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By Moira Baird and Jeff Green

Memorial has a new Tier 1 Canada Research Chair.

Dr. Faisal Khan, professor of process engineering in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, is the Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Offshore Safety and Risk Engineering.

The announcement represents a total investment of $1.5 million in federal funding and a total of $150,000 in provincial funding.

Bolstering research profile

Dr. Khan’s research, which focuses on offshore operations in harsh environments, is pursuing ways to help industry evaluate the impact of its activities on both humans and offshore infrastructure, to ensure safe operations in challenging conditions and remote locations. His research aims to help industry better understand, quantify and manage risk to enable safe and sustainable developments.

“The Canada Research Chairs program plays a crucial role in helping Memorial build specialized research capacity in strategic areas, while supporting world-class scholars and scientists such as Dr. Khan,” said President Gary Kachanoski.

“This funding supports Memorial’s continued leadership in innovative groundbreaking scientific research. I wish Dr. Khan much success in his research activities.”

‘Important milestone’

Dr. Khan called the CRC appointment a tremendous honour.

“This research chair is an important milestone in the continuing journey to make design and operations safe in the face of challenges, such as natural hazards, industrial hazards, harsh environments, extreme operating conditions and remote operations,” he said.

“I want to sincerely thank my research team and graduate students who have made great contributions and continue to do so. I am also grateful for the extraordinary support I have received from the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and Memorial’s senior administration.”

Federal-provincial support

Tier 1 Chairs, tenable for seven years and renewable, are for outstanding researchers acknowledged by their peers as world leaders in their fields.

As part of Dr. Khan’s appointment, Memorial will receive $200,000 annually for seven years. In addition, Dr. Khan received federal support of $100,000 for infrastructure associated with a Canada Research Chair through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund.

The Research & Development Corporation (RDC) is also investing over $150,000 in infrastructure for Dr. Khan’s research.

“Understanding the impact of offshore operations on both workers and infrastructure in harsh environments is critical to ensuring the safety of Newfoundland and Labrador’s petroleum industry,” said Christopher Mitchelmore, minister, Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation, and minister responsible for RDC.

“This investment demonstrates the provincial government’s commitment to supporting industry-relevant academic research and development, and aligns with our efforts to position Newfoundland and Labrador globally as a preferred location for oil and gas development as highlighted in The Way Forward.”

“Research and development in offshore safety and risk engineering is particularly important in our unique offshore operating environment,” said Mark Ploughman, acting chief executive officer, RDC.

“RDC has previously invested in Dr. Khan’s research, and we are pleased to continue supporting the risk and safety engineering field of study through the Dynamic Risk Management Experimental Facility.”

Harsh environment research

Both federal and provincial investments will help to establish a lab-scale plant, known as a Dynamic Risk Management Experimental Facility, at Memorial to evaluate the performance of dynamic risk assessment models and demonstrate which models provide a reliable indication of process safety performance.

Dynamic risk management is an important tool in ensuring the safe operation of remote production and processing facilities. The testing facility will lead to verification of dynamic risk assessment models and reliable knowledge transfer into real-life industrial applications.

“Memorial is known worldwide for its leading-edge and innovative offshore engineering research, particularly in harsh environments,” said Dr. Ray Gosine, vice-president (research) pro tempore.

“With the continued support of the federal and provincial governments, Dr. Khan will be able to further expand his research activities related to offshore safety and risk engineering, develop solutions to industry challenges and help attract graduate students to Memorial. I congratulate Dr. Khan on his latest research success.”

Dr. Khan is currently acting associate dean of graduate studies in the engineering faculty.

He is also director of Memorial’s Centre for Risk, Integrity and Safety Engineering (C-RISE). The centre’s more than 40 team members, including graduate students, work on a wide range of theoretical and applied research activities in process safety and asset integrity management.

Dr. Khan joined Memorial as an associate professor in 2002. He has worked on safety and risk engineering and extended his research scope by applying risk-engineering concepts to safety, asset integrity management, pollution prevention and renewable energy.

Memorial is currently home to a total of 10 CRCs with several nominations pending.

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