UBC Psychology faculty receive national funding to support their research

Dr. Luke Clark, Dr. Hee Yeon Im, and Dr. Catherine Winstanley (L-R)

UBC Psychology faculty members received funding to support their research from the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Discovery Grant Program. The NSERC is investing almost $514 million in science and engineering in Canada and 139 UBC-led projects received more than $34.8 million over five years.

This includes:

  • 121 projects supported by Discovery Grants (with 24 of these receiving additional support from Discovery Launch Supplements);
  • Three projects awarded funding through the Subatomic Physics Discovery Grants program; One project awarded funding through the Discovery Horizons Grant program; and
  • 14 projects awarded Research Tools and Instruments grants.

NSERC’s Discovery Grants are awarded to researchers in a variety of disciplines with long-term goals and to early-career researchers with strong potential to become international leaders in their field.

“I’m excited and honoured to receive this NSERC Discovery Grant. This funding will allow my lab to extend our research on the basic mechanisms of gambling and other online digital behaviours like video gaming, where we will examine the roles of reward uncertainty and the immersiveness of the activity. The funding will support trainees in my lab, and will allow us to develop new procedures for data collection in a fast-moving field.”
Professor, UBC Psychology

The following UBC Psychology researchers received funding in 2023

Dr. Luke Clark
Project: Reward uncertainty and immersion as drivers of excessive consumption
Amount: $295,000

Dr. Clark is a Professor in the Department of Psychology and Director of the Centre for Gambling Research at UBC. His current research focuses on three main questions:

  1. How do the psychological features of specific gambling products (e.g. modern slot machines) relate to gambling harms?
  2. How do biological and psychological traits create vulnerability to disordered gambling?
  3. How can behavioural data from online gambling be used to identify at-risk individuals?

Dr. Hee Yeon Im
Project: Multimodal neuroimaging research on ensemble coding of visual scenes: neural dynamics and functions in perception and visually-guided actions
Amount: $220,000. Dr. Im also received funding from the New Frontiers in Research Fund and a $125,000 Discovery Launch Supplement 

Dr. Im’s research aims to understand both temporal (“when?”) and spatial (“where?”) characteristics of brain functions that allow us to interact with the world. Her research focuses on three big questions, including:

  1. How does the sensory system extract coherent, goal-relevant information from the world for a few fleeting moments and share it with the motor system immediately and continuously?
  2. How does the motor system influence the way the sensory system perceives the world?
  3. How do perception-action links emerge and change with typical and atypical brain development?

To address these questions, her research uses MEG (magnetoencephalography), functional MRI, and psychophysics in adults and children with typical development, as well as those with brain disorders. Learn more

Dr. Catharine Winstanley
Project: The effects of arousal and noradrenergic signaling on decision making
Amount: $255,000

Dr. Winstanley investigates the brain mechanisms involved in impulse control. Defects in higher-order cognitive functions such as impulse control are involved in gambling and substance abuse problems. Dr. Winstanley’s research has also shown that traumatic brain injury and Parkinson’s disease can also result in cognitive dysfunction. By using a multidisciplinary approach combining molecular biology techniques with pharmacological approaches and behavioural testing, Winstanley’s Laboratory of Molecular and Behavioural Neuroscience has uncovered some of the factors and mechanisms underlying impulse control. Learn more

Congratulations to our faculty who received this funding to advance their research!