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UNB News Release: B184 Release date: January 8, 1999 Contact: Sandra Howland

UNB Elated with Success in First Round of CFI Grants

Innovation is alive and kicking up its heels at the University of New Brunswick.

The Canada Foundation for Innovation has awarded $1.1 million to UNB for nine projects in its initial competition for grants. Another $1 million is anticipated, pending finalization of details on three additional projects.

"This is a tremendous success story for our researchers," says John McLaughlin, UNB's vice-president of research and international co-operation. "Our very high success rate is an enormous vote of confidence for the quality of research done at UNB. This investment will make a significant contribution towards upgrading our core research infrastructure."

The Canada Foundation for Innovation, or CFI, provides matching funds for equipment upgrading and infrastructure renewal. Its investment is enabling researchers to have access to advanced equipment and facilities to undertake leading-edge research. The research supported by these grants will significantly increase the state of knowledge in project subject areas. In many cases, the grants will support pioneering research that has potential to underpin major breakthroughs.

The CFI grants to UNB are matched with support from various other sources, including the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, industry partners, and the university. All nine UNB projects that have received a final stamp of approval are funded under CFI's Research and Development Fund. The principal applicants for each of the UNB grants received in this first round are located on the university's Fredericton campus. For each project, there may be more than one principal applicant as well as numerous additional users.

Rickey Dubay's project is one of three that received CFI funding for two years, $215,120 the first and $100,000 the second. A member of the mechanical engineering department at UNB, he and Guido Bendrich of chemical engineering are the principal users in a project that will focus on conducting research and skills training in the advanced manufacturing of plastics using injection molding and extrusion. Their research and development activities with mechanical engineering professor Pearl Sullivan will target the growing needs of industry in process optimization, reduction of machine energy consumption, and product innovations. Equipment purchases will enable plastics recycling, blending, drying, storage and transportation.

David Coleman of the department of geodesy and geomatics engineering is heading up the GEOPLUS Network with grant funding of $215,120 the first year and $100,400 in the second. The network will acquire and refine the technology and information infrastructure to develop at UNB a world-class institution for co-operative and multidisciplinary research on land and property. A strong team of researchers from the faculties of engineering, forestry and environmental management, and law will pioneer new approaches to the management and delivery of geographic and property-related information resources. Grant funds will purchase site licences for database and map analysis software, servers, and data collection equipment.

Pearl Sullivan in UNB's department of mechanical engineering will develop distributed fibre optic smart structures for aerospace application. A smart structure is one that can detect change and take action, especially in engineering applications. She will work with users at the Institute of Aerospace Research, National Research Council of Canada, in Ottawa and three other principal users at UNB. They are Rickey Dubay and Robert Rogers, also of mechanical engineering, and Xiaoyi Bao of the physics department. Their grant of $55,600 in the first year and $73,520 in the second will support the pioneering application of a distributed-continuous fibre optic sensing system recently developed by Dr. Bao. It is the only known fibre-optic sensing capability in the world today for both temperature and strain along a single fibre. They will embed it within a composite material for aerospace use. Aerospace structures processing and electronic equipment will be purchased with grant funds.

Yonghao Ni, who is the director of UNB's Dr. Jack McKenzie Limerick Pulp and Paper Research and Education Centre as well as a member of its departments of chemical engineering and chemistry, received a one-year grant of $160,500 to develop an integrated forest products facility. He and chemical engineering colleagues Ronald Thring and Adriaan van Heiningen, along with Y. H. Chui and Marc Schneider of the faculty of forestry and environmental management, will conduct several wood products research programs with the funding. They will work at improving various aspects of pulping processes and wood products. Funds will be used to renovate labs and purchase and install equipment for their research.

Brian Lowry, also a chemical engineering professor, is the principal applicant for the $108,000 grant to establish a surface and interfacial testing facility. He will use the grant to improve current capabilities for materials testing, which will benefit ongoing research in his department as well as with users in the geology and chemistry departments and outside users. The testing facility will assist research in varied areas, such as adsorption, corrosion, pulp and paper, heat exchanger fouling, metallurgy, general surface chemistry, failure analysis, and space science.

Rick Cunjak, UNB's Meighen-Molson Professor in Atlantic Salmon Research, will establish a stable isotope laboratory for ecological research and wildlife conservation with his $105,404 grant from CFI. He and fellow principal researchers Allen Curry and Graham Forbes of the university's Sir James Dunn Wildlife Research Centre will be able to tackle environmentally complex questions with stable isotope analysis. With this tool, they can solve problems of food-source origins, ecosystem function, behaviour of contaminants in foodwebs, and migratory patterns of birds and fish. Through sampling various tissues, they will investigate inter-relationships within and between terrestrial, marine, and freshwater ecosystems. Tom Al of UNB's geology department, who is another principal researcher, and scientists in other areas will also use this tool in their research.

Cathleen Crudden of UNB's chemistry department will use her $62,776 grant to purchase several pieces of specialized equipment to conduct research into new types of transition metal catalysts. Dr. Crudden is conducting multidisciplinary research into a new type of heterogeneous catalyst that has applications for the production of bulk chemicals and medicinal compounds. This research using transition metals has the potential to be a major breakthrough in the area of catalysis, which is a way of accelerating chemical reactions.

Bruce Balcom, director of UNB's Magnetic Resonance Imaging Research Centre, will use his $52,440 grant to continue development of a new method his centre invented and to exploit new techniques at their earliest possible stages. The promising new method, called SPRITE, permits visualization of non-fluid structures, which previously had not been possible, in addition to traditional diagnostic clinical methods. The grant will be used to add another full imaging system. More than 18 collaborators within UNB as well as users across Canada will use the unique SPRITE method with the enhanced capabilities.

Alejandro López-Ortiz of UNB's faculty of computer science received a CFI grant of $27,953 for a distributed World Wide Web-based computing cluster to confirm predicted theoretical behaviour and test potential improvements. These are essential to faster performance for applications, such as telemedicine and environmental management data. Dr. López-Ortiz will share the facility with other principal users Ed Biden of UNB's Institute of Biomedical Engineering, David Coleman of the department of geodesy and geomatics engineering, and fellow computer scientists Weichang Du, Patricia Evans, Bradford Nickerson, and Colin Ware. A series of six servers forming a cluster will provide the foundation of a new research facility, the Internet Computing Laboratory.

CFI is an independent, not-for-profit corporation established in May 1997 with a contribution of $800 million from the Government of Canada. The foundation's mandate is to invest in infrastructure for research and development in Canadian universities, colleges, hospitals, and research institutions. CFI's investments will be made in partnership with the private and voluntary sectors, as well as with all levels of government. Through these partnerships, CFI has the potential to trigger around $2 billion in investment in research infrastructure.