About the Institute

IECS provides world-class infrastructure and research expertise in environmental sciences for faculty, students and staff enabling individuals and multidisciplinary groups to conduct cutting-edge scientific research to advance the provincial, national and international research agendas. IECS is composed of three separate research units (Cellular Impacts Facility, Integrated Numeric Analysis Facility, Stressor Quantification Facility), and two analytical preparation units (Advanced Sample-Holding Facility, Stressor Isolation Facility). IECS is also dedicated to foster provincial, national and international research initiatives and improve collaborations among universities, government and industry.

IECS is a world-class research facility build on two decades of research by environmental scientists at University of Regina. The Institute is unique to the Canadian Prairies, and is a member of an elite series of environmental institutes in Canada (e.g., Canadian Rivers Institute at UNB, NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, Environmental Earth Sciences Facility at UBC, Biogeoscience Institute at University of Calgary, Institute for Watershed Science at Trent University, Institute of Environmental Sciences at UQAM). The Environmental Research Scientist position is particularly innovative, as it mandates to both conduct independent research and facilitate research of others through collaboration, education and technical support.

The Research and Innovation Centre, University of Regina, houses the IECS in dedicated space on the 5th floor. Credit: Don Hall

Purpose

IECS represents a unique research endeavour at the University of Regina to provide infrastructure and research expertise for faculty, students and staff across campus and advance the provincial, national and international research agendas. IECS is composed of three separate research units (Integrated Numeric Analysis Facility, Cellular Impacts Facility, Stressor Quantification Facility), and two analytical preparation units (Stressor Isolation Facility, Advanced Sample-Holding Facility). Initially, IECS focuses on broadly-defined environmental issues related to sustainable use of aquatic resources, in particular the investigation of the effects of pollution with organic nitrogen compounds and other biomolecules in inland waters. Research IECS includes ecosystem experiments, decade-scale environmental monitoring, diverse laboratory and field experiments, paleolimnological analyses and related analytical studies at molecular, cellular, organismal and system levels.

Rationale

Comprehensive institutions such as the University of Regina provide extensive infrastructure to support research endeavours but often lack resources to compete at a global level. To address this issue, IECS was developed to provide world-class instrumentation, scientific expertise and training capabilities to enable individual researchers and multidisciplinary groups to submit highly competitive funding proposals and conduct cutting-edge scientific research at comparatively low cost. Furthermore, IECS is designed to attract outside researchers to work and collaborate with University of Regina faculty, thereby raising the reputation and research profile of the University. Finally, IECS will allow the University of Regina to facilitate and host national research networks, centres and scientific initiatives.

Goals

IECS provides up-to-date, world-class infrastructure and scientific expertise in environmental research to attract and retain researchers of national and international calibre to work in Saskatchewan. Researchers associated with IECS are dedicated to

  • attract and train outstanding domestic and international graduate students, who will promote IECS to future employers, and
  • initiate and support multidisciplinary funding initiatives that build on the unique IECS infrastructure.

IECS also provides mechanisms to host provincial, national and international research initiatives and improve collaborations among universities, government and industry.

Funding

IECS was established through a $7 M grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Government of Saskatchewan, as well as financial support from the University of Regina, and instrument manufacturers. Additional funding for infrastructure was provided from the federal Knowledge Infrastructure Program ($3 M). Initial operating funds of $640,000 were provided from the Canada Foundation for Innovation. Research infrastructure is being maintained by application of instrument- and analysis-specific user fees in a 3-tiered structure:

  • University of Regina scientist
  • external academic user
  • government/industry

Physical resource

IECS is a 6500 sq. ft centre located on the 5th floor of the Research and Innovation Centre (RIC) and is composed of three separate research units and two supporting preparatory facilities. The Stressor Quantification Facility provides instrumentation and expertise to quantify the presence of chemical and biochemical compounds in environmental samples. The Cellular Impacts Facility supports molecular, cellular and system research into the effects of environmental conditions on biological systems. Finally, the Integrated Numeric Analysis Facility provides advances computational infrastructure to analyze large and complex data sets produced by IECS scientists. These units are supported by the Stressor Isolation Facility and the Advanced Sample-Holding Facility which allow complex environmental samples to be prepared and stored for subsequent analyses. Major equipment initially housed at IECS includes a Waters LC/MS/MS for proteomic analyses, a Beckman Coulter cell sorter – flow cytometry system, several stable isotope spectrometers (Thermo Finnigan IRMS, Picarro CRDS), a Zeiss microscope suite and a series of water chemistry analysers.