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Two researchers honoured with prestigious new award

By Meaghan Whelan

Two Memorial scholars have received Terra Nova Young Innovator Awards in recognition of their research in two very different fields: information systems and marine biotechnology.

Dr. Joerg Evermann, associate professor of information systems in the Faculty of Business Administration, and Dr. Matt Rise, assistant professor and a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Marine Biotechnology in the Faculty of Science, each received $50,000 as the inaugural recipients.

The two were recognized at a luncheon in their honour on March 11. Kim Keating, engineering and technology team lead at Suncor Energy, was on hand for the event.

The Terra Nova Young Innovator Awards are meant to recognize, promote and support outstanding and emerging researchers whose innovative work has the potential to significantly impact society. The prestigious award is funded by the Terra Nova development, an offshore oil field operated by Suncor Energy.

“The Terra Nova Young Innovator Awards recognize the work of outstanding young researchers at this university,” said Dr. Christopher Loomis, vice-president (research). “The funding provided by our sponsors, Suncor Energy and the Terra Nova development, will enable Drs. Evermann and Rise to investigate their innovative ideas from which new valued-added products and services often emerge.”

“The Terra Nova Young Innovator Award recognizes outstanding and innovative research,” said Kim Keating, engineering and technology team lead, Suncor Energy. “These researchers contribute significantly, not only to our academic community, but to the research and development capacity of our province. “

Dr. Evermann is a leading young researcher in the field of information systems. His research focuses on data integration in database systems. When organizations merge separate databases, the challenge of combining data from separate systems emerges. Prior research has approached integration as a technical matter, but Dr. Evermann views data integration as a cognitive problem. His research funded by the Terra Nova Young Innovator Award will examine why people make the judgments and decisions they do when it comes to integrating multiple databases.

Dr. Rise uses genomic approaches to investigate the genetic basis of fish defence responses. With the support provided by the Terra Nova Young Innovator Award, Dr. Rise will develop and use genomics tools to investigate the Atlantic salmon macrophage response to Piscirickettsia salmonis, a bacterial pathogen that causes significant losses in salmon aquaculture production each year. This study will reveal host molecular pathways altered during P. salmonis infection, and may lead to the development of new diagnostic techniques, vaccines, and therapeutics to combat the infection.

The Terra Nova Young Innovator Awards builds on the legacy of the Petro-Canada Young Innovator Awards. Petro-Canada, which was merged with Suncor Energy in August 2009, sponsored the award at Memorial University from 1998-2009. Suncor Energy, through the Terra Nova development, has committed to continue sponsoring this prestigious annual award (valued at $250,000) for the next five years.

The application deadline for next year’s Terra Nova Young Innovator Awards is April 15, 2011. The awards are earned through a highly competitive, peer-reviewed process and applications are welcome from all disciplines.

Up to $50,000 will be awarded each year. The funding is to be used for a specific research project with a year to 18-month duration.

Full application details are available online, www.mun.ca/research/researchers/innovators_program.php.

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