Dena McMartin's research will help protect the Prairies from floods and droughts. Photo submitted.

USask Engineering researchers awarded NSERC grants for innovative projects

Canada's Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) has awarded researchers across USask $10.3 million for nearly 60 wide-ranging projects.

By USask Research Profile and Impact

Faculty and students from across USask will receive more than $9.3 million in Discovery Grants for long-term research programs, nearly $600,000 to support early career researchers, $350,000 to purchase state-of-the-art research equipment, and $75,000 to support research in Canada’s North.

"This major federal investment will advance USask research excellence and innovation in a wide range of areas—from imaging the tiniest nanoparticles, to understanding whole water basins," said USask Vice-President of Research Karen Chad. "The tremendous diversity of these exciting projects reflects the reality that bold discoveries the world needs rely on high-quality fundamental research."

Here is a selection of the engineering projects awarded:

Protecting the Prairies from floods and droughts - $180,000

USask associate provost and engineering researcher Dena McMartin, working with master’s and PhD students, will use data and projections for freshwater extremes to identify freshwater sources and infrastructure that may be at risk. The results will both improve communities’ decision-making and make engineers’ designs more resilient to floods and droughts.


Laying the groundwork for next-generation wireless communication - $177,500

USask engineering researcher Ebrahim Bedeer Mohamed is investigating and designing new techniques for next-generation wireless communication. The results will have implications for several areas of human life including smart cities, self-driving cars, high-quality video streaming, crop management and precision agriculture, and fast broadband internet to underserved areas.


Making artificial intelligence in healthcare understandable - $140,000

Some artificial intelligence systems have been criticized as being black boxes—with limited visibility of how they work and with potential for bias in decisions. USask engineering researcher Francis Bui aims to augment artificial intelligence in health informatics by incorporating human input. The results will lead to improved and more transparent diagnoses, as well as explanations people can understand, interpret and use.


Creating a 'green' plastic from renewables and eggshells - $135,000

USask engineering researcher Duncan Cree will examine how eggshells left over from egg processing might be added to plastics made from corn starch and sugar cane. The research could result in biodegradable bio-plastics with improved qualities such as rigidity and heat resistance, and in the process, turn agricultural waste from eggshells into profits for producers.


To find additional information on NSERC’s grants to USask researchers, search NSERC’s awards database:



This story was originally published on June 17, 2020 on the USask News site.