Research

Government of Canada partners with Saint Mary’s to create new coastal habitat and combat climate change

Nova Scotia will soon be home to more coastal habitat and defences against flooding and erosion as the result of a $1.8 million partnership between the Government of Canada and Saint Mary’s University.

“This support from the federal government is crucial. We will use it to create new salt marsh habitat around the Bay of Fundy and beyond, addressing the impact of climate change on our region and tackling a global problem,” said Dr.  Danika van Proosdij, the project lead and a professor at Saint Mary’s University. “Using nature-based strategies and restructuring dyke systems, we will create new vibrant ecosystems for marine life to prosper and new marshes that can absorb rising sea levels and storm surges.”

The new project, Making Room for Wetlands: Implementation of Managed Realignment for Salt Marsh Restoration and Climate Change Adaptation in Nova Scotia, seeks to restore over 75 hectares of tidal wetland (i.e., salt marsh) habitat through the realignment and decommissioning of dyke infrastructure at multiple sites in the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. The project will also help to build the Atlantic region’s scientific and technical capacity to manage future realignment and restoration projects.

“At Saint Mary's, community is at the heart of what we do, and that extends to our research,” said Saint Mary’s University president Robert Summerby-Murray. “Dr. van Proosdij’s project shows our commitment to using our knowledge and expertise to address challenges facing our region and the world. I want to thank the Government of Canada for supporting Atlantic Canadian researchers who are at the forefront of combating climate change.”

This project will be undertaken through a well-established partnership between Saint Mary’s University and CB Wetlands & Environmental Specialists (CBWES) Inc. using innovative and proven techniques with a comprehensive monitoring program.

Aspects of the project will also be conducted in consultation with the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and in collaboration with Queen’s University Department of Civil Engineering, the Ecology Action Centre (EAC), Dalhousie University’s School of Planning and School of Resource and Environmental Studies.

This project was announced on Monday, June 25, 2018, as part of the Coastal Restoration announcement made by the Honourable Scott Brison, President of Treasury Board Canada, M.P. for Kings-Hants on behalf of the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. It was announced that four organizations will receive together over $7 million over 5 years for projects to help restore coastal habitats in Nova Scotia and in the Arctic.

 

“I am proud to support these Coastal Restoration Fund projects that will restore and rehabilitate important coastal habitats in Nova Scotia and Nunavut. Our funding will encourage and build local community capacity to maintain and restore aquatic habitats.”

- The Honourable Scott Brison, President of Treasury Board Canada

From the announcement event

Saint Mary’s new Department of Criminology hosts ground-breaking national conference on harm-reduction in the justice system

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More than 200 scholars, corrections workers, and social-justice experts from Canada and beyond came together for a fruitful exchange of ideas on harm reduction in the criminal-justice system at Saint Mary’s this past Thursday and Friday.

 Criminology graduate student Omotimilehin Idris presenting during the “Transnational Perspectives” session

Criminology graduate student Omotimilehin Idris presenting during the “Transnational Perspectives” session

For the past eight years, the National Conference on Critical Perspectives: Criminology and Social Justice has been held in Ottawa, and focused on scholarly participants. This year marks the first in which the conference will begin visiting communities across Canada, and also the first in which it substantially moves outside the university’s walls to holistically address issues around crime and justice.

Besides scholars, professionals and employees within the Canadian corrections system, social-justice experts, and non-profit workers came together to discuss new ideas around harm reduction.

“The classic idea of harm reduction is around drug use,” says Diane Crocker, chair of Saint Mary’s Department of Criminology. “And that’s being addressed here, but we’re also expanding the scope to look at how the criminal-justice system at large can harm people, or even how larger social structures cause harm, and exploring how that can be recognized.”

Represented at the conference were universities in Canada, New Zealand, and the UK; criminal-justice experts from the Nova Scotia Department of Justice, and the Halifax Regional Police; representatives from First Nations across Canada; and several levels of government.

Government representatives included Karen Hudson, QC, Deputy Minister of Justice and Deputy Attorney General of Nova Scotia; Denise Perret, Deputy Minister of the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness; Tracey Taweel, Deputy Minister of the Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture, and Heritage; Lynn Hartwell, Deputy Minister of the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services; and Karen Gatien, Associate Deputy Minister of the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

Dr. Crocker hopes that the conference’s success will be replicated in coming years.

“We’ve set a high bar in terms of having an integrated conference of academics, community members, and criminal-justice professionals coming together to share ideas,” she says. “This has been an incredibly valuable two days.”

The conference was a joint effort between the newly formed Department of Criminology of Saint Mary’s University, and the Nova Scotia Criminal Justice Association.

Saint Mary’s professor receives national award for her contributions to subatomic physics

 Saint Mary’s University physicist Dr. Rituparna Kanungo

Saint Mary’s University physicist Dr. Rituparna Kanungo

Saint Mary’s University physicist Dr. Rituparna Kanungo’s outstanding research is being recognized with the 2018 CAP-TRIUMF Vogt Medal for Contributions to Subatomic Physics.

