Geology Faculty Member Receives Research Funding from China

January 10, 2011

BRANDON, MB — Dr. Rong-Yu Li, an associate professor in the Department of Geology, has received 150,000 Chinese Yuan (approximately $25,000 Canadian) in research funding from the State Key Laboratory of Palaeobiology and Stratigraphy, Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

His project, titled “Comparative study on Devonian brachiopods from Canada and South China and quantitative assessment of paleobiogeography”, will study the Canadian and Chinese fossil brachiopods that lived in the oceans about 390 million years ago and their biogeographic relationship during that time period.

Dr. Li, a former NSERC discovery grant holder, has been working on Canadian fossils from the Arctic, Manitoba, Ontario, and Anticosti Island (Québec) in recent years.

“I am now looking beyond Canada and trying to interpret the Canadian fossils in a global context,” says Dr. Li.

The funding will allow him to work for two to three months a year in 2011 and 2012, to do field investigations in South China and to examine Chinese fossils of similar age.

“With solid data from Canada, South China, and revised data from other regions of the world, the Devonian biogeography can be analysed using different quantitative methods,” he said.

Some preliminary results of quantitative analysis through his NSERC project, which was presented at the International Conference of Geobiology in June, showed a global biogeographic framework different from what has been traditionally perceived based on qualitative observations.

“With this funding I can look into this issue further, and hopefully after more research, based on quantitative assessment, a new pattern of distribution of then marine organisms can be proposed with more confidence,” he said.

Dr. Li’s project was selected among many applications submitted to the Open Project Program of the aforementioned State Key Laboratory through which scientists from outside China can apply for funding. Over the past years only a few geologists from Britain, Australia, Norway, and the US have been funded through this program. This newly announced funding adds Canada to the list.
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