VIU chemistry professors Erik Krogh

VIU chemistry professors Erik Krogh

VIU scientists earn research grants

NANAIMO – Erik Krough and Chris Gill study environmental contaminants.

By Dane Gibson

Vancouver Island University chemistry professors Erik Krogh and Chris Gill are celebrating the announcement of two Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery Grant awards totaling $250,000 that will allow them to make significant contributions to their groundbreaking work in environmental chemistry and analytical mass spectrometry – a field of study where researchers identify contaminants and determine their concentration levels in the environment.

Each year NSERC provides more than $340 million through its Discovery Grant Program so Canada’s best researchers can pursue their most promising ideas and breakthrough discoveries. An announcement ceremony took place last month at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., to announce awards to more than 3,800 researchers at over 70 universities across Canada.

Krogh and Gill are co-directors of VIU’s Applied Environmental Research Laboratories. The $250,000 will be distributed over five years to pay for research programs they are leading. This funding is used to directly support student-centered research projects leading to scientific discoveries and important innovations.

“Thanks to NSERC support, we will be able to push the limits of what we know is possible with mass spectrometry. The research programs we are launching are aimed at developing new approaches for the direct, real time measurement of trace level molecules in different environments, which has important applications in environmental, medical and material sciences,” said Gill. “The work we are doing at AERL includes specially designing sample introduction membranes for use with mass spectrometers.  By using these membranes with the sensitive measurement capabilities of mass spectrometry, we can do direct chemical analyses on air, water and other complicated samples on site in a mobile lab. This has profound implications for risk assessment, emergency response to critical contamination situations, and eco-toxicology.”

VIU Provost and Vice-President Academic, Dr. David Witty, said the internationally recognized work being done in VIU’s AERL not only advances the university’s commitment to supporting research but ensures VIU students continue to have access to world-class opportunities.

Dane Gibson is a writer with VIU’s communications department.