New Beginnings Initiative – Ideation Fund: selected projects in round 1

The selected projects for the first round of the Ideation – New Beginnings Initiative were announced on June 20, 2019.

This initiative invites individual NRC researchers and technical officers to pursue self-directed research ‎projects. These one-year projects explore ideas and advance new technologies, and provide opportunities to collaborate with other research organizations.

New projects are selected and funded each year.

Round 1 selected projects
NRC Researcher Project title Description Collaborator
Ayhan Akinturk Quantification/control of flow field around a partially submerged body Uncontrolled motions of marine platforms due to vortex shedding can adversely affect the performance and safety of the operations. The objective of this project is to conduct proof of concept physical simulations to investigate whether air bubbles can effectively be utilized to control such motions in the marine context.
  • Wei Qu,
    Memorial University
Behnam Ashrafi Bio-inspired Architectured Ceramics for High Temperature Applications This proposal targets a bio-inspired approach based on bio-inspired architectured material designs to address the brittleness of industrial and high temperature ceramic materials, as their main drawback, under thermal shocks.
  • Hamid Akbarzadeh,
    McGill University
Jason Baardsnes Fab fragment screening using DNA oligonucleotide pools for in silico antibody prediction development We will be using high-throughput oligonucleotide pools for directed mutagenesis of Fab fragments with novel antibody H3 loops in yeast.  The goal is to generate in vitro binding data to improve computational predictions of antibody design for the development of the next generation of antibody therapeutics against difficult cancer targets.
  • N/A
Ali Benmeddour Physics-Based Lattice Boltzmann Modelling and Simulation of Icing Process on Icephobic Coatings The complex physics of impact and freezing process of water droplets when impinging on icephobic surfaces will be modelled and implemented using the Lattice Boltzmann Method. Accurate assessment of the effectiveness of the emerging ice protection technology, based on icephobic coatings, will thus be achieved through computational physics-based modelling and simulation.
  • Jean-Yves Trépanier,
    École Polytechnique de Montréal
Andreas Brinkmann Identification, Structure Elucidation and Quantification of Polymorphs in Pharmaceutical Formulations Advanced solid-state NMR methods will be developed to study the molecular structure and hydrogen bonding in active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) in their pure and in formulated form to help unambiguous identify and quantify different polymorphs. A suitable API will be selected to be developed as a certified reference material for the quantification of different polymorphic and amorphous phases.
  • David L. Bryce,
    University of Ottawa
Peter Byrnes Vibration measurement in astronomical observatories toward robust AO and instrument designs Vibration degrades the performance of commissioned astronomical adaptive optics (AO) systems, and the next generation of AO systems and instruments will be even more sensitive. This project will measure vibrations on current large telescopes, helping to predict the vibration environment on future telescopes, and leading to more robust AO systems.
  • N/A
Xinjin Cao Hybrid Laser-Arc Welding of Cobalt-Based Superalloys This project is aimed to explore the possibility of reducing or avoiding cracking susceptibility by using hybrid laser-arc welding processes and thus improve the weldability and repairability of new γ' precipitate-strengthened Cobalt-based superalloys. The results will benefit the welding and remanufacturing of engine components for aerospace and power generation applications.
  • Olanrewaju Ojo,
    University of Manitoba
Brent Carlson Incoherent clocking laboratory demonstrator An experiment to demonstrate in COTS (Commercial Off-The-Shelf) hardware that a common broadband RF signal, digitized by two independent receivers—each operating with its own independent LO (Local Oscillator)—and subsequently sent over COTS digital fiber-optic links to a central location, can be coherently cross-correlated, using all digital methods.
  • N/A
Pavel Cheben Metamaterial photonic nanoantennas for optical phased arrays We will use metamaterial integrated photonic design to address the critical technical issues with current on-chip optical phased arrays, which are the core part of LIDAR systems. A new type of optical phased array based on densely packed high-efficiency grating couplers and surface-emitting nanoantennas will be investigated, including the key performance parameters such as the directionality of the emitted beam, the steering range and field divergence.
  • Winnie Ye,
    Carleton University
Joel C. Corbin Dual-Channel Photothermal Interferometry: Constraining the Climate Impacts of Black Carbon The project "Dual-Channel Photothermal Interferometry: Constraining the Climate Impacts of Black Carbon" will construct a new instrument for traceable measurements of aerosol light absorption, which are essential to climate science and public health. This instrument, the first of its kind, will support Canada's clean-emissions goals and Arctic monitoring programs.
