Posted September 1st, 2011 by Engineering

New CFI Grants Benefit Three Engineers

Three assistant professors from U of T Engineering are among 17 researchers at the University of Toronto who are benefiting from new funding announced today by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

The grants will provide support to:

  • Professor Cathy Chin (ChemE) for the Multidisciplinary Laboratory for Innovative Catalytic Science;
  • Professor Daman Panesar (CivE) for Characterization of Cement-Based Materials Using a MicroXRF for Durable Concrete Infrastructure; and,
  • Professor Arun Ramchandran (ChemE) for the Laboratory of Complex Fluids.

The new funding from CFI’s Leaders Opportunity Fund will allow researchers to purchase new equipment that wouldn’t have been possible before.

“The equipment necessary to complete my research needs to be highly customized,” explains Professor Chin. “It’s not something that I can purchase off the shelf.”

Professor Chin’s research seeks to generate new fuel sources from biomass, which is generated from waste products. Utilizing catalytic conversion technology, Professor Chin hopes to provide new fuel sources that will eliminate the need for carbon fuels like coal and petroleum.

The grant arrives at an important time for Professor Chin, who is still establishing her lab after beginning at U of T just this past May.

“We are delighted to see some of our newest faculty members benefit from today’s announcement,” states Professor Cristina Amon, Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering. “Obtaining the required equipment is critical to achieving research excellence, and we are grateful to CFI for the support provided to Professors Chin, Panesar and Ramchandran.”

The CFI Leaders Opportunity Fund grant will support Professor Panesar’s efforts to address a critical challenge facing Canada today: deteriorating infrastructure.

“A survey revealed that 88% and 83% of roads and bridges in Canada require repair or replacement and rehabilitation needs for bridges alone is $700 million dollars annually,” states Professor Panesar.

Professor Panesar’s research focuses on developing methods to assess and improve the durability of concrete. The grant will provide important equipment to support this research.

“Advancement of the lab facilities will enable transformative research in the area of durable cement-based materials, leading to significant contributions and insight into the mechanisms that cause age-related degradation,” says Professor Panesar.

The grants will also benefit Professor Ramchandran’s research in fluid mechanics. His focus is on understanding the suspensions of rigid particles in fluids and deformable particles, such as drops, elastic particles and vesicles.

Created by the Government of Canada in 1997, CFI strives to build our nation’s capacity to undertake world-class research and technology development through investments in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment in universities, colleges, research hospitals and non-profit research institutions. Its Leaders Opportunity Fund helps universities attract and retain top research talent.

“CFI investments provide vital infrastructure in communities across the country and create opportunities for leveraging the work being undertaken by our enterprising researchers,” says Dr. Gilles G. Patry, CFI President and CEO. “Cutting-edge research facilities are magnets that attract the best talent from around the world, allowing them to work with business and train a new generation of Canadian researchers and innovators.”

Seventeen U of T researchers won a total of $3,892,005, representing 13.7% of the total funding awarded nationally.

“On behalf of the University of Toronto, I extend heartfelt thanks to the Canada Foundation for Innovation and to the Government of Canada for this investment in our researchers,” states Professor Paul Young, U of T’s Vice President (Research). “Support like this is crucial to the success of our research endeavour — both here at U of T and across the country.