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Research renewal

Feds commit millions to home-grown research

Dr. William Driedzic was one of four researchers renewed as a Canada Research Chair (CRC) during a news conference last month. He was renewed as the university’s CRC in Marine Bioscience. The three other faculty members renewed include: Dr. Dale Corbett, Canada Research Chair in Stroke and Neuroplasticity; Dr. Qiying Chen, Canada Research Chair in Photonics; and Dr. Duncan McIlroy, Canada Research Chair in Petroleum Geoscience/Geotechnology.

By Jeff Green

Smiles and congratulatory handshakes filled the atrium of the Inco Innovation Centre late last month as four leading faculty members received a major vote of confidence from Ottawa for their research.

The federal government invested $3.8 million into the work of the researchers – some of the university’s most specialized experts – as it renewed them as Canada Research Chairs during a March 26 news conference.

Dr. Dale Corbett, a professor of neuroscience in the Faculty of Medicine, was renewed as Canada Research Chair in Stroke and Neuroplasticity, while Dr. William Driedzic, a professor at the Ocean Sciences Centre, was renewed as the CRC in Marine Bioscience.

Dr. Qiying Chen of the Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography was renewed as Canada Research Chair in Photonics, and Dr. Duncan McIlroy, of the Department of Earth Sciences, was renewed as Canada Research Chair in Petroleum Geoscience/Geotechnology.

As tier one Canada Research Chairs, Drs. Corbett and Driedzic will receive $200,000 individually for seven years, for a total of $1.4 million each. Tier one chairs, tenable for seven years and renewable, are for outstanding researchers acknowledged by their peers as world leaders in their fields.

Drs. Chen and McIlroy will receive $100,000 annually for five years, for a total of $500,000 each. Tier two chairs, tenable for five years and renewable once, are for exceptional emerging researchers, acknowledged by their peers as having the potential to lead in their field.

“It is a tremendous vote of confidence that the work that has been conducted in my laboratory has the potential to be considered to be significant,” Dr. Driedzic said of his renewal.

Dr. McIlroy said he’s privileged to have time to focus on his research.

“I believe that time is one of the greatest assets that a researcher can be given,” he noted. “The time to spend with the incredible young researchers that I have been able to attract and retain at Memorial makes for a rich learning environment and is something I greatly appreciate.”

The federal government created the CRC program in 2000 with the goal of making this country one of the world’s top nations in research and development.

The CRC program invests $300 million per year to attract and retain some of the world’s most accomplished and promising minds.

Dr. Ray Gosine, vice-president (research) pro tempore said the four renewals reinforce Memorial’s reputation for research of international importance and significance.

“Each of these researchers is a strong advocate – and contributor – to his discipline and research area,” he said. “Even more importantly, their research is having direct impacts on people, communities and industries here in this province, Canada and internationally.”

Memorial is home to 26 Canada Research Chairs studying areas such as environmental sciences, ocean technology, regional language and oral text, viral hepatitis and immunology, and North Atlantic archaeology.