Cape Breton University Researchers Awarded Federal Funding

Cape Breton University researchers were among those recognized by the Government of Canada in a recent funding announcement covering a number of federal research programs. Three CBU faculty garnered a total of nearly $500,000, including the prestigious John R. Evans Leaders Fund, awarded to CBU’s Dr. Xu Zhang, Tier II Canada Research Chair in Healthy Environments and Communities. Presented through the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the current installment will support the creation of a Sustainable Materials and Functional Surfaces Laboratory at CBU. Dr. Zhang says his team is excited to advance CBU’s research capacity, with a commitment to healthy communities at its core. The advancement will also help to grow what is now referred to as the blue or ocean economy.

“We are grateful to have support that will allow us to acquire critical instruments to develop portable water monitoring sensors, small-scale water treatment devices, fishery waste recycling and upgrading technologies and anti-marine fouling coatings, which will help empower the blue economy,” Dr. Zhang explains. “At the same time, this will further our research to support access to clean drinking water, an important focus for the health and well-being of rural and First Nation communities.” Dr. Zhang is quick to acknowledge CBU research partners, Dr. Ken Oakes and Dr. Stephanie MacQuarrie, who share in these pursuits.

Joining Dr. Zhang on the list of honorees recognized in the announcement, Dr. Zhuojun Liu, Assistant Professor in CBU’s Shannon School of Business, was awarded a Discovery Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) for his project titled Optimal design of trade-in strategy and its impact on sustainable supply chain management. Using the example of an appliance purchase, Dr. Liu explains the concept of trade-in strategies and the need to establish efficiencies.

“With a trade-in program, a customer can purchase a new product with a special discount after returning a qualified used product to the seller,” explains Dr. Liu. “Implementing a trade-in strategy can result in extra expenses, including inspection, disassembly and collection costs. Furthermore, it can also impact the purchasing decisions of customers.” He says this research will look at cost-effective ways to gain the benefits of sustainable practices from a closed-loop system. Dr. Liu also received the Discovery Launch Supplement awarded to early career researchers.

Dr. Alejandro Vital Soto, Assistant Professor of Operations Research and Management Science, also gained funding for important research, with NSERC investing in his project, Self-adjustment self-optimizing decision-making for advanced and smart manufacturing systems.

“Some of the most important outcomes of this research include the development of smart decision-making tools, saving manufacturing costs, and protecting Canada’s environment by reducing energy consumption and emissions,” says Dr. Vital. “As an educator, I’m also excited to mentor and train CBU students who will become the next generation of academics and professionals.” Dr. Vital, also an early career researcher at CBU, gained the launch supplement to further his work.

Congratulations to Dr. Zhang, Dr. Liu and Dr. Vital and their research colleagues for allowing us to celebrate CBU as a vibrant research community! Further details about the funding announcement are provided here.