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New Faculty

­­Dr. Robert Brown

Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science

Dr. Rob Brown holds a B.Sc. (hons.) and a PhD from the University of Ottawa. An assistant professor with the Department of Biochemistry, Dr. Brown joined Memorial University in September.

A former fellow of the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, he was most recently a fellow of the Center for Cardiovascular Research and Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Saint Louis University, prior to moving to this province.

Born in Wales, Dr. Brown emigrated to Calgary with his parents as a child, later moving to Ottawa for much of his education. His research area involves cardiovascular disease – specifically lipids, lipoproteins and metabolism.

"I study the balance between the good HDL cholesterol and the bad LDL cholesterol and the enzymes that influence those in the circulation," he explained. "These enzymes are involved in regulating the levels of HDL and LDL in the circulation. When lipids are released by these enzymes from the breakdown of cholesterol or triglycerides, some appear to act as signaling molecules.

"My interest is in identifying new pathways affected by the lipids that are present in the circulation and how those pathways potentially influence cardiovascular disease."

While he prepares his lab and hires graduate students to help with his research, Dr. Brown spends time exploring his new city's walking trails and is an avid hockey fan. He is enjoying getting to know his fellow colleagues in his department and is looking forward to working collaboratively with them in the near future.


Dr. Tao Cheng

Department ofEarth Sciences

Dr. Tao Cheng is originally from China and has a bachelor's degree in environmental engineering from Tsinghua University in Beijing. He completed his master's of civil engineering and PhD in civil (environmental) engineering at the University of Delaware and held a number of postdoctoral fellowships at Auburn University, Alabama; the California Institute of Technology; and Yale University.
He joined Memorial University as an assistant professor in the Department of Earth Sciences in August 2010 specializing in hydrogeology.

His research investigates the movement of contaminants in soil and ground water, as well as chemical reactions occurring at the rock-water interface.
"Adsorption, desorption, and mineral dissolution reactions at rock-water interfaces are important in controlling the scope of contamination and quality of water," explained Dr. Cheng.

He was drawn to Newfoundland and Labrador by the many exploration and development activities in this province.

"Those will certainly cause contamination in surface and ground water and I feel there will be a lot of interesting environmental problems to be explored in this province," he said. "This August I am going to an old mining site in Baie Verte. Because of the mine tailings stored at that site, surface water, soil, and ground water are contaminated. I will be studying the after effects of mining. But I also want to investigate how we can take measures to prevent contamination before activities like this even begin."


Raymond Neckoway

School of Social Work

In his role as assistant professor at the School of Social Work, Raymond Neckoway teaches graduate and undergraduate courses. Prior to coming to Memorial in July 2010, he taught at Lakehead University for 10 years, where he also received a bachelor and master's in social work.

In 2004 he received a SSHRC grant to study Cree and Ojibway parenting and child development knowledge. Prof. Neckoway describes his research interest on the subject of attachment theory in child welfare practice with Aboriginal Peoples.

"The historical pattern, when dealing with aboriginal families in Canada, is to favour ideas or solutions that can be called European or Western in origin. Aboriginal people have been expected to fit into theories developed outside of their culture. The problem is that theories of parenting do not incorporate aboriginal knowledge. Aboriginal ideas or solutions to their family or parenting problems are ignored or devalued."

Prof. Neckoway further explains that aboriginals had and have pre-existing parenting and child development knowledge, prior to European contact and to this day, but this knowledge is largely unknown to human service professionals who provide various services to this population, i.e., judges, social workers, and psychologists.

"I am new to the province and getting to know individuals, faculty and community members. I expect to collaborate with community leaders and practitioners in Newfoundland and Labrador and replicate some of the work I've done with the Cree and Ojibway people."

Prof. Neckoway recently co-edited a book entitled Social Work & Aboriginal Peoples: Perspectives from Canada's Rural and Provincial Norths. Information about the book can be found at:


Dr. Rebecca Schiff

Division of Community Health and Humanities, Faculty of Medicine

Dr. Rebecca Schiff is the first faculty member at Memorial to be located full-time in Labrador. She joined the Labrador Institute recently as assistant professor (aboriginal health) with the Division of Community Health and Humanities in the Faculty of Medicine.

Much of Dr. Schiff's recent work has focused on housing, homelessness and marginalized communities in the Canadian prairies. She is committed to community-based research that is rooted in collaborative, engaged and respectful inquiry.

She is also engaged with research and practice in food systems and community food security. Her doctoral research focused on food policy councils – collaborative planning and policy organizations which advocate for changes to food policy in support of social and environmental justice. She is a steering committee member for the Canadian Association of Food Studies.

Dr. Schiff has degrees in music and environmental studies from McGill University. In 2007 she completed a PhD in sustainable development at the Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy in Perth, Australia.

Dr. Schiff said she sees it as her job to take direction from the community and she will work with groups in Labrador to determine research priorities.