Over $3.25 million in NSERC grants for two unique projects

Research and innovation

By University of Ottawa

Office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation, OVPRI

awarded researchers
Professors Emilio Alarcon, Alison Flynn and Maia Fraser
The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has once again highlighted the excellence of University of Ottawa researchers. Two University research projects — INTBIOTECH, led by Professors Emilio Alarcon and Alison Flynn, and INTER-MATH-AI, led by Professor Maia Fraser — will share over $3.25 million awarded by the Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program.

Alarcon and Flynn received a $1.62 million grant for their project Program and INterdisciplinary Training in BIOmedical TECHnologies (INTBIOTECH). Driven by a collaboration with UdeM and ETS, and several private partners, this bilingual program is based on interdisciplinary creation of new biomedical materials. It’s inspired by leading-edge graduate studies pedagogical practice, to offer comprehensive training with EDI, cross-cutting skills and resilience featured prominently.

In addition to being taught by internationally-known scientists, students enrolled in the program will benefit from public and private sector internships and exchanges, in Canada and abroad. They will look at entrepreneurship, bioethics, intellectual property and regulatory standards, including risk assessment. Training material produced as part of this project will also be published as open educational resources.

As for Fraser, she has received the green light for her Interdisciplinary Math and Artificial Intelligence (INTER-MATH-AI) project, for which she will receive $1.65 million over six years from the CREATE program. Artificial intelligence (AI) is gradually becoming part of all aspects of daily life, making it important to shape its algorithms so they are balanced and able to serve society. This means not perpetuating inequality through biased formulas. With a serious shortage of qualified, diverse staff to help with this work, Fraser has joined up with a highly-specialized multidisciplinary, multi-university team to train students through a mix of mathematics, machine learning and ethics.

The program is reaching out to groups underrepresented in research as part of the algorithm creation process, to contribute original ideas that can be developed within a broad network of future employers, in collaboration with the Kanata North campus and technology park. Specially equipped to help small- and medium-sized science and tech companies, graduate students who complete the program will bring a competitive advantage to the Canadian IT market and help fight inequality in the field.

“The University of Ottawa congratulates professors Alarcon, Flynn and Fraser, whose research illustrates a veritable plethora of voices,” said Sylvain Charbonneau, vice-president, research and innovation. “In addition to strengthening our position as an international leader in artificial intelligence, ethics and pedagogy, they’ve paved the way to major biotechnology and life sciences collaborations — a taste of the many achievements that will emerge from the future Advanced Medical Research Centre. These diverse, interdisciplinary projects fit right in with our ongoing efforts to shape the digital world, promote just societies and encourage life-long health and wellness.”

Learn more about the NSERC CREATE program.