"I feel highly honoured receiving this prestigious recognition which I would like to share with my collaborators,” said Dr. Rituparna Kanungo. “Canada’s world-leading subatomic physics facilities attracted me here, thanks to the pioneering efforts by Erich Vogt. I feel fortunate with the support I received, and want to thank the physics community and Canada for valuing my contributions."

 Dr. Kanungo working with students. 

Dr. Kanungo working with students. 

Dr. Kanungo’s research aims to answer fundamental questions about existence. Where do we come from? What are we and most of visible matter in our Universe made of? To address those questions, Dr. Kanungo looks at not only what humans are made of but everything else that we can see around us. At the heart of which lies the nucleus. The nucleus is such a fundamental part of existence that it has driven Dr. Kanungo to look closer to examine the different types of nuclei present in matter and what makes them so varied. This has led her to look beyond nuclei found here naturally on earth and look toward the wider variety, the rarer isotopes occurring in the Universe.

Dr. Kanungo launched her research program in rare isotope science with experiments at the RIKEN facility in Japan where she developed techniques to investigate the structure of rare isotopes using neutron removal reactions. Her work has revealed new information on nuclear halos and associated shell changes. 

She has spearheaded a program in Canada using low energy nuclear reactions to view the inner workings of the rare isotopes. For this she developed at TRIUMF the IRIS facility to study nuclear reactions and is the project leader. With IRIS she has made impactful measurements revealing sensitive ways to constrain the strong nuclear force of nature and illuminated characteristics of halo nuclei. Dr. Kanungo has taken on leadership of the Canadian Rare Isotope Beam Facility with an Electron Beam Ion source (CANREB) for producing beams of heavy rare isotopes, focusing on current and future scientific programs at TRIUMF

 Dr. Kanungo working with students in a lab at Saint Mary's University

Dr. Kanungo working with students in a lab at Saint Mary's University

Dr. Kanungo has made outstanding contributions to the understanding of the physics of rare isotopes using direct reactions. She has led experiments involving large international collaborations in Canada, Germany, and Japan exploring the properties of rare isotopes. She is at the forefront of a rapidly evolving new field of direct reactions with radioactive ion beams. In addition, she has provided leadership and service to the international and Canadian communities, with a particular focus on current and future scientific programs at TRIUMF.

“This award is a result of a collaborative effort, from the assistance of undergraduate and graduate students to my incredibly experienced colleagues and researchers—everybody has played a role, and I tremendously value everything that they have done to support achieving our goals,” said Dr. Kanungo. "I would like to thank NSERC, Canada Foundation for Innovation and Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Trust for supporting our research."

First introduced in 2011, the Vogt Medal recognizes and encourages outstanding experimental or theoretical contributions to subatomic physics.

Dr. Kanungo will be presented with her medal at the Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) Medallists' Recognition Banquet in Halifax on Wednesday, June 13, 2018.

Congratulation to Dr. Kanungo on behalf of the Saint Mary’s University community!


ABOUT TRIUMF

TRIUMF is Canada’s particle accelerator centre. The lab is a hub for discovery and innovation inspired by a half-century of ingenuity in answering nature's most challenging questions. From the hunt for the smallest particles in our universe to research that advances the next generation of batteries or develops isotopes to diagnose and treat disease, TRIUMF drives more than scientific discovery. Powered by its complement of top talent and advanced accelerator infrastructure, TRIUMF is pushing the frontiers in isotope science and innovation, as well as technologies to address fundamental and applied problems in particle and nuclear physics, and the materials and life sciences. In collaboration with 20 Canadian universities, TRIUMF's diverse community of nearly 600 multidisciplinary researchers, engineers, technicians, tradespeople, staff, and students create a unique incubator for Canadian excellence, as well as a portal to premier global collaborations. Our passion for understanding everything from the nature of the nucleus to the creation of the cosmos sparks imagination, inspiration, improved health, economic opportunity, and a better world for all.

For more information, visit www.triumf.ca  and www.triumf50.com. @TRIUMFLab

Click here to read the CAP media release on the award. 
 

Saint Mary’s celebrates new and existing Canada Research Chairs

Members of the Saint Mary’s University community formally welcomed the institution’s newest Canada Research Chairs (CRC), Drs. Ivana Damjanov and Mohammad Rahaman, and celebrated existing CRCs at a reception held today.

Created in 2000, the CRC Program invests $265 million per year across Canada to attract and retain the world’s best researchers in the fields of engineering, the natural sciences, health sciences, humanities, and social sciences.

“Whether investigating the consequences of low-wage practices on the worldwide economy or using the world’s most advanced telescopes to delve into details of galaxy formation and evolution, Saint Mary’s CRCs are making an impact on our world and on society’s foundational knowledge,” says Dr. Malcolm Butler, Vice President of Academic and Research at Saint Mary’s University.

