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(May 2, 2002, Gazette)

Introducing... Memorial welcomes new research talent

Continuing its series of profiles of Memorial’s latest faculty members, this issue of the Gazette features researchers exploring the social history of religion during the medieval period, conversion of light energy into chemical energy, and fluid flow characteristics and performance of sandstone oil and gas reservoirs. They come to Memorial from universities across the globe including Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences, University of Wales at Swansea and Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Christina Bottaro

Dr. Lindsay Byran

Dr. Tariq Iqbal

Dr. Daniel MacPhee

Dr. Andrew Pulham

Dr. David Thompson

 

Dr. Christina BottaroDr. Christina Bottaro
Assistant professor
Department of Chemistry
Faculty of Science


Main research interests:
Dr. Bottaro’s current work focuses on finding and identifying new organic compounds in the marine environment and determining whether they elicit a response using tests for bioactivity. This response may be a positive or negative one, but Dr. Bottaro asserts that it’s important to isolate the bioactive compounds and determine the mechanism that is causing these effects. This type of testing can give an indication of their impact on the environment, for better or worse. Dr. Bottaro was recently awarded a DFO Research Grant in for $15,000.

Experience:
Previous research also focused on environmental and marine tissues. Dr. Bottaro worked on organohalogens, or halogenated organic compounds known to be environmental contaminants. While the perception is that they are man-made, the reality is that dioxins can be produced by natural means, such as forest fires. There are also analogs of PCBs produced in the marine environment by algae, sponges, seaweed and other multi-cell, low-functioning animals. Her post-doctoral work involved the same organohalogens, but emphasized novel compounds with moderately high molecular masses.

Background:
Dr. Bottaro describes herself as Canadian, as she has lived all over the country, including New Brunswick, Labrador and Halifax. She received her B.Sc. (Hons.) from St. Mary’s University in chemistry, and received her PhD from Dalhousie University in 1999 with a concentration in analytical chemistry. Dr. Bottaro became a Memorial faculty member in January 2002 after completing a post-doctoral position at Dalhousie.

Dr. Lindsay ByranDr. Lindsay Byran
Assistant professor
Department of History
Faculty of Arts


Research Interests:
Dr. Bryan is interested in the social history of religion during the medieval period, particularly in the area of sin and scandal in medieval England. The newly-appointed professor questions events in this period from a feminist perspective, noting that gender is inevitably a part of her work as a female historical researcher. With a Dean’s Research and a Vice-President Research grant, Dr. Bryan will soon be embarking on a research trip to England, where her primary focus will be the history of the diocese of Rochester in the 14th century. Primarily, Dr. Bryan is interested in how religion manifested itself in the daily lives of medieval citizens.

Experience
As an undergrad at Brock University, Dr. Bryan became particularly intrigued by medieval history through one of her more influential professors. Much of her research has consisted of studying and teaching medieval history, and in particular, the social history of religion, to students in both Ontario and Newfoundland. In early May of this year, Dr. Bryan will attend the 37th International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where some 5,000-6,000 medievalist will be treated to almost 600 presented papers. As well, in late July she will be attending the Harlaxton Symposium in Lincolnshire, England, where medieval history, art, literature, and architecture are celebrated annually. Dr. Bryan is currently teaching a fourth-year seminar course at Memorial University that studies women in the middle ages, and will be offering another in the fall focusing on ideas surrounding death and the after-life during this time in history.

Background

Dr. Bryan completed an honours degree in history and English at Brock University, followed by an MA in medieval history from McMaster and a PhD in medieval history from the University of Toronto. Shortly after graduation, Dr. Byran taught single courses at both Brock and York, followed by a 12-month contract teaching at Brock. She moved to Newfoundland in August 2001 to accept a permanent teaching position as an assistant professor in medieval history at Memorial.

Dr. Tariq IqbalDr. Tariq Iqbal
Assistant professor
Electrical and Computer
Engineering
Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science

Research Interests:

Dr. Tariq Iqbal is interested in renewable energy systems. One of his areas of interest is a hybrid energy system. An example of this would be combining wind turbines and a fuel cell system to generate electricity for a house. This system would work very well for remote communities that are not connected to a main grid. Another area of interest is distributed power generation. Instead of having one large power plant, it would be more efficient and reliable to have 50 or 100 smaller power generating units scattered within a given area. The transmission loss would be greatly reduced and the same amount of electricity could be generated much more efficiently.

Experience:

Dr. Tariq Iqbal started out studying electrical engineering, but later switched to the study of wind turbines. He worked for many years as an assistant engineer and as a senior engineer at the Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Science in Islamabad. During this time he taught courses and supervised experiments and graduate projects on topics ranging from experimental electric vehicles to a miniature solar water pumping station. As a PhD student, he worked with the Energy Research Unit at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Oxford University.

