Campus News

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

News Release

June 29, 2004

U of G researchers get ‘New Opportunities’

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) is investing nearly half a million dollars in five innovative research projects at the University of Guelph. The announcement was made today by Carmen Charette, CFI’s interim president and CEO.

The U of G projects fall under CFI’s New Opportunities fund, which was designed to help launch the careers of new and talented faculty members and help institutions recruit exceptional scholars in priority areas for research.

For human biology professor Lori Ann Vallis, it’s a “new opportunity” to conduct research that may one day help people with neurological or visual impairments. She hopes to buy equipment to examine how people navigate through complex environments, especially developing children and older adults. “It is a common, but little understood task,” she said, adding that vision is the dominant sensory input that enables people to plan and modify their routes, from stepping around people in a crowded room to avoiding puddles on a busy sidewalk.

Studying the visual gaze and whole-body locomotor patterns of people of varying ages and abilities will help provide perspective on how this behaviour develops and degenerates, Vallis said. “It will also foster new and stimulating research collaboration at neighbouring academic institutions, attract bright graduate students to our program and assist with advancing the biomechanics area of our department and college to new and exciting places.”

Population medicine professor Suzanne Millman plans to use her CFI grant to purchase biotelemetry equipment to investigate how swine respond to different states of illness. “It will provide my research group with unique opportunities for a whole animal approach, integrating our behaviourial observations with physiological measurements, such as changes in heart rate and body temperature,” she said.

“It’s ideal for the animal welfare research we do because it’s non-invasive — the animals wear sensors externally and surgery is not required — and because the data can be collected throughout the day without stressing the animals with restraint or isolation.” Her long-term goal is to reduce suffering, improve animal health and contribute to the development of more effective husbandry practices that prevent and treat illness.

Other U of G New Opportunities recipients are:

• David Garfinkle, Department of Physics, for equipment that will allow parallel computing for the simulation of gravitational singularities and black holes.

• Ramon Mira De Orduña Heidinger, Department of Food Science, to conduct metabolic profiling of bacteria and yeast and to do biochemical characterization of grapes and wine.

• George Van Der Merwe, Department of Microbiology, for infrastructure for the comparative proteomics of yeast fermentations.

The CFI was established in 1997 by the federal government to address the urgent infrastructure needs of Canada's research community.

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

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