Western researchers will tackle novel approaches to science, medicine and engineering problems with new funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) worth $2.8 million – with an application-to-grant ratio that makes this one of the most successful rounds of federal funding in recent memory. In its latest funding announcement, NSERC has awarded Discovery grants to Western researchers in year one of a five-year commitment to their projects. About three-quarters of Western’s funding applications are granted funding this year – a large leap compared to about one-half and two-thirds approvals in the past two years. All told, 66 NSERC Discovery grants will go to Western researchers across five faculties: 22 in the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry; 19 in Engineering; and 25 in the faculties of science, social science and health sciences. “Our success in this round of Discovery grants is something to be proud of. Western’s researchers have pushed themselves to follow new and engaging paths of inquiry that drive impact and innovation, and expand our collective knowledge of the world around us,” said Lesley Rigg, Western’s vice-president (research). “I’m also proud of our community of research support. The collective work of the faculties and support units help to enable our researchers’ success, which in turn helps position Western as an institution of world-changing ideas and solutions,” she said. Those solutions include projects:
- addressing friction problems in artificial hip joints;
- evaluating augmented-reality and virtual reality task simulators;
- understanding strengths and vulnerabilities of transmission-line structures during extreme weather;
- engineering degradable, carbon-based electronic sensors and microdevices;
- mapping brain health through advanced-intelligence PET/MR imaging;
- analyzing Earth’s geological processes as a way to understand other planets; and
- developing new ways of monitoring bridge structural health and integrity.
NSERC Discovery grants, scholarships and fellowships are awarded each year for research ranging from the nanoscale to the astronomical and from the prehistoric to the futuristic.
The federal funder’s commitment extends to visionaries, explorers and innovators in search of scientific and technical breakthroughs to benefit Canadians and the world. Recipients work at universities, colleges, businesses and not-for-profits, where expertise can grow and flourish.
The funding announcement took place Thursday in Ottawa. François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, and Mona Fortier, president of the Treasury Board, announced national investments of more than $506 million for Discovery research programs, which includes $430 million in continued support for researchers across a wide variety of natural sciences and engineering disciplines.
They encompass research programs focused on climate change, chemistry, biology, mathematics and statistics, computer science, artificial intelligence and engineering.
“Discovery is the foundation of all advancements. Through this major investment in some of Canada’s most promising and innovative researchers, we are supporting scientists and students to become global leaders in their field. By helping to expand the frontiers of science, we are investing in a better society and a brighter future for Canadians,” Champagne said.
Researchers are also receiving $73.8 million in one-time, one-year extensions with funds to their existing Discovery research grants. This investment is part of an ongoing response by NSERC to support researchers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This funding also offers Discovery Launch Supplements, an additional support to a diverse group of 529 early-career researchers to help them launch their work and bring new voices and new insights to their fields.