CFI funds four U of S research projects

Veterinary students Kirsten Henderson (left) and Alison Williams (right) assist Dr. Julia Montgomery during a tracheal wash procedure. Photo: Christina Weese.

Veterinary students Kirsten Henderson (left) and Alison Williams (right) assist Dr. Julia Montgomery during a tracheal wash procedure. Photo: Christina Weese.

Four University of Saskatchewan (U of S) researchers have been awarded $393,000 to support projects to develop high-capacity mobile telecommunications devices, bacteria-based cleanup of petroleum contamination, a mobile lab to study and treat lung health in horses, and equipment to catalogue the trillions of microorganisms that live within us.

The funding, through the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), provides 40 per cent of total project costs, with the balance contributed by the university, government and industry partners to make up a total of $983,000 for the following projects:

• Veterinary microbiologist Janet Hill at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) is looking at microorganisms, specifically, cataloguing the members of microbiomes – the communities of microorganisms that live within animals and people. She will receive $64,000 toward $160,500 in equipment to identify and catalogue genetic information.

“Disturbances in the microbiome are associated with problems such as increased susceptibility to infection, inflammatory bowel disease and pre-term birth,” Hill said. “Cataloguing the species that make up these internal communities is a critical step toward developing novel diagnostic methods to predict and prevent disease.”

• Dr. Julia Montgomery, a specialist in large animal internal medicine at the WCVM, will receive $71,800 toward a $179,000 mobile lab to study and treat lung illness in horses – and perhaps shed light on human ailments such as asthma.

“Bringing a lab directly to the farm will eliminate delays in sample processing and issues related to improper sample storage,” Montgomery said. “Horses suffering from airway inflammation may also be a useful animal model to help us understand disease processes involved in human asthma.”

• Civil and geological engineering researcher Won Jae Chang is looking at microorganisms in contaminated soil and groundwater, which he is harnessing to develop remediation solutions for petroleum contamination, including challenging cold and saline conditions. He will receive $83,600 towards $209,000 in bioanalytical instruments and soil characterization tools.

“Hydrocarbon-based resources are still indispensable sources of energy and one of the core elements driving economic growth, but extraction and post-processing severely impact surrounding environments,” Chang said. “We hope to develop a hybrid, chemical-free technology to accelerate the remediation of soil environments disturbed by extractions or uncontrolled discharges of petroleum hydrocarbons, particularly in consideration of our cold-climate seasonality.”

• Electrical and computer engineering researcher David Klymyshyn will receive $173,600 toward a $434,000 measurement system for microwave devices and antennas to assess a “radically different” approach, using the Canadian Light Source synchrotron to fabricate precision components for next-generation compact wireless devices such as mobile phones and sensors.

“Synchrotron-based microfabrication techniques offer the promise of access to higher millimetre-wave frequencies,” Klymyshyn said. “Emerging wireless communication and sensor applications demand extremely high data rates, which we hope to facilitate by tapping this abundant frequency spectrum.”

The four U of S projects were among those across the country announced on July 29 by Ed Holder, federal Minister of State for Science and Technology, at the University of Moncton in New Brunswick. The funds are provided through the CFI’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF).


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