CFI Invests in U of G Research Leaders

January 08, 2014 - News Release

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) will invest nearly $1.9 million in 15 projects headed by established and up-and-coming research leaders at the University of Guelph.

The announcement was made today by Greg Rickford, minister of state (science and technology). In total, CFI will provide $63 million to support 250 research projects at 37 universities across the country.

The majority of the funding -- $48.4 million -- comes from CFI’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund, intended to help universities attract and retain leading faculty and researchers. Ontario recipients apply for matching funding from the provincial Ministry of Research and Innovation.

In addition, $14.6 million was awarded for operating support through the CFI’s Infrastructure Operating Fund.

Spanning all seven colleges, U of G’s funded projects range from heart disease in people and obesity in animals to unmanned aerial vehicles and driving simulators to consumer attitudes about innovation.

“This is a crucial investment in Guelph’s talented people and in our research capacity,” said Kevin Hall, vice-president (research).

“It provides researchers with the vital infrastructure they need to translate knowledge and discoveries into practical applications. It also means that students will have access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities.”

Psychology professor Lana Trick and co-applicants Prof. Michele Oliver, Engineering, and Prof. Blair Nonnecke, Computer Science, received $187,214 for their virtual reality automobile driving simulator. The equipment allows researchers to study the effects of age, experience and devices on collision risk.

“We’re delighted that our application was successful,” Trick said. Their study aims to make driving safer and more comfortable. Besides causing grief and suffering, car accidents cost Canada nearly $63 billion a year.

The researchers will use the new grant to design instruments and in-vehicle technologies using advanced cognitive and biomechanical analysis.

“This is a time of massive change in the industry.” Trick said technology and in-vehicle devices constantly change but often fail to account for effects on biomechanics, perception and attention, especially for older drivers.

Adronie Verbrugghe, a clinical studies professor in the Ontario Veterinary College, received $109,042 for her comparative obesity research program. Her study will provide novel, state-of-the-art methods to accurately determine whole body composition and caloric needs of dogs and cats.

“Obesity has become an epidemic problem in humans but also in pets, indicating a tremendous health issue,” Verbrugghe said. Current weight loss programs work better in the short term than the long term. Researchers need to understand the molecular mechanisms of the disease to develop effective treatment and prevention strategies, she said.

“This research will not only help in increasing the lifespan and quality of life of our pets, but translation of the results of this research will also help the human population.”

A research team led by Prof. Lawrence Spriet, chair of the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, received $128,979 for a cutting-edge echocardiogram.

“We were very happy to land this grant,” said Spriet. Along with Profs. Graham Holloway and Jeremy Simpson, he will study heart failure and identify lifestyle interventions.

"The echocardiogram will allow us to use an established, non-invasive approach to evaluate heart structure and function in studies designed to demonstrate the usefulness of exercise and nutritional interventions for cardiac and whole body health.”

Using unmanned aerial vehicle technology to evaluate sustainable cropping systems is the focus of a $125,117 project headed by plant agriculture professor Ralph Martin.

"We anticipate learning more about crop development throughout the growing season by using UAVs to fly low and slow over crops,” he said. “The sensors will help us see crops in ways so far not available from this vantage point."

U of G’s other funding recipients are the following:

• Prof. Emma Allen-Vercoe, Molecular and Cellular Biology, $86,906, studies of microbial communities;
• Prof. Aaron Berg, Geography, $135,065, remote sensing in terrestrial and hydrological modelling;
• Prof. Byram Bridle, Pathobiology, $124,985, novel cancer biotherapies in companion animals;
• Prof. Alexandros Gezerlis, Physics, $123,846, high-performance computing facility for theoretical nuclear physics;
• Prof. Kris Inwood, History and Economics and Finance, $125,000, the 1861 Canadian census;
• Prof. Vladimir Ladizhansky, Physics, $124,091, solid-state NMR studies of biomedically important membrane proteins;
• Prof. Joseph Lam, Molecular and Cellular Biology, $147,545, lung infection in cystic fibrosis;
• Prof. Jana Levison, Engineering, $123,795, data collection and analysis at the Centre for Applied Groundwater Research;
• Prof. Eva Nagy, Pathobiology, $88,704, biocontainment facility;
• Prof. Theodore Noseworthy, Marketing and Consumer Studies, $135,000, innovation, design and consumption laboratory; and
• Prof. Graham Taylor, Engineering, $119,972, large-scale machine learning.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or; or Kevin Gonsalves, Ext. 56982, or

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