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Research pioneers

Composer, chemist named 2016 Terra Nova Young Innovators

By Jeff Green

Creating a cleaner, greener future and designing a unique hands-free musical instrument.

Both are cutting-edge projects being led by two researchers who are this year’s Terra Nova Young Innovator Award recipients. The award recognizes and supports outstanding young faculty members whose research is particularly innovative and whose specific proposal has real potential to make a significant impact on society.

Pioneering research

Dr. Andrew Staniland, associate professor (composition, electronic music), School of Music, and Dr. Michael Katz, assistant professor, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, will each receive $50,000 in order to fund their pioneering research proposals.

“Leading-edge research, such as the work of this year’s recipients, has the potential to impact us all and make our world a better place.” — Dr. Ray Gosine

The awards this year are supported through funding from Suncor Energy, on behalf of the partners in the Terra Nova oil field, and the Office of the Vice-President (Research) at Memorial.

Transformative support

Both recipients were selected after a rigorous review process. There was an exceptionally high response rate from this year’s call for applications.

From left: Brent Miller, Terra Nova Asset Manager, Suncor Energy; Dr. Penny Morrill, Science, 2016 Terra Nova Young Innovator Award (TNYIA) recipient; Dr. Andrew Staniland, Music, 2017 TNYIA recipient; Dr. Michael Katz, Science, 2017 TNYIA recipient; Dr. Gary Kachanoski; Dr. Ray Gosine.
From left are Brent Miller, Suncor Energy; Dr. Penny Morrill, 2016 Terra Nova Young Innovator Award recipient; Dr. Andrew Staniland; Dr. Michael Katz,; President Kachanoski; and Dr. Ray Gosine at the Jan. 12 announcement.
Photo: Chris Hammond

“Leading-edge research, such as the work of this year’s recipients, has the potential to impact us all and make our world a better place,” said Dr. Ray Gosine, vice-president (research) pro tempore.

“Thanks to our ongoing collaboration with Suncor, as the Terra Nova operator, young researchers such as Drs. Andrew Staniland and Michael Katz are receiving the financial support required to transform their innovative ideas. Their research will bolster Memorial’s profile, helping recruit undergraduate and graduate students to study in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

“Innovation is a hallmark of the oil and gas industry and Suncor is a leader in a number of areas,” said Brent Janke, vice-president East Coast, Suncor. “On behalf of Terra Nova, we are pleased to recognize and support the out-of-the-box thinking evident in these two proposals and look forward to seeing where this research takes Drs. Staniland and Katz in their respective projects.”

Creative research

The award will allow Dr. Staniland to invent a new kind of electronic musical instrument that is played not with the hands or a bow, but with vital signs such as heart rate and blood pressure.

Dr. Andrew Staniland
Dr. Andrew Staniland
Photo: Chris Hammond

The instrument’s primary purposes are for both musical exploration and deepening mindfulness practice through audible biofeedback. Applications include music composition and performance, meditation practice, music therapy and stress management.

“Imagine the hashtag #Iusedmyhearttowritethissong!” — Dr. Andrew Staniland

“Creative exploration, the arts and new music all play a vital and tangible role in our society and economy,” said Dr. Staniland, who is currently working on a new ballet with the National Arts Centre Orchestra and the Alberta Ballet, which will have its world premiere in April 2017 as part of Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations.

“This project is a new and exciting challenge for me as a researcher and composer as I explore ways of making beautiful, powerful music using vital sign data. Imagine the hashtag #Iusedmyhearttowritethissong!”

Clean green future

Dr. Katz says his award will allow him to further his research on a class of porous materials that his team has not been able to investigate so far. Porous materials are similar to sponges used for cleaning; when soaked in water, they hold more than expected.

Dr. Michael Katz
Dr. Michael Katz
Photo: Chris Hammond

“Porous materials have a wide range of applications outside of the kitchen,” noted Dr. Katz.

“For example, removal of toxic compounds from waste water streams can be accomplished with porous materials. Another example is gas storage for gas-powered cars. Instead of having to store methane to high pressures, you can store it in a porous material at lower pressure. There are lots of industrially relevant applications for porous materials. Thus, it’s important to study these materials so that we can have a cleaner and greener future for generations to come.”

Dr. Staniland joined Memorial in 2010. He holds a B.Mus. from the University of Lethbridge, and a M.Mus. and Mus.Doc. from the University of Toronto. He is a member of the Royal Society of Canada, College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists.

Dr. Katz joined Memorial in 2015. He holds B.Sc. and PhD degrees from Simon Fraser University.


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