Algoma U. Researchers Receive $315,000 in Discovery Grants

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Algoma University researchers in the School of Life Sciences and the Environment and the School of Computer Science and Technology Dr. Nirosha Murugan and Dr. Yujie Tang have received $315,000 in funding through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Discovery (NSERC) grant. NSERC funds visionaries, explorers and innovators who are searching for the scientific and technical breakthroughs that will benefit our country. Through their support, the scientific community can develop opportunities and attract new expertise to make Canada’s research community thrive.

Dr. Murugan’s research program, Biophysical Control of Tissue Re-Programming is rooted in the concept that creating an organism that has a great deal of complexity of form and shape such as the human body, from a single microscopic cell, requires the orchestration of an unfathomably complex yet delicate set of signals.

“Though some of the signals are in the form of specialized biomolecules called morphogens which are integral to tissue patterning, it is becoming evident that biophysical signals are of equal importance,” shared Dr. Murugan. “These biophysical gradients not only initiate cell growth, regulate tissue boundaries, and influence cell identity, but when the signals become disrupted, they have the potential to induce a wide spectrum of pathologies, such as developmental disorders and cancers. What remains unknown is how exactly these biophysical signals instruct cell activity and interact with genetic, biochemical and microenvironmental factors to direct large-scale tissue patterning and importantly, how we can harness these signals to re-program pathological states.”

To address this knowledge gap, the Murugan Lab will combine cutting-edge techniques in stem cell biology and tissue engineering to understand and translate the biophysical language of the cell. The research program will not only significantly impact the fields of stem cell biology and biophysics but also support the training of the next generation of leading international academic and industry scientists.

Dr. Tang’s research, Learning-based Resource Management for Internet of Vehicles, is mainly focused on vehicular networks, more specifically, the Internet of Vehicles (IoV). IoV has been envisioned to enable the next­-generation mobile networks by offering many new technologies, which refers to dynamic mobile communication systems using V2V (vehicle-­to-vehicle), V2I (vehicle-to-­infrastructure), V2H (vehicle-­to-­human) and V2S (vehicle-to-sensor) interactions.

“It is envisioned that IoV will pave the way for supporting various applications for road safety, smart and green transportation, location-specific services, and in-vehicle Internet access services,” shared Dr. Tang. “Transport Canada has created a work plan to support the interoperable deployment of connected vehicles/IoV technologies. In a nutshell, this research project will investigate how vehicles can timely and reliably deliver numerous on-board data, e.g., road-safety information, traffic information, infotainment content, etc.”

The main goal of this research program is to advance the development of machine learning-based models and algorithms for allocating heterogeneous resources, including spectrum resource, caching resource and computing resource, in IoV networks with real-time, low-complexity and energy-efficient resource management. It will not only help lay a solid scientific foundation for supporting real-time IoV applications, but also contribute to the training of highly qualified personnel, providing the trainees with solid knowledge and research background in R&D of IoV, and enabling them to contribute to the future of the Canadian automotive and telecommunications industry.

“I am delighted at the success that Drs. Murugan and Tang have had in this extremely competitive Canada-wide grant process! The Discovery Grant program funds innovative projects led by highly competent faculty members, exploring some big research questions,” noted Dr. Donna Rogers, Vice-President Academic and Research. “These accomplished Women in STEM leaders are making change for today and for tomorrow. We’re excited, too, that Algoma University students will have the opportunity to engage in these cutting-edge research projects.”