Five members of the University of Waterloo’s Water Institute are among the ten researchers campus-wide to receive funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) Strategic Partnership Grants for Networks and Projects to further their water research.

Monica Emelko, Trevor Charles, Juewen Liu, Michael Power, and Michael Tam have received more than $7.5 million to increase research and training in targeted areas that could enhance Canada’s blue economy within the next 10 years.

“I am thrilled to see many interdisciplinary, water-related projects that have received funding from NSERC’s Strategic Partnership Grant,” said Roy Brouwer, executive director of the Water Institute and professor in Waterloo’s Department of Economics. “These projects are highly innovative, tackling some of our most complex water challenges.”

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  • Monica Emelko, Civil and Environmental Engineering— NSERC Network for Forested Drinking Water Source Protection Technologies.
    • Received: $5,500,000
    • The interdisciplinary forWater Network, which includes researchers from several Waterloo departments and across Canada, will provide new knowledge regarding the impacts of different forest management strategies on drinking water source quality and treatability to assess their suitability as source water protection technologies across the major ecological/forest regions of Canada.
  • Juewen Liu, Chemistry—DNA-gated stimuli-responsive nanostructures for metal sensing and smart remediation.
    • Received: $593,025
    • Liu’s project proposes a solution to the problem of heavy metal contamination in water: a biomimetic device that releases sensing or remediation chemicals only in the presence of target contaminants, while stably flowing in water for long periods of time.
  • Michael Power, Biology—Functional, structural and biodiversity studies of Arctic freshwater watersheds: validating protocols for monitoring and cumulative impacts assessment.
    • Received: $560,800
    • Power’s project is aimed at the development of an improved understanding of how human-induced changes in Arctic freshwater ecosystems, such as climate change and resource development, may impact the health of northern freshwater resources and the provision of ecosystem services such as sustainable fisheries.
  • Michael Tam, Chemical Engineering—Development of magnetic nanoparticles for enhanced detection and removal of contaminants in waste and drinking water systems.
    • Received: $456,000
    • Tam’s proposed research will develop functional magnetic nanoparticles (FMNPs) and a separation process that can be used to selectively remove and concentrate organic aromatic compounds present in processed waste and drinking water systems.
  • Trevor Charles, Biology— Biodegradation of the most commonly used herbicide on earth
    • Received: $851,400
    • Charles has assembled a team with complementary expertise in biochemistry, microbiology, bacterial genetics, and metagenomics to investigate glyphosate metabolism in agricultural soils by isolating and studying new strains of glyphosate degrading bacteria, searching for novel glyphosate degradation pathways, and detailed characterization of the pathway enzymes.

Cover image shows a bridge connecting engineering buildings at the University of Waterloo. Image Credit: Victor Vucicevich.

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