Two Acadia researchers receive John R. Evans Leaders Fund Awards

Acadia University researchers Drs. Derek Charke and Kirk Hillier are each receiving John R. Evans Fund awards from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation. Announced today at Laurentian University by Minister of Science, the Hon. Kirsty Duncan, Dr. Derek Charke will receive $40,778 for his development of the Acadia Electroacoustic Music Studio and Dr. Kirk Hillier will receive $155,206 for his development of the Acadia Quarantine Behavioral Bioassay Facility.

“Ensuring that our scientists are well-prepared with the absolute paramount in tools and equipment for research and discovery is what we’re here for. These journeys can lead to achievements such as an improved economy and a better job market, and can also fuel an active research community here in Canada and internationally,” said the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science.

“These two JELF Awards recognize the accomplishments of Dr. Charke and Dr. Hillier and their capacity to perform ground-breaking research at Acadia,” said Dr. David MacKinnon, Dean of Research and Graduate Studies. “Faculty members in every discipline at Acadia are engaged in active research and we have been steadily increasing the volume of our individual research projects. We look forward to continued success and the many benefits that will accrue to students and our broader research community.”

Details of the two projects approved for Acadia are:

Dr. Derek Charke - Acadia Electroacoustic Music Studio


Electroacoustic music is important to contemporary music creation. Electronic music complements acoustic musicians, and allows for the creation of unusual and immersive experiences. CFI-JELF funds will support the creation of a state-of-the-art, multi-channel, electroacoustic music studio at Acadia University. The Acadia Electroacoustic Music Studio (AEMS) is a $101,946 project. CFI has contributed $40,778, with matching contributions coming from other funding sources. AEMS will provide an outlet for the creation and performance of highly innovative, multi-channel, electroacoustic research.

As principal investigator, Dr. Derek Charke's creative research will be significantly enhanced through AEMS. Dr. Charke is a professor of music at Acadia and is in demand as a composer. He has composed over eighty original works to date, and these have been commissioned by world-famous ensembles, and performed across North America and Europe. He has won both a JUNO and three ECMA awards. He has a proven track record of recording sounds in the field and creating highly engaging acoustic, electroacoustic, and acousmatic compositions. His ability to pair creative research with musical ensembles, orchestras, string quartets, and soloists, as well as his skills as a professional performer, allows for many avenues of dissemination and creative and collaborative research.

AEMS will become the first fully functioning multi-channel spatialized studio of its kind in Nova Scotia and the Maritimes. AEMS will be an incubator for new and exciting projects that will be performed throughout North America and beyond.

Dr. Kirk Hillier - Acadia Quarantine Behavioral Bioassay Facility

Dr. Kirk Hillier has established an internationally recognized research program at Acadia University investigating insect responses to odorants from molecular to ecological scales. The CFI-JELF award will provide funds for Dr. Hillier to develop a behavioral assay facility at Acadia University with the capacity to investigate insect responses to odorants (host plants, pheromones) under quarantine conditions, with associated high-throughput chemical analysis. This quarantine behavioral assay facility is truly state-of-science, permitting digital recording of insect flight in 3 dimensions in a controlled wind tunnel environment. The facility is a $389,835 project. CFI has contributed $155,206, with matching contributions coming from other funding sources.

This unique capacity will make Acadia University a global leader in the fields of olfactory neuroscience, and position the institution with a unique niche for studying and developing tools to rapidly deal with the threats of invasive and endemic pest insects. Discoveries and innovations from the proposed research will support sustainable forestry and agricultural sectors in Canada and abroad with novel technologies to manage insect pests while reducing insecticide use. Personnel trained in this environment will acquire unique and highly marketable skills for the workplace.

The John R. Evans Leaders Fund enables a select number of an institution’s excellent researchers to undertake leading-edge research by providing them with the foundational research infrastructure required to be or become leaders in their field. In turn, this enables institutions to remain internationally competitive in areas of research and technology development, aligned with their strategic priorities.

This fund also offers institutions the opportunity to create competitive research support packages in the form of infrastructure and a portion of the operating and maintenance costs, coupled with direct research costs from partner organizations.

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