$35m awarded to UBC-led research through NSERC 2023 Discovery research programs

August 29, 2023

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada is investing more than $514 million over five years through the Discovery research program.

This funding will offer recipients the stability and freedom to pursue promising research avenues as they emerge to build the foundation for innovation and economic growth. Over $440 million of this funding provides new awards to researchers across the country in a wide variety of natural sciences and engineering disciplines. $71.4 million was also awarded in one-time, one-year extensions with funds to existing Discovery research grants held by more than 1,800 researchers across Canada impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NSERC Discovery research program awards were announced as part of the Government of Canada's investment of $960 million for research. The Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages, on behalf of the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, and of the Honourable Mark Holland, Minister of Health, announced support for over 4,700 researchers and research projects across Canada. These investments of over $960 million through grants, scholarships and programs are part of the government’s ongoing support for Canada’s research ecosystem.

This includes funding for new UBC-led projects through the Canada Research Chairs program; CFI's John R. Evans Leaders FundNSERC Discovery research programsNSERC PromoScienceSSHRC Insight Grants, Partnership Grants and Partnership Development Grants;  Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships; and Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships.

Read the Government of Canada announcement.

Read the NSERC Announcement

A total of 139 new programs and projects led by UBC researchers were awarded more than $34.8 million through the 2023 NSERC Discovery research grants competition.

This includes:

  • 121 programs supported by Discovery Grants (with 24 of these receiving additional support from Discovery Launch Supplements);
  • Three projects and programs awarded funding through the Subatomic Physics Discovery Grants program;
  • One project awarded funding through the Discovery Horizons Grant program; and
  • 14 projects awarded Research Tools and Instruments grants.


The NSERC Discovery Grants program supports ongoing programs of research with long-term goals rather than a single short-term project or collection of projects. These grants recognize the creativity and innovation that are at the heart of all research advances. Discovery Launch Supplements provide timely resources to support early career researchers (ECRs) as they establish a Discovery Grant-funded research program.


121 UBC researchers were awarded a combined total of $29.2m over five years through the Discovery Grants program.

24 of these projects (marked with * below) were awarded an additional $12,500 each for one year through the Discovery Launch Supplements program, for a combined additional total of $0.3m

