NSERC Research at Brandon

Scientific research at Brandon University is supported by the federal funding agency called the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council or simply NSERC. NSERC is the national instrument for making strategic investments in Canada’s capability in science and technology. NSERC supports both basic university research through partnerships of universities with industry, as well as the advanced training of highly qualified people in both areas.

At this time there are 11 faculty members in 4 departments that hold NSERC grants for a total of $233,000 per year. The faculty members that have been awarded NSERC research grants in this nationally competitive process are listed below.

NSERC also provides funding for the Undergraduate Student Research Awards that allow promising students to gain experience doing research for an entire summer with one of the NSERC researchers. These awards amount to $4,500 plus at least an additional 25% funded by Brandon University. The students work on a research project in a field supported by NSERC for a sixteen week period over ths summer under the direct supervision of a faculty member who holds a current NSERC grant. This year there are nine students who have received USRA’s.

NSERC has also awarded Postgraduate Scholarships to four graduating students this year.

Several of Brandon University’s researchers have also received major Canada Foundation for Innovation infrastructure grants to establish state-of-the-art research laboratory facilities (see CFI below).

Physics & Astronomy

Dr. Margaret E. Carrington

Dr. Carrington studies quantum field theory, a mathematical tool used to study fundamental aspects of elementary particle interactions. At these scales, the familiar ideas of classical non-relativistic (Newtonian) physics are not valid but are replaced by quantum and relativistic effects.

Dr. Todd D. Fugleberg

Dr. Fugleberg studies quantum field theory under extreme conditions such as high temperatures and high densities. The goal of this research is to develop our understanding of Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD), a theory which describes the force that binds quarks together to form protons and neutrons. This research is relevant to the structure and characteristics of neutron stars, heavy ion collision experiments, and to the evolution of the very early universe.

Dr. John Hopkinson

Dr. Hopkinson uses analytic and numerical techniques to study the collective properties of systems of electrons which give rise to the novel properties of new materials. He is particularly interested in the properties of geometrically frustrated spin systems, where equilateral triangles separating atoms ensure that competing interactions lead to multiple possibilities. Projects include the prediction of spin analogs of water-ice, both nanofabricated and natural, and unraveling the role of quantum effects.

Dr. John B. Rice

Dr. Rice creates images of the surface features of stars using the technique of Doppler Imaging reconstruction. This second “high resolution frontier” in astronomy is accomplishing imaging that in angular terms goes far beyond what can be obtained using the Hubble telescope or active optics.

Dr. Bruno Tomberli

Dr. Tomberli’s research is focused in three areas: 1) Determination of the electronic and thermodynamic properties of anti-oxidants, including theoretical predictions of the solubility of these molecules in supercritical carbon dioxide, 2) Measurement of quantum effects in liquid structure using X-ray diffraction, and 3) Computer simulation of the interaction of new antimicrobial agents with bacterial surfaces.


Dr. Mark Berry

Dr. Berry’s research examines the normal control mechanisms of neuronal activity in the central nervous system. This has implications for the basis and treatment of psychiatric and neurologic disorders such as schizophrenia, drug abuse and addiction, mood disorders, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. In particular Dr. Berry studies the mechanisms involved in the action of a group of naturally occurring compounds collectively known as Trace Amines. Recently Dr. Berry has also begun studies examining the differences in the mechanisms by which normal and cancerous cells die.y


Dr. Simon Pattison

Dr. Pattison specializes in marginal- to shallow-marine clastic sedimentology, sedimentary architecture, sequence stratigraphy, ichnology and reservoir modelling. His research is focussed on reconstructing the physical and biological characteristics of ancient depositional environments, especially those from the Cretaceous of western North America. This naturally occurring greenhouse-period was a time when the dinosaurs reigned supreme, the western interior of North America was flooded with sea water and global sea level was approximately 200 m higher than what it is today. Dr. Pattison studies sedimentary rocks to better understand environmental change through time, including the rate, magnitude and cyclicity of global sea level change.


Dr. Bernadette Ardelli

Dr. Ardelli’s research involves development of control strategies against Filariasis and Trypanosomiasis. For these diseases, drugs are the only means of alleviating the morbidity and mortality. Disease control has become complicated due to the development of drug resistance. Research priorities include examination of drug targets and mechanisms of drug resistance in the parasite.

Dr. David R. Greenwood

Dr. Greenwood studies the plant fossil record of western Canada in order to investigate ‘deep time climate change’ by reconstructing climates and environments of the geological past. His research is currently focused on plant fossils from southern British Columbia and Saskatchewan of Paleocene to early Eocene age – geological epochs (65 to 49 million years ago) when a naturally enhanced greenhouse effect had produced a world so warm that there were no polar ice caps and tropical plants and animals lived across Canada and the US.

Dr. Janet Koprivnikar

Dr. Koprivnikar’s research explores relationships among parasites, their hosts, and the environment, focusing on freshwater communities. Current work with amphibians, fish, and various invertebrates explores environmental influences on host-parasite dynamics, the roles of parasites in aquatic communities, mechanisms of parasite effects, and the importance of host behaviour. Such questions contribute towards our basic understanding of disease ecology and how environmental changes may impact both pathogen and host populations. is

Dr. Wendy A. Untereiner

Dr. Untereiner is employing DNA sequence, morphological and physiological data to investigate phylogenetic relationships within selected ascomycete lineages. She is interested particularly in the relationships between saprobic and animal-associated fungi and in examining the evolution of characters that have been hypothesized to be preadaptive for the ability of these organisms to infect vertebrates.