Research

Mineral Resources Development Fund expansion announced at Saint Mary’s University

Dr. Jacob Hanley and Kevin Neyedley chat with Sean Kirby, left, executive director of the Mining Association of Nova Scotia, and Energy and Mines Minister Derek Mombourquette. (Photo: Kelly Clark/CNS)

Dr. Jacob Hanley and Kevin Neyedley chat with Sean Kirby, left, executive director of the Mining Association of Nova Scotia, and Energy and Mines Minister Derek Mombourquette. (Photo: Kelly Clark/CNS)

Businesses, prospectors and researchers now have more support for innovative projects in the mining sector as the result of a provincial government announcement at Saint Mary’s University.

As part of Budget 2019-20, the province is increasing the Mineral Resources Development Fund by $800,000 to a total of $1.5 million. Energy and Mines Minister Derek Mombourquette opened the fund to applications in an event at Saint Mary’s on April 9.

“Mining is a globally competitive sector that creates career opportunities for our young people, while generating revenue for programs and services that benefit all Nova Scotians,” said Minister Mombourquette. “These investments make connections and develop new ideas that help our companies stay at the forefront of technology and environmental protection.”

Saint Mary’s University Professor Dr. Jacob Hanley and PhD student Kevin Neyedley received $47,500 from the fund in 2018. They are working on research and gathering geological information about how strategic minerals formed. This will help identify where deposits may be located and then extracted with minimal environmental impact.

“It is vitally important for Nova Scotians to have access to the most current scientific knowledge, gathered using cutting edge research tools,” said Dr. Hanley.

“Our research can help attract companies by reducing exploration costs for industry and reduce the impact that grass-roots exploration has on the environment through narrowing the size of mineral deposit targets,” said Mr. Neyedley.

Last year, the province supported 28 projects including mineral exploration programs, professional development, innovation, university research and training opportunities for young people.

Saint Mary's research projects with big industry impact

The Office of Innovation and Community Engagement at Saint Mary’s is a small office that delivers a big impact.

A recently-released progress report highlights a few projects that Saint Mary’s faculty members have been working on in collaboration with industry partners, including:

  • Dr. Jason Rhinelander’s partnership with LED Roadway Lighting has allowed him to lend his expertise in artificial intelligence and object recognition to evaluate the accuracy of an adaptive radar-based sensor platform for pedestrian and vehicle recognition at streetlight intersections.

  • RetailDeep uses innovative facial recognition software to enhance the shopping experience in stores, collect data from clients, and pinpoint opportunities to innovate within the retail space.

  • A partnership between Coloursmith Labs and Saint Mary’s researcher Dr. Danielle Tokarz has led to a breakthrough in treatment for colour blindness. Along with her team, Dr. Tokarz helped the startup company refine the focus of their research efforts and identify the appropriate nanoparticles and gels for the lenses. 

“Our office also takes pride in pairing faculty members with industry, helping to facilitate solutions to local companies’ problems using academic expertise, said Kevin Buchan, Director of the Office of Innovation and Community Engagement. “It’s also a great opportunity for students, the next generation of researchers, to work on applied projects in their fields.”

“We’re encouraged by the success we’ve had so far, and we look forward to doing more of these innovative projects,” said Buchan.  

 Click here to read the progress report, featuring researchers from all faculties at Saint Mary’s, and their partners, click here.

 ABOUT OICE:

The Office of Innovation and Community Engagement (OICE) facilitates research relationships between Saint Mary’s University and companies, government departments, and community organizations. OICE is the initial point of contact for faculty members and external partners wishing to collaborate. The office assists with finding suitable expertise, contract development, and advises on funding opportunities.

Dr. Danielle Tokarz's research receives boost from the federal government

The research of Saint Mary’s new chemistry faculty member, Dr. Danielle Tokarz, into the microscopic structure of large molecules in living animals and plants received a big boost, as a result of an investment of $153,026 from the federal government.

Dr. Danielle Tokarz

Dr. Danielle Tokarz

The research of Dr. Tokarz focuses on the structure of large molecules inside animals and plants which are relevant to the wellbeing of Canadians including collagen in humans and other animals, as well as cellulose and photosynthetic membranes in plants. The funding will allow Dr. Tokarz and her interdisciplinary team of chemists, physicists and biologists to build a new type of laser microscope, one that can measure the structure of microscopic regions of plant and animal tissues at record high speeds. The technology will allow the first live measurements of tiny structural changes in living creatures, allowing a fresh look at functioning biological phenomena. The research will address questions in biology such as, how does collagen degrade in organ tissues during ageing, and how woody cellulose, the leftover plant material after tree removal, can be efficiently degraded for conversion into biofuels.

