BRANDON – The work of 10 undergraduate students at Brandon University (BU) is supported by federal funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).
The students are recipients of Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA), each offering $6,000 from NSERC in addition to $1,500 from BU.
Students receiving 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 participate in top-notch 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 have a significant impact in our communities as the scope of the projects expands.
In addition to encouraging student interest in research, USRA support lays the foundation for recipients to access graduate programs by developing their skills, knowledge, and work experience.
“The ability of our students to engage in meaningful research as undergraduates is a great strength of Brandon University,” said Dr. Heather Duncan, Associate Vice President (Research), BU. “NSERC’s support is essential to help research programs like ours thrive and ensure the future success of our students as they prepare for careers or further education.
Projects at a glance
Joshua Broome (supervisor Eric Bushnell) — Overview of catalytic power and durability of Ni-Te catalysts for H2 gas production
Broome is using computational chemistry tools to study the ability of nickel and tellurium to be used as catalysts for the environmentally friendly conversion of solar energy into hydrogen gas.
Adriano Budzik (Supervisor Gautam Srivastava) — Analyzing Cryptographic Algorithms in the Internet of Things
Budzik is investigating how more efficient encryption algorithms can be used to improve the security of internet-connected 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 semimetals
Dirac metals have interesting physical properties and have been studied for applications such as their ability to conduct energy efficiently. Cowie uses a mathematical study to learn more about the behavior and properties of Dirac semimetals.
Hillary Derewianchuk (supervisor Christophe LeMoine) — Plastic metabolism in insect larvae
Recent research has shown that a few species of insect larvae appear to be able to ingest and metabolize plastics at an accelerated rate compared to other micro- and macro-organisms. Derewianchuk’s project aims to fill in the gaps about which insect larvae can most effectively metabolize plastics and a variety of polymers, in hopes that this information will guide future efforts to eliminate single-use plastic waste.
Kimberley Dunthorne (supervisor Alexander Koiter) — Spatial variability in color and geochemical properties of fingerprints
Sediment fingerprinting uses natural characteristics to identify sources of sediment in a watershed. Dunthorne will use sediment fingerprinting to examine a small sub-watershed in Riding Mountain National Park as a way to reduce sediment pollution.
Bryce Friesen (supervisor Margaret Carrington) — Solving the Yang-Mills equation with a proper-time extension
The Yang-Mills equation can help scientists understand the motion of plasma produced when heavy ions collide. Bryce Friesen’s research aims to improve the efficiency and speed of solving the Yang-Mills equation.
Thomas Friesen (supervisor Margaret Carrington) — Machine learning techniques applied to nonlinear differential equations
Thomas Friesen is also working on more efficient methods of solving the Yang-Mills equation. Friesen’s research involves using machine learning to develop solutions to the equation.
Keagan Morrison (supervisor Bryan Cassone) — Determination of wireworm damage to crops in Manitoba
Wireworms attack and damage a variety of important crops grown in Manitoba by feeding on seeds, roots and other underground plant tissue. Morrison will introduce different wireworm species at different life stages into 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 the time-of-flight mobility of trapped ions
The addition of phosphoryl groups, containing phosphorus and oxygen, is essential in the formation of protein complexes, but how this phosphorylation facilitates 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 (Mousumi Majumder Supervisor) – Investigating YWHAB’s Roles in Breast Cancer
Research has linked elevated levels of certain microRNAs to aggressive breast cancer cells, and increased levels of a protein called YWHAB have been observed in these aggressive tumors. Winstone’s research will further explore the links between YWHAB and breast cancer, with the intention of using it as a marker for early diagnosis.