MPs Fragiskatos, Young unveil $23M in funding for Western researchers, students

Researchers at Western University are receiving a major boost in research funding from the federal government.

It’s part of a larger $558-million funding investment announced by Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport, earlier this week to support more than 4,000 researchers and students across the country.

London MPs Peter Fragiskatos and Kate Young were on hand Wednesday at Western University’s Physics and Astronomy Building to announce that more than $23 million of that larger investment, the largest this year from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), would be making its way to the Forest City to support fundamental research projects at the university.

“This investment will fund students and researchers, including more than 90 Discovery Grant recipients, for projects ranging from chemistry to physics, to mechanical and computer engineering,” said Young, MP for London West, and parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Science and Sport.

“When researchers are given the tools to push the boundaries of knowledge, amazing things happen. And we’ve seen that first hand here at Western.”

“You’re doing tremendous things here, you always have, and that continues,” said Fragiskatos, MP for London North Centre. “We want to continue funding fundamental research here, it was a commitment we made in the previous election campaign.”

“Each and every one of you, as researchers, are carrying out work that benefits people in the end. It benefits people’s lives,” he said.

Both Fragiskatos and Young noted it’s not easy making the connection to the public that funding fundamental research projects brings about economic growth.

Young said supporting the projects would help attract more students and researchers to Western, which in turn will support more jobs, including lab technicians and support staff.

“It’s not something you can explain easily to our constituents, but it’s something that we must,” Young said,” and must make sure that they understand how important Western is to the economy of this country.”

Of the larger funding announcement, $70 million is new funding announced in the 2018 budget.

In a statement, vice-president of the NSERC’s research grants and scholarships directorate, Dr. Pierre Charest, said the funding commitment outlined in the 2018 budget would provide a “very significant increase” to the Discovery program in support of science and engineering researchers.

“Additionally, this investment will contribute critical supplementary funding to launch early-career researchers and to support equity, diversity and inclusion,” he said.

— With files from Matthew Trevithick and Liny Lamberink

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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