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Showcasing synergies

Senior federal science, oceans officials visit Memorial this week


By Chad Pelley

Memorial hosted a delegation of senior federal officials on Aug. 1.

Preisdent Bose and VP (Research) Tana Allen sitting around a wooden table with the Federal delegation
From left are Dr. Tana Allen, Dr. Paul Snelgrove, Dr. Mona Nemer, Dr. Arran McPherson, Deputy Minister Annette Gibbons and President Neil Bose.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

The visit was an opportunity to showcase a wide range of the university’s research, facilities and partnerships of interest to their portfolios and to strengthen the links between them.

The delegation included Annette Gibbons, deputy minister, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard; Dr. Mona Nemer, chief science advisor of Canada; and Dr. Arran McPherson, assistant deputy minister, Ecosystems and Oceans Science, Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

They were joined by Dr. Paul Snelgrove, who is both a professor of biology at Memorial and a departmental science advisor to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Deputy Minister Gibbons, who is also Memorial’s deputy minister champion in Ottawa, was interested in learning about a vast array of Memorial-based research and facilities during her visit, from cold ocean research and AI research to how Memorial’s Labrador Campus offers Indigenous-led and northern-focused programming.

Two women listen to someone out of site while standing in front of a screen with the ocean on it.
From left are Annette Gibbons and Dr. Mona Nemer at the Centre for Marine Simulation at the Marine Institute.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

For Dr. Nemer, the visit is part of the chief science advisor’s regular engagement with the research community. It was aimed at meeting researchers and trainees in ocean sciences and touring research facilities. In addition to hearing directly from the research community, such visits help promote international collaborations in Canada’s priority areas and the use of science to benefit society.

Many research projects at Memorial intersect with current federal government priorities, including the Transforming Climate Action initiative, which will help us better understand the ocean’s role in mitigating climate change.

“Forty-three percent of research at Memorial is funded by the federal government, allowing our university to maintain its ranking as one of the top 20 research universities in Canada,” said President Neil Bose. “In turn, much of our research can help inform government policies, resolve topical issues facing our society or help our nation capitalize on opportunities in a number of fields. Today’s visit served to strengthen these vital linkages between Memorial and the Government of Canada.”

The tour

Dr. Tana Allen, Memorial’s vice-president (research), led the tour.

After meeting with President Bose, the group met with several Memorial researchers, staff and senior leaders who shared details about ongoing research projects and Memorial’s national and international collaborations, community engagement activities and world-class facilities.

The purpose of the tour was, in part, to demonstrate areas where Memorial’s research is aligned with the priorities of the federal government.

“The commitment at Memorial University to ocean stewardship and ocean science is inspiring.” — Annette Gibbons

For example, Memorial University and the Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada are co-leading a global partnership to address the increase in Arctic shipping, the related environmental impacts affecting Arctic communities and to support safe and cost-efficient resupply for Inuit communities.

This Qanittaq Clean Arctic Shipping Initiative received $91.6 million from the federal government this spring. As part of their tour, the delegation met with Drs. Allen and Wei Qiu about the project, which will position Canada and Inuit as world leaders in sustainable Arctic shipping.

From there, roundtables were conducted with a variety of Memorial researchers, followed by a tour of facilities ranging from the Botanical Garden to the Cold-Ocean Deep-Sea Research and Joe Brown Aquatic Research buildings at the Ocean Sciences Centre in Logy Bay.

Lastly, the delegation visited the Marine Institute and its Centre for Marine Simulation, the Underwater Exploration Lab and the Food Processing Pilot Plant.

Inspiring work

“The challenges our oceans face cannot be tackled in isolation,” said Deputy Minister Gibbons. “The commitment at Memorial University to ocean stewardship and ocean science is inspiring. I look forward to continuing to work collaboratively to advance our understanding of Canada’s ecosystems and find innovative, science-based solutions for healthier and more sustainable oceans.”

“The science being conducted at Memorial is expanding our knowledge of oceanography, aquaculture and Arctic ecosystems,” said Dr. Nemer. “It is helping to provide the evidence needed for good policymaking toward a more sustainable and prosperous future for our communities and our world.”

Deputy Minister University Champion Program

The visit was part of the federal government’s Deputy Minister University Champion Initiative, which is designed to grant the federal public service access to leading ideas and theories, connect leaders from within the federal public service with universities across Canada, identify shared priorities and more.

Memorial’s Deputy Minister Champion is Annette Gibbons. She’s a proud Memorial graduate, who studied political science and French (BA ’88), before pursuing master’s degrees from both the University of Ottawa and Carleton University.

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