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Research

Research is one of the most important program areas at the Labrador Institute. The Labrador Institute has a long record of supporting researchers and research activities throughout Labrador and beyond. Many of their project reports are archived in our Library. The Labrador Institute has a practice of hosting PhD students and post-doctoral fellows, who conduct research in and about Labrador. 

The following individuals represent various faculties, disciplines, and universities that are involved in carrying out research in or about Labrador. 

Current Memorial University Faculty Research Partners

Dr. Trevor J. Bell
Dr. Trevor Bell is a physical geographer and field scientist who studies landscape and seabed history from a variety of perspectives to address a range of research questions from theoretical to applied. His approach is strongly interdisciplinary and collaborative, involving analysis and expertise from a range of disciplines in the earth, life, and social sciences. Dr. Bell is a researcher with the Labrador Highlands Research Group of Memorial University.

Dr. Mario Blaser
Dr. Mario Blaser is the current Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Aboriginal Studies. His research interests can be summarized with the title of his graduate course, “When Worlds Meet.” He is working through the idea that 'moderns' have a very particular way of producing the world they live in, one that is profoundly marked by the nature/culture divide. This is a very basic, ontological, assumption about how reality is constituted that expresses itself in a variety of ways: from the way in which we conceive what constitutes accurate knowledge, to the way in which we conceive politics. He looks at this problematic through the various relations between modern institutions (from science to government) and the world that emerge from Aboriginal peoples' experiences and practices. In Labrador, this general problematic is addressed through a specific project Caring for Atikuat/Caribou that looks at the practices and politics of caring for this entity.

Dr. Luise Hermanutz
Dr. Luise Hermanutz is a biologist at Memorial University whose research interests include: Conservation Biology of endangered species, Plant Ecology (arctic-alpine & boreal systems); Protected Areas Strategies, Invasive species biology and impact; Climate change effects on boreal & arctic ecosystems. Dr. Hermanutz currently has field project in: Mealy Mountains, Labrador; Terra Nova NP, Gros Morne NP, Great Northern Peninsula. Dr. Hermanutz is a researcher with the Labrador Highlands Research Group of Memorial University.

Dr. John Jacobs
Dr. John Jacobs is a geographer whose current research is concerned with climate variability and change in northeastern Canada and includes field-based studies in Newfoundland and Labrador of highland climates and ecosystems. Other research has focussed on the hydroclimatology and chemistry of seasonally snow-covered watersheds. Dr. Jacobs is a researcher with the Labrador Highlands Research Group of Memorial University.

Lori McNeill 
Lori McNeill obtained a B.A. from University of New Brunswick, specializing in Psychology and Sociology, a M.A. in Human Development, specializing in Psychology, Sociology, and Kinesiology, and during her time with the LI, was completing a dissertation as a final requirement for a Ph.D. in School and Child Clinical Psychology at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto. Lori wishes to take on a scientist-practitioner mode of practice; utilizing her clinical skills in research endeavors. Her research interests focus on mental health determinants of rural Aboriginal people, including, availability and suitability of mental health services, education, family dynamics, protective and risk factors, and the reliability of standardized psychological assessment tools and mental health diagnoses with Aboriginal people. Her Master's level research explored determinants of rural Labrador adolescents' willingness to relocate for further education beyond high school. Her Doctorate level research is an exploratory study of Labrador Inuit parent's involvement in their children's schooling; specifically, can predictive variables presented in the literature be used to study parent involvement in Inuit families.

Dr. Lisa Rankin
Dr. Lisa Rankin is an Archaeologist and the Head of the Department of Archaeology at Memorial University. She is interested in the long Aboriginal history on the Labrador coast. Over the past twelve years she has conducted research from in Saglek Bay, Nulliak Cove, Groswater Bay and Sandwich Bay. She is currently the Principle Investigator of a Community University Research Alliance project called Understanding the Past to Build the Future which partners a group of historical researchers with the Southern Inuit in order to learn more about Inuit history in the south. Her archaeological work associated with this project is focused on the expansion of the Inuit into southern Labrador, and their interactions with various European explorers, fishers and whalers in the region in the early modern era.

Dr. Angela Robinson
Dr. Angela Robinson, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Social/Cultural Studies (Anthropology) program at the Grenfell Campus of Memorial University. Dr. Robinson has worked and studied among Aboriginal populations in Atlantic Canada and Quebec for the past 12 years. Her earlier research and writing focuses on Mi’kmaw society, particularly in reference to culture, spirituality/religion and identity and the ways in which these aspects of Mi’kmaw lifeways interconnect. Her most recent research pertains to issues of identity for Mi’kmaw populations in Newfoundland and Labrador. In 2011 she began research on the Magdalen Islands, Quebec which investigates the ways in which economic development and issues of sustainability impact on localized populations. Angela hopes to extend this research to Labrador by investigating regional disparity in Happy Valley-Goose Bay in reference to progressive and ongoing economic development in the region and its impact on local populations with a specific focus on economically marginalized groups.

