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Grenfell milestone

Grenfell Campus holds first PhD defence


By Melanie Callahan

For the first time, Grenfell Campus, Memorial University, held a PhD defence.

On Monday, Aug. 20, Dr. Mei Wang successfully defended her PhD dissertation, From a Boreal Bog to an Abandoned Peatland Pasture: The Effect of Agricultural Management and Abandonment on the Greenhouse Gases Fluxes, Carbon Balance and Radiative Forcing of a Boreal Bog in Western Newfoundland, Canada.

From left are Dr. Jinaghua Wu and Dr. Mei Wang.
From left are Dr. Jinaghua Wu and Dr. Mei Wang.
Photo: Lori Lee Pike

Dr. Wang completed her degree in the environmental science program based in St. John’s, but conducted her research in Western Newfoundland.

‘Continued growth’

Her studies were supervised by Dr. Jianghua Wu, a faculty member in Grenfell’s sustainable resource management program. Dr. Wu’s research focuses on how climate change and human/natural disturbances influence the hydrological and biogeochemical processes (especially carbon and nitrogen cycling) of boreal ecosystems.

“We are proud to congratulate Dr. Wang on the completion and successful defence of her PhD research here at Grenfell,” said Dr. Kelly Vodden, Grenfell’s associate vice-president research and graduate studies. “Her defence is a milestone event for the continued growth of our innovative research and graduate programming at Grenfell Campus.”

Grenfell has a growing number of graduate students on campus, with more than 50 students in its two flagship programs: the master of arts in environmental policy and the master of science in boreal ecosystems and agricultural sciences.

“This is just the beginning.” — Dr. Kelly Vodden

Other graduate students, while registered in programs at St. John’s campus and other institutions, are supervised by Grenfell faculty members and are conducting their research at Grenfell Campus. This includes PhD students in environmental science – such as Dr. Wang – along with others in biological sciences, physics, geography, linguistics and interdisciplinary PhD studies.

“This is just the beginning,” said Dr. Vodden, who began her role as AVP research and graduate studies on Aug. 1.

“While we now rely on our collaborations with other faculties and universities for registration of our PhD level students, current and prospective graduate students and faculty members have expressed strong interest in delivering our own PhD programs at Grenfell. This is something we are working on and see as critical as we continue to grow our research and graduate programs.”

Doctoral students

Some other examples of PhD students on campus and their work follow below.

Oludoyin Adeseun Adigun is PhD student in environmental Science, St. John’s campus, studying analytical chemistry at Grenfell Campus with Dr. Raymond Thomas of the Boreal Ecosystem Research Initiative.

Ken Carter is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography, St. John’s campus, co-supervised by Dr. Kelly Vodden and Dr. Charles Mather. Mr. Carter’s research relates to territorial innovation models and their application to rural areas of this province.

Sanaz Rajabi Khamseh and Hamide Ghafari are visiting PhD students from the Department of Agronomy, Faculty of Agriculture, Shahrekord University, Iran, studying at Grenfell under the supervision of Dr. Mumtaz Cheema of the Boreal Ecosystem Research Initiative. Both students are working on their PhD dissertations on abiotic stresses.

Laura Howell is PhD student in linguistics, St. John’s campus, supervised by and working on a project with Dr. Benjamin Zendel in his Grenfell Campus lab. Ms. Howell is examining dialectical differences between Newfoundland English and Canadian English in order to better understand audiological assessment results for people who speak Newfoundland English.

Brennan Lowery is an interdisciplinary PhD student working with Dr. Kelly Vodden in the Environmental Policy Institute at Grenfell Campus, together with Dr. Ratana Chuenpagdee in the Department of Geography, and Dr. Doug May in the Department of Economics at St. John’s campus. Mr. Lowery’s research is investigating the role of sustainability indicator initiatives in supporting more participatory governance for sustainable development in rural and natural resource-dependent regions.

Carlos Pasiche-Lisboa is a PhD student in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Manitoba supervised by Dr. Michele Piercey-Normore, dean, School of Science and the Environment. Mr. Pasiche-Lisboa is a visiting student at Grenfell and is working on dispersal and establishment of moss and lichen asexual propagules in boreal forests to better understand their regeneration capacity in natural environments.

Dawn Pittman is a PhD Student at Memorial’s School of Nursing, while Jennifer Noseworthy will begin her PhD in the nursing program there this September.

Charles Manful is a PhD student in environmental science, St. John’s campus, studying at Grenfell with Dr. Raymond Thomas of the Boreal Ecosystem Research Initiative.

Shihao Wu is a PhD student in the theoretical physics program, St. John’s campus, studying at Grenfell with Drs. Aleks​andrs Aleksejevs and Svetlana Barkanova.

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