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New Faculty

Dr. Jahrul Alam

Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Dr. Jahrul Alam joined the Department of Mathematics and Statistics as an assistant professor in August 2008. Originally from Bangladesh, he began his Canadian studies at the University of Alberta where he obtained a master’s degree in computational fluid dynamics. He also holds a PhD in computational mathematics, with a specialization in turbulence, from McMaster University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Earth and Environmental sciences at the University of Waterloo.

His current scientific interests concern modelling, computing and understanding fluid dynamics problems that are challenging in environmental, aeronautical and industrial applications. Specifically, he is focused on developing an integrated modelling and computing framework for explaining global warming and climate change issues.

“There are lots of uncertainties and difficulties that need to be resolved before we are able to accurately predict climate,” said Dr. Alam. “The atmosphere – where we breath and live – is very complex. I am working to develop a technique using advanced computer models for predicting future climate by understanding turbulent flows in the atmosphere. This new approach will use wavelets – a mathematical microscope – to calculate highly localized active motions of the atmosphere, and this would be a significant contribution at Memorial as a new research direction.”

Living in Newfoundland and Labrador is giving Dr. Alam a new perspective on his chosen area of research.

“The weather here is a bit unstable but I like that,” he explained. “Many other regions don’t see this much moisture and moisture is something we currently can’t model appropriately. This is a challenging issue. If we cannot model moisture then we do not know how it is going to affect our climate. I enjoy St. John’s because of its natural beauty and intermittent weather changes.”

Dr. Alam was recently awarded a NSERC discovery grant and two new graduate students will join his research group in fall 2009.

Dr. Jacqueline Blundell

Department of Psychology

Dr. Jacqueline Blundell joined the Faculty of Science in September as an assistant professor with the Department of Psychology.

Originally from St. John’s, she graduated with an honours degree in Chemistry at Dalhousie University before returning to Newfoundland to complete an honours degree in Psychology. Dr. Blundell then went on to complete her masters and PhD at Memorial under the supervision of Dr. Bob Adamec, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre.

Dr. Blundell is thrilled for the opportunity to return to Memorial University – this time on the opposite side of the desk.

“It’s been an odd transition going from being a student to most of these people to now being their colleague,” she said. “But everyone’s been so nice.”

Dr. Blundell’s research centres on understanding the behavioural and neuroplastic changes that are involved in affective and cognitive disorders, with an overall goal to make a significant contribution in advancing the treatment of neuropsychiatric illness.

“I am interested in understanding the behavioural and molecular changes in brain that underlie anxiety and depression,” she explained. “With a better understanding of the brain my hope is to one day develop therapeutic agents to treat these disorders.”

One particular area of interest is studying the effects of anti-anxiety and antidepressant medication on teens.

“Given the dramatic increase in prescribed anti-anxiety and antidepressant medication for this population, and the fact that the developing brain is very different than a mature brain, I think this is a critical area of research,” said Dr. Blundell. “Changes in the brain that happen during puberty may be affected by those drugs and I’m interested in proceeding in that area. In addition, I’d like to research the effects of stressful environments on children and whether or not they cause people to be more anxious as adults.”

Dr. Ian Glew

Faculty of Business Administration

At first glance it may seem unusual to have a professional engineer with more than 15 years experience in Canada’s chemical industry teaching finance, but when Dr. Ian Glew began working on his MBA in finance at Queen’s University, it was an eye-opening experience.

“I realized when I started my MBA that there was a natural fit between statistics, which is my background, and finance,” Dr. Glew explained. “Finance is intensely math driven, so I look at it as a transfer of my skill set rather than a major change of interest.” After earning his MBA, Dr. Glew went on to complete a PhD. in finance. His research focuses on income trusts, corporate financing and asset pricing.

Dr. Glew said a supportive research culture was one of the reasons he came to Memorial. “Academically, Memorial has a great research character – and it is getting stronger monthly. The university has a great reputation.”

In the classroom, Dr. Glew tries to use real world examples to make the study of finance more interesting and relevant to students. “When you walk into a finance classroom and see equations on a board, it isn’t meaningful to students,” he said. “I try to bridge the gap between financial theory and real world applicability, so I talk about interest rates and mortgages and introduce students to the areas where finance applies to their life.”

Dr. Robert Scott

Division of Social Science

It’s no surprise that Dr. Robert Scott has found his way to western Newfoundland and the incredible outdoor lifestyle it offers. The Port Rowan, Ont., native grew up on in a town of about 800 on the north shore of Lake Erie, where there were plenty of opportunities for adventures in the wilds.

The draw to Grenfell College was the environment in which the campus is situated, he added.

“I don’t have to travel half way across the continent to do research. Here there’s lots of opportunity to conduct my research locally, plus it’s a beautiful place to live and raise kids.”

Dr. Scott holds a bachelor of science from the University of Western Ontario, in London, Ont., a master of science from the University of Guelph and a doctorate from Clark University in Worcester, Mass. Following his PhD he completed a one-year post-doctoral research position at the University of Guelph, after which he worked at the University of Western Ontario for seven years as an assistant professor in the Biology Department.

Dr. Scott’s research interests lie in the realms of pure ecology and applied ecology.

“With regard to the pure research component, I am interested in how variability in physical characteristics among lakes influences local populations of fish,” he explained. “In particular, I investigate adaptation of local fish populations with regard to behaviour (mate competition, mate choice, parental care) and life history (growth rate, age of reproduction, fertility) traits. On the applied side, my interests focus on the impact of human activities on lake ecosystems. Specifically, I have worked on Atlantic salmon restoration ecology and on the impacts of mining on fish communities.”

Dr. Scott said his future research will examine impacts of forest harvest on fish life history traits and mercury contamination in fish populations in western Newfoundland.

Dr. Heather Hair

School of Social Work

­­Dr. Heather Hair joined the School of Social Work in the fall of 2008 and couldn’t be happier with her appointment as assistant professor. The Montreal native says she is putting down roots in this province and isn’t about to go anywhere.

Dr. Hair says the opportunities as an academic in this province are “endless,” and intends to put her extensive knowledge and expertise to great use. With a BA in psychology from Concordia University, a master’s in community psychology from Wilfrid Laurier University, a master’s in marriage and family therapy from the University of Guelph and a PhD in social work from Wilfrid Laurier as well, Dr. Hair is in good stead.

There are three areas in which Dr. Hair wishes to develop her specialty: supervision for post-degree social work practitioners, children’s mental health (practice and policy development) and the qualities of helping conversations that encourage growth and change.

She was attracted to Memorial because of the accessibility to decision-makers in the province and for the opportunities to create collaborative relationships with community partners. She is already involved on a research review team, as well as consulting on the development of two new residential treatment centers for high-risk youth. Citing “big growth” in the School of Social Work – Dr. Hair is one of several new additions to teaching staff in recent months – she says she is excited at the prospect of contributing to the development of the social work profession in this province.

“I have the opportunity to teach at the bachelor’s, master’s and PhD level here. So I not only have an opportunity to shape future practitioners, but also to really shape the service provision for the lives of children, youth and families, which is really what keeps me motivated in this.”