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SUBJECT: SWGC: Grenfell College’s research and teaching capacity alive and well
DATE: Jan. 20, 2006

While many sectors of the province are complaining about “brain drain”, Sir Wilfred Grenfell College is experiencing just the opposite.

This semester Grenfell College has seen an increase in the number of young Newfoundlanders returning to the area to work on campus.

“Not only do we have an increase of young faculty and staff, we are also seeing an increase in research activity through the auspices of the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Science (IBES) and the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Education, Research, Technology and Development (CEE),” said Dr. Wade Bowers, vice-principal (associate) for research at Grenfell College.

Minister Tom Marshall, PC legislature member for Humber East, was on campus recently to hear about Grenfell’s increasing research profile, and to meet some of the young people who have chosen to work on campus.

“It is encouraging to see the increase in the number of young, well-educated former Grenfell students who have been able to return to the province to obtain faculty and staff positions as a result of new research and development and the college’s expansion,” said Minister Marshall, minister of justice and attorney general as well as minister of intergovernmental affairs. “As we continue to see an increase in research and development at the college with the advancement of the Centre of Environmental Excellence and the establishment of the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Science (IBES), many more opportunities will be created to enable former residents to return and work in their home community.”

Minister Marshall said the CEE is not only recognized on a local and national level but is also developing a reputation internationally.

“It will attract more international students and highly qualified faculty to do research here in Corner Brook,” he said. “Eventually new technologies arising from research and development will become commercialized resulting in new environmentally friendly knowledge-based industries with even more employment opportunities. The young people who fill these new jobs will no doubt take on leadership roles in the community and be a part of a revitalization of the island’s west coast.”

Many of the people who’ve returned to the area are Grenfell alumni. Take Dr. Doreen Churchill for instance – she graduated from Grenfell in 1998 with a B.Sc. (honours) in environmental science (chemistry stream).

“I returned to Grenfell to teach, and to work for the Centre of Excellence as project officer, as it allows me to do work in my field in one of the best places in the world – Corner Brook, Newfoundland,” said Dr. Churchill. “I could not think of a better place to work and play, and to raise my family.”

Dr. Sonya Corbin-Dwyer attended Grenfell from 1985-87, before it began to offer degree programs.

“I really enjoyed my time here as a student because it allowed me to get to know my professors and they got to know me,” said Dr. Corbin-Dwyer. “This is one of the advantages of a smaller student population. When I had the opportunity to visit Grenfell for a few weeks during my sabbatical in 2004, I was impressed with what I saw – particularly the relationships between the professors and students. I felt a strong sense of community – a good place to teach and do research.”

Dr. Corbin-Dwyer’s research includes women’s educational experiences of graduate programs, the experiences of mothering created through trans-racial adoption, and students’ international educational experiences.

Dr. Martin Moroni, adjunct professor with Grenfell College, is an example of the excellent research talent currently housed on campus. As a climate change scientist with the Canadian Forest Service, part of Natural Resources Canada (which is located in the Forest Centre), Dr. Moroni is currently studying the interactions between forests and the atmosphere.

“I work on national priority issues with people across the country,” said Dr. Moroni. He is also a co-supervisor along with Dr. Bowers and Dr. John Drover for a German PhD student currently conducting research at Grenfell. This is an example of the international reputation that Grenfell College is building.

Ulrike Hageman from the University of Technology in Dresden, Germany, saw the research potential at Grenfell and the surrounding area during a visit last year. With the development of the CEE and IBES, it wasn’t hard to convince her to come.

“For the completion of my bachelor degree with the Technical University of Dresden, Germany, I completed a research project in Corner Brook in 2002 and enjoyed my experience,” said Ms. Hageman, who will be researching the forest carbon cycle in Labrador. “I was considering where to do my PhD research and was interested in returning to Corner Brook. I heard of the opportunities that were becoming available through the CEE while in Germany and thought collaboration with the CEE, Grenfell College and the Canadian Forest Service would be a good choice for my PhD.”

Dr. Jennifer Buckle chose to join the faculty of psychology at Grenfell because she appreciated the small campus atmosphere.

“I completed my undergraduate degree at a small campus, similar to Grenfell, and have always valued the solid foundation that it provided me,” she said. “I was also interested in Grenfell because of its commitment to excellence in university teaching. It the short time I have been here, it has been clear to me that excellence in teaching, in addition to research, is a priority. In my opinion, this priority provides a very rich learning environment for students. I was born and raised in Corner Brook - it is wonderful to be back home and part of the Grenfell community.”

Dr. Buckle’s research specialty is clinical psychology. Within that broad domain, her current research interests are specifically in the area of grief and trauma, and the impact losing a child has on parents as they continue to parent their surviving children.

“Through our programming in research and education and our partnerships on the local, provincial and international levels we are poised to play an increasing role in economic development for the Western region,” said Dr. John Ashton, principal of the college. “We aspire to keep more of our educated young people in the area, to provide opportunities for others to come home and to attract bright and creative young minds here from across Canada and around the world.”

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