Partnerships

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.”

SMUEC helps Canada’s first airport honesty shop open in Halifax

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In an effort to promote Nova Scotia’s locally grown products and the cultural values of honesty and trust in the region, Mabata – Glocal Eatery, supported by the Saint Mary’s University Entrepreneurship Centre’s program The Runway, launched Canada’s first airport honesty shop, located at the arrivals foyer of the Halifax Stanfield International Airport.

Introduced by the Saint Mary’s University Entrepreneurship Centre in April of 2018, The Runway is an incubator that provides local businesses the opportunity to promote and grow their enterprises through product sales and new product testing activities at the airport. The Runway has since worked with 14 local businesses, providing business support and a rent-free space to set up their shop at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport. Each month, The Runway airport kiosk features a new local business, with past companies ranging from apparel brands to plant-based nutrition bars.

The new honesty food pop-up shop, launched on July 10th, is a world pioneering concept that entrusts customers to pick the food, snack and drink items they wish to purchase, punch in their order using a touch screen and pay via a self-service checkout that accepts credit/debit cards, cash and mobile payments, with no one serving or watching customers during their purchase experience.

Mabata’s new Honesty pop-up shop will operate during the summer months of 2019 as a 24/7 un-manned shop and offers a 24/7 remote support helpline to assist any customer that requires further help to make their purchase.

Click here to read more.

SMUEC's social enterprise training goes national

The Saint Mary’s University Entrepreneurship Centre (SMUEC) is bringing its entrepreneurial enterprise across Canada, starting in Saskatchewan and the Yukon.

Last month SMUEC team members Mitch Harrison and Jason Turner traveled to Saskatoon to deliver the first installment of The Pipeline’s train-the-trainer program.

The Pipeline is SMUEC’s social enterprise development service that helps students and community groups conceive and launch sustainable businesses that address community challenges. The program uses the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for exposing global challenges, and uses social innovation as a stimulus for creating community solutions.

A total of 17 participants from Saskatchewan and Manitoba participated, representing organizations including the Saskatchewan Economic Development Alliance, Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan, the National Aboriginal Council Corporations Association and numerous chapters from Community Futures Canada. 

Participants walked away with a toolkit of processes, methodologies and activities as well as a certification that will enable them to facilitate Pipeline training in their communities. 

The Saint Mary’s University Entrepreneurship Centre will continue to work with each organization as they begin to facilitate Pipeline training and support the development of social enterprises in their region.  

The next Train-The-Trainer session is scheduled for early September, when the team will travell to Whitehorse to work with members of the Entrepreneurship and Community Innovation department at Yukon College. 

For more information , please contact  mitch.harrison@smu.ca

2nd cohort graduates from SMU-BNUZ joint degree program

On June 29, the second cohort of business students graduated from a unique program offered by Saint Mary’s University and Beijing Normal University-Zhuhai (BNUZ).

Clad in academic caps and gowns, a total of 68 Chinese students received dual degrees that day: a Bachelor of Commerce from Saint Mary’s and a Bachelor of Economics from BNUZ. Among them was 2019 Valedictorian Ms. Yushan Xie, who graduated summa cum laude.

Academics and administrators from both universities attended the ceremony to confer the degrees and celebrate the graduates. Prof. Ailan Fu, Vice-President, BNUZ and Dr. Malcolm Butler, Vice President, Academic and Research served as co-presiders of the convocation.

Dr. Harjeet Bhabra, Dean, Sobey School of Business and BNUZ counterpart Prof. Xin Zhong Dean, International Business Faculty presented the graduands, and President Prof. Qingyun Tu and Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray conferred the degrees.

The presidents of both universities addressed their newest alumni, wishing them well and commenting on the successful academic partnership between the two institutions.

“Your graduation today is a further reflection of the blossoming of our (historic, cross-border) partnership,” said President Summerby-Murray in his remarks, speaking from a podium decorated with small Canadian and Chinese flags.

“You are uniquely positioned for global careers. You have experienced the thinking and the scholarship of both East and West as they relate to business and enterprise. And you value the person-to-person relationships, demonstrated here today, that are and will continue to be the foundation of successful cooperation between our countries, China and Canada”.

Many of the graduates plan to begin postgraduate studies in the fall, with 48 receiving offers from offers from universities in China and abroad. Some well-known schools include Columbia University, the University of Edinburgh and the University of Sydney.

Peace education continues through new children's books

Peaceful Schools International (PSI) is collaborating again with three young author/illustrators to create new series of children’s books that teach conflict resolution…this time with a Saint Mary’s twist.

Last fall, with support from the Faculty of Education and in conjunction with the university and SMUSA, PSI launched Animal SchoolThe Enchantress from Canada and The Fairy Ring, created by Grade 8 students Amelia Penney-Crocker, Ruby Jangaard and Marin DeWolfe.

