From polymers to bird physiology, research by two new Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship recipients at Western covers exciting new ground.
The fellowship program provides $70,000 a year for two years to top postdoctoral scholars, both nationally and internationally, who are seen to contribute to the country’s economic, social and research‑based growth.
A total of 70 fellowships are awarded each year through the Tri-Council agencies: Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).
The fellowships are named in memory of Sir Frederick Banting, the Canadian physician, researcher, Nobel laureate and war hero who, together with his assistant Charles Best, is credited with the discovery of insulin.
Catherine Ivy, a postdoctoral scholar in migration physiology in the department of biology, is investigating the physiology that allows birds to rapidly adjust to extreme changes in altitude while flying.
Using the flight tunnel at Western’s Advanced Facility for Avian Research, Ivy will investigate the mechanism responsible for the migratory flight of songbirds and shorebirds. The research is being supervised by Chris Guglielmo. Ivy says the research will contribute to the growing field of avian migration biology and to understanding how birds cope with rapid transitions in oxygen availability, which is a common problem in many human diseases.
Alex Veinot, an NSERC Banting postdoctoral fellow in the department of chemistry, is researching a new approach to making advanced materials to meet tomorrow’s challenges.
His work, under the supervision of Paul Ragogna, involves construction of long chains of atoms (called polymers) which differ from carbon, leading to substances with traits which cannot be produced in other ways.
This method will use element-chloride (E-Cl) and element-silyl (E-Si) building blocks. When combined, long chains of new element-element bonds (E-E) and a silicon chloride (Si-Cl) side product will form.
This method will be applied to generate phosphorus polymers which contain boron, aluminum, gallium and indium atoms.
In the long term, says Veinot, Canada will benefit from new and useful devices constructed from these substances. These could include sensory, luminescent, electronic or stimuli-responsive devices.