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Canada Foundation for Innovation invests in Memorial’s research infrastructure

By Meaghan Whelan | June 11, 2013

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) has invested $436,566 in five research projects at Memorial University.

“Funding from the CFI is critical to attracting and retaining top researchers and building Memorial’s research capacity,” said Dr. Richard Marceau, vice-president (research). “The support from CFI equips our researchers for solving some of the world’s greatest problems, such as transforming atmospheric CO2 into value-added products. The competition for research funding is increasingly intense, and I’d like to congratulate the recipients for their vision and success.”

The funding was awarded through the CFI’s Leaders Opportunity Fund, a program designed to help universities attract and retain the very best researchers at a time of intense international competition. Awards are made to researchers who are recognized leaders in their field, or those with a clear promise of becoming future leaders and who require specialized infrastructure.

Drs. Christopher Kozak and Fran Kerton, Department of Chemistry, are two researchers who received funding from CFI. Their research involves the use of abundant, renewable starting materials, such as carbon dioxide, to make more valuable materials such as plastics, solvents and possibly fuels.

The funding will be used to purchase two instruments that will change the way they study the formation of plastics and other materials formed from carbon dioxide. 

Drs. Chris Kozak and Fran Kerton“Most commonly, chemists study the products of a reaction by terminating the process and seeing what comes out of the flask. These instruments will allow us to study the reaction of CO2 "on the fly", as the reaction is occurring, giving us a lot more information as to how to improve the process,” Dr. Kozak explained.

 “Carbon dioxide is a byproduct of many industries, particularly the oil and gas industry, and it is accumulating in our atmosphere. It is essential for Canada to develop new technologies to exploit this abundant molecule and transform it into more useful materials.”

“The investments being announced for Memorial University of Newfoundland will further enhance our country’s reputation as a destination of choice for outstanding researchers,” said Dr. Gilles G. Patry, president and CEO of the CFI. “They will make our universities even more competitive when it comes to attracting the best and brightest researchers from around the world.”

Projects are eligible to receive up to 40 per cent of the total project cost from CFI under the Leaders Opportunity Fund. The total value of the funded projects is more than $1 million.

Funded projects

  • Dr. Graham Bodwell, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, LC-MS Instrument for the Identification and Characterization of Organic Compounds
  • Dr. Tao Cheng, Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Science, Infrastructure for the Characterization of Particulate Matter and Dissolved Chemical Species in Water, Soil and Groundwater Environments
  • Drs. Christopher Kozak and Fran Kerton, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Research Tools for Process Optimization and Characterization of Biodegradable and Renewable Polymers
  • Dr. Erika Merschrod, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Ultra-high Resolution Chemical Mapping: Tip-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (TERS) System
  • Dr. Yuri Muzychka, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, High-Speed Thermal Imaging System