This unique project gained national and regional media attention and plenty of positive feedback…sparking the idea to continue the work.

 “So far, our research indicates that these are the only books of their kind…written by children, for children, on peace education,” says Bridget Brownlow, SMU’s Conflict Resolution Advisor and President of Peaceful Schools International. “There is a clear absence of these types of books, so we wanted to continue this project again this year.”

The new stories will be set on Saint Mary’s campus – an idea Brownlow attributes to PSI board member,  Dr. Rohini Bannerjee., Associate Professor of Modern Languages and Classics, who suggested a campus wide initiative involving peace education and conflict resolution.

“The new series focuses exclusively on characters and situations that are directly associated with and take place on the Saint Mary's campus - all centred around how to peacefully resolve conflicts through the eyes of children,” says Brownlow.

On Saturday, June 22, 20 children from local partner elementary schools came to campus for a special brainstorming session with the young authors and editors. The diverse group of students along with their parents/guardians were welcomed to campus by President Summerby-Murray and SMUSA President Mary Navas.

The stories will feature a new set of characters called the 'Saint Mary’s Snippets' who live on campus and assist our university community with different ways to peacefully resolve conflicts. The children toured the campus and then brainstormed scenarios and ideas, giving the young authors plenty of fodder to help create the books over the summer months.

The project is one that touches many parts of the Saint Mary’s community.

“Support from the Faculty of Education has been tremendous,” says Brownlow. “We are really indebted to the Faculty of Education, especially Dr. Anthony O’Malley,  Dr. Esther Enns and Johnny Shaw for helping make these books a reality.”

Some of the children of faculty and staff attended the brainstorming session, and the books will be translated into a variety of languages-- including Irish, French, Mandarin, Arabic, German, Japanese -- by Saint Mary’s students, faculty and staff.

Related stories:

https://news.smu.ca/news/2018/10/25/peaceful-schools-international-launches-new-books-to-help-children-navigate-conflict?rq=Peaceful%20school

Saint Mary's signs MOU with the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre

SMU Indigenous Student Advisor Raymond Sewell; Saint Mary’s President Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray, Pam Glode-Desrochers, Executive Director of the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre; Elder Debbie Eisan; and Tom Brophy, Senior Director, Student Affairs & Services.

SMU Indigenous Student Advisor Raymond Sewell; Saint Mary’s President Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray, Pam Glode-Desrochers, Executive Director of the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre; Elder Debbie Eisan; and Tom Brophy, Senior Director, Student Affairs & Services.

Saint Mary’s has taken another step forward on the path towards reconciliation.

This month Dr. Rob Summerby-Murray and Pam Glode-Desrochers, Executive Director of the Mi’kmaq Native Friendship Centre (MNFC) signed an important MOU that strengthens connection and collaboration between the two organizations.

The Mi’kmaq Native Friendship Centre helps provide social-based programming for Urban Aboriginal People and serves a focal point for the urban Aboriginal community to gather. The new MOU creates a partnership that will see Saint Mary’s consult the Friendship Centre on the development of appropriate protocols for on-campus activities and enhancing support for Indigenous students, faculty and staff.

Another key part of the agreement is that the MNFC will provide an Elder on Campus four hours per week, a role now being filled by Elder Debbie Eisan.

Elder Debbie Eisan was on hand for the signing and told the group that Indigenous students at local highschools are increasingly aware of the work happening at Saint Mary’s and appreciate knowing that Indigenous Student Advisor Raymond Sewell is available to them.

“We are really excited about how the MOU articulates the mutual desire to strengthen connections between Saint Mary’s University and the Mi’kmaq Native Friendship Centre,” says Tom Brophy, Senior Director, Student Affairs and Services. “It opens the door for the MNFC to provide support and advice to Saint Mary’s as we move to continue to improve the experience of the Indigenous students and Indigenous culture on campus broadly.”

“I am delighted that we have taken this important step together,” said Dr. Summerby-Murray. “Saint Mary’s is looking forward to the many opportunities to collaborate on Indigenous-related programming, Indigenous-focused projects, research and of course enhancing learning opportunities for Indigenous students.”

An official celebration of the MOU signing is being planned for fall 2019.

Young historians shine at Provincial Heritage Fair

The future of history is in great hands, if the Nova Scotia Provincial Heritage Fair is any indication.

Eighty students from across the province showcased their excellent and informative history projects on June 6 and 7, in the McNally Theatre Auditorium at Saint Mary’s University. Ranging from Grades 4 to 9, the students researched everything from local theatre and Louisbourg to maple syrup and “Canadian stereotypes, eh?”

