Mount Allison researchers awarded more than $143,000
2/28/2017 9:51:31 AM

Canada Foundation for Innovation grant will fund new lab instrument

Doug CampbellMount Allison researchers will be able to extend the scope of their work thanks to a grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

Dr. Doug Campbell, Canada Research Chair in Phytoplankton Ecophysiology; Dr. Zoe Finkel, Canada Research Chair in Marine Environmental Ecology; and biologist Dr. Matt Litvak were awarded $143,017 through CFI’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund.

The funding will be put toward the purchase of an elemental analyzer, which measures levels of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur as well as an isotope ratio mass spectrometer, which measures the ratio of stable isotopes in these elements.

Measuring the ratios of stable isotopes in samples can be used to help understand and predict how marine ecosystems respond to environmental change. Isotope ratios also provide specific fingerprints as to the origins and diets of samples, particularly between samples of fish derived from sustainable aquaculture versus those taken from endangered wild stocks.

Zoe Finkel“The right tools and equipment support our researchers in a fundamental way, giving them the opportunity to fully develop their research and carry out their very best work,” says Dr. Jeff Ollerhead, Mount Allison’s provost and vice-president, academic and research. “This award is particularly welcome in that it will assist not one, but three of our researchers, all of whom are doing important work on the impacts of environmental change in aquatic ecosystems. We are grateful to the CFI for this positive and productive investment.”

Campbell studies phytoplankton — microscopic floating cells found in oceans. Phytoplankton use light to exchange carbon into and out of the ocean. Campbell will use the equipment to help analyze how different phytoplankton groups cope with changing temperatures, nutrients, and carbon dioxide.

Finkel is studying how marine phytoplankton adapt to current and future climate change. Litvak’s expertise is in fish ecology, conservation, and aquaculture. The new equipment will assist him in his efforts to develop a safe sturgeon products registry that will provide certification of authenticity for aquaculture-derived products for export and import. The isotope analysis system will also help his lab provide information on sturgeon distribution, life history, and habitat use to inform conservation efforts for these species at risk.

Matt Litvak“Investments in Canada’s research infrastructure, like those we are celebrating today, are incredibly important to our nation’s future,” says The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science. “They help us to attract and retain the very best scientists and give Canadian researchers the tools they need to perform excellent cutting-edge research, train the scientists of tomorrow, and enable innovative new discoveries that improve our environment, economy, and communities.”

The grant is part of a more than $51-million announcement by the Government of Canada supporting 223 projects at 39 universities across the country. The John R. Evans Leaders Fund aims to assist researchers in conducting leading-edge research by providing the tools and equipment they need to be or become leaders in their field.