Dr. Lori Francis appointed Acting Associate Dean of the Faculty of Science

Dr. Lori Francis

Dr. Lori Francis

Saint Mary’s University is pleased to announce that Dr. Lori Francis has been appointed Associate Dean of the Faculty of Science – Student Affairs (Acting).

Dr. Lori Francis has been a faculty member in Saint Mary’s University’s Department of Psychology since 2002, and was promoted to Full Professor in 2014. A graduate of St. Francis Xavier University, she holds an MSc in Psychology from McMaster University and a PhD in Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychology from the University of Guelph.

During her tenure in Saint Mary’s Faculty of Science, Dr. Francis has taught a wide range of BSc and MSc courses, including Intro to Psychology, upper-level undergraduate courses, and doctoral seminars. Since 2011, she has been Graduate Program Coordinator for the MSc and PhD in Psychology. Dr. Francis has also served on Academic Senate and was a long-time member of Saint Mary’s Pension Committee.

Dr. Francis’ research, which pertains to occupational health, safety, and wellness in the workplace, has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation (NSHRF), and Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

As Associate Dean of Science – Student Affairs (Acting), Dr. Francis will oversee the Science Advising Centre and the Science Numeracy and Academic Proficiency (SNAP) Centre, a free, drop-in tutoring centre dedicated to first-year science students. She will also review and provide the final decision on a variety of student issues handled through the Science Advising Centre. 

Saint Mary’s chemistry professor receives federal funding for her antibiotic research

Dr. Clarissa Sit

Dr. Clarissa Sit

Saint Mary’s chemical biologist Dr. Clarissa Sit’s research into how to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria and fungi received a big boost today as the result of an investment of $171,204 from the federal government.

“Saint Mary’s University is home to innovative research that impacts not only our institution but contributes to addressing problems of global importance,” said Dr. Malcolm Butler, Vice-President, Academic and Research. “We are very appreciative of this federal investment as it represents a core part of our mission as a university, to engage in innovative research and disseminate its results in a way that will serve the community from the local to international level.”

Dr. Sit’s research addresses one of society’s largest public health challenges: antibiotic-resistant bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms. As a result of this funding, Dr. Sit will have access to a high-resolution mass spectrometer, equipment that will increase the success rate of finding new molecules in soil that have antibiotic or drug-like properties. If successful, this could lead to the discovery of microbes that develop new natural products, which can be used to develop new medications.

“While this new equipment is essential for my research, it also provides the first high-resolution mass spectrometer on campus, which is incredibly useful to my colleagues in chemistry, biology, geology, and environmental science in their research,” said Dr. Sit.  “I am very grateful to the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Government of Canada for their support and I know that this investment will have a big impact on both my research and scientific research in general at Saint Mary’s.”

This investment comes from the Government of Canada provided through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF). Support from the federal CFI JELF program provides a portion of the funding needed for institutions to acquire research infrastructure to enable cutting-edge innovation, with contributions from the province and private sector making up the balance of the support.

“This federal infrastructure award recognizes Dr. Sit’s unique and innovative experience, and allows her to establish a lab at Saint Mary’s destined to make important contributions in the area of natural antibiotic research,” said Dr. Adam Sarty, Associate Vice-President Research and Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research. “It also allows the next generation of Saint Mary’s students to train in state-of-the-art experimental techniques.”

Chemistry grad awarded prestigious postgraduate scholarship

Kyle Awalt

Kyle Awalt

This fall, recent Saint Mary’s graduate Kyle Awalt is headed down under to pursue a Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Monash in Melbourne, Australia. Kyle, who graduated this spring with a Bachelor of Science in Honours Chemistry, received a Monash Graduate Scholarship and Monash International Postgraduate Research Scholarship, two highly competitive awards worth roughly $70,000 a year. At Monash, Kyle will study under the supervision of Dr. Peter J. Scammells, Medicinal Chemistry Theme Leader and Associate Dean (Research) at Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Monash University. Monash’s prestigious pharmacy program routinely ranks among the best in the world.

Since his second year of study, Kyle has worked as a research assistant to Dr. Robert Singer, current Chair of Saint Mary’s Department of Chemistry. Dr. Singer is a leader in green chemistry and a long-time collaborator of Dr. Scammells.

