Vice-president (research) talks ocean innovation in Halifax
By Meaghan Whelan
Dr. Christopher Loomis, vice-president (research) at Memorial University, was a featured panellist at the Atlantic Provinces Chambers of Commerce Atlantic Prosperity Summit in Nova Scotia earlier this month.
The event, which featured speakers from government and industry, focused on oceans and their impact on the economic future of the region.
Dr. Loomis was asked to speak about ocean innovation at Memorial University.
"From the very beginning, research at Memorial has been influenced by our location in the North Atlantic," said Dr. Loomis. "The ocean is a rich, living laboratory right outside our doors and our researchers take advantage of the opportunities that it offers us in all areas related to oceans, including fisheries and aquaculture, ocean technology, offshore safety, ocean engineering, governance and sustainability."
During his presentation, Dr. Loomis touched on major funding announcements of the last few years that relate to oceans: the $16-million expansion of the Ocean Sciences Centre, which is expected to make Memorial an international destination for cold ocean, deep water research; the $6.8 million-expansion of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science to create space for innovative research and industry collaboration related to ocean technology and the offshore petroleum sector; C-CORE's $16.5 million Centre for Arctic Resource Development and $9.1 million LOOKNorth project; and expansion of programming and research capability at the Marine Institute.
Dr. Loomis said Memorial's commitment to developing and supporting national and international collaborations is one of the university's strengths, citing Dr. Paul Snelgrove's Canadian Healthy Oceans Network (CHONe) project and Dr. Ratana Chuenpagdee' s Too Big to Ignore project as examples.
Dr. Snelgrove, Canada Research Chair in Boreal and Cold Ocean Systems, leads CHONe, a national research program and strategic partnership formed to unite university researchers with scientists and managers from Canada's national resources agencies, to provide new insights into marine biodiversity in Canada's three oceans and to develop scientific guidelines for conservation and sustainable use of marine resources. Dr. Snelgrove leads more than 44 CHONe projects across the country.
Dr. Chuenpagdee, Canada Research Chair in Natural Resource Sustainability and Community Development, is spearheading a global project aimed at addressing the marginalization of small-scale fisheries in national and international policies and developing research and governance capacity to address global fisheries challenges. This multi-project involves 15 partners and researchers from 27 countries.
"Funders have recognized our strong capacity in the area of ocean sustainability, and our willingness, as an institution, to support our researchers as they lead national and international research teams," Dr. Loomis explained. "The fact that they have chosen Memorial as the lead on these projects is an endorsement of the work that we have been doing and will continue to do to ensure the sustainability of Canada's three oceans."
In the area of ocean technology, Dr. Loomis said Memorial's innovative approach to research projects has led to technologies with real-world applicability.
"Virtual Marine Technology, a global company with roots at Memorial, is a prime example of how innovation-to-commercialization can work. By taking advantage of Memorial's considerable resources related to ocean technology and with support from the university's research commercialization and business incubation units, a student's idea has become a profitable company that is changing the way people are trained to respond to disasters at sea."
Dr. Loomis closed his presentation by saying that Memorial was particularly well-suited to developing new innovations.
"Innovation comes in many forms: technology that creates new value for users, ideas that change the way we approach complex problems, new methods of doing business that create a catalyst of growth," he said. "As a relatively young institution, Memorial is coming to the forefront of oceans expertise, and I expect that you'll be hearing much more from us as our students, faculty and staff continue to tackle the issues and opportunities that face our ocean resources with creativity, collaboration and innovation."