Carleton University researchers Amy Rand, James Mungall and Heath MacMillan, along with the team of Olessia Jouravlev, Kasia Muldner and Chris Herdman,  have received support from Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF) for their work on the impact of pollutants, locating vital mineral deposits, the impact of cold on insects and effective learning.

“Carleton is leading the way in innovative and important fields that will directly improve the lives of Canadians,” said Rafik Goubran, vice-president (Research and International). “We are grateful for CFI’s ongoing support of this vital research.”

In the highly competitive global market, Canada’s workforce must be equipped to keep pace with quickly changing knowledge development. Carleton’s leading cognitive research is providing important tools to Canadian industry.

“Our goal as an interdisciplinary team is to investigate how effective learning outcomes are achieved,” said Jouravlev, project lead and professor with the Institute of Cognitive Studies. “Our team will explore neurocognitive mechanisms supporting successful learning and achievement of expertise.”

Ultimately, the research will inform parents, educators and policy-makers about the mechanisms supporting effective learning and help design tools that enable learners to reach their full potential.

Canadians have pollutants in their blood as a result of constant exposure though indoor air, household dust, drinking water and diet. Pollutants can enter cells and interrupt basic cellular processes, and may contribute to developing diseases such as cancer, diabetes, asthma and cardiovascular disease.

Rand, a professor in the Department of Chemistry, is researching how pollutants impact two fundamental cellular processes, cell stress and the formation of new blood vessels. This funding will help provide a liquid chromatograph tandem mass spectrometer (LC-MS/MS) required for the project. The instrument measures several classes of lipids. These lipids are critically important in several physiological processes and many pharmaceuticals act to control lipids, yet there is inadequate understanding of the impact of pollutants on them.

“With the LC-MS/MS, we hope to fill gaps regarding pollutant influence on cellular processes and contribute to developing policies that will improve Canadian public health by setting safe limits of pollutants in drinking water, air and diet,” said Rand.

Mungall, a professor in the Department of Earth Sciences, is investigating mineralizing processes in layered mafic intrusions (LMI).

LMI contain the world’s most important reserves of important metals including chromium and platinum. They are also important sources of copper, nickel, palladium, phosphorus, iron, titanium, vanadium and niobium.

“Mining contributed $57.6 billion to the Canadian economy in 2016 and provided direct employment to 193,000 people; the benefits are disproportionately felt in the North, and it is also notable that the mining industry is Canada’s largest employer of Indigenous Canadians,” said Mungall. “My research will have a large impact on the exploration and development of mineral deposits in Canada, particularly in the nascent Ring of Fire deposit group in northwestern Ontario.”

The origins of mineralized layers in LMI remain a matter of intense research activity and controversy. Determining these origins is critical for guiding mineral exploration strategies. This funding will support state-of-art micro-imaging equipment that will permit Mungall to test hypotheses for the origins of mineralized layers in LMI.

Insects are critical to ecosystem health, but many carry disease or are agricultural pests, and so have a strong influence public health and food supply. Variations in temperature, such as winter chilling, largely determine the distribution and abundance of insects and yet we know remarkably little about how these conditions can influence their physiology.

“This funding will help establish a laboratory to rear insects and expose them to cold, as well as a suite of state-of-the-art physiological and molecular tools,” said MacMillan, a professor in the Department of Biology. “With this equipment we will trace the physiological and molecular traits that cause insects to be injured by chilling, as well as those that allow them to survive extreme stress. This approach will provide us with foundational knowledge that can help predict and control insect populations in Canada and abroad.”

This important research is seeking a greater understanding of the physiological and molecular causes of cold-induced injury and the ability of insects to modify their tolerance to extreme temperatures.

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Carleton University
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Wednesday, March 13, 2019 in
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