Brock University Scientists Awarded $3.2 Million in National Research Funding

With a new Discovery Grant from the federal government, Brock University bee expert Miriam Richards is hoping to do what no other researcher has ever done.

News from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario

Posted October 9th, 2018 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – Scientists often study an animal’s ability to survive to maturity, find a mate and produce offspring — shedding light on traits that will be passed onto successive generations. That’s fairly straightforward with larger animals, but it gets complicated when the subject of study is a carpenter bee.

Biological Sciences graduate student Lyndon Duff (front) explains how he and his research team, led by Professor of Biology Miriam Richards, monitor bees’ mating activities during a tour on the day that funding results were announced by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). Back row from left: St. Catharines MP Chris Bittle; Richards; Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey; and Tim Kenyon, Vice-President, Research.

Allowing that research to move forward is funding announced Tuesday, Oct. 9 by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

Richards, along with 17 other faculty researchers and nine graduate students at Brock University, received a total of $3.2 million in funding this year from NSERC.

Brock Vice-President, Research Tim Kenyon says he is impressed by the scope of areas receiving NSERC funding.

 “From the geological histories of Earth and Mars, to physiological processes in the body, to the application of molecular concepts, Brock researchers continue to discover and apply knowledge that advances society. We are proud of our researchers’ excellent work and commitment.”

Diane Dupont, interim Dean of Graduate Studies, says the student researchers who received the prestigious NSERC scholarships “deepen our knowledge of various aspects of human health, psychology, statistics and chemistry.

 “NSERC’s support for our students is vital not only for research that will help many in our society but also as an investment in our student researchers’ future careers,” she says.

With her grant, Richards and her students are going to select nests of big carpenter bees to study their ability to survive and reproduce.

“We’re now marking every single individual carpenter bee in the population,” says Richards. “We’re looking at its behaviour, and then we’re going to use genetic methods to figure out which of those behaviours are the optimal or have the biggest payoff in terms of fitness.”

On hand to congratulate the award recipients were Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey and St. Catharines MP Chris Bittle.

“Today’s investments are important to ensure that discovery and innovation are key parts of Canada’s scientific research,” said Bittle. “Results of this funding will demonstrate how knowledge can be harnessed to improve our wealth, our wellness and our well-being while also growing our economy.”

Badawey agreed, saying “Research and innovation at Brock University are helping create the next generation of jobs here in Niagara.”

“Funding such as this is instrumental to ensuring that academic advancements continue to be made, and that these insights can then be applied in a manner that benefits all Canadians,” he said.

For more details on the faculty research, see this story in The Brock News.

For more details on the student research, see this story in The Brock News.

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