  • Greg Evans,
    University of Toronto
Will Costain Leveraging the power of yeast genetics for accelerated mammalian cell engineering Key limitations of iPSC-derived cells are the persistence of immature phenotypes and variability between iPSC lines.  To address these problems, a Synthetic Biology platform that leverages yeast prototyping will be developed to enable accurate post-differentiation manipulation and correction of genome-scale expression profiles to better recapitulate desired endogenous cellular phenotypes.
  • Mads Kaern,
    University of Ottawa
Raju Datla Discovery of gene variants of a signaling factor with performance functions Achieving improved performance is critical for accomplishing agriculture productivity. This challenge requires development of innovative technologies that can be applied broadly in diverse crop species. As signaling pathways play important roles in performance traits, in this project, we will investigate TOR signaling mediated functions, to identify gene targets for such traits with potential applications in crops.
  • Leon Kochian,
    University of Saskatchewan
Bhavana Deore 3D Printed Addressable Cost Antennas for High-Frequency 5G Applications Goal: address the challenge facing most 3D printing techniques - print multiple disparate materials into one object simultaneously e.g. metal and plastic
Partner: Professor Amaya, Carlton University
Novelty: 3D printing functional multi-material objects by controlling phase-separation
Expected outcomes: new spatial freedom in design for Functional devices
  • Rony E. Amaya,
    Carleton University
Amin Fereidooni Investigation of a novel configuration of a two-bladed troposkien shape vertical axis wind turbine Blade-Vortex Interaction (BVI) is a well-studied phenomenon in Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWTs) which can cause significant reduction in power generation capacity of the turbine. This proposal suggests a solution that has the potential to mitigate this adverse effect and increase the performance of the turbine significantly.
  • Edgar A. Matida,
    Carleton University
Alexandre Gariépy Evaluating cryogenic forming of aluminium alloys to lighten automotive structures The use of aluminium in transportation applications is increasing but frequently faces the challenge of a lower formability than many steels at ambient temperature. This project will investigate the benefits and technical and economic feasibility of low-temperature forming for high-strength 5000, 6000 and 7000 aluminium alloy sheets.
  • N/A
Arsalan Haqqani Quantification of Brain-specific Exosomes in Biofluids of Patients with Alzheimer's (AD) and other Brain Diseases In collaboration with Dr. AmanPreet Badhwar (Université de Montréal), an expert in Alzheimer's Disease (AD), we will demonstrate the feasibility of our mass spectrometry methods to quantify a panel of brain-specific exosomal proteins identified from BBB Carta in biofluids of patients with AD and other brain diseases.
  • AmanPreet Badhwar,
    Centre de recherche de l'institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal
Rola Harmouche Full body medical image segmentation for simulation-ready finite element models We aim to develop an automated machine-learning based method to generate three-dimensional segmentations of anatomical structures from medical images in order to build patient-specific geometric models. Such a method would generate reproducible segmentations that can be used for a variety of personalized medical simulators, reducing time-to-market for these applications.
  • Matthew Toews,
    École de technologie supérieure
  • Mark Driscoll,
    McGill University
Cyril Hnatovsky High Intensity Vortex and Bessel Beam Synthesis for Laser Materials Processing High-power vortex and annular laser beams will be synthesized and used for optical trepanning of fused silica and other glasses to investigate whether high-aspect ratio holes can be produced in these materials for microfluidic applications. Additionally, annular beams will be used to inscribe waveguides in sapphire for sensing applications in extreme temperature environments (up to 2000°C).
  • N/A
Zygmunt Jakubek Hybrid P3HT/BNNT crystalline films for polymer electronics applications. Films of highly ordered P3HT crystallites templated on boron nitride nanotube scaffolds will be fabricated and crystallinity and degree of alignment optimized. Thin film transistors and active layers for bulk heterojunction solar cells will be fabricated from the P3HT/BNNT hybrid formulation and their performance tested.
  • Paul Corkum,
    University of Ottawa
Douglas Johnstone CCAT-p First Light in 2021: 860 GHz Camera Optical Design and Commissioning/Early Science Plan CCAT-p is a pathfinder telescope optimized for mapping the mm to sub-mm sky for both cosmological and galactic star formation studies.  CCAT-p will have first-light in 2021. Leveraging NRC-Herzberg's instrumentation heritage, this research program will develop the required optical interface plan for the early-science/commissioning camera, operating at 860 GHz.
