A proposal led by Dr. Paul Snelgrove of the Department of Ocean Sciences and the Department of Biology Department has been shortlisted for consideration by a major Canadian institute of advanced study.
Life in a Changing Ocean (LICO): New Perspectives on Marine Functions and Services is proceeding to the final selection phase of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) Global Call for Ideas. This is the first time a project led by Memorial University has been invited to develop a full CIFAR proposal.
In April 2013 CIFAR invited leading researchers from across Canada and around the world to submit proposals to create research networks to tackle complex questions of global importance. There was a strong response with 280 letters of interest submitted from eight countries on five continents.
The LICO project, with Dr. Snelgrove and co-applicants Verena Tunnicliffe, University of Victoria; Philippe Archambault, Université de Québec at Rimouski; and Maurice Levasseur, Université Laval, was one of just seven program ideas to make it to the next stage.
This Canadian-led global initiative proposes to discover and understand the key biological and physical processes in marine ecosystems that lead to better models to predict and sustain their ecological and economic importance to society, said Dr. Snelgrove.
Finalists will now move to the next stage of the process, which will see CIFAR work with the remaining groups to further articulate their research questions, how they could be tackled and the best people and research resources required to do so. Full research program proposals will be submitted to CIFAR by February 2014 to consider for a five-year program.
Oceans affect the economic and social well-being of Canadians and humanity worldwide, said Dr. Snelgrove. Because government policy commits Canada to sustainable ocean management and because we oversee the longest coastline of any nation, we have both the responsibility and opportunity to assess the effects of ocean changes and biodiversity loss driven by human activities.
He adds that the LICO proposal grew from the successful international Census of Marine Life, which Dr. Snelgrove was directly involved in, as many marine scientists globally recognized the need to focus biodiversity studies into understanding the way ecosystems work.
This is a great opportunity, said Dr. Snelgrove. It was quite a culling process and were very happy to be this successful. Now we find ourselves competing with a very elite group of medical researchers, molecular biologists and technology experts, so we have our work cut out for us to carve out a place for oceans.
Dr. Richard Marceau, vice-president (research) of Memorial, said the project has the full support of the Memorial community.
Asking profound questions that have the potential to impact our understanding of the world, and acting accordingly, is one of the most important things we do as an educational institution, he said. Dr. Snelgrove is a preeminent scholar in ocean sciences and his proposal has the potential to transform our understanding of our oceans resources and the impact of human activities.
Established in 1982, CIFAR is an independent research institute comprising nearly 400 researchers from more than 100 academic institutions in 16 countries. Their multidisciplinary research networks bring together internationally respected scholars and scientists to address questions of global importance. As a public-private partnership, CIFAR is supported by the Government of Canada and the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario, as well as by individuals, foundations and corporations.