President's Report 2006 | Research

A framework for new research collaborations

Dave Miller, director of CREAIT

The CREAIT Network is doing its part to maximize the impact of Memorial’s institutional investments in research.

David Miller, director of CREAIT (Core Research Equipment and Instrument Training), said that the network enhances researchers’ access to major research equipment by operating thematic clusters of multi-user equipment. The network is designed to encourage interdisciplinary research proposals and promote new collaborative research and training opportunities/partnerships between faculty and students, the community, and elsewhere.

Currently, CREAIT is made up of five components: the Centre for Chemical Analysis, Research and Training (C-CART); the Microanalysis Facility – Inco Innovation Centre (MAF-IIC); the Computation, Simulation and Landmark Visualization Facility (CSLV); the Genomics and Proteomics Facility, which is housed in the Earth Sciences building; and the Marine Environment Research Laboratory for Intelligent vehicles (MERLIN), which will be operational in the spring of 2006. Mr. Miller says other thematic satellites may be added as need and opportunity warrant.

“The CREAIT Network is unique in Canada, having a centralized administration for all these research facilities to help avoid unnecessary duplication,” said Mr. Miller.

The network supports about $32 million in research tools and occupies 12 labs which are spread over four buildings across the St. John’s campus.

CREAIT staff is responsible for operating and maintaining multi-user research instruments and equipment, and instructing faculty and students on their use for subsequent “hands-on” access. Each satellite has its own scientific user committee, comprised of primary investigators and major faculty users, ensuring that each satellite is actively guided by researchers who not only know the infrastructure, but who conceptualize and execute the research for which it is acquired.

“The idea for CREAIT came from the C-CART model, which provides research support and training, through chemical analysis, to undergraduate and graduate students, university researchers, government agencies and private sector R&D companies,” said Mr. Miller. “As well, the need to expand research and to increase the number of graduate students and new faculty at the institution was identified in our strategic plan.

“With the advent of new facilities such as the Inco Innovation Centre, and new funding initiatives such as the Atlantic Innovation Fund, the Canada Research Chairs program and the Canada Foundation for Innovation we have unparalleled opportunities for the renewal and expansion of research infrastructure and overall growth of research, especially in strategic sectors,” Mr. Miller said. “However, this is occurring at a time of faculty renewal, intense competition for new personnel, and general budgetary constraint. The network offers a unique advantage to Memorial University in national granting competitions by providing a stable, dedicated and centrally supported network for major research equipment.”