  • Scott Chapman,
    University of British Columbia
  • Kim Venn,
    University of Victoria
John Kelly Tracking the mechanism of antibody trafficking across the blood brain barrier with advanced 3D-structure We will use Cryo-Electron Microscopy (McGill University) and Hydrogen-Deuterium Exchange Mass Spectrometry to study the mechanism by which antibodies bind to Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 Receptor (IGF1R) and cross the blood-brain barrier.  Sophisticated models of receptor/antibody interactions will be constructed and used to decipher the molecular events that initiate crossing.
  • Michael Strauss,
    McGill University
Shelley Kelsey Air Travellers Living with Obesity: An Exploratory Study In-Situ This research team will study the air travel experience of those living with obesity with the aim of designing systems, technologies and processes to address the issues identified. The research will take place in the new Centre for Air Travel Research with collaborators from Carleton University, University of Alberta and Obesity Canada.
  • Chantal Trudel,
    Carleton University
  • Mary Forhan,
    University of Alberta
Edmond Lam Functionalized chitosan nanocrystals as catalysts for organic transformation reactions In collaboration, chitosan nanocrystals as support materials for multifunctional catalysts will be used in aqueous-phase organic transformation reactions. Identification of novel properties and improved catalytic processes would promote the use of shell waste towards higher-value products, a requirement for developing a Canadian shell bioeconomy.
  • Audrey Moores,
    McGill University
Yifeng Li Exploring New Trends of Deep Networks: Deep Generative Models with Capsules We wonder how symbolic and connectionist AI could converge in the next-generation deep learning algorithms. We approach this question by investigating and developing deep generative neural networks with capsules (multivariate stochastic neurons), which will represent elements of knowledge in capsules and dynamically piece together to produce novelties that make sense.
  • Xiaodan Zhu,
    Queen's University
  • Richard Naud,
    University of Ottawa
Marzia Martina Improved treatment options for children with Dravet syndrome Dravet Syndrome (DS) is a treatment-resistant Early-onset Infantile Epileptic Encephalopathy, severely impairing development. Identification and characterization of underlying SCN1A mutations will dictate drug screening strategies, utilizing a CHEO-curated library of blood-brain-penetrant FDA-approved drugs. This bench-to-bedside collaboration (NRC/CHEO) will establish a translational pipeline towards personalized precision medicine for children with DS.
  • David Dyment,
    Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute Inc.
Malcolm McEwen Development of dosimetry standards for synchrotron x-ray beams Development of detectors and measurement methods to characterize monoenergetic x-rays produced by synchrotrons, with the aim of providing the basic metrology necessary for clinical diagnostic and therapeutic applications for such beams.
  • Paul Johns,
    Carleton University
Jean-Sébastien Milanese eTumorMethylation, a new DNA Methylation-based predictive model for early detection of cancer DNA methylation is rapidly becoming a widely accessible data type with massive and useful information. eTumorMethylation, a machine-learning based algorithm, aim is to identify DNA methylation patterns in cancer patients for early diagnosis. There is currently no existing model using DNA methylation that translates into cancer diagnosis or prognosis.
  • N/A
Christopher Miles Boronic Acid Technologies for Harmful Algal Toxin Measurement The aim is to develop improved boronate-based methods and technologies to facilitate purification and analysis of marine and freshwater algal toxins.
  • Dennis Hall,
    University of Alberta
Stephen O'Leary Proteomic investigation of desiccation tolerance in the intertidal seaweed Ascophyllum nodosum Researchers will employ proteomics strategies to elucidate cellular mechanisms that enable the remarkable desiccation tolerance of intertidal seaweeds.  These findings will be leveraged to identify homologous systems in terrestrial plants that may be exploited to confer increased tolerance to environmental stressors including drought, extreme temperatures and salinity.
  • Lucie Beaulieu,
    Université Laval
Vladimir Pankov A plasma-based method to produce high impact/load-resistant duplex protective PVD coatings Protective coatings resistant to high-velocity particle impacts and high mechanical loads are required for various aerospace applications including gas turbine engines, bearings, and landing gears. The proposed project explores the concept of duplex coatings produced through a combination of surface plasma treatment and physical vapor deposition to address this need.
  • N/A
Abolghasem Pilechi Development of a new tool for modeling fate of microplastics in the aquatic environment The purpose of the proposed project is to investigate feasibility of developing a tool which integrates numerical modeling and remote sensing approaches for detecting, monitoring and modeling fate of plastic particles and in particular microplastic particles (less than 5mm in diameter), in the aquatic environment.
