Focus on collaboration
Humber River Basin Project annual networking conference:By Pamela Gill
Collaboration was the buzzword of the day as Sir Wilfred Grenfell College’s Humber River Basin Project (HRBP) held its second annual networking conference.
The networking conference featured a series of presentations by distinguished guests from Memorial University, and federal and provincial departments such as the Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development, a major supporter of the Humber River Basin Project. More than 60 participants from universities, government, and the broader community explored the evolving research environment of the region, province and country. Poster presentations from the HRBP’s researchers and their students were also exhibited.
Dr. Holly Pike, vice-president for Corner Brook, believes that one of the great values of research is in bringing people together in a post-secondary environment.
“Conducting research is more than simply gaining knowledge and understanding for its own sake,” said Dr. Pike. “Research is also an integral component of a university education. The Humber River Basin Project illustrates the opportunities that research creates for students at all levels and in a diversity of environments. Our students can learn the significance of partnerships and networking, which will serve them well at local, regional and global levels.”
Dr. Ray Gosine, vice-president (research), pro tempore, spoke to the importance of collaboration between Memorial, its stakeholders, partners and the public.
“As the sole university in Newfoundland and Labrador, we find ourselves playing many roles,” he said, adding that addressing the challenges this presents has meant aligning the university’s research endeavours with activities and initiatives in the province. “For instance, we have 26 Canada Research Chairs at Memorial, and we have tried to align them with important areas in the province. We have a particular obligation to meet the needs of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.”
One of several organizations represented at the conference was the Research & Development Corporation (RDC). Established in 2008 and proclaimed a Crown corporation in 2009, the RDC reports to the premier and has a budget of $25 million.
“We’re interested in building capacity at non-commercial institutions that support R&D relevant to industry and our economy,” said Glenn Janes, chief executive officer. “We also have a very proactive approach with respect to leveraging funds to catalyze growth – we try to entice additional resources, new expertise, new staff and academic institutions. It’s really about collaborative R&D in support of innovation and economic growth.”
The impetus for the conference, the Humber River Basin Project (HRBP), is a major research program led by Sir Wilfred Grenfell College; it is a comprehensive and integrated approach to ecological assessment and long-term monitoring. The basin represents a valued and important asset of western Newfoundland and serves as an excellent platform from which to develop knowledge and generate models for addressing critical issues surrounding resource management and sustainability.
Dr. Wade Bowers, principal investigator for the project, noted that integrated research approaches are essential if we are to understand the complex issue of sustainability.
“The Humber River Basin project represents a local example of capacity building, where our university can collaborate with local and global partners to ensure we understand and sustain our natural capital,” said Dr. Bowers. “Consistent with Grenfell’s strategic plan, this project focuses on discovering, understanding and sustaining ‘place.’ Building a stronger environmental research agenda is critical if Grenfell is to make a significant contribution to the citizens of our province.”