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­New award affirms commitment to research excellence

From left: Dr. Ray Gosine, Dr. Ralf Bachmayer and Gary Vokey.

By Jeff Green

A $250,000 donation will help foster a new generation of emerging researchers at Memorial.

The creation of the Terra Nova Young Innovator Award was officially announced during a ceremony Oct. 28 on the St. John’s campus. The prestigious award is funded by the Terra Nova development, an offshore oil field operated by Suncor Energy.

The donation will allow awards to be presented annually to Memorial researchers in each of the next five years.

It will recognize, promote and support outstanding and emerging researchers whose innovative work has the potential to significantly impact society.
“The Terra Nova Young Innovator Award will recognize and provide early career support for outstanding young researchers at Memorial,” said Dr. Christopher W. Loomis, president and vice-chancellor pro tempore at Memorial.

“I applaud Suncor Energy and the owners of the Terra Nova development for their support of research excellence at our university. This new award reflects their vision and commitment to giving back to the communities in which they are such an important part.”
The announcement of the Terra Nova Young Innovator Award was made during a special celebration in Memorial’s School of Music honouring the 2009 recipients of the Petro-Canada Young Innovator Awards. Petro-Canada, which merged with Suncor Energy in August of 2009, has presented the award at Memorial University since 1998.

“Recipients of the Young Innovator Award represent the outstanding educational and scientific capabilities in our province,” said Alan Brown, vice-president, East Coast for Suncor Energy. “We’re delighted to be supporting a scholarship program that will not only keep promising researchers in our province, but will help to attract innovative researchers to Memorial.”

Dr. Ralf Bachmayer, an associate professor from Memorial’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and the Marine Institute, and Dr. Kristin Poduska, an associate professor from the Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, are the 2009, and final, recipients of the Petro-Canada Young Innovator Award.

Dr. Bachmayer is an emerging leader in the area of ocean technology with his innovative work using autonomous underwater gliders. His key interests focus on overcoming constraints on conventional gliders so they can be used in innovative scenarios such as missions under sea ice.

Dr. Poduska is a physicist who has established an advanced materials laboratory and embarked on an ambitious program to develop, characterize and understand novel coatings produced by using electrochemical techniques. She is interested in the coatings and the promise they have for improving bone healing associated with medical implants.

“Both Ralf and Kris are doing leading-edge work in their respective fields that is already having an impact in our communities,” said Dr. Ray Gosine, vice-president (research) pro tempore.

“They are worthy recipients of this award. I congratulate them and extend sincere appreciation to the award funders. I also commend Suncor Energy and the owners of the Terra Nova development for the creation of this new award for research excellence at Memorial. It will go a long way in attracting emerging high-calibre researchers at our university.”

Suncor Energy Inc. is Canada’s premier integrated energy company. Suncor’s operations include oil sands development and upgrading, conventional and offshore oil and gas production, petroleum refining, and product marketing.