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New Faculty

Dr. Tom Baird

Mathematics and Statistics, Faculty of Science

Dr. Tom Baird arrived at Memorial in January. Born and raised in Gander, the new assistant professor says he was part of the exodus of young people who left the province in the late ‘90s, never expecting to return.

However, after completing his undergraduate and graduate degrees in Ontario at Queen’s University and University of Toronto respectively, and a postdoctoral fellowship at the Field’s Institute at Oxford University, a timely opportunity to return to Newfoundland and Labrador was too much to resist.

His current research brings together two fields of study, geometry and topology, two different facets of the study of shapes.

“Topology has to do with the gross features of shapes, how many pieces they have, how many holes they have drilled through them, while geometry is concerned with how long something is, how it curves, and what the angles are,” explained Dr. Baird.

“The kinds of shapes that I’m interested in typically are drawn from mathematical physics, things like quantum field theory and string theory, and shapes that possess interesting symmetry. There have been a lot of interesting and exciting ideas developed in physics over the last 30 years which introduce new mathematical structures to explain things like space-time and particles. I’m taking these new concepts and exploring them, trying to develop them from a mathematical perspective.”

An experience in high school with Memorial University and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics may have contributed to his career choice. Dr. Baird was fortunate to participate in the Blundon Seminar, an annual event held by the department which brings together top math students from across the province and exposes them to math at the university level.

“It was a great experience and it probably influenced my decision to study math later in life,” he said. “Earlier this summer, I was thrilled to participate once again, only this time as a faculty member.”


Dr. Roger Chafe

Director of Pediatric Research, Faculty of Medicine

Dr. Roger Chafe has taken on the new position of director of pediatric research in the Faculty of Medicine. The Discipline of Pediatrics has an expanding program of research on the prevention, treatment and elimination of childhood disease and the new Pediatric Clinical Research Centre will provide core services to researchers.

The Pediatric Clinical Research Centre is in the process of moving to the Newfoundland and Labrador Clinical Research Centre, located in Level 4 and 5 of the Agnes Cowan Hostel, next to the Health Sciences Centre facing west. This research centre is a joint project of Eastern Health and the Faculty of Medicine.
As director of Pediatric Research, Dr. Chafe will help medical residents in research training, work with faculty on research project, and develop his own research program in the area of pediatrics.

Dr. Chafe was previously a senior policy analyst with the Research Unit of Health System Strategy Division in the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and is an adjunct professor in the School of Health Administration at Dalhousie University. From Sept. 2008 to Dec. 2009 he was a research associate at the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto. His previous employment in Newfoundland includes working as a program specialist with Eastern Health’s Department of Corporate Strategy and Research, a researcher for health policy with the Division of Community Health and a researcher for knowledge transfer with the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre of Applied Health Research.

He did his PhD, master’s degree and BA (Hons) at Memorial. His PhD dissertation examined how health care resources are allocated.

Dr. Atanu Sarkar

Division of Community Health and Humanities

Dr. Atanu Sarkar’s research interests and expertise are in the area of environmental health and occupational health. In environmental health he has studied agriculture, water, climate change, and air quality. In occupational health he has experience with research on electronic waste handlers and agriculture labourers. He received the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research from the Faculty of Health Sciences at Queen’s University in 2010.

Dr. Sarkar earned a master’s degree in environmental studies in 2010 at Queen’s University, Kingston. He holds a PhD from the Center of Social Medicine and Community Health at Jawaharla Nehru University in New Delhi, India, and a master's degree in community health from Jawaharlal Nehru University. He earned a bachelor in medicine and surgery in 1992 from the University of Burdwan, India.

Dr. Sarkar has professional experience as a researcher on public health projects in India. He was the lead researcher for a study on the impact of climate change in India funded by the World Health Organization (WHO). He also headed up a study on the assessment of exposure and effect of electronic waste. From February 2006 to August 2008 he was an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Policy Studies at TERI University in New Delhi. He served WHO as a surveillance medical officer in India and worked on community health programs and food security in Ethiopia as a country medical co-ordinator of an international organization.

Dr. Sarkar has published three books, two research articles in indexed journals, contributed chapters in five edited books, and presented 14 papers in international conferences. He has served as a core team member for the employment condition and health dimension (EMCONET), Commission of Social Determinants of Health.


Dr. Barbara Thomas

School of Pharmacy

Dr. Barbara Thomas recently completed her doctorate in Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) from the University of Colorado and has accepted a cross-appointment as clinical assistant professor with the School of Pharmacy.

Dr. Thomas currently practices in direct patient care as a clinical pharmacist within the Mental Health and Addictions Program of Eastern Health. In this capacity she has been affiliated with the School of Pharmacy at Memorial for many years serving as a preceptor and mentor to numerous under-graduate students. Barbara has been involved in research projects in psychiatry and her primary area of interest lies in research that will help optimize outcomes in schizophrenia management.

She is also actively involved in the pharmacy community both at the provincial and national level. She serves on the board of directors of the Canadian Council of Continuing Education in Pharmacy (CCCEP) and chairs the Registration and Licensing Committee of the Newfoundland and Labrador Pharmacy Board. She will also co-chair an advisory committee that will oversee the development of continuing professional development (CPD) programs for pharmacists in Newfoundland and Labrador through the Professional Development and Conferencing Services at Memorial.

In her new position with the faculty of pharmacy, Dr. Thomas will have enhanced teaching responsibilities as well as a more defined role in mentorship and supervision of pharmacy students in structured practical experience (SPE) component of the pharmacy program.

Dr. Thomas is very pleased and excited to have the opportunity to work more closely with students, faculty and staff at the school of pharmacy.