May 6, 2019

Salmon population survival, quantum computing, and biometric identification research receive funding

Collaborations with communities and industry tackle pressing challenges via NSERC Strategic Partnership Grants
Sean Rogers, left, Svetlana Yanushkevich, top right, and Paul Barclay have been awarded NSERC Strategic Partnership Grants.

Sean Rogers, left, Svetlana Yanushkevich, top right, and Paul Barclay have been awarded grants.

Three University of Calgary scholars have been awarded funding for projects that will mobilize research through strategic partnerships, enriching Canada’s economy, society, and environment within the next 10 years. NSERC Strategic Partnership Grants fund research and training that will generate new knowledge or technology in areas of critical importance to Canada’s future: advanced manufacturing, environment and agriculture, information and communications technologies, and natural resources and energy.

“When researchers, businesses, and governments work together, they can turn their discoveries into the innovations that will improve the lives of all Canadians,” says Kirsty Duncan, federal minister of science and sport. “That is why our government is investing in the partnerships that will bring our best and brightest together. When we invest in science and research, we invest in us all.”

“Our researchers are collaborating with partners on novel ideas that will lead to unique opportunities for training, discovery, and technological advancement,” says Dr. Andre Buret, interim vice-president (research). “Engaging with communities and industry strengthens our research, and is an essential part of delivering impact to Canadians.”

Ensuring the sustainability of salmon population for future generations

Sustaining Canada's salmon population for future generations is a growing challenge that requires an understanding of how salmon populations will respond and adapt to environmental stressors. Dr. Sean Rogers, PhD, his team at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre, and partners at the Nitinat River Hatchery, and the Ditidaht and Huu-ay-aht First Nations are investigating connections between environmental stressors, fish hatchery practices, and survival rates of the Coho Salmon population.

Partnering with the Nitinat River Hatchery allows the team to raise thousands of Coho salmon families under different rearing conditions, and genetically track fish from the time they are born, to when they return to the river. The proposed work also aligns with the goals of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations’ Watershed Renewal program, focused on rehabilitating the local ecosystem and enhancing salmon population.

Researchers will test the environmental and genomic consequences of alternative hatchery practices, and determine whether more natural rearing environments improve the survival of hatchery fish, and what genes are associated with increased ability to withstand environmental challenges like disease.

Unlocking secure information sharing with quantum computing

Quantum computing promises to unlock the ability to solve previously unmanageable problems, and provide unconditionally secure information sharing. Creating a hardware platform that allows for quantum information processing devices to be networked and communicate is a major goal for many leading research teams.

Dr. Paul Barclay, PhD, his research team, and industry partner Lumerical Inc. will tackle this problem by creating quantum information processing devices that combine electronic, optical, and mechanical quantum systems. The project builds on Barclay’s recent breakthrough in “spin-optomechanical” devices, which enhance the coupling between light and other quantum systems.

Lumerical Inc. brings expertise in nanophotonics (the study of the behaviour of light on the nanometer scale) and photonic simulation tools. By partnering with Lumerical, Barclay will have the opportunity to conduct highly novel experiments that apply his team’s knowledge of integrated nanophotonic circuits and networking to Lumerical’s tools.

Biometric identification and risk assessment for Smart Cities

Safety, security, and privacy are key considerations as municipalities transition to "Smart Cities” models of embedding technology into everyday activities and services. Biometric identification is one way to increase security, while also making facilities more efficient and safe for staff and clients.

Dr. Svetlana Yanushkevich, PhD, and her research team in the Biometric Technologies Laboratory at UCalgary are partnering with the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre Society (The DI) to develop a novel concept for an access "kiosk" and real-time risk assessment. This project emerged from The DI’s desire to integrate technology that will control access to the centre, while being non-invasive, user friendly, and preserve the privacy and trust of their clients.

Yanushkevich, UCalgary colleagues Dr. Marina Gavrilova, PhD, and Dr. Orly Yadid-Pecht, partners VizWorX Inc. and the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology will collaborate to develop the necessary biometric technologies.

Their vision is that project will evolve from its initial "check-in point" authentication and behavioural abnormality assessment (such as intoxication or fever), into a smart self-check kiosk that can detect potential health and safety threats, including checking for serial offenders, or a medical emergency.

Full list of awards:

  • Sean Rogers, Faculty of Science: Environmental and genomic consequences of alternative hatchery rearing practices on Pacific Coho Salmon survival and enhancement
  • Paul Barclay, Faculty of Science (co-applicants: C. Simon, University of Calgary; LC. Chrostowski, University of British Columbia): Quantum phononic-photonic-spin networking devices
  • Svetlana Yanushkevich, Schulich School of Engineering (co-applicants: L. Gavrilova and O. Yadid-Pecht, University of Calgary): MOST: Biometric-enabled Identity Management and Risk Assessment for Smart Cities