By Jena Lynde-Smith

Five Carleton University researchers received a combined $1.74 million from the federal government’s New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) today to support multidisciplinary projects in the fields of equitable housing design, machine learning, sustainable energy, and surveillance.

“Carleton has a long history of supporting collaboration and sharing expertise across disciplines,” said Rafik Goubran, Vice-President (Research and International). “These projects have the potential to greatly impact the lives of Canadians and represent several multidisciplinary areas of research strength in which Carleton excels.”

The funding was awarded through two streams: Exploration and Post-Pandemic Recovery. The post-pandemic recovery stream is a new category for this year. It aims to mobilize research efforts in support of a more equitable, sustainable and resilient post-pandemic reality.

Aligned with this is the work of Burak Gunay, a Civil and Environmental Engineering researcher. Gunay will use his NFRF funding to launch a project on occupant-centric housing design. COVID-19 has abruptly changed occupancy in residential buildings, with many homes turned into makeshift classrooms, daycares, and offices. This change disproportionally affected those who live in low-income housing who have poorer quality appliances, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems. The main objective of Burak’s research is to develop robust, healthy, and sustainable designs for affordable housing programs.

Abhijit Sarkar, another Carleton civil engineer, is leveraging Canada’s top supercomputers to develop novel machine learning tools to better predict future pandemics and long COVID-19. His international team is made up of researchers from nine disciplines including medicine, epidemiology, health policy, geography and computer science. His research will devise suggestions for targeted and equitable health care resource allocation by identifying geographical locations and affected population groups based on comorbidities, mental health illness, income, sex and more.

NFRF’s Exploration stream funds projects that bring disciplines together beyond traditional disciplinary or common interdisciplinary approaches by research teams with the capacity to explore something new with the potential for significant impact. Three Carleton researchers were awarded funding from this stream.

Cynthia Cruickshank, a Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering researcher and director of the Centre for Advanced Building Envelope Research (CABER), is pursuing a timely project around housing and social welfare, along with economics professor Maya Papineau-Koritar as co-principal investigator. Their research will bring together experts in engineering, architecture, and environmental economics to develop social welfare enhancing solutions for comprehensive, climate resilient, deep energy retrofits that meet the needs of both Canadian community housing providers and tenants.

Media Production and Design professor, Stéfy McKnight, is researching surveillance through the lens of pleasure. McKnight will look at surveillance technologies may be a way to produce pleasure, especially for marginalized groups, and how surveillance can bring pleasure through empowerment, connection, self-surveillance, exhibitionism/voyeurism, play, or art.

Mechanical and Aerospace engineer, Kristen Schell, co-director of the APEX research lab, is studying how to design energy systems according to community preferences, while ensuring adaptability to changing events. Her framework will integrate environmental constraints, societal norms and preferences, and public policy, such as limited funding for maintenance. Considering these constraints will ensure the energy system can adapt to future uncertainties and enhance its community value.

About the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF)

NFRF supports international, interdisciplinary and high-risk research and provides funding to help Canadian researchers make the next great discoveries in their fields. Created by the Canada Research Coordinating Committee, NFRF is administered on behalf of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

Tuesday, April 25, 2023 in
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