Media Release

Saint Mary’s part of new $6.5 million offshore de-risking project

Adam MacDonald, NS Department of Energy & Mines, examines a core sample taken during an offshore coring cruise. (Source: Genome Atlantic)

Adam MacDonald, NS Department of Energy & Mines, examines a core sample taken during an offshore coring cruise. (Source: Genome Atlantic)

Saint Mary’s University is part of a major new initiative that adds genomics technologies to traditional geoscience with the aim to reduce the risk for oil exploration in Nova Scotia’s offshore. 

The $6.5 million project, Validation and Integration of Genomics Solutions for Offshore Oil Exploration in Nova Scotia and Beyond, was announced by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport, as one of 20 projects across Canada awarded through Genome Canada’s Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP). 

The initiative builds on the work of a previous GAPP project in which genomics data and results were compared with petroleum geochemistry data to paint the clearest picture yet of petroleum deposits in areas of Nova Scotia’s offshore. This new project, involving the same team, will take that work to the next level by delivering high-resolution tools and maps developed with the help of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), advanced ‘omics technologies and machine learning.

 “The idea of using genomic (DNA-based) tools to help de-risk offshore oil and gas exploration efforts has transitioned from a ‘what if’ idea not that long ago into a compelling opportunity that has earned the support of this project’s many partners,” said Steve Armstrong, President and CEO of Genome Atlantic. “We are extremely pleased to have the opportunity to work with such a dedicated and talented group committed to establishing Nova Scotia as a leader within this globally competitive sector.”

Project co-lead Dr. Todd Ventura

Project co-lead Dr. Todd Ventura

The project is co-led by Dr. Todd Ventura (Saint Mary’s University), Dr. Casey Hubert (University of Calgary), and Adam MacDonald (Nova Scotia Department of Energy and Mines) and is managed by Genome Atlantic in partnership with Genome Alberta.

“This GAPP is expanding on the microbiological toolkit with the addition of lipidomics,” said Dr. Todd Ventura, Saint Mary’s University.  “This may allow us the ability to detect more ancient seepage events that can lead to the discovery of new active petroleum systems in the offshore.”

Project partners include the Nova Scotia Department of Energy and Mines; the Geological Survey of Canada, Natural Resources Canada; Research Nova Scotia; Nova Scotia Offshore Energy Research Association (OERA); Mitacs Canada; Applied Petroleum Technology (APT); the University of Calgary; and Saint Mary’s University.

“De-risking our offshore for exploration is critical for Nova Scotia to remain competitive in a global market,” said Adam MacDonald, NS Department of Energy and Mines. “Adding new tools and building innovative and integrated projects such as this collaboration with the University of Calgary and Saint Mary’s University gains recognition and attention to our quality and capacity to compete. Not only do we de-risk exploration but this project provides environmental baseline information on the benthic life and communities that may be dependent on natural occurrences of hydrocarbon on the seafloor.”

The Province of Nova Scotia’s commitment to the project is part of its $12 million investment in offshore R&D over the next four years.

“For generations, the offshore has paid off for Nova Scotians and it still holds tremendous potential to grow our economy and create jobs across the province, especially in rural areas,” said Nova Scotia Energy and Mines Minister Derek Mombourquette. “By continuing to invest in leading-edge research we will find cleaner and safer ways to look for resources and attract international investment to our shores.”

Saint Mary’s research in social sciences and humanities receives more than $600,000 in federal funding

Dr. Myles McCallum with students from the Villa of Titus Archaeological Research Project.

Dr. Myles McCallum with students from the Villa of Titus Archaeological Research Project.

A group of Saint Mary’s University researchers in social sciences and humanities received more than $600,000 in federal funding today, July 17. The news came as part of a more than $285 million investment announced by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport, for over 6,900 researchers and graduate students across Canada.

“It’s exciting to see the success of our researchers, across all faculties, receiving acknowledgement and funding support for their social science and humanities-focused research efforts,” said Dr. Adam Sarty, associate vice-president, Research and dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research. “These new grants highlight the wide range of research activity across our campus. We are proud to support these successful researchers and their students as they embody the role of knowledge creation that lies at the heart of Saint Mary’s.”

The following is a list of Saint Mary’s Insight Grant recipients:

  • Dr. Nicole Conrad for Spelling matters too! The role of spelling practice in the development of reading skills;

  • Dr. Myles McCallum for The Villa di Tito Project: Re-examining Roman Villas; and

  • Dr. Matthew Boland for Consequences and motivations behind estimates in capital budgeting. Evidence from government procurement

In addition to the Insight Grants, the Government of Canada also announced the following Saint Mary’s recipients of Insight Development Grants:

  • Dr. Hamdi Driss for Does Policy Uncertainty Affect Credit Ratings Quality?

  • Dr. Matthew Boland for Environmental Violators Beware! Using Machine Learning to Predict EPA Infractions; and

  • Dr. S. Karly Kehoe for A Catholic Atlantic? Minority Agency in the British World, 1763-1860.

“The social sciences and humanities are integral towards building a healthier, stronger and more prosperous Canada,” said the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport. “Since taking office, our government has worked hard to put science and research back to their rightful place. Today’s grant recipients will help us make informed decisions about our communities, economy, health and future prosperity.”

This investment, through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), will fund research in areas including education, immigration, Indigenous health and the environment. These projects will also promote collaboration and partnerships among academic researchers, businesses and community partners to advance knowledge and understanding of these critical issues.

“Researchers in the social sciences and humanities generate ideas and innovations that improve the lives of Canadians,” said Ted Hewitt, president of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. “This investment will strengthen research training for students, connect Canadian and international researchers across disciplines and sectors, and equip Canada with the talent, knowledge and insights that are essential to meeting the challenges of today and tomorrow.”

