Premier opens new Grenfell boreal ecosystem research facility

Paul Hutchings
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Premier Tom Marshall speaks at Grenfell Campus Friday. — Star photo by Paul Hutchings

Premier Tom Marshall was back home in Corner Brook to help with the official opening of the boreal ecosystem reserach facility at Grenfell Campus Friday morning.

Marshall, along with Memorial University of Newfoundland president Gary Kachanoski and vice-president Mary Bluechardt unveiled the plaque for a new 500 square-foot research facility that will support research projects in forestry, agriculture and the environmental sector. Marshall joked with the crowd of professors, staff and students that he likes coming to Corner Brook for such events because he gets to home afterward. He then praised the university campus for the new addition.

“This new facility will help attract students and train them for the forestry and agriculture sectors,” he said in his speech. “It is also a key place to continuing to build world-class research capacity within.”

Asked about his longterm plans after politics by reporters later, Marshall joked again, saying maybe he’d enroll in Grenfell to get another degree.

The $5-million facility will house five new research professors including an agronomist, soil scientist, plant/crop specialist. agriculture/forestry economist and hydrologist. Funding from the federal and provincial were utilized, with $2 million from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and $1 million from the Department of Innovation, Business and Rural Development.

Teachers in the program say they are impressed with what they see in the new addition. Soil science professor Adrian Unc said students will be able to see more high profile science being carried out on the new machinery that dwells within the classrooms and said education will now be more “hands-on.”

“It’s one thing for them to read about it (what we have here now) but it’s another thing for them to learn, to touch, to press buttons and see how data is being obtained,” he said. “The eventual goal is to have more post doctorate researchers and a larger number of Masters and PhD. students in the environmental policy graduate program.”

Unc added that more of what he called “higher callibre” students from all over can now be attracted.

“Eventually we’ll have graduate courses that we don’t currently have,” he said.

“We will have more microbiology and environmental courses at the graduate level as a result of what is happening here today, we can start offering courses as the need arises.”

Environmental scientist Dr. Raymond Thomas agreed.

“There will be nowhere else in Atlantic Canada that has this capability and maybe about five per cent worldwide,” he said. “The capacity we will have in terms of agriculture and plant science research research will be next to none.”

The new facility includes a pre-process laboratory, an extraction and standard chemical analyses laboratory, a molecular biology laboratory and a high-end analytical facility housing sensitive instruments.

Kachanoski said the new addition will help spur innovation, enhance co-ordination and collaboration and attract and train graduate students to build on that knowledge base.

Twitter: WStarDeerLake



Organizations: Memorial University of Newfoundland, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Department of Innovation

Geographic location: Grenfell, Corner Brook, Atlantic Canada

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Recent comments

  • george p b
    March 29, 2014 - 16:13

    This seems a great idea....We've built the buildings, we've hired finest kind professors, & supplied the seeds for seeking funding from major agencies external to NL government... Now it's up to the faculty to deliver...... PS by we I mean us taxpayers...

  • Paul
    March 29, 2014 - 14:57

    Not so great a job Premier. I got a question for you. Why get rid of the loan system for current and future students and not write off the loans of current and past students struggling with debt. I would have thought it was the same issue for past, current and future students. Isn't it? We have thousands of students whom have graduated and can't find work and it appears you have turned your back on them.

    • Concerned Student
      April 05, 2014 - 10:36

      Oh man, They had to start somewhere. The announcement of the elimination of student loans is so important and significant in a country where there has been essentially no investment in post-secondary education and those costs are being unloaded to the students. The best way to stop debt is to not create it. While I am also in repayment of an earlier student loan I still fully support this government’s decision to eliminate those loans. It’s so progressive! Mad props to the government on that decision!

  • Ira Gould, CET (1988)
    March 29, 2014 - 09:28

    This is so deserving of Corner Brook. Our part of the world has developed substantial creative and contributing members to all sectors of a global developing society. We receive an outstanding platform, from which to demonstrate our skill-set developed in Newfoundland. The contribution and the protocol we have established to further our craft and challenges in our field of study is second to none. Our educators develop the mind and nourish confidence to face all the adversity life might fathom. I am so proud to call Corner Brook my home. Premier Marshall, enjoy furthering your education. All the best. I remain . . . Sincerely yours,