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July 22, 2004
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Moloney named chair
Increasing the role of women

Dr. Cecilia Moloney
Dr. Cecilia Moloney

By Michelle Osmond
Launching a career in science and engineering for women has come a long way in the last few decades. But it still poses some challenges and women are still a minority in many cases. Fortunately, women and girls considering a career in these fields now have a new resource to help them. The new NSERC/Petro-Canada Chair for Women in Science in Engineering (CWSE) for the Atlantic Region has plans to work towards changing the status quo. Dr. Cecilia Moloney, a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Memorial, is the second consecutive CWSE at Memorial University. Her appointment was announced July 16.

She plans to introduce new initiatives to encourage women of all levels interested in science and engineering careers.

“Like most women scientists and engineers of my generation, I have spent my professional years working with relatively few women colleagues. So I have been pleased to see not only more young women in these fields in recent years, but also to observe the increasing awareness in Canada that the still low participation rates of women in science and engineering do not match with the obvious talents and interests of girls and women,” notes Dr. Moloney.

Dr. Moloney said her vision for the chair is based on fostering the wholeness of the human individual, which for many women and girls means following their interests and talents into participation in science and engineering. “We have to ask about the factors in our culture generally, and in the specific subcultures of science, engineering, and academia, which discourage increased participation by women in science and engineering. Then we must ask what we can do to change these factors.”

Dr. Moloney says she feels NSERC’s initiative in establishing the program of Chairs for Women in Science and Engineering is wonderful. “These chairs keep the issues of women in science and engineering in the public forum, as they celebrate women who already have successful careers and work towards higher participation rates by women in science and engineering.”

Engineering doctoral candidate Angela Tate agrees. “The CWSE is an amazing resource for women science and engineering students at MUN. The initiative of the last chair, the handbook Becoming Leaders, has been extremely helpful. Dr. Moloney has been very supportive of the development of the WISE Grad Student Section, and is a strong mentor.”

Dr. Tom Brzustowski, president of Science and Engineering Research Canada (NSERC), said he is delighted that Memorial is hosting the regional chair for the second time and that Petro-Canada has again joined NSERC as the sponsor for the Atlantic program. “The people of Atlantic Canada and science and engineering have a lot to offer one another,” said Dr. Brzustowski. “We want the whole population to take part in that exchange.” The previous chair program at Memorial ran from 1997 to 2002 and was headed by Dr. Mary Williams, now Director General of the National Research Council of Canada Institute for Ocean Technology.

Dr. Moloney has been with the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science since 1990. She teaches mainly in the areas of systems and signals, and signal processing.

For more on NSERC’s relationship with Memorial University, see the Gazette Web site at

NSERC and Memorial University:

• NSERC total funding to Memorial over the past three fiscal years:

• 2001-02 - $7.3 million

• 2002-03 - $6.5 million

• 2003-04 - $7.6 million

• NSERC currently supports just under 170 individual researchers at Memorial through the Discovery Grants program.

• NSERC has contributed nearly $1.5 million over a five-year period to the Coasts Under Stress project.

• NSERC contributes to AquaNet, a National Network of Centres of Excellence, hosted at Memorial.

• NSERC contributes to our Hubert W. Kelly Memorial Chair in Youth Focused Entrepreneurship.

• NSERC is a long-standing contributor of the Major Facilities Access Program of our Ocean Sciences Centre.

• Under the Strategic Grants Program the council is currently supporting a project studying the importance of capelin biology in sustaining tropic interactions in the northwest Atlantic.

• Supporting a number of major initiatives under the Research Partnerships Program with the National Research Council Canada.

Petro-Canada and Memorial University:

• Petro-Canada has supported Memorial in the order of more than $3 million in cash and pledges over the last two decades.

• Petro-Canada has been a valued client of our co-operative program, hiring engineering and business students as well as its ongoing involvement in the Associates Program of the Faculty of Business Administration and our two annual golf tournaments to raise funds for scholarships and alumni programming.

• Petro-Canada has worked with C-CORE, the Oil and Gas Development Partnership and other agencies of the university, providing them with the input and commercial opportunities they needed to develop their research capabilities.

• Petro-Canada was an important corporate ally during Memorial’s Opportunity Fund fundraising campaign from 1997-99.

• In addition to co-funding the chair focused on women in science and engineering since 1997, Petro-Canada was supported the NSERC/Petro-Canada Industrial Research Chair in Applied Seismology and continues to support the Terra Nova Project Chair in Environmental Risk Engineering, which is now in year seven.

• Petro-Canada offers its Young Innovator Award at Memorial.

• Most recently, Petro-Canada announced a generous donation of $1.2 million towards the construction of a new rehearsal and performance space for the School of Music, whose building was constructed in the 1980s also with some financial support from Petro-Canada.


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