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Research at Trent – Ten Trent University Researchers Awarded $1.6M

Ten Trent University researchers will receive a combined $1.6 million through Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Discovery Grants to explore a diverse range of topics including the impact of climate change on vulnerable sub-Arctic ecosystems, virus-host interactions in frogs, and supercritical water, which will help guide next-generation technologies.

Neil Emery standing in a lab next to a piece of equipment, wearing a sports jacket, checkered shirt and a royal blue tie, smiling at the camera.
Dr. Neil Emery

Together, with the entire Trent community, I congratulate our researchers and applaud their achievements,” says Dr. Neil Emery, vice president Research and Innovation at Trent University.

During this unprecedented time, researchers representing Anthropology, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental and Life Sciences, Mathematics, Psychology and the Trent School of the Environment remain steadfast in their exploratory research programs with this NSERC investment.

A summary of Trent research projects awarded funding is as follows:

  • Dr. Gary Burness, professor of Biology, received $235,000 to explore the environmental effects, thermal energetics, and avian life history variation. Dr. Burness’s research explores whether mother birds prime their offspring in an adaptive way to cope with predicted environmental change, and will therefore help predict the capacity for bird populations to cope with climate change.
  • Dr. Sanela Martic, assistant professor of Forensic Science, received $180,000 to explore the solution and surface chemistry of peptides and proteins. Professor Martic’s research will support the further application of portable instruments in detecting biomolecules, such as amino acids and proteins, in complex environments where many different substances are present.
  • Dr. Craig Brunetti, professor of Biology and Dean of Graduate Studies at Trent University, received $212,875 to explore virus-host interactions in frog virus 3 – a factor leading to globally threatened amphibian populations.
  • Dr. Karen Thompson, assistant professor in the Trent School of the Environment, received $150,000 and an ECR grant for her research project linking microbial functioning to the fate of carbon in soil. Dr. Thompson’s research will help characterize agricultural management practices that support ecosystems and soil health while helping the agricultural sector adapt to a changing climate.
  • Dr. Glen Brown, adjunct researcher with the Environmental and Life Sciences graduate program, received $140,000 for his research exploring climate change and vulnerability of the sub-Arctic ecosystem near Hudson Bay.
  • Dr. Michael Chan-Reynolds, assistant professor of Psychology, received $140,000 for his research exploring the relationship between word and number processing. The long-term goal of this research is to understand how visually presented words are processed.
  • Dr. Erin Koen, adjunct researcher with the Environmental and Life Sciences graduate program, received $140,000 and an ECR grant for her research exploring landscape connectivity for wildlife in a changing environment. This research explores how landscape connectivity influences ecosystems.
  • Dr. Paul Szpak, CRC in Environmental Archaeology and assistant professor in Anthropology, received $140,000 and an ECR grant for his research exploring long-term variation in Arctic marine ecosystems through stable isotope analysis and fatty-acid biomarkers. Professor Szpak’s research will reconstruct long-term variation in the ecology of Arctic marine animals, such as polar bears, ringed seals, walruses, narwhals and beluga whales, over the last 12,000 years.
  • Dr. Igor Svishchev, professor of Chemistry, received $120,000 for his research exploring supercritical water, which holds much promise for ground-breaking advances in electrical power generation, hazardous waste destruction, carbon sequestration and largescale hydrogen production. Professor Svishchev’s research will help guide the development of next-generation energy technologies.
  • Dr. Xiaoying Wang, assistant professor of Mathematics, received $115,000 and an ECR grant to explore asymptotic and transient dynamics in predator-prey systems with spatial and temporal heterogeneity.