Mount Allison receives research position funding

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Mount Allison University researchers Dr. Khashayar Ghandi (biochemistry and chemistry), left, and Dr. Felix Baerlocher (biology) were recently awarded $75,000 to hire a research technician/associate from the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation through its Research Technician Initiative. This new funding will help move their research project — designing and producing a new non-toxic, heat resistant polymer that could have many potential applications in the health and industry sectors — into the commercial realm.

SACKVILLE, NB — Mount Allison University researchers Dr. Felix Baerlocher (biology) and Dr. Khashayar Ghandi (biochemistry and chemistry) received some welcome new funding from the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation (NBIF) this spring that can help move their research into the commercial realm.

The pair was awarded $75,000 through the NBIF’s Research Technician Initiative, which will be used to help hire a research technician/associate in the lab in partnership with the award-winning R&D company, ChemGreen Innovation Inc., co-founded by Ghandi.

Baerlocher and Ghandi have collaborated on a long-term research program, designing and producing a new non-toxic, heat resistant polymer that could have many potential applications in the health and industry sectors.

“We’ve been working to make polymers — large molecules connected by chemical bonds — to produce new plastics which could have several uses. One potential use is as an electrolyte for batteries, a much safer and environmentally friendlier option than the electyrolytes currently being used, ” says Ghandi. ”We are also testing applications for solar energy and flame-retardant spray that is also resistant to electric shock. This new funding from the NBIF will help accelerate our research endeavours through the hiring of a new research associate in the lab. It will help also our honours and MSc students to have access to state of the art facilities and to be able to do research in the fields that make them very well prepared to be employed in industries as well as continue their educations as PhD student at other universities.”

Baerlocher, a microbiologist, is testing the plastics for anti-microbial properties.

“These new plastics have a lot of potential for products in the health-care industry,” he says. “Knowing their properties with regards to microbes is essential for this sector.”

Ghandi and Baerlocher will be hiring a research associate/technician this summer, in addition to their team of 15Mount Allison master’s and undergraduate students. Research associates/technicians are most often PhD trained scientists. This new position will help leverage the labs ability to make it an ideal environment for MSc and honours students to make and test polymers — moving production from the current scale of grams to kilograms and fast-tracking product testing and production to the wider market. ChemGreen is also a financing partner for the position.

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