Applied sciences researchers receive $1.2 million from CFI’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund

September 22, 2020

This year, Simon Fraser University’s applied sciences researchers received a total of $1.2 million for eight research projects from the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund (CFI’s JELF). This funding allows researchers to perform leading-edge research by providing them with the foundational research infrastructure to become leaders in their fields. This enables SFU to remain internationally competitive in areas of research and technology development that align with the university’s strategic priorities.

Recipients of the CFI’s JELF:

Behraad Bahreyni, a professor in the School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering, is leading research to characterize the next generation of micro-/nano-systems and advanced materials. Funding of $128,000 from CFI’s JELF will establish a facility for the static and dynamic characterization of materials and devices. Using this facility, users can create solutions that significantly improve the performance or capabilities of manufacturing techniques and dominant device designs. The project will help Canada to secure a global leadership position in this sector, and generate intellectual property and careers in the high-tech industry.

Mirza Faisal Beg, a professor in the School of Engineering Science, is leading an artificial intelligence engineering and visualization laboratory. Funding of $200,000 from CFI’s JELF will help build an artificial intelligence engineering laboratory for advancing research in precision medicine, medical imaging and multimedia processing. The lab infrastructure will help researchers design novel algorithms that can process and analyze valuable multimodality data for vision sciences and ophthalmology, neuroimaging, cancer imaging, collaborative intelligence, cloud-based analytics, large-scale pattern discovery, and compression security. The lab will also transfer knowledge and technology to others, including Canadian biomedical companies, multimedia companies, research organizations and pharmaceutical companies.

Angel Chang, a professor in the School of Computing Science, has received $100,000 from CFI’s JELF to explore interactive language learning in 3D environments. Her research group will explore how to develop interactive machine learning that integrates human feedback to develop algorithms and models that will help an AI virtual assistant to resolve references to the 3D representation of an object. The goal is to create an AI virtual assistant that can talk about and understand the physical world so that it can assist people in their daily lives. This research will add to Canada’s strong position in AI and provide skilled engineers to develop the next generation of virtual assistants.

Mo Chen and Manolis Savva, professors in the School of Computing Science, have received $300,000 from CFI’s JELF and matching funds from the BC Knowledge Development Fund. The duo, who are interested in robotics and visual computing, are researching how to improve virtual 3D simulations of everyday scenarios such as shopping in a store or visiting a coffee shop. They plan to use these simulations to develop artificial intelligence for robots and intelligent assistants on mobile devices so that they can efficiently and safely help people in similar real-world scenarios, while also collecting data to further improve the 3D simulations. This research could be applied to a variety of applications, including autonomous cars and service robots.

Yasutaka Furukawa and Jiangchuan (JC) Liu, professors in the School of Computing Science, have received $200,000 from CFI’s JELF to build infrastructure for a smart building research project that includes people as an integral part of the building system. This will involve unique interdisciplinary research across computer vision, motion sensing and wireless networking. By developing smart building infrastructure, their research hopes to facilitate a new computational platform that can provide business opportunities ranging from smart building operations to autonomous robots that need intelligent infrastructure support.

Patrick Palmer, a professor in the School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering, is leading research to develop a sustainable energy engineering, smart grid test bed. The project received $100,000 from CFI’s JELF. The research aims to create smart power electronic converters to easily connect power sources to the grid while reducing the cost and complexity usually associated with such a connection. Smart power electronic grid connections will speed up the process of attaching renewable energy sources to the grid, enabling the phasing out of carbon-intensive power. While providing cleaner air and more affordable power, it will also help support reliable electricity grids.

Edward Park, a professor in the School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering, has received $120,000 from CFI’s JELF to build an interdisciplinary research platform for developing and deploying new wearable technologies that address age-related mobility problems. The concept of active aging has emerged in recent years as a strategy to promote physical and mental health through positive health behaviours.

Carolyn Sparrey, a professor in the School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering, has received $125,000 from CFI’s JELF for a human mechanics injury test lab where researchers will develop a new crash test dummy that behaves like a falling senior. They will use the dummy to test designs for protective gear that can prevent falls and reduce fall-related injuries. It will be one of the few female test dummies that will be available as a resource for researchers and industry partners across British Columbia.

See the full list of SFU recipients >>