UNBC receives more than $4.5 million in federal research funding

From studying the impact of glyphosate-based herbicides on the ecosystem, to better understanding income inequality to a renewed Canada Research Chair in Humanities and Health Inequities, UNBC researchers are fostering local solutions for a global impact.

March 15, 2024
A researcher wearing full personal protective equipment, including a hard had examines a connection next to a strong wall.
School of Engineering Professor Dr. Thomas Tannert received two Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Alliance grants to continue his work engaging with industry partners on tall wood buildings and hybrid structures.

University of Northern British Columbia researchers are continuing their work to mobilize knowledge for local and global change thanks to more than $4.5 million in funding from the federal government to support more than a dozen research projects and scholarships. 

Minister of Transport Pablo Rodriguez announced the funding earlier this week at an event in Montreal.  

“UNBC researchers are ready to discover solutions that resonate right here in northern British Columbia and echo across the country and around the world,” says UNBC Vice-President of Research and Innovation Dr. Paula Wood-Adams. “UNBC is grateful for the continued funding support from federal agencies as researchers meet their goals of leading positive change in their respective fields of study.” 

Portrait photo of someone outside in front of a tree in winter. Ecosystem Science and Management Associate Professor Dr. Lisa Wood (picutred, left) received more than $1.5 million in funding and partner in-kind contributions over five years from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Alliance program to examine the effects of glyphosate-based herbicide (GBH) residues on ecosystem health.  

The grant is a first for UNBC. With rigorous criteria, the Alliance cost-sharing option 2, recently re-named the Alliance Society grant, is only awarded to projects addressing significant societal challenges. 

“This knowledge is urgently needed, given the large-scale use and persistence of GBH in the natural systems humans and wildlife rely on for high quality ecosystem services like air and water quality; climate moderation and food sources,” says Wood. “Canadians will benefit from the research conducted by better understanding the extent of the impact of GBH on forest systems.” 

Meanwhile, Dr. Sarah de Leeuw (pictured, below) was re-appointed as the Canada Research Chair in Humanities and Health Inequities, a five-year award that comes with $500,000 in research funding. A UNBC Professor in UBC’s Northern Medical Program, de Leeuw’s research will continue to examine how arts-based health research can help improve patient care and address disparities in healthcare. 

Portrait photo of someone inside at UNBC “Over the next several years, my work will help ensure the incredible strengths in health humanities in Canada are shared with the world,” says de Leeuw. “We want to nurture new generations of highly trained researchers and educators rooted in health humanities. We need a new generation of health professionals who take seriously the importance of humanity and arts in health care. These people will ultimately help patients experience a more humanized healthcare system.” 

UNBC also received $2,344,529 from the federal government’s Research Support Fund to help offset the cost of research.  

School of Economics Assistant Professor Dr. Leandro Freylejer receiving $22,466 from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight Development Grant program to research a demand side theory of income inequality based on changes in the composition of demand for goods of different qualities as aggregate income increases. 

“There is evidence of large increases in inequality across workers when developing countries experience rapid increases in income levels," Freylejer  says. "It is immensely important to understand the source of the increase in inequality to guide government policy towards a more equitable economic development process.”

“Researchers at UNBC are inspiring discovery through their work every day,” says UNBC Research Project Officer, Social Sciences and Humanities Sharleen Balogh. “With the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Office of Research and Innovation assists UNBC faculty with the acquisition of funding to develop outstanding research programs, leading to the discovery of new knowledge, which has impacts in the north and beyond.”

Other projects to receive research funding include: 

School of Engineering Professor Dr. Thomas Tannert received two grants from the NSERC Alliance program, one worth $40,000 to work with Timber Engineering and one worth $20,000 to work with MTC Soluitions as he continues his research as a Canada Research Chair in Tall Wood and Hybrid Structures Engineering. The first will investigate the viability of hybrid (adhesive bonds combined with self-tapping screws) high-performance joints for cross-laminated timber floor panels, which will facilitate the development of design guidance for such joints in CLT floor systems that constitute a promising solution for many applications. The second will help evaluate the potential of using mass-timber products for larger and non-residential structures with longer floor spans, which is increasingly being explored in Canada.Person in a lab next to a stack of equipment

School of Engineering Professor Dr. Jueyi Sui and Assistant Professor Dr. Wenbo Zheng (pictured, right) each received NSERC International Catalyst grants worth $25,000. Sui is studying impacts of ice jam evolution on local scour at bridge piers. Zheng is looking at internal erosion in hydroelectric dams. 

Three UNBC PhD students received Canada Graduate Scholarships, Doctoral awards worth $35,000 each: 

  • Luizmar De Assis Barros is identifying old-growth forests in B.C. and using them as a reference to assess the effectiveness of current old-growth conservation measures and the impact of community forestry on old-growth retention across the province.
  • Sunny Tseng is applying passive acoustic monitoring with machine learning technique to assess avian biodiversity in an ecosystem in central BC that spans a large spatiotemporal scale.
  • Julie Thomas received the award related to her research in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies. 

Seven UNBC student researchers received $17,500 awards from the Canada Graduate Scholarships, Master’s awards

  • Loanne Bannister is studying the role of the body schema in action understanding.  
  • Lucas Middleton is researching the patriarchy in the contemporary frontier of Canada's national parks.  
  • Yanik Rozon is looking at the cumulative impacts of climate change and resource extraction in Fiji. 
  • Natalie Cringle is investigating whether cannabis is a viable option for ameliorating alcohol use disorder from either reduction of use or abstinence.
  • Jonathan Doyon is studying how engaging with youth and Indigenous health leadership transforms conversations on health and community indicators.
  • Hannah Tench is researching how egg viability in tree swallows contributes to our understanding of climate and food supply in prenatal development and survival in aerial insectivores.
  • Shaye Hill is examining how nest size is related to sexual selection and parasite load in tree swallows.

Graduate student Ann Duong received $6,000 from the Canada Graduate Scholarships – Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplements for her work validating the use of a multi-fraction sampler for recovering inhalable and respirable dust mass, and metals in Workplace air.