  1. Aamodt, Tor (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
    Hardware Accelerators for Learning Systems
  2. Asselin, Edouard (Materials Engineering)
    Electrochemical reactors for the mine of the future: securing critical metals for electrification
  3. Behrend, Kai (Mathematics)
    New Directions in the Theory of Moduli
  4. Bertram, Allan (Chemistry)
    Reactivity, phase behavior, diffusion, and viscosity within atmospheric aerosols for a better understanding of air quality, climate, and health
  5. Bigazzi, Alexander (Civil Engineering)
    Evidence-based design of off-street paths and cycleways: Fundamental traffic engineering parameters for bicycles and micromobility devices
  6. Boyd, Lara (Physical Therapy)
    The neurophysiology underpinning human motor learning
  7. Bradbury, Harold (Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences)
    Tracing marine sedimentary carbon cycling using a combined multi-isotope and numerical modelling approach*
  8. Brauner, Colin (Zoology)
    Gas exchange, ionoregulation, acid-base balance and their interactions in aquatic vertebrates: The evolution of complex physiological systems.
  9. Cardinal-McTeague, Warren (Forest and Conservation Sciences)
    Restoring Indigenous relationships with land and monitoring ecosystem health and function*
  10. Carenini, Giuseppe (Computer Science)
    Improving and Leveraging Discourse Processing in Modern NLP
  11. Carey, Trevor (Civil Engineering)
    Evaluation of liquefaction effects from long-duration, large-magnitude earthquakes*
  12. Chen, Jingyi (Mathematics)
    Analytic aspects in Lagrangian geometry and metric geometry
  13. Chen, Qian (Engineering, School of,  UBCO)
    Digital and responsive systems for construction supply chain integration and construction circular economy*
  14. Chen, Yu (Christine) (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
    Data-driven Power System Monitoring, Control, and Operation
  15. Cheng, Julian (Engineering, School of, UBCO)
    Intelligent Wireless Robotic Communications
  16. Clare, Adam (Mechanical Engineering)
    Stochastic approaches to design of structures and materials in Additive Manufacture (StochAM)
  17. Clark, Luke (Psychology)
    Reward uncertainty and immersion as drivers of excessive consumption
  18. Cohen-Hillel, Tamar (Sauder School of Business)
    Transportation optimization planning for large networks*
  19. Collier, Abby (Pharmaceutical Sciences, Faculty of)
    Post Translational Structural and Functional Studies of UDP-Glucuronosyl Transferases
  20. Collier, Christopher (Engineering, School of, UBCO)
    Terahertz spectroscopy and microfluidic devices for agri-food applications
  21. de Silva, Clarence (Mechanical Engineering)
    Enhancing the Concepts of Machine Intelligence in the Context of Mechanical Dynamic Systems
  22. Duong, Franck (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology)
    Bacterial Peptidisc Libraries to Isolate Outer Membrane Protein Binders
  23. Feng, Chen (Engineering, School of, UBCO)
    Information and Coding Theory for Blockchain Technology
  24. Friedlander, Michael (Computer Science)
    Learning Structured Models: Theory, Algorithms, and Quantum Oracles
  25. Gabora, Liane (Psychology, UBCO)
    An Autocatalytic Evolutionary Framework for Cognition
  26. Garcia, Ronald (Computer Science)
    Advances in Sound Gradual Typing
  27. Giaschi, Deborah (Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences)
    Motion processing and binocular vision in the developing human brain
  28. Gopaluni, Bhushan (Chemical and Biological Engineering)
    Self-Driving Industrial Processes
  29. Greenblatt, Ethan (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology)
    Understanding the impact of nutrition on oocyte fitness*
  30. Greif, Chen (Computer Science)
    Structure-Preserving Numerical Solvers for Block-Structured Linear Systems
  31. Grenz, Jennifer (Forest Resources Management)
    Eradicated, Now What?: understanding the legacy of plant invasions in the post-control phase to inform long-term ecological restoration*
  32. Grieneisen, Laura (Biology, UBCO)
    Causes and consequences of microbial dynamism*
  33. Hacihaliloglu, Ilker (Radiology)
    On-Device Continual Learning Methods for Point of Care Ultrasound
  34. Hallam, Steven (Microbiology and Immunology)
    Engineering microbial cell systems for sustainable living
  35. Hamelin, Richard (Forest and Conservation Sciences)
    Evolution and adaptation in the pine stem rust pathogens
  36. Hare, Warren (Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics and Statistics, UBCO)
    Structured Blackbox Optimization
  37. Heagy, Lindsey (Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences)
    Advancing computational geophysics for carbon sequestration*
  38. Heyl, Jeremy (Physics and Astronomy)
    Probing Fundamental Physics through Astrophysics
  39. Hinch, Scott (Forest and Conservation Sciences)
    Fitness consequences of Pacific salmon in relation to upper thermal tolerance
  40. Holmes-Cerfon, Miranda (Mathematics)
    Modelling, simulating, and designing the dynamics of mesoscale particles
  41. Holzman, Jonathan (Engineering, School of, UBCO)