Research into the effects of low interest rates on Canadian loan markets receives grant

Dr. Mohammad Rahaman, Canada Research Chair in International Finance & Competitiveness and a professor with the Sobey School of Business

Dr. Mohammad Rahaman, Canada Research Chair in International Finance & Competitiveness and a professor with the Sobey School of Business

The work of a Saint Mary’s University researcher into the effects of low interest rates on the syndicated loan market in North American has received a boost.

Mohammad Rahaman, Canada Research Chair in International Finance & Competitiveness and a professor with the Sobey School of Business, is receiving a $40,000 research grant from the Canadian Securities Institute Research Foundation.

Rahaman’s research focuses primarily on understanding how access to intermediated capital such as bank loans can be a source of power and efficiency for industrial firms in a competitive global market place. He is currently investigating the effects of the unprecedented and prolonged low interest rates by central banks following the global financial crisis.

His research also touches on how financing through syndicated loans influences investment, innovation, and internationalization among North American industrial firms. A syndicated loan is a loan provided by a group of lenders and set up and administered by one or more commercial or investment banks.

“This is one of the most coveted research grant awarded by industry practitioners in Finance in Canada, and I am honoured to be its recipient,” said Rahaman. “No other finance faculty member in the Maritimes has received this grant, which speaks to a recognition of the importance that the Sobey School of Business has in our region and the quality of research underway at the school.”

The Canadian Securities Institute Research Foundation encourages and supports grounded research on the Canadian Capital Markets.

“The Canadian Securities Research Foundation is actively supporting research into interest rate risk, especially the drivers and impact of the current low interest rate environment,” said Heather-Anne Irwin, Executive Director of the Foundation. “We are thrilled to be supporting Professor Rahaman in his work, as we strive to bridge the gap between theory and practice.”

Celebrating community building and philanthropy: Saint Mary’s newest honorary degree recipients

(Left to Right) Al MacPhee, Her Excellency Lady Sandra Williams BA’86, Padraig O’Malley, and Senator Dan Christmas.

(Left to Right) Al MacPhee, Her Excellency Lady Sandra Williams BA’86, Padraig O’Malley, and Senator Dan Christmas.

Community building and philanthropy are being celebrated by Saint Mary’s University this May, as the university recognizes the achievements of four new honorary degree recipients.   

The university is pleased to recognize the extraordinary achievements of:

  • Senator Dan Christmas, a Mi’kmaw leader and Independent Senator for Nova Scotia. Mr. Christmas has served in numerous leadership positions in the Mi’kmaw Nation of Nova Scotia. His work has ranged across a variety of fields including aboriginal and treaty rights, justice, policing, education, health care, human rights, adult training, business development and the environment. 

  • Padraig O’Malley, an award-winning author and peacemaker. Mr. O’Malley is an expert on democratic transitions and divided societies, with special expertise on Northern Ireland, South Africa, Iraq, Israel and Palestine. He has earned a global reputation for breaking deadlocks by bringing together parties in intractable conflicts and opening the way to dialogue.

  • Her Excellency Lady Sandra Williams BA’86, a charity founder and philanthropist. A Saint Mary’s alumna, Lady Williams is currently the president of the Antigua and Barbuda China Friendship Association. She is also the president and founder of The Halo Foundation, an umbrella charity established in December 2014 that addresses the needs of 32 charities under the patronage of the Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda.

  • Al MacPhee, an auto industry mogul and philanthropist. Mr. MacPhee has been in the auto industry for decades and was recently recognized by Ford Motor Company for his tremendous efforts and contributions to his community. He and his wife Mary are very involved with the MacPhee Centre for Creative Learning,  a not-for-profit charitable organization whose vision is to provide an alternative education model for youth in marginalized and disadvantaged circumstances.

“Saint Mary’s is known for academic excellence in arts, business and science and for our commitment to community engagement which serves as a foundation for all that we do,” said Saint Mary’s President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray. “We are proud to recognize the accomplishments of four exemplary people who share our Santamarian values, and grant them the highest honour that we can bestow, an honorary degree.”

The honorary degree recipients will receive their degrees later this May at Spring Convocation 2019, which runs from May 15 to May 17.

Honorary Degree: Senator Dan Christmas

Senator Dan Christmas

Senator Dan Christmas

Senator Dan Christmas has served in various leadership positions in the Mi’kmaw Nation of Nova Scotia. After serving five years as the Band Manager for the Community of Membertou, Senator Christmas worked for the Union of Nova Scotia Indians for 15 years—the last ten as its Director.   He was actively involved in the recognition and implementation of Mi’kmaw aboriginal and treaty rights in Nova Scotia. 

From 1997 to 2016, Senator Christmas held the position as Senior Advisor with Membertou and had assisted the Chief and Council and its Management Team with the day-to-day operations of the Community of Membertou.   Senator Christmas also served as elected councilor for Membertou for 18 years.  

Senator Christmas has been active in a number of international, national, provincial and local agencies in a wide range of fields including aboriginal & treaty rights, justice, policing, education, health care, human rights, adult training, business development and the environment.   

In 2005, Senator Christmas was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Dalhousie University and an honorary diploma from the Nova Scotia Community College in 2016.  In 2008, he was the recipient of the National Excellence in Aboriginal Leadership Award from the Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of Canada. 

In December 2016, Senator Christmas was sworn in as an Independent Senator for Nova Scotia.  Senator Christmas is the first Mi’kmaw senator to be appointed to the Senate of Canada.