More than $4.2M for Early Research Awards and research infrastructure


David Harris Smith has a very real Early Researcher Award (ERA) from the government of Ontario, in recognition of the importance of his work with virtual environments.

Smith is one of four researchers awarded $140,000 each by the provincial government’s Early Researcher Award program, which recognizes early career researchers for their potential to become world-class innovators.

Virtual Hamilton: A Virtual Environment for Participatory Urban Planning is Smith’s project, one that will generate an enduring legacy for the City of Hamilton by helping to plan the city with — and for — its citizens.

In partnership with the City of Hamilton, Smith’s goal is to integrate 3D visualization and interactive social media to create a virtual city model that will promote civic engagement in community development and participatory urban planning processes.

“The Virtual Hamilton project provides new ways for the City to engage our citizens in important urban planning issues,” says Glen Norton, Manager of the Urban Renewal Section for the City of Hamilton. “This exciting and timely partnership with McMaster will help illustrate and tackle some of the challenges facing residents, businesses and services in areas that are rapidly changing, enabling all the stakeholders to ‘see’ what change might look like.”

In addition to the four new ERAs, Ted McMeekin MPP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale, announced $3.72M for 16 projects awarded under the Ontario Research Fund’s infrastructure program, which helps cover the costs of acquiring or renewing research equipment.

“Many of the researchers awarded funding today will now be able to upgrade and augment their current facilities with the latest equipment, while others will be creating new laboratories, developing novel technologies on our campus, or expanding their research teams,” says Rob Baker, vice-president, research. “This will ultimately increase our research capacity, accelerate our research results and provide an enriched research-training environment for our students.”

The twenty research projects funded by the ERA and ORF programs represent all six of McMaster’s Faculties.

The Early Researcher Award recipients and their research projects are:

  • David Harris Smith, assistant professor, communications & multimedia
    Project title: Virtual Hamilton: A Virtual Environment for Participatory Urban Planning
  • Leyla Soleymani , assistant professor, engineering physics, Canada Research Chair in Miniaturized Devices; Project title: Development of all-solution-processing methods for creating fully integrated biosensing platforms
  • Eva Szabo, assistant professor, biochemistry and biomedical sciences, Canada Research Chair in Metabolism in Human Stem Cells and Cancer Development
    Project title:
    Improving treatment of obesity by making stem cell models to understand how obesity develops
  • Ayse Turak, assistant professor, engineering physics
    Project title: Nanoparticle arrays for light management an degradation control in organic devices (NanoLight)

Each Early Researcher Award garners $100,000 from the provincial government, and is matched by an additional $50,000 by the university. The government also provides up to $40,000 for indirect costs.

“We are proud to invest in ground-breaking, world-class research right here at McMaster University. Our researchers are key to building a knowledge-driven economy in Ontario which, in turn, strengthens our competitive edge,” said McMeekin. “Congratulations to all of the well-deserving researchers receiving these competitive awards.”

Read about the sixteen project leaders funded by the Ontario Research Fund program.

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