New building may be on the way
By Michelle Demeyere
Western's hoping to change the face of its research facilities after submitting a $62 million comprehensive research proposal to the Canada Foundation for Innovation this week.
Under the plan, $25 million would go towards a new building while the remainder would be used for new equipment and upgrades.The CFI is a one-year-old corporation with $800 million in federal grant money to give to universities, colleges, hospitals and non-governmental organizations for the infrastructure they need to keep Canadian research on the leading edge.
There are 15 projects outlined in Western's proposal which would combine researchers from more than three dozen departments and faculties from the university. "It's an interdisciplinary way of looking at the big problems we face today," said VP-research Bill Bridger.
He said he is optimistic about Western's chances of getting the federal grant which would cover 40 per cent of the project's costs.
"The Integrated Research Institute would be a new facility, perhaps built behind the Cronyn Observatory, that brings together researchers and allows them to share equipment as well as ideas," Bridger said.
"I guess you could say it's a blessing in disguise that funding is scarce these days and we are forced to share resources," said Ian Moore, a geotechnical engineering professor who is working with other engineers, chemists and geographers to study nuclear waste disposal in caverns deep in the Cambrian Shield. His research is part of Western's proposal. "I strongly believe the most successful projects are the ones that use a team of people from all different areas."
The loss of Canadian researchers to the United States was a serious consideration in forming CFI's mandate said Carmen Charette, CFI's VP-programs. "We must do everything to attract and maintain new researchers. By updating our aging tools we can provide the means for researchers to do internationally competitive work and stay in Canada."
The next step is to secure provincial funds from the Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund and corporate and private donors before this October when the CFI takes a second look at the financial feasibility of each of the proposals received from universities across Canada.