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Top marks for math prof

When it comes to helping his students overcome their apprehensions about math, Dr. Georg Gunther is a true innovator. The math professor at Memorial's Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook developed an original set of cartoon characters who model math problems and fliers advertising "Math Problems at Low Prices" - which in turn earned him the 3M Teaching Fellow for 2005. [Read more…]

Memorial prof hits the roof of the continent: Scaling new heights

Memorial University professor Dr. T.A. Loeffler holds a Memorial flag at the top of North America’s highest peak on Mount McKinley.

A Memorial University professor reached the summit of North American's highest mountain this past year - a feat accomplished by only a select few climbers in the world. Dr. T. A. Loeffler, an associate professor in the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation, reached the peak of Mount McKinley in Alaska's Denali National Park and Preserve on June 26, 2005.

McKinley is 20,320 feet (6,194 m) above sea level and has a vertical rise greater than Mount Everest, making it the steepest mountain in the world.

"To put that into perspective, it's equivalent in height to about 40 Signal Hills stacked on top of one another," said Dr. Loeffler after her trip. Signal Hill is roughly 530 feet above sea level. Dr. Loeffler was part of an 11-member team that took part in the 32-day expedition, which began June 1. Three instructors from the US-based organization the National Outdoor Leadership School led them up the mountain. The trip cost $10,000 paid out of her own pocket. AppleCore Interactive of St. John's also sponsored the adventure.

Dr. Loeffler joined the expedition after visiting Alaska last year and seeing the huge mountain for the first time. "I wanted to challenge myself both physically and mentally," she said. "I would have loved to be an Olympian if I'd had the talent. Instead, Denali is my Olympics because I do have mountaineering talent; because I wanted to see what happens when I push myself to and beyond all of my preconceived limits." Only 50 per cent of the roughly 1,200 mountaineers who will attempt to scale Mount McKinley this year will actually reach the highest summit. That's because of the harsh climate conditions in that part of the world. Mount McKinley is considered by experts to be the coldest mountain in the world. Temperatures dipped from 30 Celsius at some points during the day to minus 36 Celsius at night and frigid winds whipped up snow to create blinding conditions.

"The terrain is also so steep in places that if you fell it would be catastrophic," said Dr. Loeffler. "There is no room for error when you are traversing certain areas. You have to watch for falling ice or rocks." Dr. Loeffler joined the expedition after visiting Alaska last year and seeing the huge mountain for the first time. "I wanted to challenge myself both physically and mentally," she said. "Denali looked impossible when I first saw her. I've always wanted to be an athlete and train hard for something. I would have loved to be an Olympian if I'd had the talent. Instead, Denali is my Olympics because I do have mountaineering talent; because I wanted to see what happens when I push myself to and beyond all of my preconceived limits." Dr. Loeffler began training for the arduous trip last August, following an intense physical and mental program. She worked out 20-25 hours per week, completing strength and cardio exercises, yoga and step aerobics with a "60-pound backpack that was at least half my weight."

Dr. Loeffler said her team only stopped and rested five days during the 32-day adventure.

Despite the hard work, she said the trip was more exhilarating than exhausting. "One morning we were up at 2 a.m. because we needed to move our gear. The sun was rising at that point, because at this time of the year in Alaska it never gets dark. It was just magical. It was crisp and clear. We were up so high. I was amazed with the scenery."

Dr. Loeffler said her immediate plans include returning to teaching but admits it won't be long before she tackles another adventure. "Maybe scaling Mount Everest or mountains in South America or circumnavigating the province in a sea kayak," she said with a wide smile. "Getting to the peak of Denali was just an amazing experience and I'll never forget it. For now I'm just coming down off the high literally!"

Students amaze Memorial

Scott Butler

In 2004-05 Memorial University again produced a stellar roster of students who were involved in all facets of university and community life. This year's "amazing students" included volunteers with the Winter Carnival, the Victorian Order of Nurses and RealTime Cancer. They were also active student leaders and were involved in everything from the Political Science and Biochemistry societies, to being orientation group leaders to volunteering with the Student Volunteer Bureau.

