Eight StFX researchers have together received $1,485,000 in federal funding over five years from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, through its Discovery Grants research program. Pictured are a few of the participants during a virtual ceremony celebrating the news.

ANTIGONISH: Eight StFX researchers have received a total of $1,485,000 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

The federal funding, which spans a duration of five years, is through NSERS’s Discovery Grants Research Program.

Central Nova MP Sean Fraser and StFX President Andy Hakin recognized the researchers during a virtual ceremony held Jan. 7 to celebrate the news, which had been initially announced in June 2020.

“The value I see in research is extraordinary,” Fraser said during the event. “Supporting researchers in Canada is important to maintaining a strong foundation for continued innovation and job growth, which is why I am excited to be able to recognize and celebrate the work of talented NSERC Discovery Grant recipients in my own backyard at StFX.”

The successful grant recipients were; Erwan Bertin, Department of Chemistry; Stephen Finbow, Department Mathematics and Statistics; David Garbary and Russel Wyeth, Department of Biology; James Hughes, Department of Computer Science; Lisa Kellman, Brendan Murphy, and Dave Risk, all from the Department of Earth Sciences.

As a former NSERC Discovery Grant holder himself, Hakin noted “it’s a wonderful achievement” and he knows first-hand how important it is to receive this particular funding.

“We had two new faculty members receive their very first NSERC Discovery Grants and the six other awardees saw significant increases in the funding of their research grants, which demonstrates the high quality and impact of their research,” he said in a release. “NSERC’s Discovery Grant funding is critical for small universities like StFX and provides significant support for our students to become engaged in research.”

Another important aspect of the NSERC Discovery Grants, Hakin explained, was training the next generation, as it enables researchers to involve undergraduate and graduate students in their research.

Garbary advised that aspect, along with receiving these grants, have been crucial in his research, and it has allowed him to explore areas that weren’t necessarily part of his grant-specific research program.

“It’s given me such pleasure in terms of both my teaching and research to be able to bring well over 100 students into my lab,” he said. “And train them, in terms of research methods and research goals.”

Garbary is set to receive $28,000 per year for cell walls and symbioses of the economically important brown seaweed ascophyllum nodosum.

Bertin is receiving $24,000 per year, plus a one-time $12,500 early career researcher supplement, exploring pulsed laser ablation in liquids as a new synthetic path toward electrocatalysts.

Finbow has been awarded $24,000 per year for his project, colouring, domination and discrete dynamic graph processes.

Hughes is set to receive $24,000 per year, plus a one-time $12,500 early career researcher supplement for evolutionary algorithm development for applications in brain connectomics and other complex systems.

Kellman is receiving $43,000 per year, examining the protection of organic carbon in mineral soils of managed landscapes.

Murphy has been awarded $51,000 per year, for his project, the assembly of “Pannotia: Implications for the Origin of Supercontinents.”

Risk is set to receive $51,000 per year, measuring the methane footprint of Canadian oil and gas operations.

Wyeth is receiving $47,000 per year for neuroethology of odour-based navigation in aquatic gastropods.