PCIGR was pleased to host the Canadian Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, for a tour of our nUBC facility on September 8, 2017. The Minister was on campus on behalf of the Minister of Science, Kirsty Duncan, to announce more than $42 million in funding to support fundamental research at UBC through the NSERC 2017 competition for the Discovery Grants program, scholarships, and fellowships. CFI and BC-KDF grants supported the construction of the PCIGR laboratory facilities and a recent NSERC RTI grant contributes to its ongoing operations.
The nUBC laboratory is classified as a clean room, a very specialized environment designed to reduce contamination. Because contamination can be brought in by people and their clothing, everyone entering the lab was required follow a strict gowning protocol.
The tour was led by PCIGR Director, Professor Dominique Weis, with assistance from her unique team of research staff and graduate students. The Honourable Minister was accompanied by Professor Gail Murphy, UBC Vice-President Research, and Enikö Megyeri-Lawless, NSERC Director of Research Grants, Engineering and Life Sciences. Many of the features and instruments in the lab were showcased, with a focus on the Nu1700 high-resolution multi-collector ICP-MS. The first of its kind in Canada, this instrument is particularly special due to its large size and specialized components, including a >4-tonne magnet. Of particular interest to the Minister, it is the same type of instrument used in the military to analyze sources of uranium (depleted or enriched).
Another highlight of the tour was the RESOlution M-50-LR, operated by PCIGR research associate, Dr. Marghaleray Amini. The instrument is a laser ablation system, coupled to an ICP-MS, which can ablate a wide range of geological and environmental materials at high resolution and low absorbance. Near the end of the tour, PCIGR graduate students Rhy McMillan, Kate Smith, Jamie Cutts, and Anais Fourny, and postdoctoral fellow Miling Li, had the opportunity to briefly explain their research to the Minister. Their projects speak to the great diversity of research that is enabled by PCIGR’s instruments and staff.
In conclusion, the tour was a great opportunity to showcase why PCIGR is a world-class geochemical facility. Thank you to the Minister and to everyone who joined us! For a detailed photographic report of the event from UBC photographer Paul Joseph, see the UBC Public Affairs album.