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April 12, 2001 Concordia researchers net NSERC grants






by Barbara Black

Researchers have done well this year in the annual bid for grants from the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council.

Overall at Concordia, the total number of new NSERC awards increased from 56 to 61, with a total value of more than $6.2M compared to about $4.5M last year, extending over four years, an increase in value of about 39 per cent.

The Faculty of Arts and Science experienced a 35-per-cent rise in the number of NSERC grants this year, 23 compared to 17 last year, due in part to new faculty members applying for the first time. There was an 87-per-cent increase in the value of the awards ($1.35M to $2.5M) thanks in large part to a $518,120 major installation grant to professor of chemistry Ann English and nine colleagues.

The money will go towards the purchase of instrumentation for mass spectrometry, a powerful technique that can be used to identify unknown molecules and help characterize their structural and chemical properties. The ability to rapidly identify and characterize proteins and is critical to our ongoing study of genomics and proteomics.

English said the facilities will be shared by the Centre for Research in Molecular Modelling and the Centre for Structural and Functional Genomics.

Her collaborators are Paul Joyce, Heidi Muchall, Justin Powlowski, Cameron Skinner and Joanne Turnbull, all in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Jack Kornblatt, Reginald Storms, Adrian Tsang and Luc Varin, of the Department of Biology.

The Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science received the same number of awards as last year, 37, to a value of $3.5 million, over four years, a 19-per-cent increase over last year. There are currently 87 NSERC recipients in the Faculty.

An NSERC University Faculty Award will enable the hiring of Paula Wood-Adams, currently an assistant professor at McGill. A specialist in the flow behaviour of molten polymers, Dr. Wood-Adams will join Concordia in two weeks, and start teaching in September.

Her award is part of an NSERC program designed to increase the representation of women and aboriginal people in faculty positions in the natural sciences and engineering. The competition for this award was intense, with only a 52-per-cent success rate.

Dean Nabil Esmail was delighted to note that a number of the NSERC awards were to new professors, including Amnon H. Eden and Ahmed Seffah (Computer Science), Purnendu Sinha (Electrical/Computer), and Brandon Gordon and Ibrahim Hassan (Mechanical).