RDC Investment Supports Memorial University of Newfoundland Researchers

ST. JOHN'S, NL, Oct. 9, 2012 /CNW/ - The Research & Development Corporation (RDC) is investing more than $5.3 million into research and development (R&D) projects at Memorial University of Newfoundland in areas relevant to offshore petroleum, ocean technology, healthcare, aquaculture and other natural resource industries.

The funding will focus on solving technical challenges and identifying new opportunities such as ice-structure interaction in polar regions, effective oil spill clean-up methods that minimize environmental impact and more efficient ways to extract precious metals.

"Today's investment is paving the way for the future success of our researchers and academic institutions and to the collaborative efforts among academia and industry for the future economic growth of Newfoundland and Labrador," said the Honourable Keith Hutchings, Minister Responsible for the Research & Development Corporation. "These projects are essential for enhancing the R&D capacity within Newfoundland and Labrador. Increased activity is leading to further economic growth in this province and strengthening Newfoundland and Labrador's international reputation as a world-class centre for innovation."

More than 30 researchers from the Faculty of Science, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, School of Music, Grenfell Campus, Faculty of Medicine and C-CORE are receiving funding that will leverage more than $16.9 million from other research sponsors. These include the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Husky Energy and Rolls Royce Marine.

"RDC is helping facilitate local, national and international R&D collaboration between Memorial, other institutions and industry leaders," said Glenn Janes, Chief Executive Officer, RDC. "This investment builds upon the existing base of research expertise in Newfoundland and Labrador and is another example of how R&D plays a critical role in driving future innovation."

Today's investment is provided through RDC's academic programs which focus on building the R&D capacity required for innovation and commercialization within the province.

"The funding announced today by RDC, along with investments leveraged from federal and private sector sources, will advance strategic areas of research for which we are already well known, and on which much of our future prosperity depends," said Dr. Gary Kachanoski, President and Vice-Chancellor, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

RDC has invested $800,000 to further advance the research of Dr. Claude Daley, Chair, Ocean and Naval Architectural Engineering at Memorial University's Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. He is examining the technical challenges of operating large ships and offshore structures in ice environments. The total cash and in-kind value of the research effort is $7.15 million over five years.

Dr. Daley said his research team is tackling issues that will enable the offshore energy industry to grow and develop in the province in ways that are safe, sustainable and profitable for all.

"The support I am receiving enables graduate and undergraduate students to gain valuable experience while allowing us to benefit from their creativity and enthusiasm," said Dr. Daley. "The research climate in our faculty has improved remarkably in recent years, thanks in large part to the creation of RDC and as a result, we are conducting ambitious and practical research that produces lasting results."

An overview of the projects receiving funding from RDC is contained in the backgrounder of this release, while more detailed project descriptions are available online at www.rdc.org.

About the Research & Development Corporation
The Research & Development Corporation (RDC) is a provincial Crown corporation responsible for improving Newfoundland and Labrador's R&D performance. RDC works with R&D stakeholders including business, academia and government agencies and departments. In Budget 2012: People and Prosperity, RDC was allocated $19 million to make strategic research and development related investments in people, research opportunities and infrastructure. For more information about RDC, go to www.rdc.org.

Research Projects Supported through RDC's Academic Programs

A total of $5,381,248 is being invested in the following 33 research projects at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Funding is received through three of RDC's academic programs: LeverageR&D, IgniteR&D, and CollaborativeR&D and leverages more than $16,962,053.


LeverageR&D attracts public funding for academic-led research and development (R&D) in areas relevant to both industry and the Newfoundland and Labrador economy.

Metabolic Regulation in Marine Organisms - Canada Research Chair, $250,000 from RDC
Dr. William Driedzic, Department of Ocean Sciences, Faculty of Science, Memorial University
This research project will focus on how fish survive conditions of low temperature and low oxygen. The information gained through the project may provide clues to how animals function in changing environments. This has the potential to benefit the aquaculture sector as growers will have a better understanding of why fish grow the way that they do and in which conditions they grow best. A second area of research in this project is related to how some fish function at extremely low blood sugar levels, especially under oxygen levels where sugar is essential for the animals. It is felt that this portion of the research could produce results that would have relevance to diabetes in humans. RDC's funding leverages $1,400,000 from the Canada Research Chairs program, $185,000 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and $261,000 in other funding.

