Brandon University students receive research funding from NSERC

June 15, 2022

The John R. Brodie Science Centre stands behind grass and a tree
The John R. Brodie Science Centre.

The work of 10 Brandon University (BU) undergraduate students is being supported by federal funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

The students are recipients of Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRAs), providing them each with $6,000 from NSERC in addition to $1,500 from BU.

Students receiving the research funding are:

  • Joshua Broome, Chemistry
  • Adriano Budzik, Mathematics and Computer Science
  • Wade Cowie, Physics and Astronomy
  • Hillary Derewianchuk, Biology
  • Kimberley Dunthorne, Geography and Environment
  • Bryce Friesen, Physics and Astronomy
  • Thomas Friesen, Physics and Astronomy
  • Keagan Morrison, Biology
  • Elisha Lisa Tariq, Chemistry
  • Lacey Winstone, Biology

“Working with their faculty supervisors, our students are participating in first-class research,” said Dr. Bernadette Ardelli, Dean of Science at BU. “These are exciting projects that will help our students develop. The research also has the potential to make a significant impact in our communities as the scope of the projects grow.”

In addition to encouraging student interest in research, the USRA support lays the groundwork for the recipients to advance to graduate programs by developing their skills, knowledge and work experience.

“The ability of our students to take part in meaningful research as undergraduates is a great strength of Brandon University,” said Dr. Heather Duncan, BU’s Associate Vice-President (Research). “Support from NSERC is vital in helping research programs like ours to thrive and sets our students up future success as they prepare for careers or for further education.”

 

Projects at a Glance

Joshua Broome (supervisor Eric Bushnell) — Insights into the Catalytic Power and Durability of Ni-Te Catalysts for the Production of H2 Gas

Broome is using computational chemistry tools to study the capacity for the use of nickel and tellurium as catalysts for the eco-friendly conversion of solar energy into hydrogen gas.

Adriano Budzik (supervisor Gautam Srivastava) — Analysis of Cryptographic Algorithms in the Internet of Things

Budzik is studying how more effective encryption algorithms can be used to enhance security in internet-enabled devices, like smartwatches for example, with minimal computational overhead to preserve the battery life of these resource-constrained devices.

Wade Cowie (supervisor Margaret Carrington) — Anisotropy in Dirac Semi-metals

Dirac metals have interesting physical properties and have been studied for applications including their ability to efficiently conduct energy. Cowie is using a mathematical study to learn more about the behaviour and properties of Dirac semi-metals.

Hillary Derewianchuk (supervisor Christophe LeMoine) — Plastic Metabolism in Insect Larvae

Recent research has shown that a few species of insect larvae seem to be able to ingest and metabolize plastics at an accelerated rate in comparison to other micro- and macro-organisms. Derewianchuk’s project aims to fill in gaps about which insect larvae can most efficiently metabolize plastics and a variety of polymers, with the hope that this information will guide future efforts to eliminate single-use plastic waste.

Kimberley Dunthorne (supervisor Alexander Koiter) — Spatial Variability in Colour and Geochemical Fingerprint Properties

Sediment fingerprinting uses naturally occurring characteristics to identify sources of sediment within a watershed. Dunthorne will use sediment fingerprinting to look at a small sub-catchment in Riding Mountain National Park as a means to reduce sediment pollution.

Bryce Friesen (supervisor Margaret Carrington) — Solving the Yang-Mills Equation with a Proper Time Expansion

The Yang-Mills equation can help scientists understand the motion of plasma produced when heavy ions collide. Bryce Friesen’s research is aimed at improving the efficiency and speed of solving the Yang-Mills equation.

Thomas Friesen (supervisor Margaret Carrington) — Machine Learning Techniques Applied to Non-linear Differential Equations

Thomas Friesen is also working on more efficient methods of solving the Yang-Mills equation. Friesen’s research involves the use of machine learning to develop solutions to the equation.

Keagan Morrison (supervisor Bryan Cassone) — Determining the Damage Caused by Wireworms to Manitoba Crops

Wireworms attack and damage a variety of important crops grown in Manitoba by feeding on the seeds, roots, and other below-ground plant tissues. Morrison will introduce different species of wireworms at different life stages to potted wheat and canola plants to see if some are more destructive than others allowing farmers and agronomists in the future to mitigate damage by focusing on the most harmful species.

Elisha Lisa Tariq (supervisor Vincent Chen) — Phosphorylation-dependent Protein Complexes using Trapped Ion Mobility Time-of-Flight

The addition of phosphoryl groups, containing phosphorous and oxygen, is critical in protein complex formation, but how this phosphorylation aids the process is poorly understood. Tariq will study this process to learn more about cellular signals and their role in health and disease.

Lacey Winstone (supervisor Mousumi Majumder) — Investigating the Roles of YWHAB in Breast Cancer

Research has linked high levels of certain micro-RNAs with aggressive breast cancer cells, and increased levels of a protein called YWHAB has been observed in these aggressive tumours. Winstone’s research will further explore the connections between YWHAB and breast cancer, with the intention of using it as marker for early diagnosis.d