$850,000 grant enriches TRU research programs

Government grant aims to support research infrastructure at institutions across the country

Thompson Rivers University is one recipient of an $850,000 grant delivered by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation. The funding is designed to enhance genomics research and keep Canada at the forefront of knowledge generation. 

The funds will be used to establish what will now be called the TRUbI/O Network: an integration of technologies and labs already at TRU’s disposal, as well as enhance the infrastructure currently housed in the university’s Applied Genomics Laboratory (TRUGen). This lab will advance the understanding of microbial ecology and climate change.

TRU faculty member Dr. Jonathan Van Hamme, a professor of microbiology, will be the director of the new network. Joined by fellow TRU colleague Dr. Eric Bottos, a molecular ecologist, and University of Saskatchewan collaborator Dr. Linglin Jin, the network will focus on environmental remediation and climate change, plant genome evolution, as well as agricultural systems and products. The grant also enables new training opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students at TRU studying genomics and bioinformatics.

“In terms of modern molecular microbiology equipment for environmental and climate change research, TRUbI/O will have almost everything we need from end to end. With these tools the possibilities for our research are profound,” Dr. Van Hamme stated.

Some of the new tools include a portable greenhouse gas analyzer, used to measure methane gas while in the field, isotope monitoring equipment designed to measure fluctuations in methane and carbon dioxide in the environment, as well as new servers to enhance the lab’s capacity.

“This investment will result in some really enriched collaborations, and our contributions to our international research collaborations will be much greater,” he added. “The experiences our students will now have is as good or better than they can get anywhere else in the world.”

The grant is part of a half-billion-dollar investment by the Government of Canada announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. 102 projects at 35 post-secondary institutions and research hospitals across the country were recipients of the funding and will help keep Canada as a leader of exploration, innovation and discovery.

Speaking to reporters, the Prime Minister stated, “Canada’s researchers and scientists are some of the brightest and most skilled in the world. Today’s investments will ensure that they have the cutting-edge laboratories and equipment ended to help us build a Canada that is healthier, greener, and more competitive.”

TRU President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Brett Fairbairne expressed his gratitude for the belief the government holds in the country’s academic institutions:

“Today’s announcement is an example of the confidence the federal government places in our researchers and in our students. The world-class tools that are made possible with this grant will continue to put our region and TRU on the map as leaders in environmental research.”