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TMU professors receive funding for transformative research projects

June 03, 2024
Headshots of professors Kelly McShane (left) and Krishnan Venkatakrishnan (right)

Two Toronto Metropolitan University professors have received funding from the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) to conduct transformative and interdisciplinary new research. 

Ted Rogers School of Management professor Kelly McShane and Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science professor Krishnan Venkatakrishnan received funding to support their high-risk, high-reward projects. One project will investigate how conservation agriculture can empower women farmers in low- and middle-income countries and mitigate the effects of climate change. The other will develop new knowledge to create a first-of-its-kind technique to improve medical diagnosis and treatment.

“Congratulations to professors McShane and Venkatakrishnan for this funding success. Their projects demonstrate how TMU researchers are embarking on international collaborations to find practical solutions to climate change and advancing health care through the exploration of  innovative and groundbreaking ideas,” said Steven N. Liss, TMU’s vice-president, research and innovation.

Building resilience to climate-related risks

Conservation agriculture, a method of agriculture that prevents the loss of arable land, is a cost-effective way of mitigating climate-related risks to food production. Professor McShane is leading a research project that will investigate how this type of agriculture can empower smallholder women farmers and build resilience against climate-related risks to their living conditions, food security and health in low- and middle-income countries. Professor McShane and professor Valerie Onyia, a visiting scholar at TMU, along with an interdisciplinary group of experts from Nigeria, Brazil, the U.K. and Canada, will examine the conservation agriculture practices used by women farmers and work to identify the benefits, limitations and socioeconomic resources needed for better outcomes. Together with research participants, they will then co-produce practical adaptation strategies and best practices that can be applied in other countries around the world.

Developing a new technique to improve medical diagnosis and treatment

Professor Venkatakrishnan is leading research into a first-of-its-kind technique to generate nanoisotopes that could lead to the on-demand production of personalized isotope nanomedicine in a hospital setting. Nanoisotopes present unique properties and are distinct from other nanoparticles. Their ultra-sensitivity and biocompatibility could enable new opportunities in early diagnosis of cancer, nano-immunotherapy for cancer and rapid diagnosis of virus/bacterial infection. Professor Venkatakrishnan and his co-researchers will develop new knowledge in manufacturing, laser material processing and medical science, aiming to develop a novel, compact and affordable system to produce nanoisotope powder in a regular laboratory setting.

The New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) supports interdisciplinary, transformative and world-leading research led by Canadian researchers. Professor McShane received funding from the NFRF International Joint Initiative for Research in Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation, while professor Venkatakrishnan received funding from the NFRF Exploration Competition. Together, the funding amounts to more than $960,000.

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