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Focus on funding

Researchers net $1.9 M for unique projects

By Jeff Green

The hunt for archaeological sites along this province’s historic Northern Peninsula is going high tech, allowing researchers to use impressive new equipment to scan below the Earth’s surface in the search for ancient settlements.

That’s thanks to new provincial funding.

On Sept. 1, the Research and Development Corporation (RDC) of Newfoundland and Labrador announced $1.9 million in funding for 14 Memorial research projects under its Industrial Research and Innovation Fund (IRIF).

The projects include aquaculture, ocean technology and medicine, along with geodynamics, oil and gas, the fisheries and wireless communications.

Funding was also announced for Dr. Priscilla Renouf, Memorial’s Canada Research Chair in North Atlantic Archaeology in the Department of Archaeology, and a unique project she is heading up.

She received the largest amount – $500,000 for fieldwork in Port au Choix and other areas along the Northern Peninsula.

She said the investment will allow her to take her archeology work a step further.

“In my case these funds will enable me to upgrade my computer hardware and software and my archaeology field and lab equipment,” she said. “For the first time we will have equipment that will help us find new archaeological sites, precisely locate them and map their sub-surface characteristics.”

She said thanks to IRIF funding, she will be able to purchase a ground penetrating radar and a magnetometer, along with a satellite navigation system.

“The first two map subsoil characteristics, while the third precisely measures location of sites,” said Dr. Renouf, who added she appreciates the support from government and the RDC.

“These matching funds level the playing field to make Memorial researchers more competitive for national and international research funding,” she added. “They are of crucial importance. These new funds will support graduate fellowships, post-docs and research assistants who are an integral part of my research.”

Researchers from the faculties of science, arts, engineering and applied science, medicine and Sir Wilfred Grenfell College received support in the latest round of IRIF funding.

The financial support was welcome news for a pair of medical researchers.
Drs. Pauline Duke and Marshall Godwin obtained $180,115 for a collaborative study to evaluate the effectiveness, acceptability, and usage of self-sampling for human papillomavirus (HPV) in communities in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Dr. Godwin said the IRIF funding will put their research into motion.

“The funding is hugely important to us,” he said. “Without it this very important research on a means of increasing cervical cancer screening rates and hence reducing death from cervical cancer in women in Newfoundland and Labrador, would not have been able to be done.”

The IRIF fund was established by the provincial government in 2004 to provide post-secondary institutions and other not-for-profit research facilities with resources to attract additional federal investments in research and development.

In April 2009, the provincial government transferred administration of the fund to the newly-formed Research & Development Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador.

“The $1.9 million investment from the Research & Development Corporation, through IRIF, will significantly enhance our ability to attract the best quality researchers and to increase our research capacity and infrastructure in sectors that are strategic to both Memorial and RDC,” said Dr. Ray Gosine, Memorial’s vice-president (research) pro tempore.

“The Industrial Research and Innovation Fund is a key R&D investment vehicle for researchers that enables them to increase the scale of their work by leveraging additional R&D investment from regional, national and international funding sources,” added Glenn Janes, chief executive officer of the RDC. “The fund also encourages collaboration among academic researchers and industry and provides start-up investment to establish new R&D capacity in support of research and development in the province.”

Memorial researchers interested in learning how to apply for funding through RDC, including the Industrial Research and Innovation Fund (IRIF), should contact the Office of the Vice-President (Research).

Spotlight on funding

The following Memorial researchers received IRIF funding on Aug. 31:

Dr. Jeremy Hall,
Department of Earth Science, Faculty of Science

Dr. Priscilla Renouf,
Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, Faculty of Arts

Dr. Barbara Neis,
Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts

Drs. Mohammed Ahmed and Octavia Dobre,
Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science
(CFI) grant that is supporting this project for $200,000.

Prof. Dag Friis,
Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science

Drs. Pauline Duke and Marshall Godwin,
Faculty of Medicine

Dr. Robert Scott,
Sir Wilfred Grenfell College

Dr. Orland Hoeber,
Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Science

Dr. Angela Carter,
Sir Wilfred Grenfell College

Dr. Mark Abrahams,
Faculty of Science

Dr. Craig Purchase,
Department of Biology, Faculty of Science

Dr. Minglun Gong,
Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Science

Dr. Patrick Gagnon,
Ocean Sciences Centre, Faculty of Science

Dr. Abir Igamberdiev,
Department of Biology, Faculty of Science