In addition to the short term benefits of this research in increased knowledge of fundamental biological processes, long term benefits for Canadians are expected in healthcare and industry. Studies of collagen in the extracellular matrix during ageing will offer advances to the healthcare of Canadians. Studies of cellulose structure will have an impact on local industries including biofuels, pulp and paper, and biodegradable materials. Finally, studies of photosynthetic tissues will have applications in increasing plant growth efficiency, growing plants in colder climates and increasing global food supply. The proposed nonlinear laser microscope will be the first in Atlantic Canada, giving students and faculty the opportunity to use cutting-edge technology.

Maximizing land use and earning more money for farmers part of new federally funded research at SMU

Research into how poor-quality, marginal land can be used to produce biomass as a potential revenue stream for farmers underway at Saint Mary’s University received $1.2 million in funding from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s AgriScience program and the Nova Scotia Innovation Hub Fund.

“Community is at the heart of all that we do at Saint Mary’s University, including our research,” said Saint Mary’s president Robert Summerby-Murray. “We are committed to working with the community and sharing our expertise to find innovative solutions to real-world challenges. I want to thank the Government of Canada for supporting Atlantic Canadian researchers who are at the forefront of agricultural research, research that will benefit us all.”

Dr. J. Kevin Vessey

Dr. J. Kevin Vessey

Led by Dr. J. Kevin Vessey, the project receiving funding is called “Purpose-Grown Biomass Crops: Efficient Production, Yield Modelling and Real-world Verification.” The five-year project aims to determine what substances and organisms best promote plant growth and decrease production costs in a variety of plants including willow and switchgrass. The project will assess the yield potential of the crops on marginal soil areas on farms and AAFC research sites across Nova Scotia. The result is a database and yield prediction model for the four crops under examination.

“The long-term goal of my research is to enhance the bioeconomy, the part of the economy that uses renewable biological resources from the land and sea, of Nova Scotia. To do this we need to increase the production of biomass for processing into biofuels and other bioproducts in a sustainable way,” said Dr. Vessey.  “This research is crucial to de-risking the use of biomass by providing a sustainable feedstock supply, which can attract more biomass processors to Nova Scotia. It has the potential of greatly diversifying the Province’s biomass feedstock inventory, while also contributing to rural economies and environmental sustainability.”

Sites for the project extend from Yarmouth to Inverness County. Partners on the project include: Acadian Seaplant Ltd, ADECO BioResources Inc., The Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, Port Hawkesbury Paper, and Propel Bioenergy.

The funding comes as part of the federal Biomass Cluster announced on Monday, Feb. 11 by Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. The Cluster, led by the BioFuelNet Canada Network, includes a federal investment of up to $7 million along with an additional $3.1 million in contributions from industry, for a total investment of $10.1 million.

Celebrating African Heritage Month 2019

Join Saint Mary’s University in celebrating African Heritage Month by exploring the multitude of events taking place across campus, including a one-of-a-kind exhibit and panel discussion in the Patrick Power Library.

African Heritage Month events at Saint Mary’s.  Click here to go to the Saint Mary’s events calendar.

African Heritage Month events at Saint Mary’s. Click here to go to the Saint Mary’s events calendar.

The theme of the panel discussion is “Racial Apartheid & Black Freedom Struggles in Nova Scotia & South Africa”. The exhibit features Nova Scotian and South African materials from the Lynn Jones African-Canadian Heritage and Diaspora Heritage Collection, housed in the Saint Mary’s University Archives. The exhibit will be on display on the first floor of the Patrick Power Library, Saint Mary’s University from February 4-28, 2019.

The panel discussion will feature South African writer and SMU scholar Gugu Hlongwane, Dr. Lynn Jones (Global African Congress, NS Chapter), researcher and filmmaker Francesca Ekwuyasi, and social justice strategist, songwriter and educator Delvina Bernard. The panel will speak to similarities and differences between Black history and freedom struggles in Nova Scotia and South Africa. This event takes place on Tuesday February 12th, 6:30-8pm, Patrick Power Library Classroom (LI135).

The Saint Mary’s University Archives is the proud home of the Lynn Jones African-Canadian Heritage & Diaspora Heritage Collection, which “documents the lives of Lynn, her family, and over 50 years of African, African Diasporic, and African-Nova Scotian heritage and history”.

Dr. Lynn Jones

Dr. Lynn Jones

Learn more about the Collection and how to access it at https://smu.ca/academics/archives/lynn-jones-african-canadian-collection.html

For more information about African Heritage Month and the events taking place throughout the province, visit https://ansa.novascotia.ca/, Facebook, @AfricanNSAffairs or Twitter, @OfficeofANSA.