More than $200,000 of federal research funding will infuse Dr. Darren Brouwer and Dr. Kevin Vander Meulen’s ongoing research programs over the next 5 years.
The awards from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC) will be used towards upgrades for Redeemer sciences and mathematics lab equipment, instruments, computers and software. Sciences faculty will continue to hone their expertise, produce original research and present their findings at national and international scientific conferences. The research money will also provide Redeemer undergraduate students with cutting-edge scientific research experience during the summer months, providing the training that will make Redeemer mathematics and chemistry students excellent candidates for graduate school and employment. There are four students working with Vander Meulen and Brouwer on research projects this summer. Each student was awarded an NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA).
“Being a Christian and a chemist means recognizing that God has given us the ability to understand his creation and to make something of the world he created.”
Brouwer, an associate professor in the chemistry department, is developing new methods for determining the molecular-scale structures of materials with a second consecutive NSERC grant totalling $140,000 over five years. He is using a technique called nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to determine material structures at the molecular level. NMR spectroscopy, a close cousin to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that many are familiar with in a medical context, is a powerful tool for uncovering the structural features of materials. “Such knowledge not only satisfies the curiosity of scientists by understanding how and why things work,” Brouwer notes, “but there also is much potential to apply knowledge of chemistry to developing our medicine, energy and clean water technologies. Being a Christian and a chemist means recognizing that God has not only given us the ability to investigate and understand his creation, but has actually tasked us to be creators, to make something of the material world he created.”
Vander Meulen, a professor in and chair of the mathematics department, will dive further into the interplay of algebra and graph theory with his fifth consecutive NSERC grant. His most recent totals $65,000 over five years. Vander Meulen will uncover eigenvalue properties of matrix patterns and determine which matrix patterns, such as sign patterns, have useful properties. The study of sign pattern matrices has origins in economics, with the work of Nobel Laureate P. Samuelson. More recently, matrix pattern analysis has been applied to machine learning and to modelling the spread of infectious diseases. “In my research, I explore structures of God’s world through the interplay of two areas of mathematics,” Vander Meulen says. “This curiosity driven research leads to discovery, and to better stewardship. It is delightful to have these funds to create opportunities for students to explore alongside us.”
The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, made the Canada-wide announcement June 23 at a news conference at McMaster University. “Today’s investment will allow many of Canada’s scientists and engineers to explore the frontiers of knowledge where they can make exciting new discoveries,” said Minister Duncan. “Our government is committed to investing in these future research leaders and in the cutting-edge ideas that will lead Canada to social and economic growth for a better tomorrow.”
View the NSERC news release.
In addition to research dollars, the federal government also supports research at Redeemer through the Research Support Fund (RSF). For more details, please visit their website.