Fish Genomics Research, $221,680 from RDC
Dr. Matthew Rise, Department of Ocean Sciences, Faculty of Science, Memorial University
Dr. Rise will use functional genomics tools and techniques to study the genes and molecular pathways involved in fish responses when they are exposed to pathogens or other immune stimuli, environmental stressors, or plant-based diets.  Due to their importance to fisheries and aquaculture, this research will focus on Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout and Atlantic cod. In addition to providing valuable information on the genetic basis of biological processes key to fish health, Dr. Rise's research will likely lead to the development of new strategies for combating fish diseases, new molecular markers for selecting broodstock with superior production traits, and sustainable aquaculture feeds. Of RDC's investment, $100,000 will allow Dr. Rise, Memorial's Canada Research Chair (tier 2) in Marine Biotechnology, to hire a post-doctoral fellow to perform fish functional genomics research; the remainder of RDC's investment will be used to improve the infrastructure for fish genomics research in Dr. Rise's lab. Funding from RDC leverages $100,000 from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and $500,000 from the Canada Research Chairs program (CRC).

Rational Drug Design via Biophysical Studies of Membrane Proteins, $240,574 from RDC
Dr. Valerie Booth, Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science, Memorial University
With this project, Dr. Booth, Memorial's Canada Research Chair in Proteomics, will complete a powerful suite of instrumentation that will enable rational design of peptide drugs, as well as support internationally-competitive basic research. Peptide drugs are those that are partly based on a structure similar to proteins.  Rational drug design means that the potential peptide drug is designed to work with the molecule in the body that it is meant to target.  The new infrastructure will enable research activity that is important to Newfoundland and Labrador in at least three different ways. 1) It will address health concerns faced by Newfoundland and Labradorians including psoriasis and other immune disease, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and antibiotic resistance. 2) It will support the biotechnology sector in the Province by providing novel lead therapeutics as well as the knowledge to rationally optimize them, and will contribute knowledge of utility to aquaculture stock breeding programs. 3) It will train highly-qualified personnel at two important intersections; between the life and physical sciences and between basic research and commercialization. Of RDC's investment, $100,000 will allow Dr. Booth to recruit graduate students. Funding from RDC leverages $500,000 from the Canada Research Chairs program, $100,000 from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and $83,750 in other funding.

Three dimensional Ichnology and Shale Gas Reservoir Fabrics: a new angle on a new hydrocarbon resource, $290,675 from RDC
Dr. Duncan McIlroy, Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Science, Memorial University
Fine-grained sedimentary rocks called mudstones and shales are commonly source rocks for generating hydrocarbons. The rocks start out as seafloor muds with significant amounts of organic matter, which can be food for numerous burrowing animals. As the mud becomes compacted into solid rock (shale), the organic material is transformed into kerogen that, with increasing heat and pressure, yields hydrocarbons. Some of the hydrocarbons may migrate out of the shale to become trapped in sandstone reservoirs as conventional oil-and-gas deposits. However, significant amounts of hydrocarbon remain trapped in the fine-grained or "tight" shale rocks, making these rocks an important new exploration target for oil-and-gas resources.  This project will investigate the environment of deposition of black shale, including its palaeoecology and the types of burrowing creatures that lived therein. Field and laboratory studies of the fossilized burrows and other traces of organic activity (collectively known as ichnology) will allow the characterization of these rocks as potential reservoirs for oil and gas. Details of the research can be found at www.ichnology.ca. Funding from RDC leverages $500,000 from the Canada Research Chairs program, $130,000 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and $200,520 in other funding.

