Lab Canada

Young innovators are awarded by NSERC

Ottawa, ON – The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has announced the winners of the 2011 Innovation Challenge Awards.

The awards honour graduate students in the natural sciences or engineering who have demonstrated an entrepreneurial spirit and have identified ways their research thesis results can be developed into products and processes to benefit Canadians.

“These awards encourage graduate students to explore the real-world implications of their research. I am very impressed with the high calibre of the nominations we received from universities across Canada,” said Dr Suzanne Fortier, NSERC’s president. “These young researchers understand that the ability to translate new knowledge into innovative products and services is a crucial factor in pushing Canada to new levels of innovation.”

When a high-rise building is subjected to an extreme earthquake, significant damage can occur throughout the concrete walls and beams. Michael Montgomery developed an innovative technology for reducing wind and earthquake vibrations in these buildings, called the Wind-Earthquake Coupling Damper. For this work, Dr Montgomery, who completed a graduate degree at the University of Toronto, received the first prize, worth $10,000.

For broadening the use of lasers that help to diagnose certain medical conditions, Martin Bernier, the first runner-up, received $5,000. In close collaboration with industrial partners, Bernier, who did his graduate studies at Université Laval, developed the FibreLase technology, enhancing the use of lasers in biomedical applications to improve patient care.

In large industrial organizations, shutting down massive machines for a maintenance check can be costly. Viet Hung Vu, who completed a graduate degree at École de technologie supérieure, created MODALAR-STAR, a software program that helps identify and monitor vibration properties in large industrial machinery and structures during operation. Dr Vu received $5,000 as second runner-up for his research contributing to greater machine efficiency.

Nine other researchers each received an honourable mention prize of $1,200.

The winners are as follows, along with academic institution, project title and achievement:

Michael Montgomery, University of Toronto. Title: Viscoelastic fork configuration dampers. Dr Montgomery developed an innovative technology for reducing wind and earthquake vibrations in highrise buildings, called the Wind-Earthquake Coupling Damper.

Viet Hung Vu, École de technologie supérieure. Title: Modalar-Star – program for analyzing and monitoring instationary systems in operational mode. Dr Vu created MODALAR-STAR, a program that allows for identifying and monitoring vibrational properties in large industrial machinery and structures during operation.

Martin Bernier, Université Laval. Title: Development of a fibre-optic laser for biomedical applications. Martin Bernier developed the FibreLase technology, helping to enhance the use of lasers in biomedical applications to improve patient care.

Azadeh Yadollahi, University of Manitoba. Title: Application of respiratory sounds for sleep apnea monitoring and assessing upper airways. Dr Yadollahi developed a monitoring device that patients can take home to detect signs of sleep apnea.

Masha Talebpourazad, The University of British Columbia. Title: 3D TV content generation and multiview coding. Dr Talebpourazad developed software to convert 2-D television content into a 3-D format.

Prithula Prosun, University of Waterloo. Title: Low income flood-proof technology (LIFT) housing. Prithula Prosun developed the LIFT design, a home that rises with flood waters and then lowers once flooding recedes, preventing damage to the home and its contents.

Rylan Lundgren, Dalhousie University. Title: New catalysts for Palladium coupling reactions. Dr Lundgren developed novel chemical compounds, known as ligands, which are generating significant interest from pharmaceutical companies.

Fernando Luciano, University of Manitoba. Title: Mustard as a natural food preservative. Dr Luciano has shown that using mustard meal in dry sausage can eliminate E. coli bacteria.

Geoffrey Holmes, University of Calgary. Title: A cost-effective air contacter for direct atmospheric capture of carbon dioxide. Geoffrey Holmes is making breakthrough discoveries in the field of air capture of CO2 that could help combat climate change.

Laurent Moss, École Polytechnique de Montréal. Title: An integrated tool suite for electronic embedded system design. Dr Moss has contributed to the development of a commercially viable software tool suite known as SpaceStudio. The technology has garnered significant interest from the European Space Agency, leading to research and development projects.

Mohamed Hamid Mohamed, University of Saskatchewan. Title: Sequestration of naphthenic acids from oil sands process water using B-Cylodextrin-based polyurethanes. Dr Mohamed is studying the use of polymer chemistry to help remediate tailing ponds created by the oil sands industry.

Yoan LeChasseur, Université Laval. Title: New optrode for neuronal recording. Dr LeChasseur is creating a new type of electrode that can be used to study individual neurons within a living organism. His work combines expertise from the fields of photonics and neuroscience, with the goal of creating new technologies for biomedical research that could lead to breakthroughs in new drugs and therapies for people with brain disorders.

NSERC and the Business Development Bank of Canada provide the major funding for these awards. Other financial contributors include AB Sciex, Research In Motion, Syncrude, the Dairy Farmers of Canada and 3M.