physiology lab funded
22, 2000, Gazette)
on the ground floor of the Phys Ed building is being renovated
to study issues in human environmental physiology and safety
in Newfoundland's offshore industries. Dr. Matthew White has
nearly half a million dollars to get started on this research,
including a recently-announced grant of $183,000 from the Canadian
Foundation for Innovation (CFI).
The CFI grant
is matched by money from the School of Physical Education, Recreation
and Athletics, which is paying $100,000 to help with laboratory
renovations. Other contributions include $60,000 from the Atlantic
Canada Opportunity Agency, an in-kind contribution from the Ocean
Safety and Survival Centre in Foxtrap for use of their facilities,
and Dr. White's own research grants including a President's Special
Initiatives Grant of $25,000 for working in environmental physiology.
He also has permission to use the wave tank at the National Research
Council's Institute for Marine Dynamics.
it adds up to a four-year project that Dr. White believes could
help set new industry standards for working on the North Atlantic,
which has one of the most extreme weather climates in the world.
It also opens up a new discipline of study environmental
physiology at Memorial. Environmental physiology includes
the study of human responses to extreme environments, such as
shivering and sweating. Dr. White has already worked in collaboration
with the Centre for Offshore and Remote Medicine (MEDICOR) in
the Faculty of Medicine on studies of commercial divers working
in extreme cold and how that affects their physiological functions.
be looking at survival suits right now we don't have an
objective method of studying the equipment that is being used
by the companies that are supplying the workers for the oil rigs,
either on the rigs or during helicopter transport to and from
the rigs where they need to be wearing survival suits."
when a diver has to evacuate from a ditched helicopter? What
protection does a worker need when putting out a fire on an oil
rig? These are the type of extreme situations Dr. White will
His work will extend to people working in the fishing industry.
cooling is an aspect that is often overlooked. Sometimes when
people fall off a boat, it's not that they drown but that their
limbs very quickly lose strength from the cold and they are not
even able to hold on to a life raft or pull themselves into it.
They end up not dying of hypothermia right away, but perhaps
perish in the waves because they can't hang on to the boat. We
need to look at protection devices for their hands."
In the laboratory
in the Phys Ed building, Dr. White will be studying human temperature
ventilation and how it is controlled. He'd like to use volunteer
divers in this study too, because divers coming up become adapted
to elevated levels of carbon dioxide.
new environmental physiology lab is set up, Dr. White will be
able to hire four master's students to assist with the experiments.
whole purpose is to set up a laboratory that's specific to the
needs of Newfoundland, the fishing industry and offshore oil
and gas and provide a future training environment for graduate
students and post doctoral fellows so they can come in and specialize
in this area. There are no laboratories on campus except Dr.
David Behm's (also in Physical Education, Recreation and Athletics)
and mine that are looking at human physiology in these conditions
so it's also an opportunity for medical student and residents
to participate in studies."