CFI funding for VISPA projects announced

The University of Victoria’s leadership and participation in several national and international big science projects has got a huge shot in the arm with the injection of $14.8 million in new funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

The funding was announced on Friday in Ottawa by Minister of State (Science and Technology) Ed Holder as part of a $333-million CFI investment in new research infrastructure across the country.

The UVic funding will support researchers who are developing world-class technologies in nuclear medicine, particle physics and ocean observation systems.

“We’re very grateful to the Government of Canada through CFI for its continued support of major science infrastructure,” says UVic Vice-President Research David Castle. “This investment keeps Canada at the forefront of discovery in a number of important fields and allows UVic to build on its already formidable presence in big science projects nationally and around the world.”

The bulk of the CFI money coming to UVic—more than $13.6 million—goes toward phase two of the UVic-led Advanced Rare IsotopE Laboratory (ARIEL) at TRIUMF, Canada’s national facility for particle and nuclear physics in Vancouver.

ARIEL will strengthen Canada’s capabilities in particle and nuclear physics, and materials science. It’s also a testing ground for producing critical medical isotopes, which are used to diagnose and treat cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

The first phase of ARIEL, completed in 2014, constructed an underground beam tunnel and one of the world’s most powerful superconducting particle accelerators, as well as a new building to house them. This second phase will add next-generation technologies to the accelerator to produce a wider variety of exotic isotopes at greater intensities.

“We have designed a one-of-a kind accelerator that will allow us to pursue the science in which TRIUMF is currently a world leader,” says UVic physicist Dean Karlen, who leads a 19-university ARIEL II consortium. “It’s exciting for us and for future generations. They’ll come up with new ideas on how to use this technology that we haven’t even thought of yet.”

For more information on ARIEL II and the other projects funded in this announcement that involve UVic, see the accompanying backgrounder.