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Jan. 23, 2003, Gazette

Introducing...Memorial welcomes new research talent

The following profiles are the latest in the Gazette’s ongoing series featuring the university’s newest faculty members. Memorial welcomes its latest faculty, whose varied research interests are represented by a broad spectrum of issues including genetics, the biological mechanisms underlying feeding, growth and development in fish, emergency medicine, researching pre-contact Inuit whaling economies in northern Labrador, Tay-Sachs disease, and childhood gastroenterology diseases in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Dr. Jeff Critch

Dr. Andrew Latus

Dr. David Morgan

Helene Volkoff

Dr. Peter Whitridge

Dr. Jeff Critch
Pediatric gastroenterology
Faculty of Medicine

Dr. Jeff Critch
Dr. Jeff Critch

Research interests
Dr. Jeff Critch is the only pediatric gastroenterologist in the province, and he is looking forward to researching childhood gastroenterology diseases in Newfoundland and Labrador. He returned to St. John’s in September, and is still busy setting up his clinical practice and meeting teaching commitments. But in future he hopes to continue the research he was doing on a fellowship at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto on bowel diseases in children, particularly Crohn’s disease. The particular focus of his research will depend on what gastroenterology diseases predominate in the pediatric population of the province.

Experience
Dr. Critch recently completed a three-year gastrointestinal fellowship under the supervision of Dr. Anne Griffiths. He said about 20 to 25 per cent of Crohn’s disease is diagnosed in the childhood age range. “It can be frightening for parents at first, but it’s a chronic disease and most families do well in learning to manage it.”

Background
Dr. Critch is from St. John’s and attended medical school at Memorial following undergraduate training in engineering and biochemistry. He graduated in 1995 and pursued residency training at the Janeway until 1999 when he took up a gastroenterology fellowship at the Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto.

 

Dr. Andrew Latus
Medical ethics
Faculty of Medicine

Dr. Andrew Latus

Dr. Andrew Latus

Research interests
As a medical ethicist, Dr. Latus is particularly interested in the area of genetics. He has been working with colleague Dr. Daryl Pullman on a project to provide recommendations to the provincial government on how commercial genetic research should be regulated in Newfoundland and Labrador. Their report draws the conclusions that human DNA does not fit neatly into any of the usual categories: in some ways it resembles a personal possession, in others a natural resource, and in others the common heritage of humanity.

Experience
During his doctoral studies, Dr. Latus became interested in a fledgling movement in epistemology which views knowledge in terms of the absence of certain kinds of luck. In pursuing this question, Dr. Latus found himself becoming interested in the problem of moral luck – the extent to which how good or bad a person you are is a matter of luck. Following his doctorate, Dr. Latus taught philosophy at University College of Cape Breton, followed by stints at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, St. Francis Xavier University, and Memorial’s philosophy department. Before accepting a faculty position in medical ethics, he worked with Dr. Daryl Pullman on a postdoctoral fellowship.

Background

Dr. Latus graduated from Dalhousie in 1989 with a B.Sc. and BA and then attended St. Francis Xavier University for three years as a music student in the jazz program, specializing in trumpet. He finished St. Xavier’s with a diploma in jazz studies plus an honours year in philosophy and then returned to Dalhousie for a master’s in philosophy followed by a doctorate at the University of Toronto.

 

Dr. David Morgan
Family medicine
Faculty of Medicine

Dr. David Morgan

Dr. David Morgan

Research interests
Dr. David Morgan has joined the Discipline of Family Medicine to spearhead a new program in emergency medicine. The normal family medicine residency program is two years, but the emergency medicine component will add an extra 18 months to the program. “The idea is to get physicians comfortable working in emergency situations so they can go into rural areas with these new skills. Our program is 12 months of emergency medicine and six months of enhanced rural skills and we hope at the end of the program we will have physicians who will feel comfortable working in an emergency department but will also feel comfortable working in rural areas.” Dr. Morgan said the target date to start the new program is July 2003. Initially two or three full-time residents will be accepted, and room will also be made for some re-entry physicians currently working in rural areas who want to pick up some additional skills.

