$13 million in support bolsters computational, physical science research at UBC

Sixty-one UBC Science faculty members have received a total of $13.6 million in Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery Grants. The funding is part of 137 new projects led by UBC researchers receiving a total of $28 million in funding announced today.

"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," said The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. "By helping to expand the frontiers of science, we are investing in a better society and a brighter future for Canadians."

A significant portion of the newly funded projects focus on innovative computational and material science research, ranging from self-improving Artificial Intelligence algorithms that create their own learning challenges, to tracing the evolution of aromatic molecules from interstellar space, to investigating the structure of planetary systems. The grants support long-term research goals for individual researchers for up to five years.

Thirteen projects led by UBC computer scientists will investigate areas including machine learning, natural language processing and personalized AI. Researchers from Physics and Astronomy netted also netted 13 grants that will fund studies on quantum materials, dwarf stars, orbital and surface risks from rocket bodies, and the beginnings of the universe.

Eight funded chemistry projects cover research into optoelectronics, electrochemical interfaces, high-resolution microscopes and more. Three projects from the Department of Mathematics will explore the modelling of fluid and particle-laden flows, and counting curves with symmetry.

The UBC Science recipients are comprised of researchers from Botany, Chemistry, Computer Science, Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, Mathematics, Microbiology and Immunology, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, Physics and Astronomy, Statistics and Zoology.

Two additional awards through the NSERC Discovery Institutes Support Grants program were made to the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences and the Banff International Research Station, with applications led by UBC researchers Ozgur Yilmaz (Mathematics) and Malabika Pramanik (Mathematics) respectively.

New projects include:

Genomic approaches to studying plant evolution, function and phylogeny
Dr. Sean Graham (Botany)

Optoelectronic applications of thermally activated delayed fluorescence
Dr. Zachary Hudson (Chemistry)

Improving software quality through effective decision support
Dr. Gail Murphy (Computer Science)

Patterns and processes of primary productivity and trace gas dynamics in subpolar and polar oceans
Dr. Philippe Tortell (Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences)

Mathematical modelling of fluid flow
Dr. Neil Balmforth (Mathematics)

Molecular analysis of hyaluronan and CD44
Dr. Pauline Johnson (Microbiology and Immunology)

Indigenous fisheries conservation in a changing world
Dr. Andrea Reid (Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries)

DarkLight at TRIUMF/ARIEL — A search for new physics in e+e- final states with an invariant mass between 10-20 MeV
Dr. Michael Hasinoff (Physics and Astronomy)

Scalable approximation of complex probability distributions
Dr. Alexandre Bouchard-Côté (Statistics)

Ecological, geographic and phylogenetic dimensions of food webs and their response to global change
Dr. Diane Srivastava (Zoology)

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.

Geoff Gilliard