  • Saeid Homayouni,
    Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique
Dominique Poirier Study of cold spray adhesion mechanisms for the development of high performance protective coatings The effects of  aluminum feedstock powder characteristics on cold spray (CS) coating adhesion on steel surfaces will be identified for the first time.  It will lead to improvement in the fundamental understanding of the buildup mechanisms at the origin of CS deposition in order  to optimise the CS coating adhesion properties.
  • Bertrand Jodoin,
    University of Ottawa
Brent Pollock Assessing the ability of deep eutectic solvents to fold denatured proteins Recombinant proteins are often produced misfolded. Aqueous urea can unfold protein; conversion to active protein by bulk dilution is rarely economical. Proteins remain active in mixtures of urea and choline chloride so we will see if adding choline chloride to aqueous urea containing unfolded protein improves active protein recovery.
  • N/A
Teagen Quilichini Examining peak potency and harvest timing in Cannabis sativa using synchrotron 3D chemical imaging In cannabis, specialized structures on flowers produce unique compounds with medicinal importance. This project will investigate the physical and chemical landscape of these surface structures through the application of 3D imaging and synchrotron light technologies, revealing how the broad range of medicinal compounds are sequestered on cannabis flowers.
  • Larry Holbrook,
    ZYUS Life Sciences Inc.
  • John Coleman,
    Anandia Laboratories Inc.
Nandhakishore Rajagopalan Opening a can of opportunities (Identification of metabolic processes leading to mycotoxin detoxification in mealworms) Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) disease in wheat causes losses in yield and quality due to production of fungal mycotoxins. Mealworms can feed on mycotoxin-contaminated wheat and grow normally to be used as protein-rich poultry feed. This project will identify the novel detoxification pathway in mealworms and find useful applications.
  • Rex Newkirk,
    University of Saskatchewan
Marzieh Riahinezhad Low-Emissivity Nanocomposites for Superinsulating Construction Foams A highly practical and cost-effective way to reduce energy consumption in buildings is to provide better insulation. The intent of this research idea is to develop renewable low emissivity nanocomposites as a stepping stone towards the next generation of super-insulating construction foams.
  • N/A
David Rivest-Hénault AI-driven interactive finite element simulation running on mobile platforms This project objective is to improve real-time surgical simulator solver performance to allow for equivalent realism and resolution on an affordable mobile device as it is currently possible on full size simulator. We seek to achieve this by re-defining a finite element problem to better exploit specialized computing hardware.
  • Hervé Lombaert,
    École de technologie supérieure
Jagdeep Sandhu Using Exosomes to Deliver siRNA Across the Blood-Brain-Barrier to Treat Parkinson's Disease Accumulation of toxic forms of alpha-synuclein plays a central role in the development of Parkinson's disease. We aim to harness the ability of cells' own nanovesicles to cross the blood-brain barrier, silence alpha-synuclein and protect nerve cells, paving the way for novel therapeutics for silencing key toxic genes in other neurodegenerative diseases
  • Derrick Gibbings,
    University of Ottawa
Paul Scholz A time-domain digital signal processing backend for fast radio burst follow up The CHIME telescope at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO) discovers several fast radio bursts per day. To learn about these mysterious objects, observations at times and radio wavelengths inaccessible to CHIME are needed. We will develop a system for the DRAO John A. Galt telescope to perform such observations.
  • Victoria Kaspi,
    McGill University
Nima Shaigan Development and characterization of catalysts for ammonia electrochemical synthesis It has been shown than it is possible to produce ammonia by electrochemical method using water and air at room temperature and pressure. The efficiency is however too low. Finding electrocatalysts that are selective for ammonia production rather than hydrogen evolution is challenge that this project intends to overcome.
  • David Wilkinson,
    The University of British Columbia
Anthony Shaw In search of blood cellular optical barcodes signifying otherwise silent cardiovascular risk Some 2.4 million Canadians live with cardiovascular disease (CVD). Many will die, diagnosed only once irreversible cardiac damage is done, despite passing all cholesterol tests!
Combining microfluidic sample preparation and infrared spectroscopy-based metabolic fingerprinting ("barcoding"), we aim to save those lives by discovering new circulating markers signifying elevated CVD risk.
  • John Ducas,
    St. Boniface General Hospital
Benoit Simard Developing a scalable solvent-free process for functionalization of Boron Nitride Nanotubes Goal:  to resolve scientific, technological, economic and environmental issues related to chemical functionalization of BNNT.
Partner: Professor Sylvain Coulombe. McGill's Plasma Processing Laboratory
Novelty: Reactor design, chemical control, ready-to-use products. 
