The Government of Canada is investing in research at St. F.X.
Central Nova MP Sean Fraser was at his alma-mater Aug. 15 to make the announcement that $156,730, through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF), was going towards two research projects at the university. As well, St. F.X. is also receiving an additional $47,019 in funding from the CFI’s Infrastructure Operating Fund.
“Dr. Mohamed Shajahan Gulam Razul is receiving $67,544 for research equipment for the development and structure-function relationship studies of cryoprotectants in seafood; and Dr. Geniece Hallett-Tapley is receiving $89,186 for applications of modified perovskite photocatalysts in fundamental organic transformations,” a release from the federal government stated, in regards to the announcement and specific projects at St. F.X.
“The funding will allow universities and researchers across Canada to carry out ground-breaking research in world-class facilities. The national announcement was made by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, and took place Aug. 15, at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario. It recognized a Government of Canada investment of more than $52 million in 220 new infrastructure projects at 51 universities across Canada.
“The John R. Evans Leaders Fund plays an important research support role for Canadian universities, helping them to attract and retain top talent — particularly early-career researchers — with the state-of-the-art equipment they need to excel in their field.”
“It’s always exciting to receive funding that supports research,” Petra Hauf, Dean of Science at St. F.X., said to reporters following the announcement.
“I’m excited about research, I do it myself and it’s important here because we want to show a small institution, like St. F.X., can do outstanding research. We need the support to get there, to give students a learning experience in the labs, a hands-on experience and prepare them for their jobs later, when they need to know how to use this equipment. So I’m very pleased to see this funding coming to St. F.X.”
Hauf talked about the “typical” procedure for a researcher starting a project at St. F.X.
“They try to get the lab set up, where it will best suit their research,” she said.
“They then apply for a grant for what is missing, from the province but also federal funding. This is two separate projects but, of course, the students will be involved in both of those labs, depending on what courses they’re taking.
“At bigger institutions, very often, research labs are just for the researchers. But here, always, research labs are also for the students who take courses; advanced courses in chemistry, for example, are using those facilities to teach students, even if they’re not part of a research project.”
Fraser was asked about his government investing in science and innovation and he noted it was amongst the “priorities” they established during campaigning.
“In addition to funding research and research infrastructure, like we’re seeing today, there are other important steps being taken to ensure government policies are based on the best science, facts and evidence available,” he said.
“As I mentioned during my remarks, we’re in the midst of a process of appointing a chief science officer for Canada to ensure government researchers’ products are proactively disposed and our policies do reflect the best research available. We’re seeing significant investments to encourage young people to take a place in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) professions. As I mentioned as well, the Status of Women Canada is funding the X-Chem Outreach Project which encourages young women to take part in research at an early stage of their lives.”
Fraser also touched on the investment having both “short-term” and “long-term” benefits.
“If you look, going forward, the research here is going to benefit this entire region,” he said.
“If you look at Dr. Razul’s research, it’s essentially establishing a new type of cryoprotectant. In layman’s terms, you can freeze lobster so it still tastes good when it gets to its destination. It’s not hard to understand where the economic benefit is going to come from,” he said, using the European market as an example.
“To know we can deliver a fresher product to their market is going to benefit not only the European consumer but also the pocketbooks of local fishermen here in northern Nova Scotia.”
Fraser talked, in more general terms, about seeing investments in his former school and riding.
“Anytime I get to be on campus, it’s rewarding for me,” he said. “Not just being alumni but to see that we’re making continuing investments; between the Oland Stadium announcement, the infrastructure investment with Xaverian Commons and now multiple research projects taking place here on campus, I see a continuing trend of investing in small towns and rural communities.”