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Chemistry professor wins prestigious award

Dr. Graham Bodwell

A professor in the Department of Chemistry was recognized for his outstanding research in the field of organic chemistry this year. Dr. Graham Bodwell was awarded the Merck-Frosst Centre for Therapeutic Research Award for 2005. [Read more…]

Advanced visualization laboratory opens

At the launch of Memorial’s new Landmark Graphics Visualization Laboratory, visitors use special glasses to look at the 4D images generated in the lab.

What would it be like to walk around an oil reservoir that's hundreds of metres below the sea floor, or peer into a human heart or travel through a blood vessel? Imagine being able to fold a DNA molecule to find out how genetic defects work. Researchers at Memorial are hoping that a new laboratory will help them do just that. The new Landmark Graphics Visualization Laboratory officially opened in April 2005. [Read more…]

Report outlines strategy for Innu education

During the winter months of 2003, while the Innu of Labrador were in negotiations for self-government with the federal and provincial governments, a team of researchers from Memorial University were invited by the Innu to conduct a wide-scale assessment of the educational needs of their children. The report, An Educational Profile of the Learning Needs of Innu Youth, was released in the fall of 2004. [Read more…]

Professor's patented technology puts m-commerce on the map

Dr. Jim Wyse, a professor at the Faculty of Business Administration.

After countless hours of experimenting with logarithms and large numbers, Dr. Jim Wyse, a professor at Memorial's Faculty of Business Administration, got a new favourite number this past year: 6,792,421 to be exact. That's the number the United States Patent Office assigned to his "location-aware" method of retrieving location-qualified information. For almost five years, Dr. Wyse worked on software that addresses an important speed of service issue that arises in mobile commerce (m-commerce) and other applications that provide location-based services. With the help of Memorial's Genesis Group, his idea has been patented and was marketed to large database providers such as Oracle and Microsoft.

"Internet search engines are good at providing information that matches specific words and phrases," explained Dr. Wyse, "but they're not good at answering proximity questions like 'what's nearest' or 'what's closest' which are critically important in many m-commerce applications. For example, if you want to know where the nearest hospital is, it takes quite a long time to determine that with existing Internet-based search engines, even if the hospital is right around the corner."

One of the challenges of mobile technology is finding a method to search large databases of information in a fast, effective manner. "If you're mobile and you change position, the old answer to what's nearest to you isn't valid anymore," said Dr. Wyse. "You need to have your computer or handheld device ask the question again. If you need to find the nearest medical facility then that question has to be asked every time you move. The query is being asked continuously so you can see how retrieval time is much more important in the mobile world than it is in a normal Internet search. When you have a lot of users changing positions, you place a tremendous burden on servers. Evaluation trials show that the technology that has been developed substantially reduces that burden."

Dr. Wyse's patented technology works with another system he created several years ago that presents users with fast, reliable information about what is around them. Using a radar-like screen called i-DAR, users can query what businesses, services, etc. are close to them and then link to their various Web pages. For example, travellers could ask their computers to display the nearest inns or hotels. From there, they could select a particular location, click on the Web link and find out more about the establishment. Web-based facilities like iDAR have recently become available to Internet users and these facilities will be able to provide improved service to their users by incorporating the patented technology.


Librarians roaming corridors of university: Information at their fingertips

This past year the Queen Elizabeth II Library found an innovative way to extend its services beyond its walls. In February, library staff roamed the Faculties of Business and Engineering and the Departments of Earth Sciences and Computer Science. The new initiative was partially a response to the growing popularity of wireless technology, but also an opportunity to bring library services closer to the people who need them most - faculty and students. "We have seen a shift in publishing formats for many of our resources from print to electronic," said information services librarian Lisa Wilson. "Most of our article indexes and many journal indexes are now all available online. Despite the growth in wireless technology and the availability of virtual resources, we are still seeing a demand to help people navigate what can often be a technologically complex environment."

The library wanted a greater presence within the various departments and schools where they could work with the students while they are involved in their research. "It is our hope that the roaming librarians will make it convenient for students, help increase the library's visibility and highlight our commitment to promoting and fostering sound academic research skills," added Ms Wilson.