Laser Applications Laboratory, $446,797 from RDC
Dr. Qiying Chen, Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, Faculty of Science, Memorial University
The Laser Applications Laboratory, to be established at Memorial University, will build new research and development capacity in Newfoundland and Labrador to develop novel photonic technologies in several priority areas. This state-of-the-art infrastructure will facilitate the development of a new technology of femtosecond laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, which uses ultra-short laser pulses at a time scale of femtoseconds (one millionth of a billionth of a second) to achieve unprecedented accuracy in the composition analysis of minerals. The infrastructure will also enable the study of photonic materials and devices with a focus on developing high efficient, low-cost, flexible organic solar cells. The research supported by this infrastructure will discover new technologies important for the natural resource industries, renewable energy, advanced manufacturing, ocean technology and environmental science. The new infrastructure will significantly promote collaborative R&D among academia and industry at the local, national and international levels. This project is supported by Canada Foundation for Innovation, and in-kind contributions and research activities are conducted by the team led by Dr. Chen, Memorial's Canada Research Chair in Photonics. Of RDC's investment, $100,000 will allow Dr. Chen to recruit graduate students and prepare infrastructure. Funding from RDC leverages $321,129 from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and $500,000 from the Canada Research Chairs program.

Infrastructure for exploiting natural chemical and isotopic tracers to assess the impact, $104,091 from RDC
Dr. Susan Ziegler, Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Science, Memorial University
Predicting changes to the boreal forest soil organic carbon (SOC) in Newfoundland and Labrador is critical to the development of societal strategies for coping with climate change, given the significance of SOC to ecosystem function, sustainability, and global C -cycling. The equipment requested as part of this project will support research aimed at determining to what extent losses of SOC may occur with climate warming. It will represent the first step toward landscape-scale, signatures of climate induced changes in SOC stocks and provide chemical indicators and a predictive understanding of key climate change responses in the boreal forests both provincially and globally. Results will inform provincial forestry practices aimed at reducing potential negative interactive effects of climate change and other disturbance regimes on carbon stocks and forest productivity. Funding from RDC leverages $100,000 from the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

An isotope ratio mass spectrometer for tracking pathways of carbon flow within extreme and changing environments, $112,931 from RDC
Dr. Susan Ziegler, Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Science, Memorial University
The ability to predict the ecological impact of environmental change, as well as respond and adapt, depends greatly upon our understanding of ecosystem carbon and energy dynamics. This project would fund the acquisition of an isotope-ratio mass spectrometer (IRMS) that will be linked with existing equipment to enable researchers at Memorial to conduct compound-specific stable isotope analyses (CSIA). There is no other facility for CSIA in the Atlantic region and this specific infrastructure will support the investigators' research into extreme or changing environments to provide predictive understanding of the impacts of different aspects of environmental change on key natural resources and ecosystem processes. This research will specifically include investigations of the impact of climate change on boreal forests, aquaculture operations and the influence on coastal marine ecosystems, and fundamental studies of carbon cycling in extreme environments all taking place in Newfoundland and Labrador. Funding from RDC leverages $150,000 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Virtual Environments for Knowledge Mobilization, $500,000 from RDC
Dr. Brian Veitch, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Dr. Scott MacKinnon, School of Human Kinetics and Recreation, Memorial University
The project Virtual Environments for Knowledge Mobilization will be led by Dr. Brian Veitch, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and Dr. Scott McKinnon, School of Human Kinetics and Recreation, and will be based at Memorial University. The goal of this project is to develop simulator technologies and collaborative virtual environments as a means of mobilizing knowledge for training purposes. The focus is on training personnel who work in the offshore petroleum and shipping industries with the aim of improving safety of life at sea. These insights will provide a sound basis for partnering companies Virtual Marine Technology and Presagis to tune their product solutions to confidently meet the training needs of their customers at. The program will also result in the establishment of a specialized R&D facility for testing simulation technology and evaluating human performance in virtual environments. This will help precipitate the formation of a marine simulation cluster in the region by providing core R&D expertise and facilities. The proposed program will further integrate institutional R&D capabilities with business innovation for the economic benefit of the region. Funding from RDC leverages $2,645,442 from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency's Atlantic Innovation Fund, $420,000 from Virtual Marine Technology, $50,000 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada's Discovery Grant, $100,000 from Presagis as in-kind and $300,000 in other funding.

Diet and the Early Development of Atlantic Cod, $224,185 from RDC
Dr. Kurt Gamperl and Danny Boyce, Department of Ocean Sciences, Faculty of Science, Memorial University
At present slow growth is an impediment to the development of large-scale cod aquaculture in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The proposed research examines to what extent the growth of cod larvae can be improved by feeding their natural prey (wild zooplankton) vs. cultured rotifers, the mechanisms/pathways that mediate differences in growth and health when larval cod are fed the two diets, and how early differences in size/growth translate into the performance of juveniles and adults. This work is being conducted in collaboration with Icelandic and Norwegian researchers, and will be a significant step towards achieving the growth potential of cod under culture conditions, and to reducing production costs and time to market. Improvements in these areas are required before cod aquaculture can be commercialized in Atlantic Canada, and contribute to the economy of rural communities. Funding from RDC leverages $224,185 from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, $30,000 from the Newfoundland Broodstock Company and $5,000 in other funding.

