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By Jeff Green

Memorial is celebrating a milestone that will see researchers and graduate students from multiple disciplines undertake 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 on Tuesday, Sept. 6, for the creation of the Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI), an historic partnership between Dalhousie University, Memorial University of Newfoundland and the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI). The OFI will focus on solutions for safe and sustainable ocean development.

“Today marks a truly unprecedented era in research innovation at Memorial as our university moves from world class to world leader.” –President Kachanoski

The investment is through the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF). Memorial’s joint initiative with Dalhousie and UPEI is receiving the largest amount awarded through the latest CFREF competition.

From left are Carey Bonnell, President Kachanoski, Dr. Mark Abrahams, Dr. Paul Snelgrove, Christopher Mitchelmore, Iris Petten, Nick Whalen and Marlies Rise.
From left are Carey Bonnell, President Kachanoski, Dr. Mark Abrahams, Dr. Paul Snelgrove, Christopher Mitchelmore, Iris Petten, Nick Whalen and Marlies Rise.

The federal funding will allow Memorial to leverage millions more from industry, government, other partners and the university.

‘Unprecedented era in research’

Memorial marked the historic partnership with Dalhousie and UPEI on Tuesday during a briefing hosted by President Kachanoski. Dr. Richard Marceau, vice-president (research), participated in a regional OFI announcement in Nova Scotia with Dalhousie, UPEI, federal dignitaries and others.

“Today marks a truly unprecedented era in research innovation at Memorial as our university moves from world class to world leader, engaging with global partners on solutions for safe and sustainable ocean development,” said Dr. Kachanoski. “This shared federal investment with Dalhousie and the University of Prince Edward Island will boost our partnership’s unmatched research strengths relating to oceans, including offshore fisheries, aquaculture and sustainable coastal communities.”

Unique partnership

Memorial, Dalhousie and UPEI will work together with four of the top five ocean institutes in the world, as well as partners in the Government of Canada’s federal laboratories, the Royal Canadian Navy, the National Film Board of Canada and national and international industry.

“The OFI will be the North Atlantic’s first transnational research organization and one of the world’s most significant ocean science research collaborations.” –Dr. Richard Marceau

Through its unique partnership with its research partners, Memorial will lead breakthroughs in four key areas: sustainable fisheries; sustainable aquaculture; marine safety; and ocean data and technology.

“The OFI will be the North Atlantic’s first transnational research organization and one of the world’s most significant ocean science research collaborations,” said Dr. Marceau. “Its aim is to understand how climate change is affecting the ocean’s relationship with the atmosphere; how this is affecting the ocean ecosystem and the very rich life we find there; and break new ground in our quest for the safe and sustainable use of oceans resources.”

Prime real estate for OFI

Memorial’s OFI will be housed in prime real estate at the university, including on the main floor of the new Core Science Facility. There will be additional space for an aquatics facility where researchers will conduct important work on salmon species, as well as space at the Ocean Sciences Centre in Logy Bay and the Marine Institute.

Memorial’s joint OFI initiative with Dalhousie and UPEI will also help attract and retain world-leading research talent to Canada and advance the region’s position as a centre of ocean-related teaching and learning.

In total, the federal government announced $900 million in funding on Sept. 6 through the Canada First Research Excellence Fund. The fund strategically invests in areas where Canada’s post-secondary research institutions have a real competitive advantage and can become global leaders in their respective fields.


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