Two University of Windsor professors are among this year's recipients of the Early Researcher Awards, a provincial program that helps institutions build research teams.
Biology professor Phillip Karpowicz and Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research professor Christina Semeniuk were both awarded $150,000 over five years from the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science.
"The Faculty of Science is really proud of this achievement by two of our outstanding early-career researchers," said Dan Mennill, associate dean, graduate studies and research. "Dr. Karpowicz's research on circadian rhythms and Dr. Semeniuk's research program on animal responses to environmental change are cutting-edge investigations that will be dramatically enhanced by these prestigious awards."
The Early Researcher Awards will allow Karpowicz and Semeniuk to fund expenses for a research team of undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, research assistants, associates, and technicians.
Karpowicz's team is studying intestinal stem cells and regeneration.
"We have discovered that intestinal regeneration occurs within a 24-hour rhythm, corresponding to normal sleep/wake cycles called circadian rhythms," he explained.
"In this research project, we will use genetics to test how changes to 24-hour sleep/wake cycles affect intestinal health."
Karpowicz said the breakdown of intestinal regeneration is associated with many illnesses, such as inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer. His team is focusing on advancing health technology, regenerative medicine and the prevention of disease.
Semeniuk's team is examining the ability of an animal to compete for food, exploit new habitats, and avoid predation in a setting increasingly affected by environmental change.
"Great Lakes freshwater fish are particularly impacted, given the multiple stressors they face," Semeniuk said.
While some populations are responding positively like the invasive brown trout others, like the brook trout, are in decline or extirpated like the Atlantic salmon.
Semeniuk said these outcomes can be attributed to the species' ability to cope and persist under new conditions through their intrinsic adaptive capacity.
"My (team) will study these systems with interdisciplinary lab, field, and modelling research projects in behavioural, integrative, and predictive ecology," she said. "They'll examine ways fish adjust their behaviours, physiology, and evolved responses to altered habitats, competitors and predators; whether these responses maximize growth, reproduction, and survival; and forecast impacts on populations and communities."