Dr. Paul Sylvester

Dr. Douglas Wharram
Dr. Douglas Wharram is Coordinator of the Aboriginal Studies Minor Programme and Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics at Memorial University. As a formal semanticist, Dr. Wharram is presently engaged in investigations into the interpretational properties of indefinite noun phrases. Specifically, he works on Inuktitut (Labrador Inuttut and South Baffin, even more specifically), and, to a much lesser extent, Kalaallisut.

Dr. Derek Wilton
Dr. Derek Wilton is a professor in the Department of Earth Sciences, Memorial University. Most of his research has been conducted in Labrador, from Cape Chidley to the Straits to Labrador West. He has sailed the northern Labrador coast, north of Nain, six times up to circum-navigating Killiniq Island; the most recent expedition was the subject of a Nature of Things episode on the Geologic Journey series. He has been involved with outreach in Labrador, including in 2006 conducting a six-week tour through Labrador visiting 19 high schools to talk about geology and conduct community meetings on research, in 2007 conducting a five-day course on geology for the Innu Guardians in Sheshatshui, and a one-day workshop in Port Hope Simpson on the mineral exploration industry in 2008. He was a guest “performer” at the Labrador Creative Arts Festival in November 2008. Along with collaborators, Martha MacDonald, Janet McNaughton, and Linda Nutoio-Flynn, he co-wrote The Polar Bear in the Rock: Two Windows on the Planet, a children’s book on aspects of the geology of northern Labrador released March 22-26, 2010, in Nain, Hopedale and Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

Current Memorial University Graduate Student Researchers

Nathaniel Pollock
Nathaniel Pollock is a 3rd year PhD student from the Division of Community Health and Humanities in Memorial’s Faculty of Medicine. His research is focused on improving community and health system approaches to suicide prevention in Labrador. This work involves partnerships with the regional health authority and First Nations and Inuit communities in central and northern Labrador.

Current Labrador Institute Employee Graduate Students

Martha MacDonald
Martha MacDonald, Associate Director, is a PhD student in the Interdisciplinary Program. Her interest is in narratives around Labrador Inuttut language loss.

Scott Neilsen
Scott Neilsen is the primary researcher for “The Sheshatshiu Archaeology Project” and Sivunivut’s community research project, “Traditional knowledge: A Blueprint for Change”. Prior to his work with the Labrador Institute, Scott was the principal investigator for several research and consulting projects in Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. His MA in Archaeology was completed at Memorial University in 2006, and Scott is currently working towards a PhD in Anthropology on a part-time basis. He is the recipient of a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship for his PhD research (Archaeology Beyond the Horizon) and he is a Fellow of the School of Graduate Studies at Memorial University. In 2008, Scott was awarded the first ever Robert McGhee award for northern research.

Current Non-Memorial University Researchers

Dr. Tim Borlase

Dr. Susan Crate
Susan Crate is an interdisciplinary scholar and applied social scientist with a focus on the complex issues of human-environment interactions. She received her PhD from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, trained in cultural anthropology and human ecology. She practices ethnography and applied anthropology. She specializes in the human dimensions of environmental change, cultural and political ecology, environmental policy, sustainable rural development, cultural transformation through social change and climate change with communities globally. She has worked with indigenous communities in Siberia since 1988 and specifi¬Ācally with Viliui Sakha since 1991. From 2007 on she has expanded her investigative research to Labrador in the Canadian Arctic, Chesapeake Bay, rural Wales, the Small Island State of Kiribati and highland Peru, focused on understanding local perceptions, understandings and responses of rural communities in the face of unprecedented climate change. Crate is the author of numerous peer-reviewed articles, one monograph, Cows, Kin and Globalization: An Ethnography of Sustainability, 2006, Alta Mira Press and senior editor of the 2009 volume, Anthropology and Climate Change: From Encounters to Actions, Left Coast Press. She is an Associate Professor on Anthropology in the Department of Environmental Science & Policy at George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia. Since 2009 she has collaborated with the Labrador Institute on a project funded by the National Science Foundation (National Science Foundation, Office of Polar Programs, Arctic Science Program Grant 0902146) entitled, “Understanding Climate-Driven Phenological Change: Observations, Adaptations and Cultural Implications in Northeastern Siberia and Labrador/Nunatsiavut (PHENARC). The primarly objective is to understand present and potential future linkages between Arctic system climate change, altered phenological processes, and adaptations and responses of human societies to these changes. She has been working in the communities of Makkovik, Mud Lake and Hopedale. For more information see: http://mason.gmu.edu/~scrate1/