Developing Camelina as the Next Canadian Oilseed, $200,000 from RDC
Dr. Chris Parrish, Department of Ocean Sciences, Faculty of Science, Memorial University
Canada has the opportunity to develop Camelina, an oil and protein rich plant, in to an oilseed platform with all the potential market success of "Made in Canada" Canola. Likewise, the opportunity exists to exploit the full value of this novel oilseed by generating an oilseed meal as a viable alternative for fish meal and fish oils, presently a limiting and expensive necessity for the aquaculture industry, and a valuable oil product with diverse market opportunities. Using genomics tools, focused research will facilitate development of Camelina containing diets that are maximally beneficial to early and later life stages cod and salmonids. Funding from RDC leverages $673,952 from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and $59,828 in other funding.

Identification of novel genes causing pulmonary fibrosis, $111,812 from RDC
Dr. Michael Woods, Discipline of Genetics, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University
Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) is an adult onset lung disease. In Canada, about 20,000 individuals are affected by IPF, and its prevalence is expected to double in the next 20 years. It has been estimated that the presence of IPF in Newfoundland is more than 20 times that reported in other northern European derived populations. Without lung transplant treatment, mean survival ranges from two-four years. Sporadic and familial (FPF) forms of IPF have also been recognized. The goals of this project are to identify mutations in novel genes that cause FPF; offer the families participating in the study important genetic information in order to provide better clinical management. In order to identify novel genes causing FPF, Dr. Woods is recruiting families to obtain a large population-based cohort of IPF patients that can be used to identify novel genes and to validate discoveries. He is also working to sequence the DNA in families using a state-of-the-art technology, called next generation sequencing, in order to identify gene mutations. Although the familial form of IPF is relatively rare, identifying gene(s) that are mutated in these families will improve understanding of the biologic pathways that are altered in patients with the more common sprodic form of IPF, eventually leading to improved therapeutic management. Gene discovery would reduce the cost to the health care system, because of reduced clinical screening, since it will be possible to identify individuals who are at-risk of developing the disease. Funding from RDC leverages $111,812 from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Regional Partnerships Program.


IgniteR&D attracts highly-qualified academic researchers and builds new research and development (R&D) capacity in areas relevant to both industry and the Newfoundland and Labrador economy.

Mobilization of arsenic, uranium and fluorine in groundwater aquifers in Newfoundland and Labrador, $100,000 from RDC
Dr. Tao Cheng, Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Science, Memorial University
In many rural areas in Newfoundland and Labrador, groundwater is the main source of water for drinking and domestic use. Arsenic (As), uranium (U), and fluorine (F) are well-known water-borne contaminants, and their concentrations in some domestic water wells in the province exceed the maximum acceptable concentrations recommended by Health Canada. This proposed research is aimed at determining how the water-borne contaminants are released from solid phases to groundwater through natural processes in some aquifers in Newfoundland. The research is also intended to help in exploration of high-quality groundwater sources, and inform the development of management strategies and high-efficient, cost-effective commercial treatment units for reducing As, U, and F contamination in well water. This research will potentially contribute to the well-being of the people and reduced health-care cost to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Corrosion resistance of high performance self consolidating concrete in offshore structures, $96,063 from RDC
Dr. Assem Hassan, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Memorial University
Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as the rest of Canada, is facing major challenges considering the deterioration of its infrastructure, which represents an investment of billions of dollars. Specifically, corrosion of steel reinforcement causes deterioration of offshore concrete structures. While concrete is naturally alkaline providing protection against corrosion of the reinforcing steel, chlorides in seawater can penetrate the concrete surface causing a reduction of the concrete alkalinity and corrosion of the reinforcing steel. Self-consolidating concrete (SCC) is a newly developed type of high performance concrete that spreads readily under its own weight and achieves good consolidation. The use of SCC for offshore concrete structures is expected to extend the structure service life and reduce the cost of repair and maintenance of concrete structures quite substantially. This project, led by Dr. Assem Hassan, aims to develop a strong, sustainable and durable SCC that has superior properties in terms of durability and rebar corrosion protection that can be applied to offshore structures.

