(Current Version March 2016)
The province of Newfoundland and Labrador and Memorial University are currently undergoing a period of rapid change. As the province’s role within the country has changed, so too has the role of Memorial University and the Faculty of Science. The purpose of this document is to anticipate and plan for research, teaching, and service in this environment and to provide guidance to the Faculty of Science for the next decade.
Anticipated Challenges for the Faculty of Science from 2011 to 2021
A research-intensive Faculty that is renowned both for the caliber of our research and the quality of our graduates.
Consistent with the mission of Memorial University, the Faculty of Science is dedicated to international excellence in research, teaching, and engagement to the benefit of people locally, nationally, and internationally.
The Faculty of Science is responsible for the provision of a broad spectrum of basic science knowledge and, as such, serves as the foundation upon which more applied disciplines are based. It is our responsibility to further knowledge within specific science disciplines as well as to create the conditions that facilitate interdisciplinary research.
The Faculty of Science is intended to be broadly accessible to students. Emphasis is placed on creating an environment that encourages and supports the learning process while also challenging our students to achieve goals they might not have thought possible.
The Faculty of Science will enhance its stature globally as a leading research-intensive Faculty that advances knowledge and produces high calibre graduates. Research within the Faculty of Science is primarily devoted to questions of fundamental importance but also includes applied research relevant locally, nationally, and internationally. To achieve this we will:
Current Strengths and Emerging Opportunities in Research
The Faculty of Science currently has substantial and diverse research strength, the greatest being our faculty, staff, and students. Within academic departments, research agendas are driven by the discipline-specific departmental strategic plans. Beyond those, the Faculty of Science engages in interdisciplinary research that crosscuts individual departments and serves to synergize the research endeavor in the Faculty as a whole. The current research strengths include Marine Sciences; Natural Resources and Energy; Mathematical and Computational Sciences; Biomedical Sciences and Health; and Materials Science.
While the Faculty of Science is committed to maintaining its core areas, there are also particular areas of emerging opportunity generated by the expertise of our faculty, our research infrastructure, and our geographical position with its associated climate, resources, and ecology that distinguish us from other faculties of Science. We, therefore, provide diverse opportunities that will draw researchers and students here in preference to other universities in Canada or internationally. The areas also crosscut most of the departments and are consistent with the priority and strategic areas that federal and provincial government agencies target for funding as well as Memorial’s special obligation to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. They also reflect areas in which we have made recent new hires. For the Faculty of Science, these strategic research areas are:
Research activities in this area includes, for example: biological, chemical, physical, and geological oceanography and oceanographic modeling; ocean acoustics; ocean data visualization; ocean sensor and instrumentation development; physiology, molecular biology, and biochemistry of aquatic species; aquaculture and fisheries science; marine ecology; cognitive and behavioural ecology of marine species; conservation and climate change; glacial climate systems; harsh environments.
Natural Resources and Energy
Research activities in this area include the discovery, production and monitoring of non-renewable and renewable natural resources as well as traditional and alternative sources of energy. Some examples are: petroleum reservoir characterization and modeling; mineralogy; stratigraphy; sedimentology; exploration geophysics; tectonics; environmental impact and monitoring of resource extraction; biofuels and materials; energy sustainability, cognitive and behavioural ecology; landscape ecology and conservation; plant ecology; environmental geology; sustainable/green chemistry; alternative energy sources; geochemistry; biogeochemistry; contaminant hydrology; environmental chemistry.
Mathematical and Computational Sciences
Mathematical and computational models are pervasive in modern science. Research ranges from theoretical computer science, pure mathematics, applied mathematics, mathematical physics and statistics to the more applied areas such as: nature and bio-inspired computing, autonomous robotics, complex systems and their simulation, mathematical and computational biology and chemistry, fluid dynamics, geophysical modeling, ocean and atmosphere modeling.
Biomedical Sciences and Health
Research activities in this area include: antimicrobial properties, aetiology of disease, biological molecule structure and function, drug discovery, genetics and developmental processes, learning and memory, medically important natural products, mental health, metabolic pathways and associated disorders, neuroscience, nutrition and health, and target identification in disease states.
Advances in materials science continue to fuel growth in technology. Such innovation is particularly relevant for emerging environmental, energy (oil and gas), mining (mineral extraction and refining) and information technologies. Materials science is inherently interdisciplinary; current research strengths in materials science span several departments in the Faculty of Science, including Chemistry, Earth Sciences, and Physics and Physical Oceanography. Research strengths include: (in Chemistry) biomedical materials, environmental sensors, energy production and storage, catalysis, polymers from renewable materials, molecular electronics and optics, porous materials, (in Physics and Physical Oceanography) magnetic and electronic materials, nanomaterials, optical and electrically-responsive materials, and (in Earth Sciences) in situ trace element, stable isotope, and radiogenic isotopic composition of natural and synthetic materials, synthesis and characterization of ceramic materials using a wide compliment of analytical methods.
The Faculty of Science is dedicated to providing our undergraduate and graduate students with the best possible educational experience, acknowledging the needs and interests of our province.
Current Strengths and Emerging Opportunities in Teaching
The Faculty of Science has a strong reputation of excellence in teaching that is a consequence of the skill and dedication of our faculty and staff. Our instruction ranges from the traditional lecture format, to learning opportunities that place greater emphasis on experiential learning (e.g., field schools and courses and clinical training), to award winning distance education courses. While the Faculty of Science includes a diverse range of disciplines, we are committed to providing students with both the opportunity to learn and the opportunity to apply their knowledge. Co-op programs are a relatively small component of our programs within the Faculty of Science, and they provide a learning opportunity that should grow in the future. Likewise, there are also opportunities for expanding the range of options for our students through partnerships with other faculties (e.g., life science and engineering science).
Priorities for most of our undergraduate and graduate programs are provided by our departmental strategic plans. The Faculty of Science is home to our interdisciplinary graduate programs (Aquaculture, Cognitive and Behavioural Ecology, Scientific Computing, Environmental Science, and Theoretical Physics). As our graduate programs reflect our research expertise, we expect growth in our graduate programs to be fueled by growth in our research programs.
As one of the largest academic units at Memorial University, we tend to be modest about our achievements. However, such modesty means that most outside the Faculty of Science do not know who we are, what we do, and how we contribute to both the university and the province. We, therefore, do not get the recognition we deserve in terms of the excellence of our teaching programs and the accomplishments of our students, faculty and staff.