Funding for ocean research and infrastructure at Memorial University of Newfoundland got a major boost as the federal government announced an investment of more than $6.5 million in the university’s Ocean Sciences Centre (OSC), on Tuesday, Aug. 11.
Through its Leading Edge Fund, the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) is supporting the creation of new state-of-the-art facilities for the study of cold-water and deep-sea organisms and ecosystems at the OSC, located in Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove.
The funding will go towards infrastructure at the centre, including the construction of new buildings, laboratories, research facilities and equipment.
Dr. Christopher Loomis, president and vice-chancellor pro tempore of Memorial, welcomed the federal government’s commitment to research at the university.
“This major investment by the CFI recognizes the quality and impact of cold-ocean studies at Memorial University, and its importance to Canada’s future,” said Dr. Loomis. “It also re-affirms Memorial University as a premier institution in the world for cold-oceans research.”
Industry Minister Tony Clement was delighted to be in Newfoundland and Labrador for the announcement.
“Through the CFI, our government is creating leading-edge facilities to attract world-class researchers,” said Minister Clement. “These investments make a difference in the lives of Canadians. From project development to the laboratory, Canadians will benefit from the economic stimulus these investments provide.”
Memorial plans to develop a deep-seawater source that will provide consistent, high-quality low-temperature seawater on a year-round basis.
New wet and dry laboratories for cold-water research will also be constructed, allowing researchers to further study deep-ocean organisms.
Additionally, a new facility for work on aquatic infectious diseases and invasive species will also be constructed.
“This new funding is truly exciting for the OSC and will lead to new horizons for research on marine organisms and processes at Memorial University,” said Dr. Ian Fleming, a professor at the centre and its former director. He is the lead on the successful funding application, which was written collaboratively with Dr. Kurt Gamperl, an associate professor at the OSC, and others at the centre.
The OSC team was awarded the funding through a highly-competitive process.
Dr. Fleming said the development of a new deep-seawater source will be vital for future research projects at the OSC.
“The existing near-surface, seawater source of the OSC constrains research currently, because of fluctuating seawater temperatures, which are between minus zero and 17°C,” he said.
“A deep-seawater source will not only alleviate these constraints, but also provide increased water volume for improved overall research capacity at the OSC, including the proposed novel research facilities.”
The announcement will allow Memorial scientists to undertake leading-edge research in deep-sea and cold-ocean organisms and processes, including the responses to environmental change and the impacts of human disturbance, said Dr. Ray Gosine, vice-president (research) pro tempore at Memorial.
“I applaud the CFI for the commitment to fund world-class, innovative research here at Memorial and I congratulate Dr. Fleming and his colleagues on this tremendous achievement which further strengthens our leadership position in the area of oceans research.”
Dr. Fleming said CFI’s support will lead to significant advances in the knowledge of how organisms inhabiting the Arctic and North Atlantic respond to changes in their environment including accelerated climate change, as well as the risks posed by infectious diseases and invasive organisms. The investment will also allow researchers to influence the development of new policies for the management of Canada’s oceans.
Funding for Memorial’s project is part of a major $666,128,376 investment announced by the CFI to support 133 projects at 41 institutions across the country.
“The CFI’s support of cutting-edge research infrastructure has transformed Canada’s research landscape and increased the country’s international competitiveness,” said Dr. Eliot Phillipson, president and CEO of the CFI.
A complete list of projects funded by the CFI can be found online.
The Canada Foundation for Innovation is an independent corporation created by the Government of Canada to fund research infrastructure. The CFI’s mandate is to strengthen the capacity of Canadian universities, colleges, research hospitals, and non-profit research institutions to carry out world-class research and technology development that benefits Canadians.