With the addition of Dr. Ivana Damjanov, CRC in Astronomy & Astrophysics, and Dr. Mohammad Rahaman, CRC in International Finance and Competitiveness, Saint Mary’s University is proud to host nine more Canada Research Chairs.


The following is a list of Saint Mary's University's Canada Research Chairs:
 

•    Dr. Todd Ventura, CRC in Petroleum Systems, Geochemistry, and Reservoir Characterization

•    Dr. Christa Brosseau, CRC in Sustainable Chemistry and Materials

•    Dr. Marcin Sawicki, CRC in Astronomy

•    Dr. Gavin Fridell, CRC in International Development Studies

•    Dr. Karly Kehoe, CRC in Atlantic Canada Communities

•    Dr. Kevin Kelloway, CRC in Occupational Health Psychology

•    Dr. Najah Attig, CRC in Finance

•    Dr. Ivana Damjanov, CRC in Astronomy & Astrophysics

•    Dr. Mohammad Rahaman, CRC in International Finance and Competitiveness


Dr. Ivana Damjanov, Canada Research Chair in Astronomy & Astrophysics

 Dr. Ivana Damjanov, Canada Research Chair in   Astronomy & Astrophysics and Dr. Malcolm Butler, Vice-President, Academic and Research

Dr. Ivana Damjanov, Canada Research Chair in Astronomy & Astrophysics and Dr. Malcolm Butler, Vice-President, Academic and Research

Dr. Damjanov’s research involves using images and spectroscopic signatures of massive galaxies to follow the evolution of their stellar and dark matter content over 7 billion years of cosmic time. As Canada Research Chair in Astronomy and Astrophysics, she seeks to expand the spectroscopic and imaging surveys of galaxies to cover large areas of the sky and provide the highest-quality data. By carefully analyzing these information-rich datasets Dr. Damjanov and her team hope to reveal how the biggest building blocks of the universe form and evolve.

Dr. Damjanov is a Professor in the Department of Astronomy & Physics.


Dr. Mohammad Rahaman, Canada Research Chair in International Finance and Competitiveness

 Dr. Mohammad Rahaman, Canada Research Chair in International Finance and Competitiveness and Dr. Malcolm Butler, Vice-President, Academic and Research

Dr. Mohammad Rahaman, Canada Research Chair in International Finance and Competitiveness and Dr. Malcolm Butler, Vice-President, Academic and Research

Dr. Rahaman’s research is in the area of international finance, international competitiveness, corporate finance, and cross-country financial development. As Canada Research Chair in International Finance and Competitiveness, Dr. Rahaman is investigating how manufacturing and job losses induced by competition from low-wage countries are influencing the way capital is accessed in high-wage countries. His work will contribute to our understanding of how small and medium-sized enterprises in Canada can overcome their financing constraints and contribute to employment growth in our increasingly globalized and competitive world economy.

Dr. Rahaman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Finance, Information Systems, and Management Science.

Saint Mary’s archaeological expedition to share the story of people enslaved at coffee plantation in Cuba

 Students unearthing artificacts at the Angerona Plantation archaeology site. 

Students unearthing artificacts at the Angerona Plantation archaeology site. 

A group of Canadian university students are about to depart on an archeological expedition to Cuba, spearheaded by Saint Mary’s University. The students will be excavating historical artifacts and investigating the cemetery at Angerona, a Cuban national historic site and former slave plantation, 80 kilometres east of Havana.

Interested in applying to join the expedition or looking for more information?

Email Professor Taylor at c.aarontaylor@gmail.com. The fee to join the expedition is $1600 (this includes accommodations, meals and transportation within Cuba) plus airfare and tuition (2 credits). The deadline to apply is May 4th.

“This expedition offers an opportunity to work with our partners in Cuba to uncover more of the lost history of the Angerona Coffee Plantation,” said Aaron Taylor, a Professor of Archaeology at Saint Mary’s and the program’s instructor.  “This plantation has a big historical significance in Cuba, and we want to help tell the stories of the people who were enslaved there.”

During the 19th century, Angerona was one of the largest slave plantations in the Americas—yet little is known about the day-to-day lives of the people who lived there.

 A collection of some of the artifacts found in the first year of the excavation.

A collection of some of the artifacts found in the first year of the excavation.

From June 10 to July 1, students from Canada and Cuba will be working together on excavating, identifying and interpreting the artifacts they find.

In addition to continued exploration of the site’s barracks, this expedition will include an investigation of the plantation's cemetery and the recovery of skeletal remains. This will provide a clearer story of life on the plantation. The team will be able to learn more about the people on the plantation, such as their general health, diet, age of death, and burial customs. This will include further research into the possibility that Nova Scotia supplied large quantities of codfish to Cuba during the period of the plantation system.

This trip marks the second year of what will be at least a five-year partnership between Saint Mary’s University, Havana’s Cabinet of Archeology and the College of San Geronimo.

 For more information about the expedition and to apply to join the team, visit http://www.smu.ca/academics/departments/cuba-archaeology.