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Boreal Ecosystem Research Facility officially opened at Grenfell

By Melanie Callahan | March 31, 2014

It was another day of celebration at Grenfell Campus as the Boreal Ecosystem Research Facility was officially opened on March 28. Many industry representatives, dignitaries and community partners attended the official opening, including Premier Tom Marshall and President Kachanoski.

The new 500-square-metre facility will provide high-level research resources to support or inform federal, provincial, university and private sector research priorities in forestry, agriculture and the environmental sector. The facility, with its three interconnected analytical research laboratories, will build capacity in analytical research with a particular focus on soils, plants, air and water.

"I am pleased to congratulate Memorial University on the official opening of this facility, which will create an enhanced capacity for R&D that will help enrich and develop growth industries in Newfoundland and Labrador," said Rob Moore, regional minister for Newfoundland and Labrador and minister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency). “Our government is committed to supporting innovative initiatives such as this one, which drive opportunities for growth and economic development in the forestry, agriculture, agri-foods, and environmental sectors."

The university invested $4 million in the construction of the facility, and a further $1 million in equipment. The facility will house five new research professors, including an agronomist, soil scientist, plant/crop specialist, agriculture/forestry resource economist and hydrologist. The Government of Canada, through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, contributed more than $2 million towards the initiative. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador contributed $1 million through the Department of Innovation, Business and Rural Development.

“Memorial University has a long-standing reputation of excellence in research. This new Boreal Ecosystem Research Facility at Grenfell Campus is another example of the university leading the way in the fields of forestry, agriculture and environmental studies,” said Premier Marshall. “The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador continues to invest in our students and in our post-secondary infrastructure as we know a vibrant economy depends on it. This new facility will help attract students and train them for the forestry and agriculture sectors. It is also a key piece to continuing to build world-class research capacity within.”

The development of this facility at Grenfell Campus is an essential element in a multi-faceted approach designed to build research capacity, create expertise in strategic sectors, attract highly qualified personnel to enhance Grenfell’s teaching and research reputation, develop new graduate programs in environmental sciences, and attract an increasing number of new students. In May 2013 Memorial signed a collaborative research agreement with Natural Resources Canada, regarding sharing of expertise and resources in the forestry field – an important step in fostering research partnership at Grenfell.

Dr. Kachanoski is also delighted that part of the university’s investment includes a donation from the McCain Foundation; a gift of $100,000 is earmarked for lab equipment.

“The new facility will enable the university to expand academic programming and research in the areas of forestry, agriculture and the environmental industry,” said Dr. Kachanoski. “It will spur innovation, enhance co-ordination and collaboration, and attract and train graduate students to build on that knowledge base. We are grateful to our federal and provincial governments for their vision and their support of research and research-based teaching."