June 26, 2014 – Guelph Mercury – article by Rob O’Flanagan
GUELPH — Scientists on the University of Guelph campus have landed a federal funding windfall for a diverse array of more than 60 research projects.
To the tune of $10.5 million, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) will fund everything from studies into ion and photon beam interactions with atoms and materials, to the study of feather picking in egg-laying hens.
U of G’s share of NSERC funds is higher than in previous years, said John Livernois, interim vice-president of research. He said the quality of research projects are the obvious reason U of G scientists are distinguishing themselves and attracting substantial public funding for their work.
The awards were announced Thursday in London, Ont., by Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology). Guelph’s haul was part of an overall $340 million NSERC investment in research across the country, covering nearly 3,800 projects, according to a U of G release.
“This was a very successful year, so it is more than other years,” said Livernois in an interview. “It represents huge improvements in success rates and an associated increase in the amount of funding.”
The 2014 funding is nearly $2 million more than the NSERC funding announced at roughly the same time last year, when U of G scientists garnered $8.6 million from the federal research funding agency.
There has been a concerted effort made to improve the quality of applications for funding. “People worked very hard this year to submit carefully crafted applications,” Livernois said. “The office of research has made an effort to help in that regard.” Grant-writing workshops and guidance from successful senior researchers further ensured success in attracting funding, he added. “So it’s a matter of the quality of the researchers, and the effort to do some internal reviewing of applications before they go out,” Livernois said.
Thursday’s announcement names the successful applications for funding in three NSERC categories — Discovery Grants, Discovery Accelerator Supplements, and the Research Tools and Instruments Grants Program. Projects are generally supported for five years.
The U of G press says research projects on campus covered four of the university’s colleges and a number of departments.
Among the successful recipients, Alexandra Harlander in animal and poultry sciences studies the pecking behaviour that causes health problems in laying hens. And physics professor Iain Campbell is studying ion and photon beam interactions, work that has applications in explorations on Mars.