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UOIT research projects net $150,000 in grants

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

Research projects at UOIT are receiving a boost to construct ‘state-of-the art facilities’ and purchase essential equipment.

Three projects at the school will receive $150,176 through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s John R. Leaders Fund (JELF).

UOIT will also receive an additional $45,052 from the foundation’s Infrastructure Operating Fund to assist with the incremental operating costs of the projects.

The funding is part of $52 million the federal government is doling out to 220 new infrastructure projects across the country.

Dr. Shilpa Dogra of UOIT’s Faculty of Health Sciences’ kinesiology department will receive $43,500 for her laboratory on health and human performance.

Dr. Dogra will investigate the effects of prolonged sitting and engaging in different levels of exercise in older adults and adults with respiratory diseases such as asthma.

The ultimate goal of her laboratory is to offer information on the optimal exercise prescription for successful and healthy aging.

Dr. Walid Morsi Ilbrahim, an associate professor with the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, and his research team are currently developing new techniques to automate and manage Canada’s electricity grid to improve efficiency, reliability, resiliency and self-healing capabilities.

This project will receive $42,000 in JELF funding, with applications including advanced monitoring systems, advanced knowledge discovery tools and cyber security measures.

Dr. Bernadette Murphy and Dr. Paul Yielder of UOIT’s Faculty of Health Sciences, are currently analyzing the fields of sensorimotor integration (SMI), which is the brain’s ability to use sensory information from the body to formulate appropriate outputs to muscles, and brain plasticity, which represents the ability to change in response to training.

Dr. Murphy and Dr. Yielder will receive $64,676 to use eye tracking and electroencephalography systems to study how SMI and brain plasticity are impacted by altered sensory input. The research will consider neck pain and fatigue, experimentally induced pain, and the use of preferred and non-preferred limbs when learning to perform new movements. The goal of the study is to provide knowledge towards improving strategies for workplace and technology design, while decreasing injury risk and improving worker performance.

Jennifer Freeman, director of research services for UOIT, says such funding “is extremely vital to our institution.”

“It has allowed us to purchase equipment that enhances our ability to conduct relevant research,” she says.

She noted that it is “difficult to come by infrastructure funds” for research purposes in Canada, which she believes makes the Canadian Foundation for Innovation “invaluable.”

“They’ve played a pivotal role in changing the research landscape,” Freeman says.

UOIT has more than 80 ‘state-of-the-art’ research facilities, all of which Freeman says create training opportunities for the school’s 500 graduate and 10,000 undergraduate students.

The funding announcement was made Aug. 15 in Sudbury by Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan.

“Ensuring that our scientists are well-prepared with the absolute paramount in tools and equipment for research and discovery is what we’re here for,” Duncan said. “These journeys can lead to achievements such as an improved economy and a better job market, and can also fuel an active research community here in Canada and internationally.”

The Canadian Foundation for Innovation is an independent, non-profit organization, created by the federal government in 1997, which invests in research facilities, equipment and projects at Canada’s universities, colleges, research hospitals and non-profit research institutions.