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Research growth number one in Canada

By Michelle Osmond

Rebecca Daniels chose Memorial “because of its strong record of emphasizing research integrity,” and because of the financial and professional support given to its graduate students.

Ms. Daniels is a master’s student in the Faculty of Medicine and her belief in Memorial’s research success got a national boost recently when it was named number one in the country for research income growth.

Memorial’s research income grew by 116.7 per cent between 2002 and 2007. That has made it number one on Canada’s Top 50 Research Universities List for 2008 in the universities with medical/doctoral programs. It’s a score that’s more than double the category average of about 50 per cent growth.

According to Research Infosource Inc., which releases the lists each year, Memorial spent $75 million on research in 2007 (actual revenues were more than $89 million). This is up from $35 million of expenditure in 2002.

Ms. Daniels says she’s not surprised.

“MUN supports its grad students financially and provides a great deal of professional training which leads to graduates who are highly skilled and able to produce great work,” she said.

She also thinks that more graduate students will look to Memorial because of this ranking.

“When deciding on what school to go to, grads look at reputations. By winning awards like this, MUN is likely to stand out as a school that values research a great deal, which will support their students and produce excellent research and researchers.”

Robyn Auld, a PhD candidate in the Department of Biology, agrees. She believes that this honour is reflective of a growing talent pool of graduate students and faculty at Memorial.

“This new ranking also indicates recognition of the importance of research being conducted in Newfoundland, a place characterized by its geographical and climatic uniqueness,” she added. “I think that the increased funding these numbers indicate is really the icing on the cake for a university that offers such unique opportunities for students seeking personal and professional development opportunities.”

Of the $89 million dollars in external research revenue awarded to Memorial researchers in 2007, $9.2 million was awarded from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, nearly $8 million from the Atlantic Innovation Fund, about $2.5 million from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, more than $8.2 million from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and $4.8 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

In addition, Memorial has enjoyed great success in securing research support through the Provincial Government’s Industrial Research and Innovation Fund. This funding has been used to address important issues and opportunities in areas such as health and well-being, culture and heritage, oceans, natural resources, and energy and the environment.

“This achievement reflects a decision several years ago to increase our focus on research and we will continue to deliver on our commitment to world-class research and the pursuit of knowledge across the academic disciplines at Memorial,” said Dr. Ray Gosine, vice-president (research), pro tempore. “Our leading position with respect to growth in research funding is an important indicator of increasing research success at Memorial.

“The story behind the story, however, is the increased success achieved by our faculty members in advancing knowledge in their disciplines and in disseminating this knowledge through publication, performance and practice.”

Dr. Gosine added, however, that Memorial is challenged by a lack of research space on our campuses.

“We have now reached a point where our physical infrastructure represents a very significant limiting factor in growing our research further,” he said. “Our priority is to change that over the next few years so we can continue to do research that is making a difference in people’s lives and that has local and global significance and impact.”

Memorial’s first place ranking will be featured in an upcoming issue of the National Post and the Ottawa Citizen in the Canada's Innovation Leaders supplement — Spotlight on University Growth.

Research Infosource data comes from the Canadian Association of University Business Offices, which surveys Canadian universities for research money spent in each fiscal year. Research Infosource Inc., is a division of The Impact Group and publishes Canada's Top 100 Corporate R&D Spenders List, Canada's Top 50 Research Universities List, and specialized reports.