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Dr. Isabel Molina Named Canada Research Chair

(SAULT STE. MARIE, ON: May 4, 2018): Algoma University is pleased to announce that Dr. Isabel Molina has been appointed Tier II Canada Research Chair in Plant Lipid Metabolism and has been awarded $500,000 in funding from the Government of Canada.

“As a member of the Standing Committee for Industry, Science and Technology, I feel it is fortunate the current government understands the value of investing in Canada’s top scientists and researchers whose discoveries help improve our everyday lives. I’m thrilled to have such innovative scientific research being accomplished locally at Algoma University. Being named Canada Research Chair Tier II reflects the incredible calibre of Dr. Isabel Molina’s work on plant lipid metabolism and I commend Dr. Molina for her accomplishments,” Terry Sheehan, Member of Parliament for the riding of Sault Ste. Marie.

The Canada Research Chairs Program (CRCP) aims to position Canada as one of the world’s top countries in research and innovation. The program invests $265 million annually to attract and retain the world’s best researchers. Canadian Research Chairs strive to achieve research excellence in engineering and the natural sciences, health sciences, humanities, and social sciences.

“Algoma University is elated that Dr. Isabel Molina is being recognized for her innovative research in plant lipid metabolism by the Government of Canada. Being named a Tier II Canada Research Chair is one of the highest honours in our country for an emerging researcher in academia, and we are immensely proud of her,” said Asima Vezina, President and Vice-Chancellor of Algoma U. “Dr. Molina is one of many talented faculty at Algoma U who are committed to research excellence and innovation, key components of our undergraduate programming. This funding will provide tremendous opportunity for Dr. Molina, our students, our community and our University.”

Isabel Molina is conducting critical research to better understand the structure and biosynthesis of waxy barriers that protect plants against environmental stressors. Due to climate change, many of the plants that constitute the world’s food sources, and produce renewable fuels, chemicals, and other materials, are at risk. Her research is helping to develop strategies to improve plants’ resistance to biotic and climate stresses. Her research will also allow the development of plants and microorganisms that produce biopolymers or their precursors as sources of energy and bio-based materials.

“I am grateful to the Government of Canada for this significant investment to support my research program. This recognition is a tremendous honour and also an enormous responsibility that I look forward to undertaking. The Tier II Canada Research Chair award will allow me to grow my research program, train more students and postdocs in the multidisciplinary field of plant lipid biology, and to engage in national and international collaborations with academics and the industry,” said Molina.

Molina is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology and Environmental Science at Algoma. In 2011, she was appointed as Research Chair in Natural Products Biochemistry, funded by the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation. She has been awarded prestigious scholarships from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the National Science Foundation of the United States (NSF), among others.

Molina earned her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from the National University of La Plata, Argentina, and her Ph.D. in Plant Biology from Michigan State University.

The new funding will enable Molina to dedicate more time for conducting research and publishing results, leading to increased productivity. Stable funding provided through the CRCP will strengthen her research team and attract collaborations from within and outside the University, leading to better quality of research.

In addition to the funds from the CRCP, Molina has simultaneously secured $59,281 from the CFI. This grant will be used to purchase new research equipment to add to the infrastructure funded by CFI and NSERC in 2013.

Algoma U currently has two faculty members working as Canada Research Chairs and is in the process of nominating a third one in Truth and Reconciliation.

For more information on Molina’s research, please visit her website, molinalab.blogspot.ca. For more information on research being conducted at the University, please visit the Office of Research web pages.

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