Brock researchers receive $3.8M

By Allan Benner, The Standard

As Canada’s population ages, Brock University assistant psychology professor Karen Campbell hopes to find ways of keeping their minds and memories sharp.

She’s researching how age-related memory loss may actually be due to changes in the ability to focus and pay attention.

Campbell said her research has already shown that “some memory abilities previously thought to decline with age are actually preserved, such as the ability to form a new association.”

But older adults, she said, have difficulty blocking out other distractions, such as nearby conversations.

With a share of $3.8-million in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, announced by Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey, Friday, Campbell said her research team will be able to conduct further studies of the underlying neuromechanism that led to their preliminary findings.

“It will enable us to use cutting edge research methods, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging to determine how brain networks change with age, while people carry out particular cognitive tasks.”

Through her research, Campbell homes to garner a better understanding of how memory and attention work together and potentially change with age.

“It may also point the way to better, more targeted interventions that aim at improving our ability, or at least maintaining our ability, to focus on what we’d like to focus on as we get older,” she said.

Campbell’s research is one of more than two dozen programs at Brock University that will share in the funding grant, which increased by $1.4-million more than a year earlier.

While thanking Brock researchers who gathered at the university’s Cairns Family Health and Bioscience Research Complex for the announcement, Badawey said the federal Liberal government understands “that a strong foundation in fundamental science and engineering often yields innovations that open up new markets, equip people with new skills and paves the way for the jobs of tomorrow.”

He said the funding is part of $500-million in funding — NSERC largest annual investment yet to fund the research of thousands of students and professors across the country.

“They are the people working in fields as diverse as astronomy, atmospheric science, anatomy and biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, mechanical engineering, medicine and finally physics.”

Badawey said the investment is essentially in people contributing to society, “helping each other out.”

Brock president Gervan Fearon said the investment recognizes the university’s growing role as a research institution.

The funding allows students and faculty to “conduct the kind of research that not only expands our knowledge and understanding, but also improves the lives of individuals and helps us all advance Canada as an outstanding society and outstanding nation.”

“I’m very proud about the work done here at the university towards that cause,” Fearon said.

Twitter: @abenner1


Brock University’s recipients of NSERC Discovery Grants in the 2017 competition:

Ahmed, S. Ejaz (Mathematics & Statistics): Ensemble subspace, penalty, pretest, and shrinkage strategies for high dimensional data

Atkinson, Jeffrey (Chemistry): Phosphatidylinositol-based probes of membranes, proteins, and enzymes

Campbell, Karen (Psychology): Aging and the loss of control over memory

Cheung, Stephen (Kinesiology): Integrating mechanisms of thermal impact on neuromuscular function

Crandles, David (Physics): Spectroscopic studies of high permittivity materials

De Luca, Vincenzo (Biological Sciences): Monoterpenoid indole alkaloid biosynthesis

Després, Charles (Biological Sciences): Deciphering the Arabidopsis NPR1-dependent disease-resistance signal transduction pathway and beyond

Gabriel, David (Kinesiology): A unified approach towards understanding the physiological significance of surface electromyographic signal

Kihel, Omar (Mathematics & Statistics): Arithmétique des corps de nombres et la conjecture de la parité

Lemaire, Martin (Chemistry): Synthesis and coordination chemistry of new redox-active ligands

Li, Yuanlin (Mathematics & Statistics): Arithmetic in group rings and study of zero-sum problems in combinatorial number theory

 Liang, Ping (Biological Sciences): Roles of DNA mobile elements in primate genomes

MacPherson, Rebecca (Health Sciences): Mechanisms of acute brain BACE1 regulation

Nikonov, Georgii (Chemistry): Main group compounds for bond activation and catalysis

Pisaric, Michael (Geography): From cells to biomes: the impacts of recent climate change on northern ecosystems

Shulman, Elizabeth (Psychology): Age-related patterns in intuition about risk and reward

Winter, Michael (Computer Science): Relational and algebraic methods in software development

Wolf, Thomas (Mathematics & Statistics): Applications of advances in computer algebra to studying classical integrable systems and related algebraic structures

Brock’s Discovery Development Grants recipients:

Brudzynski, Stefan (Psychology): Neural mechanisms of animal vocalization and communication

Carlone, Robert (Biological Sciences): An examination of retinoic acid and micro RNAs mediating CNS repair in regeneration competent species

Gammage, Kimberley (Kinesiology): Understanding psychobiological responses to social-evaluative threats: Using body image as a model

Reedyk, Maureen (Physics): Optical Properties of Novel Materials