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February 19, 2004


Grenfell showcases
faculty research endeavours


Dr. Randall Maggs
Photo by Pamela Gill
Dr. Randall Maggs explains the research behind the series of poems he's written about NHL goaltender Terry Sawchuck.

By Pamela Gill
Grenfell College's recent research presentation to the Board of Regents was all that and a bag of cookies.

“What do star clusters and cookies have to do with each other?” asked Dr. Doug Forbes of Grenfell's physics department as he slammed a baggie of chocolate chip cookies against a desk.

The answers to that and other research questions were the subject of the Grenfell Showcase — four presentations made to the Board of Regents as well as representatives from various sectors of the west coast community.

Dr. Forbes explained his research on star formations and his quest to find out why stars form the way they do. He likened star clusters to cookie crumbs — some stars are big, some are small. His research measures the luminosity and temperature of stars — among other things — in order to attempt to determine why some are big and some are small, how they’ve formed, when they formed and how quickly they are dying.

Dr. Bob Hooper, manager of the Bonne Bay Marine Station in Norris Point, says the station offers “unlimited research opportunities.” Research on wolffish critical habitat is currently underway; wolffish are currently on the edge of becoming an endangered species. The biggest research project at the centre now is the development of the Bonne Bay Ocean Observatory.

“Over the last year or so we've been designing and putting together the equipment for it,” he said, adding the technology will gather oceanographic, biological and video data. “We’ll be observing ocean dynamics using a seabed installation.”

Methods of communicating in rural communities was the focus of Dr. Ivan Emke's presentation. Dr. Emke, who chairs Grenfell's social/cultural studies degree program, pointed to several examples of small communities using media such as television and radio as means of keeping in touch and discussing important rural issues. In Burgeo, for example, the community supports a local cable station through subscriptions. This revenue has allowed the employment of two full-time staff to run the station, who produce programming such as This Week in Burgeo. This type of programming allows residents to get good information on issues of importance to their survival, explained Dr. Emke.

Finally, Dr. Randall Maggs of Grenfell's English department shared his research on the mysterious Terry Sawchuck, the NHL goaltender who succeeded on the ice, but had difficulty coping with most other aspects of his life. “The Sawchuck Poems” examine at the man behind the hockey mask.

“In this series of poems, I’m trying to understand what happened to him in the context of the game he was playing,” said Dr. Maggs, referring to the circumstances surrounding Sawchuck's depression, probable eating disorder and his death.

Ultimately, the showcase allowed Grenfell to demonstrate that the college is not just about teaching.

“Since Grenfell College opened in 1975, it’s been known for excellence in teaching,” said Dr. Adrian Fowler, principal of Grenfell. “Although we've always been engaged in research, we’re not well known for our research. We’ve just appointed an associate vice-principal of research who is helping us to better position ourselves to contribute to research and development in this region. This showcase is an opportunity for us to demonstrate to you the kinds of research in which our faculty are involved.”


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Next issue: March 4, 2004

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