VIU Faculty Receive Prestigious National Research Grants

April 14, 2014 - 6:30am

Vancouver Island University (VIU) researchers will receive almost $500,000 from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) to create new research and technology facilities on VIU’s Nanaimo campus.


Chemistry faculty Dr. Erik Krogh and Dr. Chris Gill, co-directors of VIU’s multi-million dollar Applied Environmental Research Laboratories (AERL), will receive $398,000 from the John R. Evans Fund (JELF) for a state-of-the-art mobile laboratory which will contribute to the protection of the environment and quality of life of Canadians.


According to Dr. Krogh, the research enabled by this grant will allow his team to make continuous measurements of chemical contaminants in air and water. In addition to developing several innovative high precision instruments, the mobile facility will be equipped with global positioning and meteorological sensors allowing researchers to map chemical concentrations in both time and space with unprecedented precision.


The funding will support research related to increasing understanding of environmental processes and monitoring contaminants that adversely affect both environmental and human health.


“The mobile lab will be used on site or while the vehicle is moving for rapid screening and pollution tracking” explains Dr. Gill.


The CFI funding represents 40 per cent of a $1 million budget for instrument development, and capital investments for the mobile laboratory.


VIU geography professor Dr. Pam Shaw and co-investigator Dr. Grant Murray, VIU’s Canada Research Chair in Coastal Resource Management, will receive just over $98,000 in funding for field gear and research lab equipment needed to conduct research to help rejuvenate coastal estuaries.


The equipment will include chemical testing kits, kayaks, walkie talkies and flow meters to measure water flows, as well as in-lab equipment relating to data analysis and map development and production.


“Coastal research is a priority at VIU and the estuaries along the Salish Sea – places where freshwater flows into the ocean – are of special interest,” says Shaw, principal investigator.


“However, issues of shellfish contamination, declining fish stocks, environmental contaminants and the negative impacts of industrialization and urbanization on ecosystems concern many Canadians.”


Shaw and Murray will collaborate on the project with a team of researchers including Dr. Jennifer Mullett, Director of VIU’s Centre for Healthy Communities Research.


The team will take an interdisciplinary approach – including biology, geography, anthropology, history, fisheries and astronomy and First Nations perspectives – to assess the current health of coastal estuaries along the Salish Sea, identify major drivers of social-ecological change, and seek new ways to rejuvenate estuaries.


Krogh and Shaw say the projects will enhance their ability to engage undergraduate and graduate students in research.


CFI funding for these projects may be matched by the British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund pending approval.


“At a time of intense competition for research support, the CFI’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund helps institutions like VIU attract and retain the very best researchers who bring their strengths to the regions we serve, BC’s coastal communities,” said VIU President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Ralph Nilson.


“We are very proud of the quality of our faculty, and their ability to attract nationally competitive research grants. This will also support the institutional focus to engage students in experiential learning and applied hands-on research.”


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Janina Stajic, Manager, Vancouver Island University


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Tags: Research