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Laurier biology professor receives provincial Early Researcher Award
Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing
Aug 17/07| For Immediate Release
Dr. Paul Maxim, Associate Vice-President
Kevin Crowley, Associate Director
WATERLOO — A researcher at Wilfrid Laurier University has received an Early Researcher Award under a program sponsored by the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation.
Dr. Matthew Smith, assistant professor of biology, is receiving $150,000 to support his research into plant cell protein transport. His research will focus on the mechanism that enables the cell chloroplast to identify and allow the transfer of proteins.
As Smith says, “virtually all life depends either directly or indirectly on photosynthesis, which in turn depends on protein import into chloroplasts.”
Understanding the protein trafficking systems also has implications for future investigation into disease — both plant and human — that might result from the mis-targeting of proteins at a cellular level.
“This work has implications not only for advancing our understanding of the mechanism and regulation of protein import into chloroplasts, but intracellular protein trafficking in all cells,” says Smith. “In addition, it will make contributions to our understanding of protein-protein interactions, which are fundamental to biochemical processes of all kinds.”
“This award is very exciting news for the Laurier Faculty of Science,” says Dr. Deborah MacLatchy, Laurier’s dean of science. “It recognizes not only the current excellent research being carried out by Smith in his Laurier laboratory, but also the strong foundation we provide to students in Science. As a Laurier BSc graduate, Dr. Smith will be carrying on our tradition of providing hands-on research experiences for students, giving them the opportunities they need to develop as future researchers themselves. It’s great to see things come full circle.”
Dr. Smith joined the biology department in 2004 as a specialist in molecular plant-cell biology and biochemistry. He has received a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Discovery Grant (2005-2010) for his research, and Canadian Foundation for Innovation Leaders’ Opportunity Fund and Ontario Research Fund/Research Infrastructure grants for his laboratory.
The Ontario government’s Early Researcher Award program is a $51-million, five-year program that aims to help promising, recently-appointed researchers build their research teams of graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and research associates. The ultimate goal of the program is to improve Ontario’s ability to attract and retain the best and brightest research talent in high-priority economic areas.