Internal Waves and Mixing, $100,000 from RDC
Dr. James Munroe, Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, Faculty of Science, Memorial University
This project will establish research capacity within the Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography in the area of stratified fluid dynamics. This research program will develop research and expertise in environmental flows where buoyancy forces and mixing play a significant role. Laboratory based research will be performed to develop models for the stratified flow around cylinders, with application to the offshore oil and gas industry, and to investigate the dynamics of autonomous underwater vehicles in stratified fluid to create a model for hazard mitigation. Dr. Munroe will study stratified fluids and the stresses that they place on subsea structures such as risers and pipelines.  He will also investigate how internal waves effect the manoeuvring of AUVs. Understanding the impacts of internal waves can help industry players plan and mitigate the associated risks.

Precious Metals via Biosorption and Biocrystallization, $91,000 from RDC
Dr. Yan Zhang, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Memorial University
This project will explore an efficient and environmentally friendly biosorption and biocrystallization process to recover precious metals from low-grade ores or from mining effluents.  This project aims to develop a more generic methodology to predict, operate and optimize the biosorption and biocrystallization processes for precious metal recovery.  Biosorbents and bio-reducing agents prepared from various biomass materials will be tested for the recovery of precious metals from mining aqueous wastes which also contain lead, copper, nickel, zinc and other metals. The effect of these base metals on the recovery of precious metals will also be studied.  The developed process may improve the economics of recovery for precious metals that are difficult and expensive to extract.

Probabilistic Modeling of Spalling Fracture and High Pressure Zone Behaviour for Estimation of Iceberg Impact Loads for Offshore Structure Design, $100,000 from RDC
Dr. Rocky Taylor, Centre for Arctic Resource Development , C-CORE, Memorial University
In offshore structure design, conservatism is used to account for uncertainties in estimates of environmental loads the structure is expected to experience over its design life. For ice environments, the lack of full-scale ice-structure interaction data and the complexity of ice failure processes both contribute to uncertainties in the estimation of ice loads for design. This project is focused on the development of probabilistic tools to enhance understanding of ice fracture processes and the behaviour of localized zones of high pressure, through which the majority of ice loads are transmitted to a structure. This work will help advance the fundamental understanding of ice failure mechanics and reduce uncertainties associated with the estimation of ice loads for the design of offshore structures and vessels, such as those required for the development of oil and gas resources on the Grand Banks and Labrador Shelf. Building new research and development capacity through the training of graduate students and research engineers is an important aspect of this program. Other funding includes in-kind contributions from the National Research Council of Canada - Institute for Ocean Technology ($8,000), Memorial University ($3,000) and the Centre for Arctic Resource Development ($89,000).

Surface Failure in Ice Structures Interactions, $90,500 from RDC
Dr. Bruce Colbourne, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Memorial University
This project seeks to improve the fundamental knowledge of simultaneous ice failure and surface friction effects on the force applied to a vessel or structure when breaking ice.  Better knowledge of the frictional effect will support an improved numerical modeling capability and will ultimately allow designs for icebreaking ships or ice resistant structures to reduce ice forces applied to the structure.  Better designs arising from better understanding of surface friction interactions can reduce cost through reduced structural strength requirements and reduced risk of damage.

Development of Biosurfactant-Based Technologies for Enhanced Remediation of Oil Spill Sites in Atlantic Canada, $100,000 from RDC
Dr. Baiyu Zhang, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Memorial University
The proposed research aims to develop an innovative biosurfactant based bioremediation technology for cleaning up coastal oil spill sites for application in Atlantic Canada. The research outputs are expected to reduce the cost of oil-spill site remediation, offer simple and inexpensive application protocols, and provide safer working conditions.

Enhanced Technology for Ocean Remote Sensing Using Microwave and High-frequency Radars, $100,000 from RDC
Dr. Weimin Huang, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Memorial University
The project will develop advanced algorithms for sea surface current, wave information extraction, manoeuvring target detection and tracking based on microwave navigation radar images. These developments are intended to improve marine safety and to provide data products which do not presently exist in the local context. It will build Memorial University's R&D capacity in ocean remote sensing with microwave radar and enhance its high frequency radar ocean remote sensing capabilities.