With a new award this year for military heritage, some projects reflected Nova Scotian involvement in the Second World War, particularly poignant as the fair coincided with 75th anniversary commemorations for D-Day. Other new awards recognized student research in African heritage topics, environmental history, equity and justice, immigration studies, the history of science and technology, and more.

Cultural heritage also had a strong showing, with detailed projects about Viola Desmond, the ‘60s Scoop, an Inuit family tree, the Underground Railroad, Portuguese and Dutch immigration to Canada, Celtic fiddles and Acadian culture.

Many students found inspiration in their own families, including a Grade 6 girl from Bridgewater researched Portia White, “whose brother Lorne was my great grandfather”. A Grade 6 boy from Albert Bridge, Cape Breton, chronicled the history of Sydney Steel, where his grandfather and great grandfather both worked. “It was definitely a tough job,” he said.

The projects were winners at regional fairs across the province before coming to SMU. The Provincial Fair judges are all professionals active in the fields of culture, history and heritage – professors from the SMU Faculty of Arts, archivists, librarians, museum curators, museum interpreters and more.

The student delegates and their chaperones stayed overnight on campus in residence. They also took part in workshops at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, creating their own folk art inspired by Maud Lewis, who was the theme for this year’s event. Africville will be the focus for next year’s Nova Scotia Heritage Day and the Provincial Fair.

Follow the Nova Scotia Provincial Heritage Fair on its website, on Facebook at @novascotiaheritagefairs, and on Instagram at nsprovincialheritagefair.

Dr. Ellen Farrell releases research findings on Atlantic entrepreneurial ecosystem

Dr. Ellen Farrell

Dr. Ellen Farrell

Global relationships key to healthy startup community says new research

A major research project from Saint Mary’s University suggests Atlantic Canadian startup businesses need to look further afield for innovation, information and funding.

A three-year, $210,000 research project exploring the startup community in Atlantic Canada has delivered its final report. The research shows that while the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is highly interconnected, companies can achieve greater benefit by reaching out globally for information on technology and product solutions. By relying more on “weak ties” or relationships outside of the Atlantic region or Canada, the Atlantic entrepreneurial ecosystem can improve innovation and results. The research also suggests firms explore venture capital availability outside of the Atlantic region.

“Our study looked at the “knowledge-seeking behaviours” of startups. We found that the Atlantic region is highly connected. One great opportunity lies in encouraging startups to extend their global reach for product and technology information, taking advantage of “weak ties” such as acquaintances, because this can help develop new innovations,” said Dr. Ellen Farrell. “As it is, the world is beating a path to our door to purchase our Atlantic Canadian equity,” she says, citing examples like the purchase of Atlantic businesses Radian 6 and Go Instant by Salesforce, and Quintiles IMS’s recent acquisition of STI Technologies.

The report points to more work to be done by mature firms to support growing businesses. A call to action in the report offers a long list of suggestions for ways these firms can support startups, including testing prototypes, lending talent or equipment, and providing an entry introduction into an industry network of contacts.

“Saint Mary’s University is dedicated to fostering both the foundational and community-engaged research efforts of our professors. This project of Dr. Farrell and her team is an excellent example of research that supports our community and directly impacts the health of our region’s economy,” says Saint Mary’s University Associate Vice-President Research, Dr. Adam Sarty.

“This applied research has already helped inform start-up founders, policy makers and other members of the ecosystem it describes. Dr. Farrell’s work complements her teaching in entrepreneurship, and is key in building a culture of innovation with an entrepreneurial approach to both business development and general problem solving.”

A team led by Dr. Ellen Farrell, a management professor at the Sobey School of Business at Saint Mary’s University, conducted the research, which was based on a study Dr. Farrell undertook in 2014. The team was comprised of eleven researchers plus graduate and undergraduate students from six universities across the region. Federal funding to support the project came from ACOA’s Atlantic Policy Research Initiative.

Saint Mary’s expands cross-border education ties with China

Students in business programs at Guangzhou College, South China University of Technology (GCU) will have added opportunities to transfer to Saint Mary’s after two years and complete their degree at the Sobey School of Business.

A senior delegation from GCU was on campus this week to sign an enhanced Transfer Credit Agreement, paving the way for closer ties with one of China’s most renowned independent colleges. Executive Vice-President Zhixin Zeng, Vice-President Ying Lin, Dean of the International Business School and Director of the International Office Liguang Wu and International Office Program Coordinator Huijing Huang held a series of meetings with their counterparts at Saint Mary’s on Monday, April 15.

Mr. Zeng suggested that GCU’s visit to campus reflected the growing ties between the two universities, while Mr. Lin commented that the new Transfer Credit Agreement opened the door to exciting new possibilities for international cooperation between the two institutions.