Background:

Dr. Iqbal completed a B.Sc. (Hons.) in electrical engineering at UET in Lahore, Pakistan. He then received a fellowship from the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission to study nuclear engineering and went on to complete a M.Sc. in nuclear engineering at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad. On a scholarship from the government of Pakistan, Dr. Iqbal moved to London to complete a PhD in electrical engineering at Imperial College London. He went back to the Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences to supervise graduate students and teach courses such as renewable energy systems, digital control systems, power electronics, applied electronics and instrumentation. Dr. Iqbal and his family immigrated to Canada in December 2000.

Dr. Daniel MacPheeDr. Daniel MacPhee
Assistant professor
Basic Medical Sciences
Faculty of Medicine

Main research interests:

Dr. MacPhee studies the molecular mechanisms of uterine function during pregnancy, and placental development — especially in conditions like pre-eclampsia. These interests in developmental biology fit well with existing strengths of researchers in the Terry Fox Cancer Laboratory. Both of his research interests have implications for better understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying human pregnancy, and he is in the process of contacting faculty in obstetrics and gynecology to proceed with work more implicated with human development.

Experience:
Dr. MacPhee also has broad experience with confocal laser-scanning microscopes. Last year the Medical School Laboratories opened the Confocal Digital Imagery Centre, a self-contained facility within the Histology Unit which houses an upright and inverted microscope capable of bright field, dark field, phase contrast, DIC and fluorescence microscopy. “I’d be happy to collaborate with faculty in terms of learning how to use this machine efficiently,” he said. “Every different research interest requires slightly different procedures and a lot of my experience has been in troubleshooting those kinds of problems.” Dr. MacPhee is enthusiastic about the potential uses of the Confocal Digital Imagery Centre. “Through this equipment we can look at live cells as well as tissues.”

Background:

Dr. MacPhee earned a B.Sc. (Hons.) from UPEI, becoming involved in marine biology research during summer jobs. Wanting to move into mammalian development, he went on to do a PhD at the University of Western Ontario in mouse development, followed by two post-doctoral fellowships – the first at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, and the second at the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Western Ontario.

Dr. Andrew PulhamDr. Andrew Pulham
Associate professor
Department of Earth Sciences
Faculty of Science

Research interests:

Dr. Pulham is beginning to establish research projects that will examine fluid flow characteristics and performance of sandstone oil and gas reservoirs. Initially, collaborative projects with the offshore oil industry in Newfoundland and Labrador are planned; these will focus on aspects of the Hibernia, White Rose and Terra Nova developments. Dr. Pulham intends to also seek analogs; that is, similar reservoirs in other parts of the world, with properties that are relevant to the Newfoundland experience.

Experience:
While Dr. Pulham is relatively new to teaching, he brings with him a wealth of research experience from his 12 years in the oil and gas industry, as well as five years as a research associate at the University of Colorado. While involved in the petroleum industry, Dr. Pulham worked in Western Europe (North Sea), North America (Gulf of Mexico) and South America, primarily exploring new oil and gas reservoirs, as well as understanding and evaluating already discovered reservoirs. His work at the University of Colorado was also funded by the oil and gas industry, and focused on the performance of oil and gas reservoirs, or the characteristics of how oil and gas is delivered through reservoirs to wells.

Background:
Dr. Pulham completed his undergraduate degree in physical geography and geology at Liverpool University. His PhD, from the University of Wales at Swansea, focused on ancient deltas. He has been an associate professor at Memorial’s Department of Earth Sciences since June 2001.

Dr. David ThompsonDr. David Thompson
Assistant professor
Department of Chemistry
Faculty of Science

Research interests

Dr. Thompson’s research focuses on taking light energy and converting it into chemical energy. He said that fossil fuel materials would be better used for other purposes, for example as building materials. Also, concerns over environmental and political conflict resulting from the use of fossil fuels as energy sources are the impetus for Dr. Thompson’s research. His research is a new field of study in the Department of Chemistry, and six students will work in his lab this summer. Dr. Thompson hopes that a device to convert light to chemical energy will be achieved in his career; however, there are some challenges to overcome first. In order to capture as much photon energy as possible, he must first master controlling how electron motion occurs in molecules. Electrons can be pushed with light, but once the light is off, the control over the electron is lost.

Experience
Most of Dr. Thompson’s post-graduate research has focused on photo-induced electron transfer, turning light into electrical energy. His post-doctoral research was funded by NSERC and completed at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. At the Brookhaven Laboratory, he worked with the photophysics and photochemistry group seeking alternative energy sources.

Background:
Dr. Thompson completed his B.Sc. (Hons.) and his M.Sc. at Queens University, as well as a PhD from York University. He was employed in research posts at Wayne State University, Johns Hopkins University, and Brookhaven National Laboratory (in Long Island, part of the Department of Energy) before commencing his position at Memorial in September 2001.