Automatic Solvers for Optimization Problems in Ocean Technology and Design, $98,500 from RDC
Dr. Antonina Kolokolova, Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Science, Memorial University
Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) are becoming a major tool for sea exploration, survey and patrol.  These autonomous submarines and underwater robots are used by the oil industry to explore the sea floor and to inspect and repair pipelines; the defense industry uses them to patrol the seas; and researchers and industry rely on the data they collect for ocean observation, to study currents and climate change.  Developing and improving AUVs is an area of intense development at Memorial University and the National Research Council, with a potential to generate a substantial economic benefit for Newfoundland and Labrador. This project proposes to adapt and extend automated solvers and automated theorem provers for use in optimization problems arising in ocean technology, in particular, for routing AUVs.

MEARL: Electroacoustic Performance Interface Solutions, $100,000 from RDC
Dr. Andrew Staniland, School of Music, Memorial University
The goal of this project is to develop a custom built haptic device to control digital media in contemporary classical musical performance. Haptic technology refers to technology where touching is used to control the device. At present, controlling digital media in musical performances is done using either a computer keyboard/mouse combination for simple tasks, such as controlling the volume of music; or a mixing board for more complex situations, such as orchestra performances. The disadvantages for these methods are related to esthetics - computers used by performers can be distracting for audiences and mixing boards are too large for contemporary classical music performances. The haptic device proposed in this application would be sensitive to touch and compact enough for performers to take on tour. This project also blends local expertise in mixed media composition with instrument design. The research team will collaboratively develop a prototype haptic device that will augment the performance standards of electronic content in concert situations.

Capturing the Fluid Phases at the Pore Scale, $99,500 from RDC
Dr. Lesley James, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Memorial University
Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) increases the total oil recovered from an oil field by injecting another fluid into the reservoir to help produce the residual oil more efficiently. EOR can extend the life of a maturing field, directly impacting our oil supply and economy and is important for the long-term development of Newfoundland and Labrador's oil and gas industry. This project aims to experimentally visualize the oil-water-gas inside the pores of the reservoir rock and predict production from laboratory scale core flooding experiments using novel mathematical techniques.

Remote Monitoring of Offshore Process and Equipment, $91,500 from RDC
Dr. Syed Imtiaz, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Memorial University
Oil and gas demand is exceeding supply and new discoveries are not able to keep pace with global demand growth. It is for this reason that new, cost effective ways to harness resources are being looked at to bring down operation costs in order to ensure that fields operate at their full potential. Although onshore processes have increased profitability, advanced techniques that would continue to increase productivity are hardly used. This is mainly because historically, upstream processes did not have as much instrumentation as downstream. With the push toward the "digital oil field", this scenario is rapidly changing. The goal of this research is to develop and implement monitoring tools for oil and gas processes to ensure safe operation, increased productivity and profitability in the industry. It focuses on developing remotely operated intelligent monitoring tools for offshore processes which can analyze large data sets, detect fault and issue alarm in real time with minimal expert intervention.

Enabling biological interpretation of large-scale genomic data for poorly annotated fish species, $70,640 from RDC
Dr. Lourdes Pena-Castillo, Departments of Computer Science and Biology, Faculty of Science, Memorial University
Dr. Pena-Castillo's research aims at improving the understanding of the biological function of Atlantic cod genes and to facilitate the biological> interpretation of genomic studies in this fish. She and her research team will develop technologies to functionally characterize Atlantic cod genes by transferring information from well-studied fishes. This transfer of information is based on the fact that biological mechanisms involved in many biological functions have been well conserved during evolution. This research is relevant due to the over-exploitation and environmental change that have resulted in declining wild populations of Atlantic cod. The dramatic decline has caused a significant reduction in the commercial value of the cod fisheries and great interest to the aquaculture industry. As a result, global aquaculture production is growing at a fast rate. Genomic studies of Atlantic cod (and potentially other fish species) can help the aquaculture industry overcome challenges by enabling the identification of genetic markers for commercially-desirable traits, and by assessing the genetic consequences of interbreeding between farmed and wild populations.

