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March 6, 2003, Gazette

Introducing ... Memorial welcomes new research talent

Memorial’s newest researchers and teachers enhance and complement existing expertise in health sciences, engineering, biochemistry and music. And while Memorial’s newest faculty members come from locations as varied as Iran and Ontario, others started their academic careers at Memorial University.

Dr. Majid Abdi Dr. Faisal Khan
Dr. Robert Bertolo Robert Power
Dr. Greg Brown Dr. Tia Renouf

Dr. Majid Abdi
Assistant professor,
Mechanical Engineering

Dr. Majid Abdi
Dr. Majid Abdi

Research interests
Dr. Abdi’s research focuses on natural gas processing and conditioning. “Contrary to what some people might think, there are many contaminants in natural gas and it is necessary to treat these contaminants so that the gas can be made suitable for transport in pipelines,” said Dr. Abdi. Coming from Iran, home to the second largest natural gas reserves in the world, Dr. Abdi’s research has been directed towards the conversion of natural gas to liquid hydrocarbons (clean fuels) using high performance gas purification solvents and treatment methods.

Experience
After graduating from Tehran Polytechnic with a master’s degree in chemical engineering, Dr. Abdi went to work for the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) in the Research Institute of Petroleum Industries. As a process design/development engineer, Dr. Abdi worked for six years on the development of oil and gas processes comprising the design, manufacturing supervision, start-up and trouble-shooting of gas processing pilot plants. He then returned to study at the University of British Columbia, graduating with a doctorate degree in chemical engineering in 1997. After a short time in Calgary, Alberta, working with Gas Liquids Engineering Ltd., he returned to Iran and accepted a position as senior project manager and director of the gas research division with the NIOC.

Background
Born in Tehran, Iran, Dr. Abdi studied at Tehran Polytechnic receiving a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering with petrochemical options, and a master’s degree in chemical engineering with a concentration on natural gas processing. Following his doctorate degree at the University of British Columbia, he received a postdoctoral fellowship from the department of chemical engineering.

 

Dr. Robert Bertolo
Assistant professor,
Biochemistry

Dr. Robert Bertolo
Dr. Robert Bertolo

Research interests
A Canadian Research Chair in Human Nutrition, Dr. Bertolo plans to research the nutritional requirements of the gut, designing treatments targeted specifically for the challenged intestine and its subsequent impacts on the body. His long-term goal involves the development of a fetal programming model. His research will determine how a mother’s nutritional deficiencies during pregnancy impact the long-term health of the baby, with particular interest in conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. Ultimately, this new appointment at Memorial University will provide Dr. Bertolo with “an opportunity to pursue fresh avenues of research” for himself and his students.

Experience
From high school through to today, Dr. Bertolo has always had a fascination with research. His drive to conquer new territory encouraged his pursuit of an arts degree, and persisted as he then went on to study nutrition and biochemistry. As a graduate student, he studied mineral competition for transport in the gut, later moving to Alberta to work with piglets in the exploration of how the intestine modulates the delivery of amino acids to the blood, and investigating the amino acid requirements of the gut itself. This research, while focused primarily on neo-natal growth and nutrition, also has significant implications for the pork industry.

Background
Born and raised in “beautiful” Thunder Bay, Ontario, Dr. Bertolo completed an arts degree, with a minor in biochemistry, at McMaster University. When his undergraduate thesis led him to a nutritional biochemistry lab, he decided to pursue his master’s degree at the University of Guelph, completing research in mineral metabolism. He later earned his PhD at the universities of Guelph and Alberta, followed by three years of post-doctoral work in the area. In 2002, he was awarded a prestigious Canadian Research Chair in Human Nutrition, and accepted a position as assistant professor in Biochemistry at Memorial University. He is currently teaching a fourth-year course in nutrition, and is working on building his lab from scratch.



Dr. Greg Brown
Assistant professor
Family medicine

Dr. Greg Brown
Dr. Greg Brown

Research interests
Dr. Greg Brown is a family physician with the extra qualification of a year’s study in emergency medicine. He has joined the Discipline of Family Medicine as one of the faculty who will provide the new emergency medicine 18-month third year for the family medicine residency. He is particularly interested in the extra skills provided by special training in emergency medicine and is looking forward to teaching residents. Another research interest he would like to develop in future is the role of paramedics and what they are allowed to do in the field.

Experience
Dr. Brown earned his MD at Memorial in 1999, and also holds a B.Sc. (biology) from Memorial. He did his two year family medicine residency at Memorial and then went on to do a third year special competence in emergency medicine at the University of Western Ontario. This certification is from the Canadian College of Family Physicians and at the moment Memorial is the only medical school that does not provide the program – a lack soon to be rectified. Dr. Brown said he chose to specialize in the family medicine emergency certification so he could remain a generalist but have extra skills. A five-year emergency medicine specialty is also available through the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. Memorial’s special competence in emergency medicine will be unique in that it is 18 months rather than 12 and includes six months of enhanced rural skills. Dr. Brown said there is already a lot of interest in Memorial’s new program; nationally this special competence in emergency medicine is fairly competitive with about 100 people applying for a spot or two at each site.