Dr. Stephen Loring
Dr. Stephen Loring was born and grew-up in Concord, Massachusetts where he was deeply influenced by the writings (and antiquarian pursuits) of Henry David Thoreau and by the vestiges of a "natural" New England landscape that had not yet completely succumbed to suburban sprawl. Literally weeks spent on the Concord and Merrimac (as well as the Sudbury and Assabeth) Rivers allowed him to pursue his decidedly 19th-century antiquarian proclivities to search for arrowheads and possibly extinct species of birds, and catch reptiles and amphibians of all sorts. These are activities best pursued from a canoe in latitudes ranging from 52 to 65 degrees north, although in his younger days he was known to habituate swamps in the deep south. Between about 1971 and 1976 he spent a disproportionate amount of time in northern Quebec and Labrador. There hunger drove him to become a hunter and there he befriended other hunters, some like himself and others from Innu and Inuit communities.

Dr. David Natcher
Dr. David Natcher is trained as an applied cultural anthropologist, with a specific focus on economic and natural resource anthropology. Dr. Natcher has held faculty appointments at the University of Alaska (Anthropology) and Memorial University of Newfoundland. While at Memorial University he held a Tier II Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Studies (2004-2007). He is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Bioresource Policy, Business and Economics at the University of Saskatchewan where he also serves as Academic Chair of the Indigenous Peoples Resource Management Program and Executive Director of the Indigenous Land Management Institute.

Past Memorial University Faculty Research Partners

Dr. Keith P. Lewis
During his time as a Labrador Institute reasearch partner, Dr. Keith P. Lewis was a post-doctoral fellow and lecuturer at Memorial University. Much of his past work has been with songbirds and his interests have been in testing various ways in which invasive species influence the predation of nest birds in Newfoundland. As a member of the Labrador Highlands Research Group, Dr. Lewis' interests have expanded into two main areas of interest: seed dispersal and avian habitat use.

Dr. Paul Marino
Dr. Paul Marino specializes in Bryophyte and Agricultural Ecology. His interests are: bryophyte ecology; plant-insect interactions; agricultural ecology; biological control. He is a researcher with the Labrador Highlands Research Group of Memorial University.

Dr. J.R. Pickavance
Dr. J.R. Pickavance is a researcher with the Labrador Highlands Research Group. Dr. Pickavance's research focuses on the population biology, sytematics and natural history of spiders and other invertebrate animals.

Dr. Alvin Simms
Dr. Alvin Simms is a geographer with a specialty in GIS and Spatial Analysis. He spent 10 years as a research scientist with the Centre for Cold Ocean Resources Engineering (C-CORE) and has 15 years of experience studying environmental hazards associated with offshore oil exploration and devlopment in Eastern Canada and the Beaufort Sea. Currently, his research focuses on spatial analysis and GIS based modeling applications related to regional planning and development, health services as well as social-economic and resource management issues. He is a researcher with the Labrador Highlands Research Group of Memorial University.

Past Memorial University Graduate Student Researchers

Damián Castro
Damián Castro is a PhD candidate in Anthropology at Memorial University. His project is entitled: “Caribou Meat Distribution Networks in the Community of Sheshatshiu.

Rachel Hirsch
During her time with the LI, Rachel Hirsch was an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University and a Labrador Institute Postdoctoral Fellow at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Her postgraduate work was conducted at the University of Western Ontario and she had recently completed her first postdoctoral fellowship at York University. Rachel's postdoctoral work expanded on her doctoral research by exploring how everyday decision-making about environmental health information, across scales from communities through to the federal government in Canada, can inform government initiatives to promote healthy communities and cities. Rachel has also been actively involved as principal investigator in the development and implementation of a technique called knowledge tracking meant to assess the use and exchange of a local message from Iqaluit, Nunavut about climate change and health by municipal, territorial, and federal policy actors. Rachel maintains connections with York University as an Executive Member of the Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability and as co-chair of the Climate Consortium for Research Action Integration working group on interdisciplinary collaboration. 
Rachel resided in Nain from January-December 2012 where she worked on issues of knowledge mobilization and environmental health program evaluation. She was a partner on an innovative project, the first of its kind in Canada, focused on working together with community members, the Nain Inuit Community Government (NICG) and the Nunatsiavut Government (NG) to expand Nain's community freezer program to include a youth outreach component focused on intergenerational skills, knowledge, and values exchange and to evaluate the success of this environmental health intervention by drawing on techniques in participatory program evaluation.

Andrea Procter

Andrea Procter is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Memorial University where she is working on her thesis “Cultural politics of natural resource management in Nunatsiavut, Labrador”. Ms. Procter’s research interests include The role of cultural politics in land claims negotiations and implementation, resource management and inequality, land use planning, co-management, decolonialization, and the politics of recognition.

Carolina Tytelman
Carolina Tytelman is a PhD candidate in Anthropology at Memorial University. Her project is entitled: “People and Trees: Forest Co-Management in Nitassinan-Labrador”.

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