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NSERC president meets some of UVic’s trailblazing researchers

May 09, 2024

Donning a lab coat and safety glasses on April 24, 2024, Alejandro Adem got a close-up view of several of UVic’s unique NSERC-funded labs and programs. The president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) met with faculty and student researchers who explore chemistry, climate and quantum photonics.

In David Leitch’s organic chemistry lab, the team uses NSERC funding from various Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) programs to explore innovative materials using high-throughput experimentation and data science and advance practical drug discovery and development.

Nearby, chemist and Canada Research Chair in Advanced Functional Materials Makhsud Saidaminov’s mission is to enable a green economy and address key challenges from sustainable energy harvesting to efficient consumption through applied chemistry, physics and materials engineering. He and his group, for instance, are exploring scalable solar cell technology and functional materials.

NSERC President Alejandro and Makhsud Saidaminov look at crystal synthesizing technology in the lab.
NSERC President Alejandro tours Makhsud Saidaminov's chemistry lab.

NSERC’s Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program supports a range of innovative research at UVic. At a roundtable facilitated by Fraser Hof, associate vice-president research, Adem heard from Julia Baum, who leads the Coastal Climate Solutions Leaders Training Program; chemist Irina Paci and physicist Rogério de Sousa who deliver multidisciplinary training in quantum computing across three BC universities; Caetano Dorea of Water and Sanitation for Low-resource Contexts; and almost a dozen graduate students.

A Climate, Oceans and Energy roundtable offered Adem insights into some of UVic’s most impactful research areas. As well he was receptive to a thoughtful discussion about the practicalities of Canada’s ecosystem of funding and research talent.

“Great visit today to the University of Victoria,” Adem wrote later. "[T]hanks to all the students, researchers and staff who spoke with me about their excellent research and the impact of [NSERC] funding on their careers. Fantastic lab tours & lots of thoughtful comments and suggestions!”