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Ryerson researchers receive New Frontiers in Research Fund grants

May 31, 2021
Professors Roxana Sühring, Gagan Gupta and Linda Zhang.

Professors Roxana Sühring (left), Gagan Gupta (centre) and Linda Zhang (right) have secured grant funding through the New Frontiers in Research Fund Exploration program.

Three Ryerson researchers have secured grants through the Canada Research Coordinating Committee’s New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF). The funds will enable research on topics such as microplastic identification and reduction, generating biosensors to assist with drug development, and the use of virtual reality to build solidarity and resilience in marginalized communities.

Professors Gagan Gupta and Roxana Sühring from the Faculty of Science and professor Linda Zhang from the Faculty of Communication and Design are receiving funding through the NFRF Exploration program, which supports research teams employing original approaches to projects with the potential for significant impact. The combined value of the grants awarded to Ryerson is $750,000.

“The range of these areas of research demonstrates how Ryerson researchers are driving innovation and addressing critical societal needs through bold, interdisciplinary and groundbreaking projects,” said Steven N. Liss, Ryerson’s vice-president, research and innovation. “Congratulations to professors Gupta, Sühring and Zhang and their collaborators for this success.” 

Professor Gupta and his team will pioneer a systematic methodology that will help to address the unintended side effects caused by off-target interactions of new drugs with proteins at the cellular level -- a major cause of failures during clinical trials. The researchers will develop biosensor technology that will be generated inside living cells, enabling the illumination of both on- and off- target drug-protein interactions and helping to fill a knowledge gap in new drug development.

Professor Sühring will lead a project to create tools to effectively distinguish the types of microplastics that permeate the environment. Her research team will draw on a combination of techniques and instruments, such as environmental analytical chemistry and forensic science, to interpret data on the composition of different microplastics. This will help to identify microplastic sources and entry points into the environment, and provide important information for emission reduction, removal and mitigation efforts.

Interior design professor Zhang and her collaborators from the Ryerson-led Project PROTECH (external link)  will create a virtual reality (VR) platform that will allow communities to collaboratively visualize and virtually shape their own neighbourhoods. The project, through an interdisciplinary process, will identify the impacts of COVID-19 on marginalized people, and of the exclusion and displacement of racialized communities from the public space. Using VR and 3D building scans, the researchers will use an architecture-driven envisioning process to transform how communities and identities are built and mobilized, as well as strengthen resilience to promote social justice and equity.

Learn more about the New Frontiers Research Fund Exploration grants program. (external link, opens in new window)   

Related links:

Ryerson University researchers named Canada Research Chairs

Special COVID-19 initiative Partnership Engage grants awarded to Ryerson researchers