Queen's researchers to receive $4.5 million from Ontario government

Minister of Research, Innovation and Science announces projects at Queen's on Tuesday

Projects in the Centre for Energy and Power Electronics Research
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On March 14, Queen’s physicist Ryan Martin received $250,000 to establish a world class facility for his neutrino research — but in the speeches from administrators and dignitaries, his former PhD supervisor Arthur McDonald was referenced even more than he was. 

“I’m sure Dr. McDonald is very familiar with this kind of work,” Kingston and the Islands MPP Sophie Kiwala said while discussing Martin’s project. Principal Daniel Woolf also made extensive reference to McDonald’s work in his address. 

However, McDonald — the 2015 Nobel Prize laureate in Physics — deflected attention back onto his former student. “He’s a professor here and he was a student of mine, and I’m very proud of him,” McDonald said from his front-row seat. 

During an interview after his Nobel win in 2015, McDonald had also spoken to The Journal about Martin, whom he praised and said “kept him young”.

Despite the focus on the events of 2015, Tuesday saw multiple project funding announcements. Approximately $4.5 million in funding for Queen’s — out of a $77 million investment across the province — was declared by Ontario Minister of Research, Innovation and Science, Reza Moridi at a Richardson Hall gathering. 

“I have already apologized to [the visiting politicians] in private that the weather I ordered for St. Patrick’s Day arrived a few days early,” Woolf quipped in his opening address. 

After the chuckling audience simmered, the newly funded projects were discussed. Martin’s new facility will focus on developing p-type point contact detectors, which are used to more accurately measure interactions with particles like neutrinos and dark matter. 

Engineering professor Praveen Jain — the Canada Research Chair in Power Electronics — was allotted $4 million to work on the development of small-scale, point-of-use solar power systems for residential use. 

Prior to the announcement, media were taken through the University’s Centre for Energy and Power Electronics Research in Walter Light Hall. Projects small enough to fit on the tip of a finger — like a power source developed by PhD student Marko Krstic — have been in development there for years. 

Projects developed in the basement-level centre are intended to establish the University’s presence as a power in energy and power electronics. 

Geophysicist Alexander Braun will be given $180,000 to buy a superconducting gravimeter, of which there are only 12 on the globe. The devices are utilized to monitor fluid migration processes, through oil, gas and water reservoirs, in order to help mitigate environmental hazards. 

Psychologist Jason Gallivan will also receive $150,000 for infrastructure in the field of Memory, Action and Perception Laboratory, which investigates how strokes and other neurological disorders can alter perceptual, cognitive and motor-related mechanisms in the human brain.

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