Dr. Faisal Khan
Associate professor,
Mechanical Engineering

Dr. Faisal Khan
Dr. Faisal Khan

Research Interests
Dr. Khan has long been interested in how a raw material like oil is turned into a usable end product. During the course of his education, Dr. Khan’s area of research shifted from chemical engineering to computer applications that could interface with chemical engineering, and then later on to looking at the environment and the effects of interfering with its natural processes. He first came to Memorial in 2000, as a visiting research professor working with Dr. Tahir Husain in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science on a research project that was developing computer aided risk based corrective actions for contaminated sites in Saudi Arabia. Currently, he is working with another researcher at Dalhousie University developing a safety risk assessment for the offshore environment. For his outstanding research in the field of environmental engineering he was awarded the Nawab Zain Yar Jung Bahduar Memorial Medal from the Institute of Engineers (India) for 2002.

Experience
While completing his doctorate, Dr. Khan worked as a scientist at the Centre for Pollution Control and Energy Technology where he developed a computer aided environmental management unit. After graduation, he took a position as assistant professor at the Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences in Pilani, India. Since coming to Memorial, Dr. Khan has had the opportunity to take his research interests in a new direction. The offshore environment provides a great opportunity to continue his work in risk assessment and reliability studies, while addressing issues specific to working in an offshore, and at times unpredictable, environment.

Background

At Aligarh Muslim University in India, Dr. Khan completed his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. He then went on to complete a master’s degree in computer aided process plant design at the University of Roorkee, followed by a doctorate in computer aided risk assessment at Pondicherry University. He joined Memorial as an associate professor in August of 2002.

 

Robert Power
Assistant professor
School of Music

Robert Power
Robert Power

Main interests
Mr. Power divides his time between teaching and playing as a professional musician. At Memorial, he is currently teaching percussion technique courses, applied percussion lessons and directs Memorial’s percussion ensemble, the Scruncheons. In addition, Mr. Power plays in the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, teaches privately and freelances as a contemporary classical percussionist. In his field, Mr. Power must be versatile in both styles of music and instrument, particularly with the increased popularity of world music.

Experience
Mr. Power’s academic background was primarily performance-based, but during his master’s degree at McGill, he also pursued research on percussion, and composers such as Bartok and Stravinsky, who wrote for percussion. After completing his M.Mus., Mr. Power spent six years in Toronto as a professional musician. There, he played with the North York Symphony, Toronto Sinfonietta, and in numerous pick-up orchestras and groups. Although he was based in Toronto, he spent much time travelling to nearby centres such as Kitchener, Windsor and London, playing with various ensembles.

Background
As a Newfoundlander, and a former student, Mr. Power is especially pleased to be teaching at Memorial. He received his B.Mus. from Memorial in 1993, and his M.Mus. from McGill in 1996. Inspired by percussionist Don Wherry’s achievements at Memorial’s School of Music, Mr. Power is pleased to be able to continue Mr. Wherry’s legacy of creativity, quality and integrity.

 

Dr. Tia Renouf
Assistant professor
Family medicine

Dr. Tia Renouf
Dr. Tia Renouf

Research interests
Dr. Tia Renouf has a strong background in emergency medicine. She is excited about her new geographic full-time faculty position, in which she will be involved in establishing the new emergency medicine 18-month third year for the family medicine residency with Dr. David Morgan and other colleagues. She is particularly interested in rural medicine and the new program will include six months of enhanced rural skills portion of the program. She would like to find ways to support and enhance the emergency skills of rural physicians through a consultative process with rural doctors so emergency doctors who work in urban settings can deliver relevant information.

Experience
Dr. Renouf has had many adventures in isolated areas of the world. Most recently she traveled to Antarctica as ship’s doctor aboard the Russian Akademik Ioffe. Although the trip proved uneventful, she was always prepared for any emergencies from fractures to heart problems, knowing she might have to stabilize a patient for a few hours until a plane could arrive. (For a feature article on Dr. Renouf’s trip to Antarctica see the Jan. 23, 2003, Gazette)
Always drawn to remote places, Dr. Renouf spent two years in Australia with the Royal Flying Doctor Service, which consists of five aircraft in Alice Springs that cover central Australia – an area of desert about the size of Spain. As the doctor on call, she was phoned or radioed for advice. Based on the information she received, she decided if the situation could be managed where it was, if a plane and a nurse should collect the patient, or if she should fly out too. When not on call, she attended clinics, flying each morning to an Aboriginal homeland.
Dr. Renouf also worked in Micronesia as the solo doctor on the island of Rota where she treated tropical and environmental diseases such as exotic animal evenomations. She also worked briefly as an emergency doctor in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Background
Dr. Renouf earned her MD at Memorial in 1984. She has practiced emergency medicine for the past 18 years, writing her specialty exams a few years ago. She has worked mainly in St. John’s and Halifax, maintaining rural skills by continuing to do locums in rural Newfoundland and Nova Scotia and remote coastal Labrador as well as other remote areas of the world.

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
.