Characterization of a Novel Virulence Factor Produced by the Potato Pathogen Streptomyces scabies, $100,000 from RDC
Dr. Dawn Bignell, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Memorial University
Common scab is an economically important crop disease that occurs in Newfoundland and Labrador and elsewhere in Canada. The disease is characterized by superficial or raised corky-like lesions that form on the surface of root and tuber crops such as potato, radish, turnip and carrot. These lesions affect the market value of these crops. Dr. Bignell's research is focused on characterizing the bioactivity of a virulence-associated metabolite, called the CFA-like metabolite, which is produced by the scab causing pathogen Streptomyces scabies. To accomplish this, Dr. Bignell will purify the metabolite from cultures of S. scabies and will test the pure molecule in plant bioassays to determine whether it induces disease-like symptoms on the plant host.  In addition, she will perform plant gene expression analyses using the pure molecule to determine whether the CFA-like metabolite affects the immune response of the plant. The results of this study will provide important insight into the CFA-like metabolite and its role in scab disease development in the host.  It is anticipated that the information gained will help to develop new, more effective strategies for controlling common scab disease, which in turn will help to reduce the economic impact of this disease in Newfoundland and Labrador and elsewhere in Canada.

Studies on the Biosynthesis of Commercially Produced Bacterial Natural Products of Economic Importance, $100,000 from RDC
Dr. Kapil Tahlan, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Memorial University
Infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria are a major problem, but the recent emergence and spread of bacterial diseases previously thought to be under control is cause for even greater concern. Clavulanic acid is a drug used in the treatment of infections caused by certain bacteria that are resistant to the penicillin family of antibiotics. When clavulanic acid is administered in combination with a penicillin-type antibiotic, it restores the ability of the antibiotic to act against the targeted organism by silencing its resistance mechanism. Clavulanic acid is produced by the bacterium Streptomyces clavuligerus, which is related to a group of microorganisms that produce many medicinally important compounds. The long-term goal of this research is to fully understand the biosynthesis and regulation of clavulanic acid so that the information gained can be applied more broadly to Streptomyces clavuligerus and other microorganisms to produce new molecules for potential medicinal applications.

Non-linear Random Vibration Analysis of Gears, $100,000 from RDC
Dr. James Yang, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Memorial University
It is well known that random components exist in vibration of gears. Random factors may dominate in some applications, such as helicopters, submarines and off-shore structures. Thorough investigation and understanding of gear systems response to random excitations is critical in designing and manufacturing quieter and more reliable machinery, safe operation of critical equipment and other applications. This proposed research will develop theoretical models for random vibration analysis of gears. The characteristics of randomness from typical applications will be analyzed. Effective algorithms will be sought for calculating the response of gears being investigated to random excitations. In particular, a vibration generating mechanism, which is expected to be able to improve the drilling efficiency in mining, and the oil and gas industry, will be investigated. The results of this proposed research are also expected to be applied in several other critical sectors of this province, such as the marine industry and manufacturing, and therefore can enhance the province's competitiveness in these areas.

Examining the impacts of human disturbances and climate change on carbon cycling of Northern Peatlands, $100,000 from RDC
Dr. Jianghua Wu, Grenfell Campus, Memorial University
Studies have shown that the response of the Northern Peatlands to climate change can affect carbon cycling, that being the varying amount of carbon in the soil. This can range from a small reduction in carbon (C) storage in the soil to a greater C source, depending on the climate change scenarios considered. Human disturbances such as agricultural development, peat mining and/or forestry drainage are also factors affecting C cycling. However, the question on how human disturbances affect the function of carbon cycling in northern peatlands remains unanswered. The long-term objective of this research program is to understand how the biogeochemical cycling (particularly carbon cycling) in northern peatlands is affected by changes in climate coupled with human  disturbances, as well as to examine how these changes alter the role of northern peatlands in global C cycling with and without climate change. This study will contribute to the global carbon cycling science and climate change studies, and will provide climate change and land use policy makers with a scientific knowledge useful in examining the policy scenarios for maintaining the function of carbon sequestration for peatland ecosystems as well as employ the peat resources.

