Sept. 8, 2023Print | PDF
Thanks to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Wilfrid Laurier University researchers will receive ongoing operating funds toward their long-term research goals. Ten faculty members were successful in NSERC’s Discovery Grants competition for a total of nearly $2 million in research funding.
“The Discovery research program fosters research excellence while also providing stimulating research training opportunities for the scientists and engineers of tomorrow,” says Alejandro Adem, president of NSERC. “The people behind these explorative research programs lay the groundwork for a thriving research enterprise in Canada. They make the discoveries that ultimately improve our society and quality of life.”
Among Laurier’s Discovery Grant recipients were two scientists working to protect aquatic ecosystems: Heidi Swanson, the Jarislowsky Chair in Sustainable Water Futures, and Dirk Wallschläger, the Laurier Distinguished Research Chair in Aquatic Sciences.
Swanson was awarded $350,000, plus an additional $95,000 Northern Research Supplement, to investigate how environmental changes are affecting the safety of fisheries in the Canadian North. Fish is a critically important food for northern Indigenous communities, but high mercury levels can make it dangerous for people to consume. Swanson’s research aims to understand why mercury levels in fish vary between ecosystems and how changes to the land, such as resource development and permafrost thaw, impact water quality and fish ecology. Ultimately, she plans to create safety guidelines for fish consumption and climate change adaptation plans.
Wallschläger was awarded $175,000, along with a Research Tools and Instruments Grant of $150,000, to study selenium, an environmental contaminant that poses challenges to freshwater systems and aquatic wildlife across North America. Selenium is discharged into aquatic ecosystems from industrial processes such as coal-fired power plants, petroleum refineries and mining. It may lead to reproductive effects in birds and fish that would endanger the survival of local populations. Wallschläger plans to develop methods to measure selenium within contaminated ecosystems and inform environmental regulations for industrial water treatment.
Additional Laurier Discovery Grant recipients: