The University of Calgary is about to buy the biggest and fastest computer it has ever had, set up nine earthquake monitoring systems across Alberta, and monitor rats to decide what causes obesity.

All this was made possible by the $2.2 million awarded to six university researchers from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation. In total, the foundation gave away $45.5 million to support 44 institutions across Canada.

“We are really lucky to be in Canada, where we have gained the ability to do modern research,” said Chang-Chun Ling, who received $350,984 to study the link between carbohydrates and cancer and infectious diseases.

“We are all really excited and grateful.”

His sentiments are echoed by Gordon Chua, who does large-scale analysis of genes to determine their function. The funds enabled him to buy DNA micro-ray technologies that include a fluorescent probe and laser scanner that measure the expression of all the genes in a human cell simultaneously.

“I am ecstatic and very relieved because this equipment is essential for my research program,” Chua said. The university will also be building him a new, state-of-the-art lab.

John Chen plans to buy the university’s largest and fastest computer to simulate the performance of oil and gas fields, something that he has been researching for the past 20 years. The computer he will buy in the next couple of months will be up to 100 times faster in solving problems than the computers he works with today.

“My research is fundamental for the energy demand in this world,” Chen said. He hopes to minimize the cost for oil and the environmental impact. “We’re going to use this computer to understand what’s going on underground.”

Sergei Noskov, who studies molecular models for protein-drug interactions in cell membranes, will also be purchasing a cluster of computers for computer simulation.

David Eaton, head of the department of geoscience, received $323,236. He plans to set up nine earthquake monitoring systems across Alberta. He says his students’ thesis work is dependant on these types of grants.

“It’s a huge opportunity for us,” said Catrina Alexandrakis, a PhD geophysics student. “These funds mean I can really improve the quality of my thesis and my research.”

Prasanth Chelikani also received funds for his research on obesity.

The money awarded came from the Leaders Opportunity Fund, which is designed to help attract and retain researchers in Canada.