Experience

Dr. Morgan has worked in emergency medicine for the past 16 years and is enthusiastic about the potential for the new emergency medicine program. In addition to him, family medicine faculty members Drs. Bob Miller and Scott Moffatt are involved in setting up the new program, which will also depend on input from Royal College of Canada certified emergatologists Drs. Doug Baggs and Mike Hatcher. The program will also include geographic-full-time faculty members Drs. Tia Renouf and Greg Brown.

Background

Born in Corner Brook, Dr. Morgan graduated from Memorial’s medical school in 1982 and following a rotating internship he worked for several years in Come-by-Chance. He returned to St. John’s to do an internal medicine residency and ended up working in emergency medicine in 1986. “It wasn’t as much a career choice as a position opened up, and since then I’ve worked in all of the adult emergency sites in the city.”

 

Helene Volkoff
Assistant professor, Biology
Faculty of Science

Helene Volkoff

Helene Volkoff

Research Interests
The study of fish has been a passion of Dr. Volkoff’s since her days as an undergraduate. From sharks to rays, goldfish to cod, she focuses her research on determining the structure and function of peptides in fish that serve to regulate appetite, influence reproductive events, and respond to environmental cues. Dr. Volkoff employs an integrative approach to her research, using a number of techniques from behavioural studies to molecular biology. While in Newfoundland, she will use goldfish as a model for freshwater fish, and cod and flatfish as a model for marine life.

Experience
The physiology and endocrinology of fish have been the primary focus of Dr. Volkoff’s research. During her master’s and PhD, she examined the role of the thyroid gland in controlling the reproduction of elasmobranch fishes (sharks and rays). Using light and electron microscopy, as well as hormone assays, Dr. Volkoff carried out comparative studies on the structure of the thyroid gland between sexes and reproductive stages within one species. As a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alberta, she examined the effects of neuropeptides on goldfish appetite, employing such techniques as stereotaxic brain injections of the peptides, followed by behavioural observations, cloning of DNA encoding for these hormones, and gene expression studies.

Background
Dr. Volkoff earned a B.Sc. in marine biology/physiology from the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris, France, followed by a M.Sc. in marine biology from the Université d’Aix-Marseille III in Marseille. At Clemson University in South Carolina, she received her PhD in zoology, and then completed five years of post-doctoral studies at the University of Alberta. Dr. Volkoff accepted a position as assistant professor at Memorial University in September of this year.

 

Dr. Peter Whitridge
Assistant professor
Department of Anthropology

Dr. Peter Whitridge

Dr. Peter Whitridge

Research interests
Dr. Whitridge is currently interested in researching pre-contact Inuit whaling economies in northern Labrador. This region was colonized relatively late by the Thule ancestors of modern Inuit, around the time that large whaling communities in the Central Canadian Arctic were abandoned. He plans to initially focus on sites around Nachvak Fjord and in future years work his way north. This northern part of the Labrador coast was surveyed in the late 1970s but is still relatively unstudied archaeologically. Written sources, such as the Moravian diaries, indicate there were several important whaling locales in the region in the eighteenth century, so the potential for locating pre-contact whaling communities is good. Dr. Whitridge is especially interested in the social correlates of whaling, as these varied over time and region across the North American Arctic.

Experience
Dr. Whitridge became interested in Thule society and economy as an undergraduate, and pursued these topics from various perspectives in his later academic research. His doctoral research involved excavation at the largest prehistoric village in Nunavut, located along a stretch of the Somerset Island coast. Analyses of bone distributions, community layout, architecture, and household refuse were used to explore the social relations in which whaling organization was embedded, during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Excellent preservation in the frozen archaeological deposits allowed the investigation of aspects of Thule sociality, such as gender relations, that have rarely been attempted. Prior to his appointment at Memorial, Dr. Whitridge taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Toronto, and University of North British Columbia.

Background
Originally from Ottawa, Dr. Whitridge earned his BA from University of Toronto, and his MA from McGill University, both in anthropology. He was awarded his PhD in anthropology from Arizona State University in 1999. Dr. Whitridge began teaching at Memorial in September 2002.

 

Note to all deans and directors: If you have new faculty members and would like them featured in this series, please contact, Deborah Inkpen, communications co-ordinator (research), at inkpend@mun.ca.