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More than $12-million for research programs, tools and instruments

By Danelle D’Alvise, Research Communications

May 21, 2013

Eighty McMaster researchers have received a total of $12,513,223 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) for individual awards ranging from grants for much needed equipment, to an infusion of funding for ongoing, 5-year research programs. The awards will have an impact on almost every corner of the campus, from the DeGroote School of Business to pathology and molecular medicine labs in the Faculty of Health Sciences, and to every single department in the Faculties of Engineering and Science.

NSERC has also recognized a McMaster scientist and an engineer as "researchers whose proposals explore high-risk, novel or potentially transformative concepts and lines of inquiry, and are likely to contribute to groundbreaking advances", awarding both Turlough Finan and Carlos Filipe an NSERC Discovery Accelerator Supplement (DAS) of $120,000 over three years. The DAS is awarded yearly to only a small group of researchers to maximize the impact of their "superior research programs".

Carlos Filipe

Filipe, an associate professor in the department of chemical engineering, will use his award to accelerate the progress of his research using paper based products to test for water safety. His program of research will explore how to pre-treat a simple strip of paper to increase its specificity to a particular target. Filipe gives the example of developing a paper strip that will only test for lead, with the results of that test also providing a solution on how to then clean the lead levels in the water.


This is the second Discovery Accelerator Supplement for biology professor Turlough Finan – a tribute that happens rarely with this particular NSERC program.

Turlough Finan

“This award provides me with the flexibility to do a number of higher risk things and push the limits of my research,” said Finan, whose study of the nitrogen fixing soil bacterium Sinorhizobium meliloti could lead to increased crop and plant yields, and provide the environmental bonus of decreasing nitrogen fertilizer use.

“Success in the NSERC Discovery program is critical to McMaster University’s research endeavour. We often notice announcements of the single large grant, but overall success in the NSERC Discovery program is extremely important to us as an institution, because it supports the research of so many faculty members across the university.” said Fiona McNeill, associate vice-president, research. “This year, faculty members in Business, Engineering, Health Sciences and Science were all successful, which means that 80 faculty members will be able to conduct high quality research programs for the next five years, and many new undergraduate, Master’s and PhD students will have the opportunity to be involved in research.”

The Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology) made the Canada-wide announcement May 21 at a news conference in Ottawa.

“Discovery Grants is the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s flagship program and one of Canada’s largest sources of funding for basic research,” said Minister Goodyear.  “It provides researchers with the means and freedom to pursue their most promising ideas. Our government is proud to support 10,000 researchers who are creating the advances that will drive tomorrow’s innovations.”

For the NSERC news release, click here.