Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs 519 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

June 21, 2006

CFI Invests $1.3 Million in U of G Research

The University of Guelph will soon be home to some research “firsts” in Ontario and Canada, thanks to more than $1.3 million in funding announced today by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

Among other things, CFI is investing in building at Guelph Canada’s first one-micron nuclear microprobe; Ontario’s first single unit microneurography facility; and new laboratories for studying nutraceutical encapsulation and tissue, cell and protein dynamics.

The national agency is also supporting U of G projects that will advance knowledge in pest management, cardiovascular health and disease, physics, and food packaging and design.

“One of the most striking aspects of this announcement is the diversity of research that is going to receive a boost at U of G,” said Alan Wildeman, vice-president (research). “These faculty members are representative of the excellence right across the university. We are proud of their success.”

The $1.3 million in funding has been awarded to eight U of G research projects. The investments were made through CFI’s Leaders Opportunity Fund, which is designed to help launch the careers of new and talented faculty and help institutions attract and retain exceptional scholars in priority research areas.

“I’m thrilled,” said nutritional sciences professor Amanda Wright of receiving $126,045 to set up a nutraceutical laboratory. “It will mean so much, not only for my budding program but also for our food-nutrition collaborations in general. There’s so much to learn about how to encapsulate bioactive compounds for successful incorporation into food products and delivery to the body. The CFI infrastructure will allow my group to contribute to this understanding and related technology development.”

Prof. Leah Bent, also of the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, received $87,000 to establish a microneurography facility where she’ll study sensory contributions to balance, posture and walking, work that will especially benefit the country’s elderly population.

“The data acquisition hardware, software and amplifiers are specifically designed to record from single peripheral nerves in humans,” she said. Bent seeks to understand which foot sole skin receptors are involved in functional postural control reflexes. Ultimately, she hopes to develop more sophisticated and applicable prosthetic devices for sensory-deficient groups such as the elderly and diabetics.

Peter Sikkema of the Department of Plant Agriculture received $380,282 for equipment that will support an extensive research program for sustainable pest management in field and horticultural crops at the University’s Ridgetown campus.

Back at the Guelph campus, physics professor Diane de Kerckhove received $145,795 to buy a complex lens system for the microprobe she’s building in the basement of the MacNaughton Building. She’ll use the state-of-the-art facility to study semiconducters and to fabricate microscopic light-emitting devices.

The new technology will provide a “50-fold” improvement in spatial resolution, she said. “This new microprobe will have the ability to identify trace elements to within a few parts per million, with depth resolution as well as high lateral resolution. It will help keep Canada competitive in the area of ion beam analysis and modification of materials.”

Other Guelph CFI Leaders Opportunity Fund recipients are:

• Douglas Fudge and Todd Gillis, Department of Integrative Biology, $252,319 to establish a world-class tissue, cell and protein dynamics laboratory that will advance research in human health, biotechnology, nanotechnology and materials science.

• Paul Garrett, Department of Physics, $149,364 for technology to improve the high-efficiency gamma-ray spectrometer used for beta-decay experiments. Among other things, the new equipment will improve studies of neutron halos in light-mass systems and research on the evolution of nuclear shell structure.

• Ron Johnson, Department of Biomedical Sciences, $126,828 for equipment to advance investigations of altered venous function in chronic heart failure and to support long-term research into cardiovascular health and disease.

• Loong-Tak Lim, Department of Food Science, $84,418 to apply and develop innovative technologies to improve the performance of food packaging and to advance fundamental knowledge of how food interacts with packaging.

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

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