Expected outcomes: High impact scientific work, patentable technologies and commercial products.
  • Sylvain Coulombe,
    McGill University
Boris Tartakovsky Autonomous biosensor for real-time toxicity monitoring in remote environments We will design and build a novel biosensor for real-time toxicity monitoring in remote locations. The sensing principle will be based on a Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC). The biosensor is intended as an inexpensive, qualitative, rapid toxicity warning system capable of surviving outdoors for at least a year without maintenance and without an external energy source.
  • Lyne Woodward,
    École de technologie supérieure
Julien Tremblay The role of plant miRNAs in shaping its microbiome The objective of this research project is to characterize a novel miRNA-based interaction pathway between plants and their microbiome. A miRNA-based interaction mechanism between bacteria and their plant hosts could be exploited to achieve real-world impact to problematics such as soil pollution, crop production and global warming.
  • Etienne Yergeau,
    Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique
Viresh Wickramasinghe Development of Novel Maneuverability Capability for Small Satellites Using Aerodynamic Forces The capability of small satellites have advanced in the last decade into mission capable assets. Without propulsion systems, they lack maneuverability to exploit advantages as constellations. It is proposed to evaluate the feasibility using aerodynamic forces generated in the low earth orbit to improve maneuverability of small satellites.
  • Afzal Suleman,
    Quaternion Aerospace Inc
Daoquan Xiang Targeted Engineering of Gene Network Controlling Seed Coat Development for Meal Quality Improvement in Pulse Crops This project will efficiently target the crucial genes controlling development of lentil seed and seed coat traits using (1) EMS mutagenesis and (2) CRISPR/Cas9 based genome editing tools to generate novel diverse cis-regulatory alleles, to address the need for improved lentil meal quality and support the Canadian lentil industry.
  • Yangdou Wei,
    University of Saskatchewan
Chunsheng Yang Lifetime Learning-based Predictive Modeling Technologies for Prognostic and Health Management The proposed project aims at developing lifetime predictive models. A novel transfer learning-based modeling technology will be investigated. With the proposed modeling technology, the models can be built from "big" historic data and adapted to new operational environments, in turn, which makes the predictive models reusable, evolvable, reliable, and comprehensible.
  • Yuhong Guo,
    Carleton University
Trent Yang High-throughput screening of microorganisms for novel ligninolytic enzymes and their applications in biomass valorization "Biorefinery" is a potential alternative for the petrochemical industry. Lignin valorization is key to its sustainability. Decomposing lignin polymers into aromatic subunits for value-added chemicals and fuels needs novel enzymes with selective activities in a green and mild biocatalytic process. HPT screening facilitates the quick discovery of novel ligninolytic enzymes.
  • Wensheng Qin,
    Lakehead University
Weixing Yuan Uncertainty quantification of shock wave location variation for transonic flutter prediction Flutter is a dangerous unstable vibration of flexible structures/aircraft subjected to aerodynamic forces at high speeds. The project will quantify the effect of shock-wave location variations on the transonic flutter speed, by developing an uncertainty quantification and sensitivity analysis framework. It will significantly minimize the number of simulation runs thus reduce the computational and flight testing costs.
  • Abhijit Sarkar,
    Carleton University
Hasanat Zaman Motion of bergy-bit around an offshore oil and gas platform In the extreme environment the drifting ice may pose additional risk to the Oil and gas platforms. Collisions of the offshore platform with nomadic ice pieces can cause catastrophic failure of the platform resulting in loss of lives, damaged structure and environmental disaster. So load computation method must be improved and incorporated in the design method.
  • N/A
Merrina Zhang Rail Stress Monitoring using Fibre Optics Sensing Better stress management have the potential to reduce incidences of broken rail (#1 cause of derailments in Canada). Fibre optic sensing is a game changing solution to study rail stress behavior in-situ. This project proposes to deploy this technology at a rail site to test its suitability and gather critical data.
  • Neil Hoult,
    Queen's University
  • Xiaoyi Bao,
    University of Ottawa
John Zwaagstra Design and evaluation of Herceptin scFv-based CAR scaffolds for T-cell mediated cancer therapy This project aims to improve CAR-T cell treatment of Her2 solid tumors combined with reduced toxicity. We will utilize rationally designed pH-sensitive or low-affinity Her2-CARs to promote specific targeting and T cell killing of tumors in the hypoxic, low pH microenvironment and avoid targeting and toxicity in normal tissues.
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