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Grenfell Campus Memorial University

Summer of Research

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THE BOREAL ECOSYSTEM RESEARCH INITIATIVE

What’s in the soil, water and air around us can tell a story about the ecosystem we depend upon. Scientific research can help write those stories, but it can’t happen without a laboratory. And the more advanced the laboratory, the more insightful the research results will be.

The Boreal Ecosystem Research Initiative (BERI) was officially opened in March 2014. The 500-square-metre research facility supports forestry and agriculture research with a focus on the analysis of soils, plants, air and water. The $8.1-million facility includes four laboratory facilities.

In the pre-process laboratory, field samples are processed and measured to get them ready for extraction in the other labs.

In the extraction and standard chemical analyses laboratory, samples of things like soil, plants, food, and animal feed are processed to determine their nutrient composition and the presence of contaminants. These samples are also cultured to discover the effects of environmental conditions. For example, what are the effects of temperature stress in plant cells in terms of energy, development, photosynthesis, DNA expression and biosynthesis? How does temperature influence overall plant growth and crop yields?

The molecular biology laboratory can extract and characterize molecular compounds, DNA and RNA to allow genetic and metabolic analyses suitable for growing test microorganisms, plant and animal cells. These data help researchers gain insight into the role of plants and microbial communities for nutrient use efficiency, maintaining the health of farm animals, protecting the quality and the nutritional value of agriculture. It also helps them understand the role of agriculture and forestry practices in the maintenance or enhancement of environmental, community and ecosystem health and services.

The analytical facility houses the most sensitive instruments capable of analyzing any sample type (liquid, solid or gas) derived from plants, soil, water, animal feed and food samples. Instruments in this lab can quantify the amount of individual chemical components (e.g.. protein, fats, nutrients, contaminants) and provide a picture of the location of each compound in the sample.

The facility’s faculty members specialize in soil, water, herbaceous plant analysis, and hydrology and resource economics. Their expertise, combined with the analytical research laboratories, has boosted the teaching and research reputation of Grenfell Campus, which in turn helps attract new students who are looking for a more hands-on education.

Partners

  • Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service
  • Department of Natural Resources, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Agriculture-Agrifoods Canada

Funding Partners

  • Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
  • Department of Innovation, Business and Rural Development, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
  • The McCain Foundation

Being Present in Health Care

Be here now. Do what you are doing when you’re doing it. Be where you are when you’re there. The idea of staying present as a tool for self-management in stressful situations is one that Dr. Michael Newton has been teaching students and community groups for years. [READ MORE...]                     

The Boreal Ecosystem Research Initiative

What’s in the soil, water and air around us can tell a story about the ecosystem we depend upon. Scientific research can help write those stories, but it can’t happen without a laboratory. And the more advanced the laboratory, the more insightful the research results will be. [READ MORE...]                       

Recognizing Mi'kmaq Soldiers

Over the years, Dr. Maura Hanrahan has heard members of the Newfoundland Mi’kmaq community lament the fact that their grandfathers and great-grandfathers served in World War I, but were not recognized as Mi’kmaq soldiers. But how many Newfoundland Mi'kmaq participated in World War I? [READ MORE...]