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New faculty

Introducing Memorial’s new teachers and researchers

Dr. Yanqing Yi
Division of Community Health and Humanities
Faculty of Medicine

Dr. Yanqing Yi brings strength in statistical design and analysis to her new position as assistant professor in the Faculty of Medicine’s Division of Community Health and Humanities.

Dr. Yi earned her PhD in statistics from the University of Manitoba. Her dissertation was on the design and statistical inference of response adaptive clinical trials. She holds two M.Sc. degrees, one in applied mathematics from Central South University, China (original Changsha College of Railway), and another in statistics from the University of Manitoba.

During her graduate studies at the University of Manitoba, she published seven peer-refereed papers in statistics and received several awards including a University of Manitoba Graduate Fellowship and the Clarence Bogardus Sharpe Memorial Scholarship. She has been a member of the Statistical Society of Canada since 2005. Before she came to Canada in 2002, Yanqing was university professor in several universities in China with 12 publications in applied science.

Dr. Yi’s research interests include statistical design and analysis for clinical trials, dependent data analysis, survival data analysis, stochastic modeling and Markov processes, and statistical modeling and computation for complex data.

Heather McLeod
Faculty of Education

Heather McLeod has been appointed assistant professor in Art Education, in Memorial’s Faculty of Education.

Originally hailing from Western Canada, she pursued her doctoral studies at the University of Victoria. Ms. McLeod began working at MUN in early August 2008 and this year she will be teaching Education 3120: Foundations of Art Education.

“I feel both lucky and challenged by this appointment,” said Ms. McLeod. “It will provide me with an opportunity to weave together the various strands of my education and experience.”

Ms. McLeod has been an international exchange student, and has served as a teacher, a principal of Canada’s most northern school and a research and writing consultant. As well, she has held administrative positions with the British Columbia government and the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation.

“As a researcher in art education I’m currently interested in history and place. Thus, St. John’s, with its rich cultural heritage provides me with many opportunities,” she said.

Paul De Decker
Department of Linguistics

The newest member of the Linguistics Department, Paul De Decker, is a socio-phonetician who studies the relationship between society and speech or how one’s identity influences their speech patterns. His research examines both physical properties of spoken language and the gestures underlying speech in an effort to relate how the social uses of language contribute to variation within communities and sound change over time.

Before accepting the job as assistant professor at Memorial, Mr. De Decker completed his undergraduate and MA work in linguistics at York University in Toronto and is completing his PhD in sociolinguistics at New York University.

He is excited about the prospect of teaching and living in Newfoundland, especially in terms of how this relates to his work in understanding the social side of language. Mr. De Decker also hopes to incorporate the unique speech patterns of Newfoundland into his future research. “Ultimately I want to understand what in society contributes to variation in language and how we perceive and interpret differences in the speech around us.”

This fall Paul De Decker is teaching the undergraduate courses Language in Newfoundland and Experimental Phonetics.

Dr. Anne Burke
Faculty of Education

Dr. Anne Burke is now an assistant professor of children and adolescent literature and literacy education. Her research portfolio areas are in school readiness in early childhood, drama education, multimodal literacy and family literacy. Currently, she teaches children’s literature, digital texts and youth engagement, new literacies and multiliteracies, and is working on the SHHRC-funded Multicultural Picture Books.

“This is year three of the study, and I’m a co-investigator with colleague Roberta Hammett. The purpose of this study was to look specifically at issues pertaining to national identity ideology and representation in contemporary picture books, and the aim is to illuminate pre-service teacher’s perspectives on national identity, multiculturalism, and cultural differences.”

As a school-based researcher, Dr. Burke spends much time in classrooms and recently completed a study on youth culture, identities and literacy practices.

Other areas of research are in elementary children’s reading trajectories of computer screens. She has been invited to present at numerous international conferences such as International Reading Association and the United Kingdom Literacy Association.

She is currently editing Revisiting Assessment in New Literacies (2009) as part of the digital epistemologies series with Peter Lang Publishing.

Dr. Burke is also a graduate of the University of Toronto in the area of literacy education. Her research has been disseminated at local, national and international conferences.

Dr. Antonina Kolokolova
Department of Computer Science

Dr. Antonina Kolokova holds a B.Sc. (Hons.) from University of Arizona and a M.Sc. and PhD from the University of Toronto. She has also completed postdoctorate fellowships in Prague and at Simon Fraser University.

The new assistant professor’s research areas include theoretical computer science, complexity theory and mathematical logic. Her research involves analyzing the complexity of problems to determine how to tell if a problem is solvable, and if it is hard or easy; in other words, is there is a better and smarter way of solving it rather than just trying all the different possible solutions to find the best one.

“Proving that a problem is easy or proving that it is hard has benefit,” said Dr. Kolokolova. “Cryptographers need hard problems because if a problem is hard to solve only the person knowing the answer can answer the secret question.”

Dr. Kolokolova says people often jump to the conclusion that if you can’t find an efficient algorithm it’s because the problem is unsolvable. She says that’s not always the case.

“As a child you’re taught not to give up, but to try – practice and you will succeed,” she said. “This is not necessarily true and is actually counter-productive. If it is proven that you can’t do something you have to see if you can find another way. Perhaps you have to restate the problem, or find heuristics. You may not be able to solve this particular problem but it doesn’t mean you can’t do anything.”