Research is one of the three guiding strategic frameworks of Memorial, along with teaching and learning and public engagement. Researchers at Memorial attract significant funding, in addition to the institution's operating grant, to support research, scholarship, and creative activity, from sources such as the federal government (including granting councils) and provincial government, as well as the nonprofit and private sectors.
What goes into research at Memorial?
Memorial University has proven to be a destination for graduate education. Memorial’s growing international profile for leading-edge research is attracting top-notch graduate students and faculty to Newfoundland and Labrador and further expanding our capacity for research and innovation. Nationally, the province of NL ranks first in proportion of full-time international graduate students, and is among the best at attracting graduate students from other provinces. For the fall 2019 semester, Memorial received a record number of graduate applications. Between fall 2008 and fall 2018, Memorial’s graduate enrolment increased by more than 54 per cent compared to an average growth in graduate enrolment of around 11 per cent among universities in the Maritime provinces.
Over half of Memorial’s graduate students are enrolled in research-intensive programs. Over 20% are enrolled in doctoral programs at the St. John’s Campus, Grenfell Campus, and Marine Institute. Doctoral enrolment, specifically, is closely linked to research intensity, and enrolment in PhD programs at Memorial has more than doubled since the last review in 2004:
Graduate student satisfaction appears to be very high. The last time it could be assessed nationally (2015), Memorial ranked first among Canadian universities in the ISB, the global benchmark for international student experience, in the category of support from the graduate school. In 2017, the satisfaction in this category was 92.5%.
In 2020, a record number of graduate degrees were awarded at Memorial. A total of 1,053 graduate degrees were conferred in 2020, including 101 doctoral degrees.
Significant investments from a variety of sources fund research activities at Memorial University. Total research funding has grown substantially:
Over the past 10 years, Memorial has seen an increase in federal and private funding, and a rise and subsequent decrease in provincial funding, bringing provincial funding back in line with the level of funding in 2004:
The success of Memorial researchers in securing Tri-Agency funding illustrates how well our researchers compete on the national stage, and drives the Canada Research Chairs and Canada Foundation for Innovation envelopes, making total Tri-Agency funding a real measure of research intensity. See below for total funding for all three funding councils since 2004:
The graph below illustrates the total broken out by each of the three councils (NSERC, SSHRC and CIHR):
Growth in research funding at Memorial has resulted in national recognition among peers. In 2020, Research Infosource reported that Memorial's ranking increased to #18 of the top 50 research universities in Canada in 2019:
Memorial ranks third in the country for corporate research income as a percentage of total research income in the medical doctoral category:
As seen in the graph below, total research expenditures have risen from approximately $100,000,000 in 2014-15 to over double that in 2019-20, due in part to the expansion of university facilities and other infrastructure to support research:
What comes out of research at Memorial?
Newly created and applied knowledge and creative works
Research at Memorial results in new knowledge creation, transfer and application. One tangible measure of research activity is the number of publications produced by faculty, students, and staff at the institution. Publications tripled from 2004 to 2020:
This figure represents scholarly publications indexed in Scopus, a multidisciplinary database with citations and abstracts from peer-reviewed journal literature, trade journals, books, patent records, and conference publications. Other types of scholarly output include creative products from Memorial Schools such as Fine Arts and Music, as well as many publications that are not indexed in Scopus.
Knowledge mobilization and commercialization
There are a variety of ways in which the research conducted at Memorial is made relevant and useful to the public.
At Grenfell, the Office of the Associate Vice President of Research and Graduate Studies launched INSIGHT-FELL, an online research newsletter that highlights the exciting, dynamic, and multi-disciplinary research of Grenfell Campus's students, staff, and faculty.
The Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office (TTCO) supports faculty, students and staff with their research industrial liaison, technology transfer and commercialization activities. The Technology Transfer and Commercialization Strategy was approved by the Board of Regents in 2015. Metrics from TTCO from the past three fiscal years are shown below:
The Genesis Centre has incubated successful technology-based companies that were conceived and/or developed through faculty and student research. One of them, Verafin, has just secured the largest venture funding deal in a Canadian company to date: over half a billion dollars.
The Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship offers entrepreneurial students foundational training, encouragement, guidance, access to funding and connections to create high-growth businesses. In 2019-20, MCE worked with 180 entrepreneurial projects and startups, and mentored 202 students, almost doubling numbers from 2018-19 when they worked with 96 entrepreneurial projects and startups, and mentored 113 students.
The Entrepreneurship Training Program (ETP) is a first-of-its-kind, federally funded training program designed to foster immigrant opportunity entrepreneurship. Originally intended to support international graduate student entrepreneurs, ETP is offered to all graduate students at Memorial in both face-to-face and online forms. Almost 300 graduate students have been supported through this program, and in 2018-19 enrolment in ETP tripled.
A collaboration between the Faculty of Business Administration, the School of Social Work, and the School of Music, Memorial's Centre for Social Enterprise acts as a catalyst to nurture social entrepreneurs, strengthen social enterprises and drive social innovation in Newfoundland and Labrador. The centre works within the social entrepreneurial ecosystem to create linkages among students, faculty, community, and company leaders for networking and mentorship opportunities.
In terms of knowledge mobilization, the Leslie Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development helps diverse groups and individuals connect with the research resources of Memorial, through teaching, research, and outreach initiatives. Here's how:
Memorial has deep connections with partners around the world. Some key examples include:
- The Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI) was established in September 2016 through a historic partnership between Dalhousie University, Memorial University and the University of Prince Edward Island. An international hub for ocean research, OFI brings together experts from both sides of the North Atlantic to explore the vast potential of the ocean. Researchers and graduate students from multiple disciplines are undertaking some of the world’s most ambitious research aimed at unlocking the secrets of the North Atlantic. The federal government announced nearly $100 million in funding for the creation of the OFI, which is focusing on solutions for safe and sustainable ocean development.
- In November 2014, it was announced that Memorial University would receive $50 million over five years to support an unprecedented health-care initiative to provide enhanced, personalized patient care through collaborative, multidisciplinary research. Less than 20 per cent of applied medical research is translated into a possible device, medication or therapy; the launch of the Translational and Personalized Medicine Initiative (TPMI) is changing that by bringing bench research to the patient’s bedside.
- The Ocean Engineering Research Centre at Memorial partnered with the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) on the Harsh Environment Technology Centre. Collaborators on the joint initiative conduct applied research to study vessels and offshore structures operating in harsh environments.
- The On The Move Partnership consists of 55 co-applicants drawn from 27 universities across Canada and internationally. It also includes 35 partner organizations, 12 academic partners and 23 community organizations in different parts of Canada and in Scandinavia. The team has engaged in more than 900 knowledge mobilization activities and supported almost 150 trainees. See here: https://gazette.mun.ca/research/national-leader/
- Too Big To Ignore is a global research network and knowledge mobilization partnership that focuses on addressing issues and concerns affecting viability and sustainability of small-scale fisheries. It includes more than 410 members from 81 countries focused on 14 research clusters. Learn more here: http://toobigtoignore.net/about-tbti/ and here: https://gazette.mun.ca/research/fish-focus/.
