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Chemical reaction

Two Memorial University scientists named Terra Nova Innovators

By Jackey Locke

One of three stories recognizing Memorial’s newest Terra Nova Innovator Award recipients. Read them all by following the related content links below.

What does transforming trash into treasure and predicting pre-term birth have in common?

They are cutting-edge projects led by two researchers recently named Terra Nova Innovator Award recipients.

The award recognizes emerging faculty members whose research is particularly innovative and has real potential to impact society significantly.

The researchers behind the projects are Drs. Heloise Therien-Aubin and Lindsay Cahill, both assistant professors in the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, at Memorial University.

Each researcher will receive $25,000.

Push limits

Dr. Therien-Aubin is a materials chemist.

Her research focuses on designing new materials, what their structures are, how to make them and proof of principle.

Dr. Heloise Therien smiles at the camera in front of a wall of windows.
Dr. Heloise Therien-Aubin
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

For Dr. Therien-Aubin and her team, the Terra Nova Innovator Award means they can push further and design two new applications: coatings to protect metal surfaces that can self-repair and filters that can remove organic contaminants and heavy metals from wastewater.

Dr. Cahill is a biophysical chemist whose research focuses on developing novel methods to detect pregnancy complications, such as premature birth.

Dr. Lindsay Cahill smiles and stands on a mezzanine.
Dr. Lindsay Cahill
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

If a premature birth is detected, there are treatments available to protect the baby, but there are no reliable methods for early detection.

Recent evidence, however, has found a strong association between placental dysfunction and pre-term births, which is the focus of Dr. Cahill’s research.

Unique opportunity

The Terra Nova Innovator Award reflects a shared commitment by Suncor Energy Inc. and Memorial University to enable exceptional faculty to be adventurous in their research, to explore novel ideas and to investigate important subjects creatively.

The Terra Nova Innovator Award, which will help cover costs for research analysis, equipment, travel and student researchers, is supported through funding from Suncor on behalf of partners in the Terra Nova oil field.

“In this era of constant transformation, the demand for research and innovation continues to grow,” said Brent Miller, vice-president, east coast, Suncor. “Through the Terra Nova Innovator Award, we’re proud to continue supporting local scientists whose work aims to solve important challenges we face as a society.”

Dr. Tana Allen, vice-president (research) at Memorial University, says Suncor and its partners’ continued support allows early-career scientists and scholars to push limits.

“The inspiring work of Drs. Therien-Aubin and Cahill enriches our understanding of important scientific and health-related issues and provides key training opportunities for their research teams,” she said. “Warmest congratulations to both on receiving their deserving honours. I cannot wait to learn more about their projects.”

2024 deadline

The nomination deadline for the 2024 Terra Nova Innovator Award is Monday, June 3, at 5 p.m.

Researchers must submit proposals electronically.

Please contact your unit’s grants facilitator (or, if the unit has no grants facilitator, the person with signing authority for your unit) to confirm if there are earlier, internal deadlines. Internal deadlines must be factored into the timing of the development and submission of applications. More information about the award, including terms of reference and application process, is available online.

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