    Emerging Technologies for Wireless Communication Systems
  42. Hunt, Brian (Oceans and Fisheries, Institute for the)
    Impacts of urbanization on nearshore pelagic ocean ecosystems - the case of ocean cities
  43. Im, Hee Yeon (Psychology)
    Multimodal neuroimaging research on ensemble coding of visual scenes: neural dynamics and functions in perception and visually-guided actions*
  44. Irwin, Darren (Zoology)
    Investigating the dual nature of hybrid zones: integrating adaptive introgression and low hybrid fitness into one theory
  45. Jan, Eric (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology)
    Host cellular pathways modulated by a multifunctional insect viral protein
  46. Jefferies, Wilfred (Michael Smith Laboratories)
    Cellular and molecular biology underlying priming of the immune system
  47. Jellinek, Andrew (Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences)
    Consequences and paradoxes of Earth's Largest Explosive Eruptions: Implications of volcanic eruption dynamics for climate control and their links to plate tectonics
  48. Jiang, Feng (Wood Science)
    Tuning surface chemistry of lignocellulosic nanomaterials for advanced materials and applications
  49. Kaigala, Govind (Biomedical Engineering, School of)
    Photoactuated programable microfluidic systems for high-purity filtration of biomolecules in sub-microliter volumes*
  50. King, Kayla (Microbiology and Immunology)
    Host-parasite evolution in a changing world
  51. Kobor, Michael (Medical Genetics)
    Elucidating the role of the histone variant H2A.Z in transcriptional regulation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  52. Kronstad, James (Michael Smith Laboratories)
    Molecular Genetics of Smut Fungi
  53. Lam, Frank (Wood Science)
    Reliability of Load Duration and System factors for Mass Timber Systems
  54. Lawrence, Gregory (Civil Engineering)
    Vertical Mixing Mechanisms in Stratified Water Bodies
  55. Lee, Jongho (Civil Engineering)
    Liquid Membrane Technology for High-value Chemical Recovery in Biorefinery
  56. Lemieux, Caroline (Computer Science)
    Fuzz-Driven Development*
  57. Lence, Barbara (Civil Engineering)
    Smart Technologies for Operating and Maintaining Water Supply Systems
  58. Leslie, Sabrina (Michael Smith Laboratories)
    Biophysics of molecular interactions at the single-molecule level
  59. Leyton-Brown, Kevin (Computer Science)
    Learning Models of Strategic Behaviour
  60. Li, Shyh-Dar (Pharmaceutical Sciences, Faculty of)
    Developing novel cell penetrating peptides (CPPs) for protein delivery into the nucleus of cells
  61. Liao-Mcpherson, Dominic (Mechanical Engineering)
    Sustainable and Resilient Smart Large-Scale Infrastructure through Game-Theoretic Predictive Control*
  62. Lis, Mieszko (Applied Science, Faculty of)
    Towards secure acceleration of machine learning models
  63. Liu, Jian (Engineering, School of, UBCO)
    Interfacial Phenomena in Next-Generation Energy Storage Technologies
  64. Loewen, Christopher (Cellular and Physiological Sciences)
    Lipid Signalling in Yeast
  65. Macdonald, Colin (Mathematics)
    Understanding and computing with geometric data using nearest neighbour sampling
  66. MacLachlan, Mark (Chemistry)
    New Directions in Supramolecular Chemistry
  67. Madzvamuse, Anotida (Mathematics)
    Unravelling the multi-physics of 3D cell migration and pattern formation using geometric bulk-surface partial differential approach (GBS-PDEs)
  68. Marcus, Brian (Mathematics)
    Topics in Symbolic Dynamics on the Interface with Information Theory, Ergodic Theory and Statistical Physics
  69. Martin, Greg (Mathematics)
    Applications of analytic number theory to prime number races, multiplicative groups, Padé approximants, and Artin's conjecture
  70. McGrenere, Joanna (Computer Science)
    Designing interactive digital technologies for a post pandemic world
  71. McHale, Melissa (Forest Resources Management)
    Increased Urban Heating and Thermal Comfort in Canadian Cities as a Model for Advancing Urban Ecosystem Service Assessments
  72. Mehrkhodavandi, Parisa (Chemistry)
    Exploration of Main Group Metals in Catalysis in the Green Polymer Laboratory
  73. Mirabbasi, Shahriar (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
    Architectures and Integrated Circuits for Efficient Microsystems for Communication, Biomedical, and Wearable Applications and Beyond
  74. Nagamune, Ryozo (Mechanical Engineering)
    Advanced Control of Floating Offshore Wind Farms
  75. Nojeh, Alireza (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
    Thermal electron emission and energy exchange in nanomaterials
  76. Osei, Emmanuel (Biology, UBCO)
    Understanding the role of complex multicellular and multiorgan crosstalk in lung immune protection*
  77. Oxland, Thomas (Orthopaedics)
    Biomechanical Implications of Skeletal Muscle Stiffness on the Human Spine
  78. Pai, Dinesh (Computer Science)
    Computational Models of Humans
  79. Paradis, Gregory (Forest Resources Management)
    Integrated modelling of strategic forest management and industrial capacity planning in the Canadian forest sector*
  80. Pollock, Courtney (Physical Therapy)
