Memorial University has announced the recipients of the Hebron Diversity Research Fund Grants.
Dr. Cecilia Moloney, a professor in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and Dr. Francesca Kerton, an associate professor with the Department of Chemistry, received the non-endowed one-year research Grant A and Grant B, respectively.
Grant A is valued at $40,000 and is given to a researcher to study the participation of women and/or designated groups in math, science and engineering. The goal of Grant B, also valued at $40,000, is to conduct research in the broad areas of math, science or engineering, with the requirement that the research be lead by a faculty member who is a woman, a member of an aboriginal group, a visible minority or an individual with an identified disability.
“The Hebron Diversity Research Fund grants offer valuable support in the areas of math, science and engineering,” said Dr. Richard Marceau, vice-president (research), Memorial University. “Drs. Moloney and Kerton are excellent scholars with strong research records. This funding will enable high-quality research that addresses important societal and economic issues.”
"The Hebron co-venturers believe that supporting diversity delivers a competitive advantage to our companies and is fundamental to the long-term success of our industry," said Geoff Parker, Hebron senior project manager and vice president, ExxonMobil Canada Properties, operator of the project. "We congratulate the recipients of the Hebron diversity research grants and applaud their efforts to enhance diversity in the workplace.”
Dr. Moloney and co-investigators, Drs. Cecile Badenhorst, Faculty of Education and Janna Rosales, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, are interested in pursuing research on integrative pedagogies to advance the participation of women and other diversities in engineering.
“We found that engineering programs that teach differently are able to attract and retain more women,” she said. “Oftentimes, these programs introduce new students to engineering by sketching out the ways that engineering helps solve pressing social and environmental problems. Such changes in engineering education are anticipated to have positive impacts on the participation of women in these professions, and to contribute more generally to the vibrancy of engineering and related professions as we grapple with the challenges of the 21st century.”
Dr. Moloney is interested in developing new methods of teaching engineering courses such as digital signal processing, which require students to integrate abstract mathematical theory with real-world application.
Dr. Kerton co-supervises the Green Chemistry and Catalysis Group at Memorial University. The team of researchers has recently discovered a way to make a new molecule from sugars, which could be obtained from fishery waste, such as shrimp, lobster and crab shells.
“We call this molecule 3A5AF and the aim of this one-year research project is to look at the chemistry of 3A5AF in more detail and in a safe and environmentally friendly way,” explains Dr. Kerton. “Students will conduct reactions using 3A5AF in hope of making more new molecules with useful applications, for example as building blocks for materials and pharmaceuticals.”
“I think Memorial does well in terms of their diversity in hires and recruitment, but this funding can only help. I was very excited to hear about the award and to get it.”
In 2011, the Hebron Project co-venturers announced the establishment of endowments totaling $1.5 million for women, Aboriginal Peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities. The funds were to be split between students attending Memorial University and the College of the North Atlantic.
The Hebron Diversity Research Fund Grants were developed through a separate one-time contribution of $80,000 from the Hebron Project.
The Hebron Project co-venturers are ExxonMobil Canada Properties (operator), Chevron Canada, Suncor Energy Inc., Statoil Canada and Nalcor Energy.