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13 UNB projects receive funding to support COVID-19 research

Author: UNB Newsroom

Posted on Jul 16, 2020

Category: UNB Fredericton , UNB Saint John


UNB researchers have been awarded $409,854 by the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation (NBIF), the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation (NBHRF) and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency for 13 projects investigating the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funds will support researchers in disciplines ranging from nursing to education to chemistry who are contributing to pandemic response efforts.

“As a leader in research and education, the expertise of our researchers is one of the most vital resources we can help make available to New Brunswick, to Canada, and to the world in this time of pandemic,” said Dr. Paul Mazerolle, UNB president and vice-chancellor. “The projects funded today will support, either directly or indirectly, the recovery and wellbeing of our communities.”

The foundations issued a joint call for research projects to better understand and address the challenges created by the pandemic in April, with up to $50,000 in funding available per project. In total, the foundations have invested $846,707 in support of 27 projects across the province. UNB’s projects represent nearly half of all those funded.

These projects will join other COVID-19 research already taking place at UNB. With the funding announced today, more UNB researchers will join a growing number of academics contributing their expertise to a global movement of pandemic research.

“I applaud all of our talented researchers who have put forward proposals to support our community in this time of need,” said Dr. David MaGee, UNB vice-president (research). “Our faculty and researchers are part of a global community doing their part to help us better understand, detect and resolve the health, social and economic challenges posed by this virus. I am always impressed by the quality and dedication of our researchers and I look forward to seeing the results of these important projects.”

Research topics supported by the NBIF-NBHRF COVID-19 funding program at UNB include:

  • Dr. David Busolo (Nursing, Moncton), Dr. Jason Hickey (Nursing, Fredericton), Dr. Petrea Taylor (Nursing, Moncton), Renee Gordon (Nursing, Moncton) and Alisha Keough (Nursing, Fredericton), in partnership with Under One Sky Friendship Centre, researching the innovative use of video-conferencing tools for clinical nursing education;
  • Dr. Felipe Chibante (Chemical Engineering, Fredericton), researching the use of nano-coatings to kill airborne pathogens;
  • Dr. Shelley Doucet (Nursing and Health Sciences, Saint John) and Dr. Kerrie Luck (Centre for Research in Integrated Care postdoctoral fellow, Saint John), exploring the experiences of disruption and adaptations to routines, roles, habits and occupations of individuals with chronic disease during the pandemic;
  • Dr. Herb Emery (Economics, Fredericton and NB-IRDT), Dr. Philip Leonard (NB-IRDT and Economics, Fredericton), Dr. Ted McDonald (NB-IRDT and Economics, Fredericton) and Dr. Sandra Magalhaes (NB-IRDT and Sociology, Fredericton), researching the economics of post-COVID-19 New Brunswick;
  • Dr. Hadi Eslami (Business, Saint John) and Dr. Mercy Oyet (Business, Saint John), researching public health communications strategy during pandemics, using New Brunswick’s COVID-19 response as a case study;
  • Dr. Anna Ignaszak (Chemistry, Fredericton), researching the creation of a portable sensor for coronavirus detection;
  • Dr. Shawn MacLellan (Biology, Fredericton), Dr. Michael Duffy (Biology, Fredericton) and Dr. Aurora Nedelcu (Biology, Fredericton), developing large scale, low-cost COVID-19 antigen production methods for wide-scale community testing initiatives.
  • Dr. Sandra Magalhaes (Sociology and NB Institute for Research, Data and Training, Fredericton), researching COVID-19 risk indicators to support community planning and recovery efforts and better inform possible responses in New Brunswick;
  • Dr. Rob Moir (Business, Saint John), researching the use, challenges and benefits of computers to facilitate remote learning in marginalized communities, building on a device access project by Mr. Dan Doiron (Business, Saint John);
  • Dr. Matt Rogers (Education, Fredericton) and Dr. Casey Burkholder (Education, Fredericton), researching the response to changes in New Brunswick’s education system during and after the pandemic;
  • Dr. Gobinda Saha (Mechanical Engineering & Nanocomposites and Mechanics Laboratory, Fredericton), researching the use of nanocomposite materials to protect against viruses like the 2019 novel coronavirus;
  • Dr. Erik Scheme (Electrical and Computer Engineering, Fredericton), Dr. Scott Bateman (Computer Science, Fredericton) and PhD candidate Aaron Tabor, researching the use of consumer technology to support breathing exercise games in remote post-respiratory infection recovery;
  • Dr. Lloyd Waugh (Civil Engineering, Fredericton) with Cody Bradley (Bradley Engineering), researching the use of virtual reality and 3D modelling to minimize the spread of viruses on construction sites.

Stories profiling these projects and research teams will be published throughout the summer on UNB’s Research blog, accessible at blogs.unb.ca/research.

Additional quotes

“The health, social and economic implications of this virus are staggering, and I firmly believe that research and innovation is the best way to reduce these negative impacts and prepare for the next pandemic. That’s why NBIF took the initiative, engaged partners and within two weeks established and launched the COVID-19 research fund program. We are astonished by both the quality and quantity of applications for funding: New Brunswick researchers are clearly prepared to lead on the global response to the COVID-19 crisis.”
-- Dr. Laura Richard, Director of Research at NBIF

“NBHRF is proud to join with NBIF and APPTA to offer this opportunity to our outstanding New Brunswick researchers, their teams and their collaborators. The response from the research community illustrates that this excellence is in place. We look forward to the contributions they will make to the development of new knowledge and its dissemination to not only the medical community, but the policy makers and the population at large.”
-- Leah Carr, interim CEO of NBHRF

Media contact: Jeremy Elder-Jubelin

Photo credit: Cameron Fitch/UNB