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REF NO.: 278

SUBJECT: Memorial University awarded five Canada Research Chairs

DATE: May 3,2006

            Date:               May 3, 2006
Subject:          Memorial University awarded five Canada Research Chairs
 
The health of cultured and wild marine animals, local dialects and languages and the challenges coastal communities face are just some of the areas of study that Memorial University’s newest Canada Research Chairs will be exploring.
            At an announcement held at Université Laval, Québec, Maxime Bernier, minister of Industry and minister responsible for the Canada Research Chairs Program announced that Memorial University was awarded five new Tier 2 Chairs worth $2.5 million.
“The chairs program allows us to attract and retain the best scholars in the world," said Dr. Christopher Loomis, Memorial’s vice-president (research). "These five scholars will help the university build on its areas of strength and provide graduate and undergraduate students with the opportunity to work with researchers at the forefront of their disciplines."
            Since the creation of the chairs program, Memorial has been awarded 22 chairs whose combined total is worth $21.9 million.
            "The important investments made in university research have re-energized our campuses and given the country's top researchers – our Canada Research Chairs –
the support they need to fully realize their innovative ideas," said  Minister Bernier. 
The five new chairs are as follows:
  • Dr. Ratana Chuenpagdee, Canada Research Chair in Natural Resource Sustainability and Community Development
  • Dr. Samuel Bentley, Canada Research Chair in Seabed Processes and Seabed Imaging
  • Dr. Gerard E. Van Herk, Canada Research Chair in Regional Language and Oral Text
  • Dr. Murray A. Rudd, Canada Research Chair in Ecological Economics at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College
  • Dr. Matthew L. Rise, Canada Research Chair in Marine Biotechnology

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Editors please note:
Further information on the chairs can be found in the attached backgrounder and photos can be found at: www.mun.ca/marcomm/media_relations_photos.php
 
For more information please contact Deborah Inkpen, communications co-ordinator (research), Memorial University, (709)737-4073 or inkpend@mun.ca.
 
BACKGROUNDER:
 
MemorialUniversity awarded five Canada Research Chairs
 
 
§         Dr. Ratana Chuenpagdee, Canada Research Chair in Natural Resource Sustainability and Community Development
 
Around the world, people are closely connected with coastal areas as places to live, work and relax. The complexity and diversity of coastal ecosystems make them ecologically and socially valuable, but also highly susceptible to natural and human induced changes. Canada Research Chair in Natural Resource Sustainability and Community Development Dr. Chuenpagdee’s interdisciplinary research program, which includes biophysical studies of coastal areas as well as ecosystem values, social organization and governance, aims to promote coastal sustainability and community resilience. She will integrate these components using an interactive spatial dynamic model to capture interactions and flows between natural and human systems, contributing to improved consideration of uses and development in coastal areas.
Dr. Chuenpagdee will seek to address some of these challenges and to contribute to our understanding about the coast and coastal communities in Atlantic Canada and around the world.
 
  • Dr. Samuel Bentley, Canada Research Chair in Seabed Processes and Seabed Imaging 

The ocean seabed is the gateway for exchange of organisms, particles, and dissolved compounds between marine sediment deposits and the overlying ocean. It is also a remote, dynamic setting that is difficult to explore, and covers most of the Earth. As Canada Research Chair in Seabed Processes and Seabed Imaging, Dr. Bentley will study geological processes and products of the seabed and near-bottom waters, as well as physical, chemical, and biological processes that contribute to these outcomes.

 
 
  • Dr. Gerard E. Van Herk, Canada Research Chair in Regional Language and Oral Text
Contemporary Newfoundland is an ideal language laboratory, with long-standing local dialects and languages in intense contact with standardizing forces. In fact, a recent worldwide study chose traditional Newfoundland speech as the most distinct variety of English on the planet. This project will develop the intellectual infrastructure to record change in progress and to make incredibly rich local archival holdings more accessible to modern research methods. Analysis of the resulting material will shed new light on the processes of language retention and change. Publishing findings and improving access to raw materials will enrich dialect and language change research worldwide. Dr. Van Herk’s research will help optimize the processes of documenting, preserving, and analyzing evidence of linguistic diversity in Newfoundland and Labrador.
 
 
  • Dr. Murray A. Rudd, Canada Research Chair in Ecological Economics at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College
Most Canadians recognize the importance of the natural environment in enhancing our quality of life in Canada. Our forests, freshwater, oceans, and wildlife generate wealth, provide recreational opportunities, and help us define who we are, in our own eyes and in the eyes of the world. However, simply recognizing the importance of nature may not necessarily lead to us taking concrete actions to ensure that it is adequately protected.
Dr. Rudd will focus primarily on three issues. First, the recreational and non-use benefits of natural capital will be assessed using economic valuation surveys. A second area of focus will be on quantifying the costs of environmental conservation to private and public sectors. Thirdly, cost-benefit results will be used in policy models that explore when, where, and how to best invest societal resources to achieve ecological and socio-economic sustainability.
 
  • Dr. Matthew L. Rise, Canada Research Chair in Marine Biotechnology
Emerging viral and bacterial pathogens of fish, such as Infectious Salmon Anemia Virus (ISAV) and Piscirickettsia salmonis, respectively, are serious threats to the aquaculture industry. High-density culture in marine net pens is required to maximize productivity and remain cost-competitive in the global Atlantic salmon market, but also increases the incidence of disease. Improved understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of infectious diseases paves the way for the development of effective diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics, and could lead to methods of selecting for disease resistant aquaculture broodstock. As Canada Research Chair in Marine Biotechnology, Dr. Rise will develop and use genomic tools to characterize host and pathogen gene expression changes occurring during infections of fish with emerging pathogens such as ISAV and P. salmonis, and further develop infectious diseases of aquatic organisms as biomedical models for the study of related human diseases.
Dr. Rise will use genomics approaches, involving microarrays and other biotechnology tools and techniques, in studies related to fish disease, environmental toxicology, and aquaculture. With collaborators at Memorial University and elsewhere, his research will stimulate the development of products and methods likely to have a positive impact on the health of cultured and wild marine animals.

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