Celebrating a Longstanding Partnership

In the years since the signing of an initial MOU in 2011, designed to foster academic and educational cooperation between Guangzhou College and Saint Mary’s, around 60 students have come to campus – some to complete their third and fourth years of their degree as part of the 2+2 agreement with the Sobey School of Business, others to take the Master of Finance Program. Many of the 25 students currently enrolled at Saint Mary’s enjoyed a dinner on Sunday hosted by their alma mater in China to celebrate the arrival of the delegation to Halifax.

Meeting with the delegation on Monday, Dr Summerby-Murray, President and Vice-Chancellor of Saint Mary’s, said that the University was committed to building on the strong foundation of academic partnership between the two universities. This week’s visit, he said, was also an important affirmation of people-to-people connections between Canada and China. As “Canada’s International University”, Saint Mary’s is proud to be recognized as a national leader in building bridges between the two countries, he said.

Guangzhou College of South China University of Technology is a large primarily undergraduate institution with more than 21,000 full-time students who can choose from 35 programs offered through 14 schools. Its 283-acre campus is located just outside Guangzhou city in China’s Pearl River Delta, home to more than 120 million people a major centre of technology and innovation.

Ancient vapours are helping researchers identify gold deposits in Nova Scotia

Kevin Neyedley, left, and Dr. Jacob Hanley of Saint Mary’s University in Halifax are doing research supported by Nova Scotia’s Mineral Resources Development Fund. (Photo: Kelly Clark/Communications Nova Scotia)

Kevin Neyedley, left, and Dr. Jacob Hanley of Saint Mary’s University in Halifax are doing research supported by Nova Scotia’s Mineral Resources Development Fund. (Photo: Kelly Clark/Communications Nova Scotia)

Vapour trails from an ancient volcano may point the way to an economic opportunity in modern-day Nova Scotia.

Researchers at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax are using the composition of ancient volcanic vapours, trapped in tiny fragments in rocks, and other geological features, to learn more about a type of precious metal deposit called epithermal gold. Their work over the past year was supported by the province’s Mineral Resources Development Fund.

Geology professor Dr. Jacob Hanley said the project’s goal is to gather information on how and when the gold deposits formed, and to generate exploration criteria that may predict where the highest concentrations of gold may be found in the province. Giving companies a better idea where to explore has financial and environmental benefits.

“The more information we gain about where the deposits are sitting in this vast array of rocks which we have in the province, the better off the environment will be. The overall footprint is smaller in terms of that activity.”

Hanley and PhD student Kevin Neyedley received a $47,500 grant from the development fund in 2018 for their project, which focuses on deposits in the Eastern Cobequid Highlands. The area is about 50 kilometres north of Truro, Nova Scotia.

Continue reading the full article from the Department of Energy and Mines.

Mineral Resources Development Fund expansion announced at Saint Mary’s University

Dr. Jacob Hanley and Kevin Neyedley chat with Sean Kirby, left, executive director of the Mining Association of Nova Scotia, and Energy and Mines Minister Derek Mombourquette. (Photo: Kelly Clark/CNS)

Dr. Jacob Hanley and Kevin Neyedley chat with Sean Kirby, left, executive director of the Mining Association of Nova Scotia, and Energy and Mines Minister Derek Mombourquette. (Photo: Kelly Clark/CNS)

Businesses, prospectors and researchers now have more support for innovative projects in the mining sector as the result of a provincial government announcement at Saint Mary’s University.

As part of Budget 2019-20, the province is increasing the Mineral Resources Development Fund by $800,000 to a total of $1.5 million. Energy and Mines Minister Derek Mombourquette opened the fund to applications in an event at Saint Mary’s on April 9.

“Mining is a globally competitive sector that creates career opportunities for our young people, while generating revenue for programs and services that benefit all Nova Scotians,” said Minister Mombourquette. “These investments make connections and develop new ideas that help our companies stay at the forefront of technology and environmental protection.”

Saint Mary’s University Professor Dr. Jacob Hanley and PhD student Kevin Neyedley received $47,500 from the fund in 2018. They are working on research and gathering geological information about how strategic minerals formed. This will help identify where deposits may be located and then extracted with minimal environmental impact.

“It is vitally important for Nova Scotians to have access to the most current scientific knowledge, gathered using cutting edge research tools,” said Dr. Hanley.

“Our research can help attract companies by reducing exploration costs for industry and reduce the impact that grass-roots exploration has on the environment through narrowing the size of mineral deposit targets,” said Mr. Neyedley.

Last year, the province supported 28 projects including mineral exploration programs, professional development, innovation, university research and training opportunities for young people.