Roughly 50,000 hits by people from 157 countries on six continents around the globe is giving Memorial University plenty of reasons to celebrate today as it marks the one year anniversary of the launch of Yaffle, its search engine.
Since last February, the online database – www.yaffle.ca – has become the envy of post-secondary institutions around the world and has been lauded for connecting its users with university experts.
Headed up by Memorial’s Leslie Harris Centre for Regional Policy and Development, the search engine has been dubbed the spark that ignites research connections, providing greater accessibility to Memorial’s research expertise and research projects.
Users can find an expert, query research being done by the university in their geographic region, and even suggest research ideas.
As of earlier this week, more than 1,140 research projects are profiled in Yaffle.
The database contains the contact information and research expertise of close to 500 experts at the university, many of whom are available for media interviews and speaking engagements.
In a year, the site has had close to 50,000 hits and currently averages around 125 per day.
It all adds up to plenty of interest in Memorial expertise, said Jennifer Adams Warburton, operations manager with the Harris Centre.
“Yaffle has so many faces,” she said. “It helps students find placements and puts communities on the right avenue to connect with the university in a tangible way. Yaffle has also connected government to Memorial resulting in funded projects related to real issues facing communities.”
That’s the case with a project currently underway on the south coast.
The Burin Peninsula Regional Council of the Rural Secretariat approached the Harris Centre looking for information on regionalization and how its area could work together to improve economic growth and diversification.
In turn, the Harris Centre put the council in touch with researcher Dr. Kelly Vodden, an assistant professor from the Department of Geography, and one of the most vocal supporters of Yaffle.
An expert in sustainable community and regional development, as well as local governance, Dr. Vodden and PhD student Ryan Gibson have been examining successful approaches which have been used in Canada and around the world to stimulate, improve and support economic development through regional co-operation.
Their research is wrapping up and a regional forum will be held this spring to present a summary of their work.
“Yaffle provides an open, accessible tool that researchers, communities and policymakers alike can use to match Memorial’s research and education expertise with provincial needs,” said Dr. Vodden. “For me, it is extremely rewarding to be able to work with others outside and within the university to address current and pressing knowledge needs in the province.”
That sentiment is shared by Dr. Kelly Hawboldt, associate dean of research with the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.
Her research has attracted the most hits since Yaffle was launched and has resulted in 35 contacts so far.
The chemical engineer has been in touch with companies in Boston and Ireland with offers of research projects, and she connected with foreign students who are interesting in studying with her.
“Yaffle has connected me with graduate students from all over the globe,” said Dr. Hawboldt. “Memorial sometimes doesn't hit the radar for foreign graduate students and some companies.”
The Harris Centre will be marking the first anniversary of Yaffle’s launch in a number of ways.
An information booth will be set up on the third floor of the University Centre on the St. John’s campus today from 12-2 p.m.
Workshops are also set to take place this month at the Marine Institute and Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook.
The database draws its name from Newfoundland English. According to the Dictionary of Newfoundland English, a yaffle is defined as “an armful (of dried and salted cod-fish, kindling, etc.); a load.”