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MUN – Fostering innovation: More than $1.6-million provincial investment to strengthen research expertise

by ahnationtalk on November 30, 2020333 Views

The provincial government is investing more than $1.6 million in funding for eight projects to celebrate Research Week.

The projects are leveraging more than $2 million from national and other sources and are led by researchers based in the faculties of Humanities and Social Sciences, Medicine, Science and at the Marine Institute.

The announcement was made by Andrew Parsons, minister of Industry, Energy and Technology, on Nov. 25.

‘Brilliant projects’

“Memorial University is a hub for unique research and development activity in our province,” said Minister Parsons.

“The calibre of expertise in Newfoundland and Labrador is known throughout the world and we are so pleased to support some of these brilliant projects – and wish all participants of Research Week 2020 success.”

Research Week runs Nov. 23-27. A full schedule of virtual events can be found here.

The provincial release notes that Newfoundland and Labrador is producing world-class research across many disciplines and growing the next generation of researchers in the process.

They are working to help us better understand our world and its many challenges and opportunities.

Research and knowledge development across all sectors is critical for diversifying and growing our economy.

The provincial government investments announced Nov. 25 include the below.

  • $456,429 for a project led by Dr. Christopher Kozak, professor, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, that will contribute to reduced dependence on fossil fuels and petrochemicals and minimizing waste and pollution. The use of this instrument – the MALDI-TOF Mass Spectrometer – for the planned research will create a local base of highly trained specialists in analytical and green chemistry with a particular focus on renewable and non-renewable resources and environmental monitoring. Dr. Christina Bottaro, professor, Chemistry, is co-applicant on this project, which includes Dr. Francesca Kerton, professor, Chemistry, and many other collaborators.
  • $305,000 for a project led by Dr. Charles Mather, professor, Department of Geography, and Dr. Barbara Neis, John Lewis Paton Distinguished University Professor, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. In collaboration with a larger team of researchers, this project will develop peer-reviewed risk assessment models for the province’s aquaculture sector with a focus on mass mortality events and investigate occupational health and safety and other sustainability issues. The project will also address a number of questions relating to wild capture fisheries, including recruitment and retention of labour in fish processing, market access in a pandemic and sustainable management of emerging fisheries. The larger team includes Drs. Ratana Chuenpagdee, University Research Professor, Geography; Gerald Singh, senior research and teaching fellow in resource sustainability and coastal community development, Geography; Nicole Power, professor, Sociology; Paul Foley, associate professor, Grenfell Campus; and Erin Carruthers, Fish, Food and Allied Workers-Unifor fisheries scientist.
  • $214,940 for a project led by Dr. Michelle Ploughman, Canada Research Chair in Rehabilitation, Neuroplasticity and Brain Recovery, Faculty of Medicine, that focuses on two of Canada’s most disabling conditions: stroke and multiple sclerosis. The project supports the equipment that will enable Memorial University’s first state-of-the art Functional Brain Imaging and Assessment Suite. It will increase the ability to detect and identify the mechanisms by which rehabilitation treatments enhance plasticity and recovery in people with serious neurological conditions.
  • $162,781 for a research project led by Dr. Lisa Rankin, Memorial University Research Chair, Northern Indigenous Community Archaeology, Department of Archaeology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, that will be the first in Canada for collecting and analyzing data on the impacts of climate change on all aspects of the archeological record over a period of thousands of years. Images will encapsulate the impact of climate change on archaeological sites that are resulting in massive heritage loss, and the research will assist in implementing data-driven solutions for mitigating these impacts. Co-applicants are Drs. Meghan Burchell, associate professor, and Catherine Losier, assistant professor, Archaeology.
  • $172,746, for a project led by Dr. Scott Harding, Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science, to acquire a comprehensive lab animal monitoring system. The system, to be housed in the new Animal Resource Centre at Memorial University, will allow for precision monitoring of small but impactful changes in responses to various experimental conditions. This project aims to determine the impact of nutritional, pharmacological and psychological interventions on changes in an animals’ physiology and behaviour that relate to healthy aging and chronic disease prevention. Co-applicants are Drs. Christina Thorpe, associate professor, Psychology; and John Weber, associate professor, Pharmacy.
  • $150,000 for a research project led by Dr. Craig Moore, Canada Research Chair in Neuroscience and Brain Repair, Division of BioMedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine. Dr. Rob Brown, associate professor, Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science, is co-applicant for the project, which will support the purchase of equipment to further study metabolic dysfunction in cell models of metabolic, neurological and cardiovascular diseases. This piece of equipment will provide the researcher, along with various collaborators, with the opportunity for increased knowledge of the biology of human cells and assist in the manipulation and treatment of various disease states. Dr. Moore is collaborating with Dr. Mark Berry, professor and head, Biochemistry, as part of his research.
  • $92,500 for a research project led by Drs. Kurt Gamperl, professor; and Dr. Javier Santander, associate professor, Department of Ocean Sciences, Faculty of Science; and Andrew Swanson, Cooke Aquaculture Inc., that will address the challenges faced by Atlantic salmon at cold temperatures. This project will look at many of the gaps in knowledge related to the conditions that Newfoundland and Labrador and Atlantic Canadian salmon experience in winter. This will greatly influence future development of aquaculture sites, and site management, in our region.
  • $65,700 for a research project led by Dr. Shannon Bayse, research scientist, Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Resources, Marine Institute, that will develop and document the necessary rigging specifications to successfully apply semi-pelagic trawling to contemporary groundfish trawl designs targeting redfish in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Collaborators include F/V Lisa M, the Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation and Hampidjan Canada.

‘Strong testament’

“Memorial University researchers are internationally respected for their innovative, high-impact research that’s helping save lives, address industry challenges and provide greater insight to our world,” said Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research).

“This investment is a strong testament to the work of our talented researchers and their teams, and will further position Memorial as a global leader for leading-edge research.”

Jeff Green is manager of communications in the Office of the Vice-President (Research). He can be reached at


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