- Memorial’s new world-class Harsh Environment Research Facility (HERF), announced in August 2019, will support leading-edge research and further position Memorial as a global leader in technology development for the blue economy. Memorial will work with other post-secondary institutions across Canada and industry partners to address engineering challenges in three core areas – icing of marine vessels and other structures such as overhead power lines, aircraft and wind turbines; ice-structure interactions including ice management and safety; and advanced material coatings and engineered surfaces. The HERF project is led by a multidisciplinary team from Memorial, York University, Concordia University and the National Research Council Canada. Learn more here: https://gazette.mun.ca/research/innovative-breakthroughs/
- The Research Centre for the Study of Music, Media and Place (MMaP) at Memorial is one of four partners of a new international collaboration. MMaP has collaborated with the Sound Studies Initiative at the University of Alberta, the Canadian Museum of History and the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage through its Smithsonian Folkways Recordings to form the Cultures of Sound Network. The network’s goal is to develop new research and public engagements projects in the area of music, sound and culture. The international partnership will further boost Memorial’s worldwide reputation for leading-edge research on music and culture. It will also bring historic field recordings to new audiences and provide opportunities for Memorial graduate students to serve as interns at the world’s largest museum complex and research organization. Learn more here: https://gazette.mun.ca/research/cultures-of-sound/
- A global team of scientists, including a researcher from Canada’s Memorial University of Newfoundland, is bringing the world together in a co-ordinated effort to observe the Atlantic Ocean. Dr. Brad de Young is a professor with the Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, Faculty of Science. He’s helped develop the vision for AtlantOS, the All-Atlantic Ocean Observing System, which aims to establish a sustainable, multidisciplinary, multi-thematic system supported by countries around the Atlantic, building on the observing platforms, networks and systems already in place. Learn more here: https://gazette.mun.ca/research/deep-thinker/
- SmartICE – led by Dr. Trevor Bell -- is an award-winning project that integrates on-ice technology, remote sensing and Inuit knowledge to generate near real-time information of ice conditions for Arctic communities. In 2019, Dr. Trevor Bell and the SmartICE team were recognized with a Governor General’s Innovation Award for their groundbreaking work on climate change adaptation. It has also received the Arctic Inspiration Prize winner in 2016 and a United Nations Momentum for Climate Change Solutions winner in 2017. Among SmartICE’s partners are Memorial; C-CORE; Hamlet of Pond Inlet, Nunavut; and ArcticNet. Learn more here: https://gazette.mun.ca/research/canadas-highest-honour/ and here: https://www.smartice.org/
- Dr. Rose Ricciardelli, professor, Department of Sociology, is an associate scientific director with the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment. The institute is a coast-to-coast-to-coast team of researchers dedicated to working with public safety personnel, leaders, government and key stakeholders to recognize, prevent and treat the mental health concerns facing public safety personnel and their families. Dr. Ricciardelli has developed a comprehensive research program on correctional living and work in Canada, supported by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Correctional Services Canada. Learn more here: https://gazette.mun.ca/research/advancing-knowledge/
- Canada’s Ocean Supercluster is a federally incorporated not for profit organization, a private sector-led partnership with the federal government, concentrated in Atlantic Canada, that brings companies together to foster collaborative innovation, sustainability and modernization across Canada’s ocean sectors. This supercluster spans the ocean economy, including fishing, oil and gas, shipping, aquaculture, shipbuilding, and defense, together with emerging sectors like marine renewable energy, advanced ocean technology, offshore aquaculture, and marine bio-products. The Ocean Supercluster works with its members to invest in developing and attracting talent, improving supply chain opportunities, and to foster more ocean startups in the ocean innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem and realize Canada’s ocean potential.
Research at Memorial positively impacts the lives of people locally, nationally, and globally. We have world-class research facilities attracting significant funding and drawing highly qualified faculty, students and staff to do work that makes a difference. Memorial has particular research strengths in areas such as oceans, genetics, ethnomusicology, North Atlantic archaeology, social enterprise and entrepreneurship.
Memorial’s research centers and facilities offer in-demand training and research opportunities. Click on the links below to learn more:
- Aging Research Centre - Newfoundland and Labrador, Grenfell
- Boreal Ecosystem Research Initiative, Grenfell
- Centre for Applied Ocean Technology, Marine Institute
- Centre for Aquaculture and Seafood Development, Marine Institute
- Centre for Fisheries Ecosystem Research, Marine Institute
- Centre for Marine Simulation, Marine Institute
- Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Resources, Marine Institute
- CREAIT Network
- Environmental Policy Institute, Grenfell
- Ice Mechanics Research, C-CORE
- North West River Research Station, Labrador Institute
- Ocean Safety Research Unit, Marine Institute
- Research Centre for the Study of Music, Media and Place, St. John's