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UTSC receives $3.3 million in NSERC grant funding

Professor Myrna Simpson has received a Discovery Accelerator Supplement from NSERC for the second time - a rare feat.

Deep in the bowels of UTSC’s Science Research Building, Professor Myrna Simpson uses highly sophisticated techniques to look at what’s happening to the individual molecules in soil. 

Working with samples gathered from different forest sites in the United States that have undergone a variety of ecosystem manipulation, the goal of her research is to see what happens to soil organic matter over time as the ecosystem responds to environmental change.

Simpson’s research, which could have implications in figuring out how soil and the global carbon cycle is affected by climate change, will get a significant boost thanks to a Discovery Accelerator Supplement from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).

“With global warming there’s a lot of uncertainty over whether the carbon stocks in soil will decline because bacteria and fungi will be more active,” says Simpson. “It’s exciting to be able to continue this collaboration with leading researchers who are focused on the issue of how soil is being affected by climate change.”

The Discovery Accelerator Supplement aims to accelerate progress and maximize the impact of already outstanding research programs by providing additional funding and resources.

The research will be done at UTSC’s Environmental NMR Centre, a facility dedicated to mixing molecular chemistry and environmental science. The Centre contains the only Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectrometers in Canada used for environmental science research.

It marks the second time Simpson has received a highly coveted Discovery Accelerator Supplement in addition to numerous Discovery Grants, a rare feat for a researcher to accomplish. In fact, this year Simpson received a discovery grant, research tool and instrument and the accelerator supplement.

“The projects receiving funding from NSERC reflect the exciting research being done by our outstanding faculty at the University of Toronto Scarborough,” says Bernie Kraatz, Interim VP of Research.  “These grants will fund research that has the potential for significant positive contribution to society and we are extremely grateful to NSERC for its continued support.”

UTSC researchers received 16 Discovery Grants in total as well as one Research Tool and Instruments grant and a Discovery Accelerator Supplement as part of NSERC's 2015 Discovery Grant competition. Across the entire University of Toronto, the total amount of scholarship and research funding was $48.7 million.

Congratulations to the following UTSC researchers:

NSERC Discovery Grants

Ian Brown, Biological Sciences: Heat shock proteins in the nervous system

Andre Cire, Management: Optimization with Decision Diagrams: Theory and Applications

Maria Dittrich, Physical & Environmental Sciences: Organo-mineralization in microbial mats under extreme conditions: linking field, laboratory and metagenomics studies

Nicholas Eyles, Physical & Environmental Sciences: The Geology of Glaciated Sedimentary Basins

David Fleet, Computer and Mathematical Sciences: Looking at People and Web-Scale Image Analysis

Roberta Fulthorpe, Physical & Environmental Sciences: Catabolic capabilities of bacterial endophytes

Michael Goldstein, Computer and Mathematical Sciences: Integrable systems of PDE with quasi-periodic initial data

Marney Isaac, Physical & Environmental Sciences: Biophysical interactions in agricultural systems across environmental gradients         

Kagan Kerman, Physical & Environmental Sciences: Bioelectrochemistry of Surfaces and Interfaces

Nikolaos Koudas, Computer and Mathematical Sciences: Efficient query processing and optimizations for big data workloads

Matthias Niemeier, Psychology: Neural and cognitive mechanisms of predictive coding and their interactions for perception and action

Charles Riggs, Biological Sciences: Structural and Functional Studies of Nuclear Organization, Chromatin and Chromosome Behaviour during Nuclear Division

Daniel Roy, Computer and Mathematical Sciences: Advancing Probabilistic Programming for Machine Learning and Statistics

Myrna Simpson, Physical & Environmental Sciences: Gas Chromatograph - Mass Spectrometer for Molecular Biogeochemistry of Soil Organic Matter

Frank Wania, Physical & Environmental Sciences: Theoretical and Experimental Approaches to Describe the Chemodynamics of Hydrophobic Organics, Ionogenic Organics and Methyl Mercury in the Food Chain

Kenneth Welch, Biological Sciences: Divergent mechanisms, convergent phenotype: the comparative physiology of glucose and fructose oxidation in vertebrate nectarivores


NSERC Discovery Accelerator Supplement

Myrna Simpson, Physical & Environmental Sciences: Molecular Biogeochemistry of Soil Organic Matter with Environmental Change


Research Tools and Instruments

Myrna Simpson, Physical & Environmental Sciences: Gas Chromatograph - Mass Spectrometer for Molecular Biogeochemistry of Soil Organic Matter

© University of Toronto Scarborough