Engineering expert part of ocean and transport green economy team

Apr 14th, 2021

By Jeff Green

Dr. Helen Zhang
Engineering expert part of ocean and transport green economy team

Memorial is playing an influential role in the future global green economy.

Dr. Baiyu (Helen) Zhang, Canada Research Chair in Coastal Environmental Engineering and professor, Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, promoted the university’s research expertise during a recent virtual meeting on ocean and transport with experts from Canada and France.

An internationally respected environmental engineer, Dr. Zhang’s expertise includes offshore environmental monitoring and analysis; transport and fate of emerging contaminants; and oil pollution control.

She is founder of Memorial’s Coastal Environment Laboratory, which is among a select group of worldwide facilities developing novel and environmentally friendly bio-products for marine oil spill response.

“The ocean is a shared global resource and a new economic frontier,” Dr. Zhang told the Gazette.

“It was my honour and pleasure to be chosen to participate. This was a good opportunity to increase the national and international impact of Memorial University.”

Dr. Zhang says the purpose of the discussion was to assess where the gaps are in terms of knowledge and innovation in the field of the green economy and make recommendations on “opportunities for international synergies,” in the areas of energy and transport; ocean and transport; and social adaptation and transport.

The session was co-chaired by Dr. Ted Hewitt, president, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and Dr. Antoine Petit, chairman and CEO, French National Centre for Scientific Research.

As a leader in connecting innovation ecosystems and academic research in Canada and abroad, Mitacs convened this meeting as one in a series of eight expert roundtables between Canada and France and Canada and the U.K. The discussions are hosted by Dr. John Hepburn, Mitacs’s CEO and scientific director.

The roundtables are in collaboration with Canada’s chief science advisor; the High Commission of Canada in the U.K.; the British High Commission Ottawa; the Canadian Embassy to France; and the French Embassy to Canada.

“In the roundtable discussion, I focused on solutions to transportation-related environmental issues to keep the health of marine ecosystems and well-being of people and to increase the resilience of coastal communities to risks,” explained Dr. Zhang.

“I also tackled ocean- and transportation-related environmental technologies for providing economic opportunities from pursuing ocean sustainability and green transportation.”

Dr. Zhang says she was proud to promote Memorial’s research expertise on the global stage and learn what other experts are doing in the area.

She notes the session may result in exciting internship opportunities for Memorial students and post-doctoral fellows to be involved in international research collaborations.

“As an educator, I like to make any efforts to improve the training environment for highly qualified personnel, stimulate their creativity and foresee their success.”

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