Seven University of Toronto researchers working with industrial and institutional partners have been awarded funding from the federal government for projects ranging from new medical diagnostic tools to environmentally friendly advancements in mining, forestry and manufacturing.
The joint research initiatives are receiving a total of nearly $3.8 million over three years in strategic partnership grants from Canada's Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). The grants are aimed at increasing research and training in targeted areas that will impact the Canadian economy, society or the environment within the next 10 years.
“These research projects demonstrate how U of T successfully collaborates with private industry and government to tackle big challenges by harnessing science to benefit society in areas like the environment, communications, natural resources and advanced manufacturing,” said Vivek Goel, U of T’s vice-president of research and innovation.
“In the process, we’re also ensuring our best and brightest young researchers get the training they need to become highly qualified for the jobs of the future.”
The projects – which add to U of T’s existing partnership initiatives – cover everything from CO2 storage techniques in mining that also create valuable products from industrial waste to the development of new generations of materials and components for electric cars and fibre optics. (See full list of recipients below.)
At U of T Scarborough, Carl Mitchell is working with forestry companies and government departments in northwestern Ontario to modify wood harvesting practices to reduce mercury contamination of watersheds, lakes and fish.
The associate professor in the department of physical and environmental sciences is receiving $584,870 over three years for his partnership with Domtar Corp., Dryden Forest Management Co., Obishikokaang Resources Corp., the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and Natural Resources Canada.
“Mercury is a global pollutant that gets around very easily in the atmosphere, but when it gets into the soil it’s very stable and doesn’t go anywhere,” says Mitchell.
“But there is some evidence that forestry practices can disrupt that stability, and then mercury runs off into adjacent lakes and rivers.”
The project will seek to determine how forestry practices can be modified here to keep the mercury stable in the ground instead of leaking into nearby waterways.
Mitchell, who is also the acting chair of U of T Scarborough’s graduate environmental sciences program, estimates that 20 U of T students will be involved in the project over the course of the three-year study.