Kyle credits his experience at Saint Mary’s with his scholarly achievement. “My success has been driven by the paper I published and my work in Dr. Singer’s lab,” says Kyle. “I don’t think I would have had the same level of opportunity as an undergraduate at a larger school.”

Kyle’s undergraduate honours thesis led him to co-author a paper, Utility of iron nanoparticles and a solution-phase iron species for the N-demethylation of alkaloids, published in the peer-reviewed journal RSC (Royal Society of Chemistry) Green Chemistry. It describes a key step in the preparation of naloxone, a drug used to treat opiate overdoses, including fentanyl. Using green solvents and iron as a catalyst, Kyle and his co-authors optimized one of the chemical reactions necessary in the production of the potentially life-saving drug.

Given the current global opioid crisis, this work is particularly timely. “A relatively straight line can be drawn between what we’re doing in the lab and what happens in the real world,” says Kyle. “It’s very rewarding.”

In addition to Dr. Robert Singer, Saint Mary’s University, Kyle’s collaborators include Dr. Peter Scammells and others from the Universities of Monash and Nottingham.

After completing his Ph.D. at Monash University, Kyle plans to pursue postdoctoral studies in Europe. Ultimately, he would like to return as a faculty member at a Canadian institution.

"Small universities like Saint Mary's encourage collaboration and allow undergraduate students the opportunity to take ownership of their research,” says Kyle. “Ultimately, I hope to return to that as a professor.”



New Saint Mary’s program helps entrepreneurs and companies expand to international markets

Entrepreneurs and companies looking to sell to new Canadian and international markets can learn from the experts at the new Sell Beyond Borders program offered by Saint Mary’s University’s Sobey School of Business.

Sell Beyond Borders is a program designed to help companies identify new markets, determine their sales approach, and understand the cultural nuances that are important to incorporate into their strategy in order to develop the skills needed to sell in global markets.

“This program directly aligns with our mission statement,” said Patricia Bradshaw, dean of the Sobey School of Business. “Sell Beyond Borders enables our entrepreneurial businesses and communities to grow, increasing prosperity across our region. It supports initiatives and priorities of the Atlantic Canadian provincial and federal government in supporting more Atlantic Canadian companies to be successful players in the global marketplace.”

“To succeed and grow, Atlantic Canadian companies need to sell their innovative products and services to customers around the world,” said Gerry Pond, chair, Mariner Partners. “It takes skills in problem-solving, cultural awareness, and negotiations to sell internationally. This program will allow companies to leverage their local skills and knowledge in new markets.”

The program has been developed for the Sobey School by The Conference Board of Canada in partnership with Optimé International and CompreCultures Ltd. Using real-world examples, modern sales techniques and processes, the program will help participants prepare their product for sale in an increasingly complex global market. After three days of in-class work, participants are then supported by coaches throughout an eight-week period used to imbed the learning, and wrap up with a one-day simulation.

“The Canadian innovation challenge boils down to great people and great ideas but poor commercialization,” said Bruce Good, executive director, Centre for Business Innovation at The Conference Board of Canada. “The ability to commercialize and learn how to sell our innovative ideas, products and services are skills that are needed in Canada and this new program will arm sales professionals with the skills and tools to compete in a global marketplace.”

The first offering of the program will begin on November 8, 2017.

Learn more about Selling Beyond Borders, or register now.

Saint Mary’s mourns the passing of Dr. John Leonard McMullan

John Leonard McMullan, BA, MA, PhD, age 68, passed away on July 13, in Halifax.

McMullan was a well-loved member of the Department of Sociology & Criminology from 1985 until his retirement in 2014, after which he was named Professor Emeritus. Known for his warmth and enthusiasm—and for challenging students with lively and provocative subject matter—he was a greatly  respected academic and contributor to his field. 

The winner of a President’s Award for Excellence in Research in 2012, and the author of eight books on crime, historical criminology, law enforcement, and justice, Dr. McMullan held visiting scholar positions at Cambridge University, The London School of Economics and Political Science, Simon Fraser University, and Concordia University.

He was also a Commissioner of the Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia and a member of the executive board of the Nova Scotia Criminal Justice Association.

It is with regret that Saint Mary’s announces his passing.

Dr. John Leonard McMullan

Dr. John Leonard McMullan