Research funding increases

Memorial University continued to increase its student enrolment, enhance its services to students and infrastructure for teaching and research and expand its research and teaching in the past year. In fact, in recent years the university has doubled its external research funding from $37 million in 1999-2000 to $74 million in 2003-2004 - all under the direct leadership and guidance of Dr. Axel Meisen, who has helped steer the university to new opportunities for growth and expansion and broaden the university's horizons. In addition to the Oil and Gas Development Partnership, an initiative aimed at making Memorial an international centre of research and teaching related to oil and gas, the university has embarked on a concerted international student recruitment campaign and has completely revamped its European campus in Harlow, England. This year the university opened the Petro-Canada Hall, a new high-tech rehearsal and performance space in the Music Building. The Inco Innovation Centre, a state-of-the-art research, teaching and innovation facility, was officially opened in September 2005.

Memorial profs named research chairs

Three Memorial University professors became Canada Research Chairs (CRC) this past year. Dr. Duncan McIlroy was awarded the Canada Research Chair in Petroleum Geoscience/ Geotechnology, Dr. Qiying Chen became the Canada Research Chair in Photonics and Dr. Susan Ziegler was awarded the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Science.

Dr. McIlroy's research will lead to a more complete understanding of the role of organisms in controlling the porosity and permeability of sandstone reservoir intervals. He will also explore the development of fuel and energy technology. Dr. McIlroy comes to Canada from the United Kingdom.

Dr. Chen's research involves the development of novel applications in information technology and biophotonics and the development of ultrafast nano-photonics with ultrafast technology and nanotechnology.

Meantime, Dr. Ziegler will look at the impacts of environment change on aquatic ecosystems, while exploring how changes in land use, climate, solar radiation, and nutrient enrichment, which represent major forms of environmental change, impact aquatic ecosystems globally. Her research will impact both the fields of aquatic biogeochemistry and global climate change by explaining how environmental impacts within watersheds alter both an ecologically and globally significant carbon reservoir.

Memorial continues partnership with Ireland

Dr. Trevor Bell

The inaugural Coracle Irish-Newfoundland Fellowships were awarded to Dr. Trevor Bell, Department of Geography, Memorial University, and Walter Kirwan of the Ireland-Newfoundland Partnership. The Coracle initiative will enable eminent practitioners and academics from Ireland to work with their counterparts in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The focus of Dr. Bell's fellowship will be sea level history and archaeology, specifically submerged archaeological landscapes around Ireland and Newfoundland. Dr. Bell will study the techniques used by Irish researchers to map submerged landscapes, evaluate their potential for near-shore Newfoundland, and compare prehistoric settlement models for coastal environments in Newfoundland and Ireland.

The focus of Mr. Kirwan's fellowship will be to increase already well-established connections between Newfoundland and Ireland. Mr. Kirwan intends to spend a significant amount of time at Memorial University and has offered to contribute to university-level courses in the Department of Political Science and deliver guest lectures on subjects ranging from European affairs, Northern Ireland affairs, diplomacy and conflict resolution, and economic policy.

A financial subsidy of up to $10,000 is provided to each fellow to cover transportation and subsistence expenses.

To learn more about Memorial's Coracle Web site is at www.mun.ca/coracle.php.

Fish expert chosen to head up MI

Glenn Blackwood

Well-known fisheries advocate and marine biologist Glenn Blackwood became the new executive director of the Fisheries and Marine Institute (MI) on Sept. 1. He replaced Leslie O'Reilly who stepped down as executive director after 13 years.

Mr. Blackwood will report directly to the vice-president (academic) and work collaboratively with other members of the senior administration of the university in promoting student services, fisheries and marine-related training, education, applied research and technology transfer. He will oversee all operations of the Marine Institute including strategic planning, student support, program development, industrial liaison, government relations, financial planning and human resource development. Mr. Blackwood will represent the Marine Institute on a variety on provincial, national and international organizations.

Most recently, Mr. Blackwood worked as director of the Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Resources within the School of Fisheries at the Marine Institute where he was responsible for MI's research and development activities related to harvesting technologies conservation and selectivity, gear technology and resource management.

Mr. Blackwood has been actively involved in the fishery for more than 20 years in the areas of fisheries research and development and has international experience in resource management.

British television crew draws on Memorial's ice expertise

Dr. Claude Daley examining ice blocks as part of a documentary about the Titanic.

The legacy of the Titanic once again drew media attention to this province, this time from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

Cluny South, a BBC producer of The Titanic Iceberg, spent nearly four weeks in Newfoundland and Labrador with cameraperson Justin Maguire. The Titanic Iceberg traced back the origins of this famous iceberg, recreating its life from Greenland's ice cap to its end, melting in the North Atlantic.