    Interaction between physiological arousal, attention and motor learning when walking is challenged*
  81. Ponga de la Torre, Mauricio (Mechanical Engineering)
    Mechanics of Materials across time, length, and composition scales
  82. Poole, David (Computer Science)
    Foundations of Learning and Reasoning about Entities and Relations under Uncertainty
  83. Pottinger, Rachel (Computer Science)
    Improving querying and data access for non-expert users
  84. Pramanik, Malabika (Mathematics)
    Patterns, operators and geometry - many faces of analysis
  85. Queyranne, Maurice (Sauder School of Business)
    Optimization models and methods in Operations Management
  86. Rahmani, Mona (Chemical and Biological Engineering)
    Understanding the fate of microplastics in oceans and lakes*
  87. Ramankutty, Navin (Resources, Environment and Sustainability, Institute for)
    Data science and modelling to examine sustainable food system solutions
  88. Rechnitzer, Andrew (Mathematics)
    Topology preserving sampling algorithms
  89. Reichstein, Zinovy (Mathematics)
    Torsors over fields
  90. Richardson, John (Forest and Conservation Sciences)
    Cross-ecosystem resource subsidy quality and the dynamics of landscapes after disturbance affects freshwater ecosystems
  91. Richman, Joy (Oral Health Sciences)
    Reptilian tooth and jaw development
  92. Robillard, Julie (Neurology Division)
    Intergenerational Determinants of Social Robot Usability*
  93. Rottler, Joerg (Physics and Astronomy)
    Polymers out of equilibrium: nanoscale morphology, nonlinear mechanics, and thermal transport
  94. Salibian Barrera, Matias (Statistics)
    Robust estimation methods for complex data models
  95. Sinclair, Chad (Materials Engineering)
    Design and Manufacturing of Recycling Friendly Alloys
  96. Singh, Amritpal (Anesthesiology, Pharmacology & Therapeutics)
    Integrative methods for single cell multiomics*
  97. Slade, Gordon (Mathematics)
    Critical behaviour of random systems
  98. Somasekharan, Syam (Urologic Sciences)
    Investigating the role of RNA-binding motif protein X-linked 2 (RBMX2) in nucleolar phase separation and functions*
  99. Stairs, Ingrid (Physics and Astronomy)
    Unlocking the Universe with Pulsars and Fast Radio Bursts
  100. Tang, Shuo (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
    Polarization Sensitive Optical Coherence Tomography for Skin Imaging
  101. Tocheva, Elitza (Microbiology and Immunology)
    Origin and evolution of the bacterial outer membrane
  102. Todesco, Marco (Michael Smith Laboratories)
    Understanding the genetic basis of local adaptation in wild sunflowers*
  103. Tokuriki, Nobuhiko (Michael Smith Laboratories)
    Evolutionary Mechanisms for Novel Metabolic Pathways
  104. Trites, Andrew (Oceans and Fisheries, Institute for the)
    Impacts of marine mammal recovery on ecosystem stability, biodiversity and productivity
  105. Tsai, Tai-Peng (Mathematics)
    Incompressible fluids: vortex stretching, critical drifts, boundary singularity, and local energy solutions
  106. van Heusden, Klaske (Engineering, School of, UBCO)
    Data-driven modeling and control for safety-critical applications*
  107. Wang, Shawn (Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics and Statistics, UBCO)
    New horizons in nonconvex and nonsmooth optimization: regularity theory and splitting algorithms
  108. Wang, Siyun (Land and Food Systems, Faculty of)
    Mechanisms of nontyphoidal Salmonella enterica response to bacteriophages in foods
  109. Ward, Michael (Mathematics)
    Localized Patterns in PDEs: Theory, Computation, and Applications
  110. Weary, Daniel (Land and Food Systems, Faculty of)
    Welfare, affect and agency in animals
  111. Wei, Kevin (Zoology)
    Evolutionary causes and molecular consequences of recurrent adaptation in the synaptonemal complex*
  112. Weijs, Steven (Civil Engineering)
    A reliable and sensitive nervous system for our water resources under change
  113. Wijewickreme, K. Dharmapriya (Civil Engineering)
    Characterization of the mechanical response of silts for earthquake engineering practice
  114. Wilton, Steven (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
    Computer-aided design ecosystems for Field-Programmable Gate Arrays and Quantum Computing platforms
  115. Winstanley, Catharine (Psychology)
    The effects of arousal and noradrenergic signalling on decision making
  116. Wood, Christopher (Zoology)
    Transport and Metabolism in Aquatic Animals
  117. Woodward, Todd (Psychiatry)
    fMRI-detectable Brain Networks Involved in Working Memory in Humans
  118. Xia, Guangrui (Materials Engineering)
    Germanium for next-generation semiconductor lasers
  119. Yang, Tianxi (Land and Food Systems, Faculty of)
    Development of novel analytical tools and advanced materials for sustainable food production*
  120. Yilmaz, Ozgur (Mathematics)
    Mathematical problems in analysis, processing, and use of deep neural networks in signal processing
  121. Zandberg, Wesley (Chemistry, UBCO)
    Development of high-throughput techniques and tools enabling glycomic analysis of gastrointestinal mucus
The Subatomic Physics Discovery Grants program

