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New frontiers

Annual research report highlights growing reputation



Dr. Ray Gosine, vice-president (research) pro tempore, addresses the oil and gas delegates.

By Jeff Green

Memorial created a buzz straight across the country last week, releasing its Research Report 2009 to a captivated audience of oil and gas experts at an international conference, and as well as touting its impressive growth in research funding.

It was all part of a targeted advertising and promotional campaign – dubbed This Is The Start of Something Big – rolled out over the course of four days, which saw the launch of this year’s report highlighting Memorial’s world-class research, as well as a series of ads in national, regional and provincial publications.

The report was unveiled at this year’s opening luncheon of the Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association’s (NOIA) international petroleum conference in St. John’s in front of more than 700 delegates from around the world.

The report’s launch comes on the heels of Memorial’s ranking as the top Canadian medical/doctoral university for growth in research funding over the period of 2002-07. Research Infosource, Canada’s premier publication about research and development, named Memorial number one late last fall. The university’s research income grew by an astounding 116.7 per cent between 2002 and 2007, ahead of other leading post-secondary institutions including the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia. Memorial’s score was more than double the category average of about 50 per cent growth.
The publication, which releases the lists each year, said Memorial spent $75 million on research in 2007 (actual research-related revenues were more than $89 million). This is up from $35 million in expenditures in 2002.
For 2008-2009, the news was even more impressive.

According to Memorial’s Office of Research, the university’s total research funding awards were $90.6 million.

“Memorial’s research has dramatically grown over the course of the past six years transforming our university from a focus on undergraduate teaching to a balance of teaching and research expected of a research-intensive university,” said Dr. Ray Gosine, vice-president (research) pro tempore. “That growth in research is something our entire university community is proud of. Our researchers are pursuing diverse and valuable work that is impacting people around the province and world.”

Dr. Gosine reminded conference delegates of the particular obligation Memorial has to this province and invited attendees to partner with Memorial on a range of research opportunities and challenges across the diverse disciplines at Memorial. He said that Memorial researchers are leading research related to advancing the frontiers to better understand ocean environments, as well as developing new technologies to improve this province’s competitiveness in the increasingly important natural resource industries.

Dr. Gosine noted Memorial researchers and scientists are also helping to advance the health and well being of residents in the province and are working on important research related to the province’s culture and heritage.

Research Report 2009: This is the start of something big, features a variety of researchers from across the disciplines – including arts, science, engineering and applied science, business, music, ocean technology, human kinetics and medicine – whose work is taking place throughout the province and around the world.

Some of those include historian Dr. Sean Cadigan and sociologist Dr. Peter Sinclair who are studying how oil affects social and economic relationships in this province.

Dr. Marguerite MacKenzie of the Department of Linguistics in the Faculty of Arts contributed to the creation of the first comprehensive cultural website devoted to names, photos and stories about Innu places (www.innuplaces.ca).

And, Dr. Ralf Bachmayer, the university’s Canada Research Chair in Ocean Technology and one of this year’s recipients of the Petro-Canada Young Innovator Award, is developing an autonomous underwater vehicle that can stay under ice for months at a time, taking samples and conducting analysis.
Memorial’s growing research has a multiplier effect that is far reaching, said Dr. Eddy Campbell, acting president and vice-chancellor Memorial. He said university researchers are having an impact beyond influencing minds in the classroom.

“Our research benefits us all,” he noted. “From students and professors to businesses and organizations right here at home, as well as local, provincial and national economies. At Memorial we have plans to continue this expansion, to build on our recent research successes, to attract more excellent researchers and partners, to become a more research-intensive institution with the aim of sustaining economic growth and development.”

Dr. Campbell acknowledged the support of the provincial government in that pursuit. In its 2009 budget, the province committed to strengthening research and development opportunities in Newfoundland and Labrador including supporting researchers at the university.

“Memorial University continues to take important actions to increase its research funding and capacity, activities that enhance the institution’s overall positive reputation on the world stage,” said Darin King, provincial minister of Education. “As a government, we have consistently and strategically increased funding to Memorial to ensure it continues to offer programming of excellence that is recognized nationally and internationally. It is important that our students have the highest quality education system that is both affordable and accessible. I am pleased to report that our success on this front is being acknowledged across the country.”

In addition to launching this year’s Research Report, Memorial also unveiled a comprehensive advertising and promotional campaign last week, which included double-page ads in newspapers such as the Globe and Mail and the National Post, as well as other regional and local publications, and online advertising.

An information booth was also set up at the NOIA event, a new interactive website – www.mun.ca/big – was launched and series of unique videos debuted featuring Memorial alumni at various locations around the world.

“These videos were produced in various international locations which will garner attention and promote our world-class research,” added Dr. Gosine. “I invite everybody to visit our new site and see for themselves the exciting work being done by Memorial and the impact that work is having not only on this province but around the world.”
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