3D Telepresence for Education, Training and Games, $99,800 from RDC
Dr. Oscar Meruvia-Pastor, Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Science, Memorial University
Expected outcomes of this research are the development of systems for efficient coding, transmission and display of 3D stereoscopic and depth video signals, the development of intuitive application programming interfaces for gesture-based input and the development of systems that support mobile applications of augmented-reality (AR). This project will help establish the foundations for the development of end-user applications of 3D telepresence and telecollaboration in support of distance education and will potentially benefit local industries involved in simulation and gaming, and in the energy sector through the recruitment and training of highly qualified personnel with expertise in the areas of 3D computer graphics, vision, networks and games.

Genetic Study of Osteoarthritis in the Newfoundland and Labrador Population, $100,000 from RDC
Dr. Guangju Zhai, Discipline of Genetics, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis which leads to significant morbitiy and disability in the elderly, and puts a great economic burden on our society. However, OA is far behind other skeletal diseases like osteoporosis in the development of disease modifying treatments. This is mainly because little is known about the underlying molecular mechanism that could be the therapeutic target. The Newfoundland and Labrador population is a unique resource for genetic study of multifactorial diseases such as OA, and it is proposed to build up a cohort of genetic study of OA in the provincial population. This project will select 750 patients with total joint replacement of knee or hip that is due to primary OA, and 750 age-matched controls. Dr. Zhai will examine the association between OA and four possible OA susceptible genetic loci. The study will further our understanding of the role of the four genes in the development of OA and add evidence that these genetic biomarkers can be used for diagnosis and prognosis in OA management.

CollaborativeR&D increases research and development (R&D) partnerships and collaboration between academia and industry in areas relevant to the Newfoundland and Labrador economy.

Collaborative Research with the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Facility, Sydney, Australia, $9,000 from RDC
Dr. Ralf Bachmayer, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Memorial University
The project goal is to foster international collaborations between researchers at Memorial University and the University of Sydney in the field of underwater imaging and underwater robotics. Adam Gobi, a PhD student at Memorial University, spent time with a world-class research group on underwater imaging at the Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR) and the IMOS Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Facility. Funding from RDC leverages $9,710 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

STePS2 - Sustainable Technology for Polar Ships and Structures, $800,000 from RDC
Dr. Claude Daley, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Memorial University
The polar oceans are at once a great challenge and a great opportunity. To seize the opportunity, the technical challenges of operating large ships and offshore structures in polar regions must be addressed.  The operation of a vessel or offshore platform in ice covered water is a multifaceted problem.  The presence of ice generates loads on the hull and appendages, decreases the speed and manoeuvrability of vessels and poses significant navigation risks.  Furthermore, the effects of ice on vessels and offshore structures are highly uncertain, increasing risk and thus cost.  The goal of this project is the creation of the Polar Ships and Structures Design Tool (PSSDT), a software based design tool in which the results of the experimental work and the numerical simulations are presented in a spreadsheet format that will allow designers to quickly evaluate design parameter changes to common design configurations without having to repeat full simulation or experimental models. The research work is performed by Memorial University in collaboration with the National Research Council. Other funding partners include: the American Bureau of Shipping, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, BMT Fleet Technology, Husky Energy, Rolls Royce Marine and Samsung Heavy Industries. Additional funding for graduate student support is provided by other sources. The total cash and in-kind value of the research effort is $7.15 million over five years.

Biodiesel from fish oil via enzyme transesterification, $32,000 from RDC
Dr. Kelly Hawboldt, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Memorial University
In this research, Dr. Hawboldt is proposing to test an enzyme based transesterification system from Piedmont Biofuel Industrial with oil she has recovered from fish waste. The overall objective is to design an overall process, from oil recovery from the fish waste to conversion to biodiesel in the enzyme unit. Funding from RDC leverages $18,000 from the Department of Environment and Conservation and $32,725 from Piedmont Biofuels.

SOURCE: Research & Development Corporation

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Media contacts:

Jeff Green
Manager, Marketing & Communications
Research & Development Corporation
709-758-0973, 691-8892

Meaghan Whelan
Communications Co-ordinator
Office of the Vice-President (Research)
Memorial University of Newfoundland
709-864-4073, 687-9243

Scott Barfoot
Director of Communications
Department of Innovation, Business and Rural
709-729-4570, 690-6290

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