generation of science and engineering leaders in Canada.

Full NSERC release

Media contact: Hannah Classen

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