Memorial students excel at giving back to their communities, being leaders and getting involved in student life. Those traits are what made Scott Butler such an amazing student this past year. The physical education major, who is completing a minor in geography, is a respected student, volunteer and Memorial undergrad. In 2002 Scott captured a bronze medal at the World Kickboxing Championship. Since then he's been a resident assistant with Barnes House in Paton College (2002-2003). This year he took part in the Leader Forum and was involved with MUN Toastmasters. He's also an active member of the Canadian Armed Forces (Army Reserve infantry officer). And, as a resident of Barnes, and member of the Barnes House Mother Truckers, Scott assisted his team repeat their championship performance in the second annual Celebrate Memorial charity truck pull. "He's a great example of the high-calibre students we have here at Memorial," said Dr. Lilly Walker, dean of Student Affairs and Services. "Scott is ambitious, smart and has taken an active role in our community and at Memorial."

Becoming inspired highlights:

Memorial professor makes significant archaeological discovery

The crew of the Waterfront Archaeology Project were hard at work in Clears Cove this past summer. (L-R) Peter Simms, Mathilde St. Arnaud, Dr. Peter Pope and Janine Williams.

During the summer of 2005, Dr. Peter Pope, a professor of anthropology, unearthed a significant archaeological discovery.

He found evidence of what he believed was the link between the migratory fishery and permanent residents in Clears Cove on the southern shore.

Doing exploratory digging in a boggy area, Dr. Pope and his team found the wall of a cook room. After more excavation, they also found the floor, well preserved by a 15 centimeter layer of wood chips. Dr. Pope reasoned that the cook room, which dates back to the 17th century, survived so well because it was sitting on peat. When the structure had surpassed its usage, it must have been knocked down and then covered over with wood chips. The wood chips soaked up the water from the bog and kept the wood moist. If kept moist and cold, wood preserves very well, he pointed out.

What Dr. Pope found most exciting about this find at Clears Cove is that they now have a site where it is going to be possible to look closely at the transition from migratory fishery to permanent residency.

Prof strikes gold

Good things come in small, shiny packages or so archaeologists found while excavating the Colony of Avalon site in Ferryland. Dr. James Tuck, head of the Archaeology Unit in the Department of Anthropology and archaeologist Barry Gaulton announced on Jan. 25 that a set of three enameled gold seals discovered in the summer of 2003 were the personal property of Sir David Kirke, conqueror of French Canada and Governor of Newfoundland from 1637 until 1651.

Kirke was commissioned by King Charles I to attack the French in Canadian 1627 when war broke out. He made two successful expeditions, resulting in the surrender of Quebec in 1629. Later, he moved to Newfoundland and took up residence at Ferryland with his wife, Sara, and their family from 1638 until 1651 when he was recalled to London to account for his activities during the early years of the Commonwealth. He died in London in 1654, but Sara remained an active entrepreneur at Ferryland until the early 1680s. His surviving sons died as a result of imprisonment by the French at Placentia during the winter of 1696-97.

Alumni honoured with Tribute Awards

(L-R) Alumni President Gary Peddle, Kevin Smith, Donna Roberts (on behalf of Robert Roberts), Leonard Williams, Krysta Rudofsky, William Dixon, and ATA Chair and alumni vice president Lynda Inkpen

An internationally renowned cardiac specialist, a young and promising producer and television host, a leading educator, an extraordinary community volunteer and a dedicated advocate of Memorial University - those were the five Memorial alumni named by their peers for special recognition at this year's Alumni Tribute Awards on Oct. 21 in St. John's.

The awards program enables the more than 52,000 Memorial alumni to recognize five of their peers each year for outstanding successes. A jury of the association selects the recipients from among the alumni nominated. This year's recipients were: Dr. Robert Roberts (B.Sc.'61), an internationally renowned cardiac specialist, for Lifetime Achievement, the top honour that alumni can confer on one of their own; Television personality Krysta Rudofsky (BA'00) for the Horizon Award for lifetime achievement under age 35; Educator and public servant Dr. Leonard Williams (BA '66, BA(Ed.)'66) for Outstanding Professional Achievement; former Baie Verte mayor William Dixon (BA(Ed.)'62; BA '73) for Outstanding Community Service: and Kevin Smith (BA '71, BA(Ed.)'71, M.Ed.'76), former director of Memorial's Office of Alumni Affairs and Development, for the J.D. Eaton Award for volunteer service to the university.