Dr. Claude Daley, professor and chair of Ocean and Naval Architectural Engineering at Memorial, was interviewed by the BBC crew. They were interested in Dr. Daley's description of what would have happened to the ice and to the hull when the Titanic struck the iceberg and to explain in general terms how icebergs get to the Grand Banks. They also had Dr. Daley recreate a high school science fair project his daughter did in Grade 11 that examined the changing shapes and instabilities of melting ice blocks (mimicking icebergs). The crew filmed a reconstruction of those tests, with a Plexiglas tank.

Filming took place in the S.J. Carew Building in the Fluids Laboratory, the Thermo Laboratory and in the welding shop in that lab where they reconstructed ice block tests.

It's expected the story will air on BBC2 on a show called Natural World and on Discovery Channel sometime during the winter of 2005-06.

Pilot study to look at ways to prevent complications from kidney disease

A national pilot study on moderately advanced kidney disease and its associated heart and blood vessel problems was rolled out in March. The study was co-ordinated at Memorial University. The Canadian Collaborative Group for the Prevention of Renal and Cardiovascular Endpoints Trial (CanPREVENT) involved five centres across Canada, with St. John's as the co-ordinating centre. The principal investigator was nephrologist Dr. Brendan Barrett, professor of Medicine at Memorial.

The CanPREVENT study compared usual care with a nurse-coordinated multi-risk factor intervention clinic involving a nephrologist, and applying known treatments to reduce or delay the onset of advanced kidney disease and heart and blood vessel problems such as heart attack, stroke and death. The study also addressed issues of costs associated with care and illness.

The pilot study was funded by $1.25 million from the CIHR New Emerging Teams Chronic Disease Management Program.

Company makes waves with Coast Guard

Virtual Marine Technologies (VMT) - a partner with the GENESIS Group in technology transfer - signed a deal this past year with the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary (Pacific) in British Columbia to develop training tools for their high-speed rescue vehicles. VMT - which is headed up by Randy Billard, a M. Eng. candidate in Memorial's Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Dr. Brian Veitch, a faculty member in engineering. They started the company to provide high-quality marine simulators customized to meet their clients' niche training and research needs. St. John's-based VMT's latest project involves products for both desktop and e-learning platforms which should be ready by mid-2006.

New Ornamental Plants for Atlantic Gardeners.

Watch for some new offerings at Atlantic Canadian garden centres in the coming years. The MUN Botanical Garden's Plant Atlantic program, funded by the Atlantic Innovation Fund, released Starbright mock orange (Philadelphus Starbright) into the trade for initial commercial propagation this year. Starbright is a hybrid of Dr. Wilf Nicholls, director of the Botanical Garden, who crossed an Asian species with a drought-hardy North American species.

Over the next few years other hybrids and selections will be making the trip from Botanical Garden to industry. Look for heirloom plants from the Garden's heritage collections, Rock Stars from the rock garden and new hybrids from Todd Boland, the Garden's new plant breeder and developer.

Plant Atlantic is in partnership with Nova Scotia Agricultural College and two commercial nurseries. It seeks to help the development of more home-based production of ornamentals here in Atlantic Canada through the release of plants that are unavailable elsewhere.

Exploring New Methods of Sensor Management for the Canadian Forces

C-CORE, in conjunction with Defense Research and Development Canada - Valcartier and the University of Calgary has undertaken a study in applying holonic control to military sensor management applications. The military typically operate in demanding, dynamic, semi-structured and large-scale environments. The nature of this operating environment makes it difficult to detect, identify and monitor all targets in the volume of interest. A key challenge facing the military is how to make the most effective use of these sensing resources when they are distributed across a large area.

Military platforms, such as ships, planes and helicopters, are generally outfitted with surveillance sensors that provide a wealth of data when properly managed. Historically, interpreting this data and managing the sensors was done manually, however, this has become difficult, if not impossible, due to the complexity of modern sensory systems. This work, which is funded by DRDC, the research and development arm of the Canadian Department of National Defense, will focus on optimizing the process of sensor management tactical surveillance application.

Sensor management determines the utilization of the sensing resources in a manner that improves the quality of the acquired data. While sensor management is not necessary part of the fusion process, it aids it by improving the quality of data provided at its input, leading ultimately, to an improvement situation.