July 14, 2004

Seventy-five new Alberta-based science and engineering students will share up to $8.6 million in research funding awarded by Alberta Ingenuity.

The 2004 Alberta Ingenuity Studentship awards competition will allow 46 researchers at the University of Alberta, 27 at the University of Calgary, and two at the University of Lethbridge to conduct critical studies on such relevant Alberta topics as ice jams in rivers, oil sands extraction, phosphorus pollution, and more.

The Alberta Ingenuity Studentship awards give top students full-time research training experience in a natural science or engineering discipline.

Each Studentship award consists of a maximum of $22,000 per year for up to five years and a research allowance of $1,500 per year; or a supplement to other major awards.

Among the projects Ingenuity students are working on are:

Occurrence and severity of ice jams and floods in rivers

Three University of Alberta students are undertaking research critical to understanding the effects ice has on Canadian rivers and the resulting ice jams and floods. Each of these students will contribute to the knowledge of the physics of ice jams.

Karen Dow will be conducting experimental and numerical studies to increase knowledge of the dynamic aspects of ice particle hydrodynamics, essential to understanding the physics of river ice breakup.

Kristel Pelletier is investigating the use of satellite remote sensing for characterizing river ice, including developing new technologies to identify ice runs which are the precursor to ice jams, using synthetic aperture radar images obtained with Canada's RADARSAT-1 satellite.

Carin Meliefste will be employing discrete element modeling to develop a computer model of ice jam formation.

Karen, Kristel and Carin along with their supervisor Dr. Faye Hicks, Professor and Associate Chair, Civil and Environmental Engineering, demonstrated aspects of their research projects today on the south bank of the North Saskatchewan River, alongside the Equine Centre.


Tapping into the Oil Sands

New Alberta Ingenuity student Jennifer Adams is conducting research into how microbes progressively degrade oil deposits, making them denser and more difficult to extract. This research may ultimately provide companies exploring unconventional oil sources such as the Fort McMurray oil sands, with much needed information on how to make their operations more cost effective.

Jennifer was recently featured in Maclean's magazine as one of Canada's 25 best and brightest. Her supervisor, Dr. Stephen Larter, was recently recruited to the U of C as an Alberta Ingenuity Scholar and Canada Research Chair.

Jennifer demonstrated her research project today at the University of Calgary.


Phosphorus Pollution Reduction

Robert Gruninger, one of the Alberta Ingenuity recipients at the University of Lethbridge, will be studying phytases, enzymes that break down phytate into phosphate and myo-inositol, to determine their structure, how they work. The concept is that this research will lead to the design of a superior phytase for use in livestock production that will reduce phosphate pollution.

Alberta Ingenuity supports science and engineering researchers and researchers-in-training at Alberta universities, public colleges and technical institutes, and in industry.