President's Report 2007

Research Highlights

Researcher received award

Dr. John H. McLean, professor of anatomy and neuroscience at Memorial, received the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Synapse Award - Individual Researcher last year for his work promoting health research among Canada's high school students. Dr. McLean is the first recipient of the $5,000 award which is chosen by the members of the CIHR Youth Outreach Advisory Board.

Province commits to innovation

The provincial government revealed its new innovation strategy this past year. Through Innovation Newfoundland and Labrador: A Blueprint for Prosperity, the provincial government has earmarked $20 million over the next four years for programs that will help turn innovative ideas into reality. Dr. Christopher Loomis, vice-president (research), called the blueprint an important document that connects the province's and the university's goals to grow research and to create a more knowledge-based economy.

Attention multiplying for mathematics researcher's work

Local and national media attention is adding up to a lot of interest in a Memorial Math researcher's new book launched last winter. Dr. Sherry Mantyka, director of the Mathematics Learning Centre, wrote The Math Plague to help students, parents and teachers improve math learning. In January, 2007 Dr. Mantyka gave CBC Radio-One producer Heather Barrett an "extreme mathover." Ms. Barrett documented her journey and the issues surrounding math education on CBC Radio's The Current on radio.

Professor receives highest academic accolade in Canada

Dr. Ronald Rompkey, a professor in the department of English, was elected a fellow in the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) considered the highest academic accolade in the country. Dr. Rompkey is among 82 new fellows chosen this year and only the eighth Memorial faculty member ever to achieve this honour. The RSC elects members from all branches of learning who have achieved national and international recognition by publishing learned works or original research in the arts, humanities and sciences. Founded in 1882, the RSC currently has a membership of about 1,800 fellows.

Global network fights diabetes

Diabetes researchers at Memorial's Faculty of Medicine have joined a global network of experts and specialized laboratories to understand - and hopefully prevent -type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes. Newfoundland and Labrador has one of the highest incidences of type 1 diabetes in the world, making it a particularly valuable population to study. There are 18 diabetes research centres in the type 1 Diabetes TrialNet consortium. At Memorial, Dr. Leigh Anne Newhook is the principal investigator for TrialNet, working with colleagues at the Janeway Child Health Centre and School of Medicine.

ACEnet part of groundbreaking network

Memorial University is building a super computing network, as part of ACEnet, Atlantic Canada's Computational Excellence Network. Through an investment of half-a-million dollars from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), ACEnet will join a consortium of high performance computing networks (HPC) from across the country. The network will benefit the entire spectrum of research in Canada - everything from health sciences to engineering to natural, social and human sciences.ACEnet is made up of Memorial University of Newfoundland, Saint Mary's University, University of New Brunswick, St. Francis Xavier University, Dalhousie University, Mount Allison University, Cape Breton University, Acadia University and the University of Prince Edward Island.

Research goldmine

Memorial University and the Newfoundland and Labrador Statistics Agency showcased their leading role in a massive project to digitize census data when national players for the Canadian Century Research Infrastructure (CCRI) gathered in St. John's this past year. CCRI is a five-year, pan-Canadian initiative to develop databases from information collected between 1911 and 1951. It will make rich details of a rapidly changing society available at the click of a mouse. A significant component of the project is the inclusion of data from censuses done in pre-Confederation Newfoundland, which can offer insight not possible in other Canadian jurisdictions.

Sustaining our rural communities

With the latest Stats Canada census showing rural population decline, Grenfell social-cultural studies professor Ivan Emke is studying the feasibility of a Centre for Sustainable Rural Communities. "We need to know not only how such a centre could be supported, but more importantly, what research it would conduct and how it would fill the research gaps that currently exist," said Dr. Emke. "We need to know from the experts -- from rural community residents and development workers -- what issues we could be researching." Financial and in-kind assistance has been provided by Grenfell College and the Centre of Environmental Excellence.

Language acquisition

A new linguistics lab on the St. John's campus that opened this past year, along with the development of cutting-edge software, is positioning Memorial University as a national and international leader of research in language acquisition. The possibility of building a well-equipped Speech Sciences and Language Acquisition Lab was a big part of what attracted Dr. Yvan Rose, a phonology researcher, to Memorial. Dr. Rose is interested in the physiological and articulatory aspects of speech, and how children acquire language.

Big land adventure

When CBC's popular science television series The Nature of Things, wanted to learn about the geology of mountain building, they came knocking on Dr. Derek Wilton's door. "What a phenomenal opportunity, not only for me and my colleagues but for the university," said Dr. Wilton, a professor in Memorial's geology department whose work on the Labrador's spectacular Torngat Mountains had caught their attention. Well-exposed to the elements and rising directly out of the ocean, The Torngat Mountains are one of the best places on the planet to see mountain building in action. Mountains are created by the cyclical movement of the earth's crust, or so-called plate tetonics. When plates crash together, mountains are born. The show aired this fall 2007 on the CBC main network, and will also air on Radio Canada, The Discovery Channel in the US and NHK in Japan.

International recognition for social work researcher

Dr. Ken Barter, Social Work, has built an exceptional career at Memorial since 1988 in the areas of child welfare, community building, collaboration, foster care and social work practice in child protection. His research on community-building, collaboration and innovation as concepts for change in public child-welfare organizations caught the attention of the MacKay Centre for Research on Community and Children's Services (CROCCS), based in the Whitsunday, Hinterland and Mackay Region of Queensland, Australia. The CROCCS invited Dr. Barter to present a keynote address on his work in the conference at the CROCCS 4th International Conference last August.

Graduate student explores communication

Newfoundland neighbourliness meets the philosophical examination of communications, language and altruism in this year's Rothermere Fellowship winner, Raymond Critch. The prestigious fellowship will allow Mr. Critch, who is currently finishing his master's in philosophy at Memorial University of Newfoundland, to pursue doctoral studies at a university in the United Kingdom. Mr. Critch is interested in the question of whether people are more altruistic towards others than has generally been assumed in modern political philosophy. He believes the simple fact that people communicate can be argued to be proof of this.

Winning Writers

Two Memorial University authors took home 2007 Newfoundland and Labrador Book Awards. Dr. Gerhard P. Bassler, professor emeritus of history, won the Roger's Cable Non-fiction Award for Vikings to U-Boats: The German Experience in Newfoundland and Labrador. Dr. Peter Hart, Canada Research Chair in Irish Studies, and Dr. Frederick White, German and Russian, were finalists in that category.

QE II Librarian Patrick Warner received the E. J. Pratt Poetry Award for There, there,. English professor Mary Dalton was also a finalist for the Pratt award.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Book Awards are administered by the Writers' Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador under the patronage of Edward Roberts, Lieutenant-Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador.