UBC awarded $9M in research funds to tackle societal challenges

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Several UBC projects received NSERC funding including an effort to develop flexible solar cells and wearable electronics. Photo: Darryl Dyck, Canadian Press

University of British Columbia research in fish ecology, oil sands, energy efficient buildings, clean water and wearable electronics received a $9-million boost today through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

The 10 UBC projects were among 77 grants awarded to 23 universities totaling $43 million, from NSERC’s Strategic Network Grants (SNG) and Strategic Project Grants (SPG) programs. The funding was announced today by Greg Rickford, Minister of State for Science and Technology. He was joined for the announcement on the Vancouver campus by UBC President Stephen Toope, Vice President Research and International John Hepburn and NSERC Chief Operating Officer Janet Walden.

Today’s event featured the work of Electrical and Computer Engineering Associate Professor Peyman Servati, who is leading a team in finding ways to integrate solar cells and other electronics into wearable garments. Potential applications include garments that charge mobile devices through woven-in solar cells, foldable mobile devices and sensor-equipped clothing that monitors and transmits vital signs to physicians.

“We are extremely proud of the UBC researchers who have been awarded grants in these highly competitive programs,” said Prof. Toope. “These projects involve complex and rigorous inquiries, close collaboration with industry and other partners, with a sharp focus on concrete solutions for real-world issues. We are grateful to the Government of Canada for supporting these vital endeavours.”

  • Click here for more information on Prof. Servati’s work on e-textiles. Click here for pictures of Prof. Servati’s work.
  • Click here for more information on the NSERC SPG and SNG programs

Photos available for download here


Strategic Network Grants fund large-scale, multidisciplinary research projects that require a network approach and involve collaboration between academic researchers and Canadian-based organizations.

UBC’s Madjid Mohseni is leading RES’EAU WaterNET: An NSERC Strategic Network on Small, Rural and First Nations Water Systems with nearly $4.8-million support from NSERC. RES’EAU WaterNET is the first inter-university network devoted exclusively to developing innovative and affordable solutions for clean drinking water in small, rural and First Nations communities. The network received renewed funding to continue its activities for a second five-year period, to further improve the lives of Canadians.

Strategic Project Grants are aimed at increasing research and training in targeted areas that could enhance Canada’s economy, society and/or environment in the next 10 years.

Nine UBC projects are funded for nearly $4.3 million over the next three years. They are:

  • Raising the Abstraction of Analysis, Debug and Optimization of High-Level Synthesis-Generated Hardware, led by Steven Wilton, funded for $298,300.
  • Novel application of viscoplastic fluids in industry: Creating opportunity for the pulp and paper sector, led by Mark Martinez, funded for $267,200.
  • Understanding the ecosystem role of Pacific herring in coupled social-ecological systems: advancing forage fish science, led by Tony Pitcher, funded for $682,335.
  • Flexible, efficient solar-battery nano-textile, led by Peyman Servati, funded for $514,000.
  • Bio-inspired soft epidermal and wearable nanofiber electronics for wireless health monitoring, led by Peyman Servati, funded for $516,000.
  • Elevating entertainment, education, and social networking experience through convergence of immersive video technologies (ELEVATE), led by Panos Nasiopoulos, funded for $451,500.
  • Development of catalysts and adsorbents derived from petroleum coke and applied to oil sands upgrading, led by Kevin Smith, funded for $390,000.
  • Cognitive platform for ubiquitous cloud-based gaming, led by Victor Leung, funded for $495,000.
  • Advanced integrated AC-DC systems for energy efficient buildings and communities in Canada, led by Juri Jatskevich, funded for $651,000.


Heather Amos
UBC Public Affairs
Tel: 604.822.3213
Cell: 604.828.3867
Email: heather.amos@ubc.ca