Three UBC-led projects and programs were awarded funding of $3.8m over two to five years through the Subatomic Physics (SAP) Discovery Grants program.

  1. Hearty, Christopher (Physics and Astronomy)
    The Belle II and Chiral Belle projects
  2. Oser, Scott (Physics and Astronomy)
    The SuperCDMS Experiment
  3. Semenoff, Gordon (Physics and Astronomy)
    Particles, Strings and Fields
Discovery horizons grant program

Discovery Horizons grants support investigator-initiated individual and team projects that broadly integrate or transcend disciplines to advance knowledge in the natural sciences and engineering. 

One UBC project was awarded funding of $0.2m over four years through the Discovery Horizons Grant program.

  1. Rob Shave (School of Health and Exercise Sciences)
    The impact of social adversity on cardiovascular aging


The NSERC Research Tools and Instruments grants foster and enhance the discovery, innovation and training capability of university researchers in the natural sciences and engineering by supporting the purchase of research equipment.

14 projects led by UBC researchers were awarded a combined $1.6m through this competition.


  1. Borduas-Dedekind, Nadine (Chemistry)
    Illuminating an 8 m3 environmental chamber for atmospheric photochemistry for air quality
  2. Cooke, Ilsa (Chemistry)
    A vacuum-ultraviolet source for the study of interstellar and prebiotic molecules
  3. Fewster, Kayla ( Kinesiology, School of)
    A high speed pressure mapping system for non-invasive force distribution characterization
  4. Gates, Derek (Chemistry)
    Urgent Replacement of Gel Permeation Chromatograph to Characterize Novel Polymers
  5. Grecov, Dana (Mechanical Engineering)
    Replacement of a Multi-function Tribometer
  6. Hill, Jane (Chemical and Biological Engineering)
    Instrument to recapture and handle VOCs
  7. Li, Xin (Michael Smith Laboratories)
    A high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) system for analyzing plant defense hormone salicylic acid
  8. Liu, Jian (School of Engineering, UBCO)
    In-situ Analysis of Mass and Mechanical Changes of Interfaces and Interphases in Energy Storage Systems by Electrochemical Quartz Crystal Microbalance with Dissipation Monitoring
  9. Salcudean, Septimiu (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
    Collaborative robots for medical robotics research
  10. Schulte, Patricia (Zoology)
    Urgent replacement of real-time PCR machine
  11. Smukler, Sean (Land and Food Systems, Faculty of)
    Field deployable instrumentation for spatiotemporal quantification of greenhouse gas emissions
  12. Song, Liang (Botany)
    A Quantitative platform to expedite gene and genomic discovery from model species to crops and wild berries.
  13. Tortell, Philippe (Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences)
    A sea-going mass spectrometer for the analysis of climate-active trace gases in surface ocean waters
  14. Ziels, Ryan (Civil Engineering)
    Advancing microbiome science with long-read sequencing

View all funding recipients