ANTIGONISH, N.S. - Researching brain functions has been aided greatly at St. F.X. with the opening of the Applied Neuro-Cognitive Research (ANChoR) laboratory in J. Bruce Brown Hall.
An official opening of the lab took place Dec. 14 with researchers and others associated with the space joined by Antigonish MLA Randy Delorey. The province’s Minister of Health, a St. F.X. alumnus, joined as it was noted $40,000 from the provincial government’s Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Trust, as well as $40,000 from the Canada Foundation of Innovation (CFI), was used to acquire new research equipment.
“As the local MLA and an alumnus, I’m extremely proud we’re seeing some of the investments right here at St. F.X. but, equally, as a local resident and alumnus, I’m not surprised. I’m well aware of the caliber of research that takes place here on this campus,” Delorey said during the opening event, which took place in the lab.
“And as was noted, it isn’t just about collaboration here on campus between researchers in the various departments, but also that opportunity to collaborate, build on, leverage and enhance, those investments at other institutions, like the reference to the MS [multiple sclerosis] research at Dalhousie.
“That’s all part of the provincial plan as well, so it’s great to see our academic institutions and our researchers collaborating.”
Delorey also noted how the lab benefits not only seasoned researchers.
“This is something we see on this campus; undergraduate students having the opportunity to participate and access high-end research opportunities and technology,” he said. “In other larger institutions, often those opportunities are only available for graduate students. It’s one of the great things about undergraduate studies at St. F.X.”
The minister talked more about the province’s research and innovation trust.
“This is an area for our government, and I’ve certainly been a strong advocate and supporter of; investment in our post-secondary institutions and their research,” he said.
“We had the opportunity, when our finances allowed, to put additional money into this trust to support research across the province and I think, again, the proposal to get this equipment and support this lab is a testament to the quality of researchers here at St. F.X.
“It really aligns well with the priorities and vision of the investments being made across the province.”
One of the researchers, Dean of Science at St. F.X. Petra Hauf, said the vision for the lab began about a year ago.
“At first we had to construct; this room didn’t look like this, so we had to do the construction to create this space and then purchase the equipment,” she said. “All the software had to be updated and the researchers had to get special training. It’s not like you can just sit down there and know how to do it.”
Hauf said they’ve been up and running since the summer and the uptake has been very good.
She talked about the different departments taking advantage of the lab.
“At the moment we have psychology, different areas of psychology, neuro science, developmental psychology, human kinetics; and we have researchers here who are part of the new health program looking into the impacts on health,” she said, noting one area, as an example, deals with aging.
“How motor skills change when we age and how can we help with that process. It’s also accessible for departments in computer science and mathematics and statistics.
“It’s always helpful if you have those research opportunities here on campus. Because we’re a small, undergraduate institution, if you want to do this kind of research where we don’t have this equipment here, we’re relying on other institutions and collaborations. It works but it’s not the same as if you have it at home, and you can just do. This will increase productivity because it decreases the issues with access to those facilities.”