Next time you see a robot helping the elderly, a fuel cell powering a remote town or microbes cleaning contaminated water, you may be witnessing the innovative research of U of T Engineering’s newest Canada Research Chairs in action.
Last week, professors Aimy Bazylak (MIE), Elizabeth Edwards (ChemE) and Goldie Nejat (MIE) were named Canada Research Chairs along with ten other University of Toronto faculty.
Ed Holder, Canada’s Minister of State for Science and Technology, visited U of T campus to share the news, announcing $118 million in nation-wide funding for the CRC Program, with nearly $30 million of that dedicated to U of T researchers.
“Our main application is to design robots to help people,” said Professor Nejat, the holder of the new CRC in Robots for Society. Nejat opened her lab for tours at the event and introduced visitors to Brian, her robot prototype designed to assist elderly people with dementia.
“The idea is to use these robots to provide cognitive and social interventions,” she explained, “and to help people with the activities of daily living that some of us may take for granted, such as brushing our teeth or making a meal.”
Also from U of T Engineering, Professor Bazylak was named a new CRC in Thermofluidics for Clean Energy. An expert in polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells, Bazylak is developing clean energy solutions for use in remote regions, liked those in northern Canada.
Professor Edwards is the holder of a new CRC in Anaerobic Biotechnology. She is the director of BioZone— a Faculty-wide, multidisciplinary centre for collaborative bioengineering research—where she leads a pioneering exploration of various technologies at the interface of biology and engineering. Her own research focuses on the use the micro-organisms to clean up chemical contaminants in ground water.
“We are grateful to the government of Canada for this investment,” said Professor Peter Lewis, U of T’s interim vice-president, research and innovation. “The program has been critical to the university’s ability to attract and retain the best researchers from around the world—and to Canada’s as a nation.”
With files from Jenny Hall.