U of R science and engineering researchers receive $1.2 million in federal funding

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: June 17, 2020 4:00 p.m.

Dr. Kaila Bruer, an assistant professor in the psychology department, received an NSERC Discovery Grant.
Dr. Kaila Bruer, an assistant professor in the psychology department, received an NSERC Discovery Grant. Photo: U of R Photography

The Government of Canada, through its National Science and Engineering Research Council’s Discovery Grants program, has invested more than $1.2 million in nine University of Regina researchers. 

The funding will support research ranging from studying wastewater to understanding the architecture of our planetary systems, to investigating the cognitive mechanisms related to facial recognition. 

Dr. Kaila Bruer, an assistant professor in the psychology department and a Luther College faculty member, received $132,500 for her work to better understand why identifying faces that are unfamiliar to us is such a challenging task. 

“We often remember the faces of people we know or are familiar with, but recognizing and identifying unfamiliar faces is a more challenging and nuanced task that varies a lot from person to person. Yet, we don’t fully understand the mechanisms that support or interfere with retrieving faces from our memory,” explains Bruer. “My NSERC-supported research program will focus on understanding what the individual differences in cognitive development are in this retrieval process, providing much needed insight into why some people, but not others, may struggle more with identifying the faces of strangers.” 

Bruer says that while her work naturally has applications in the legal system, specifically related to eyewitness memory reliability, it will also have substantial implications for understanding how memory recognition operates more generally. 

“What we learn can be used to develop methods to help people who are required to identify faces in high-stake situations, and, ultimately, this research may also help develop new approaches to bolster general memory performance.” 

Dr. Kathleen McNutt, Vice-President (Research) says this significant support from the NSERC Discovery Grants program helps provide a firm foundation for University of Regina science and engineering research programs, while also offering exciting opportunities for students to work with exceptional scholars. 

“This funding supports and celebrates the curiosity and commitment of University of Regina researchers who are contributing to advancements in science and  engineering by creating new knowledge, making new discoveries, and training the next generation of scholars,” says McNutt. 

Discovery Grants support ongoing research programs with long-term goals rather than a single short-term projects or collections of projects. The grants are awarded to researchers for five years. 

A full list of Discovery Grant recipients can be found on the NSERC Funding Decisions webpage.


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