Backgrounder Article from  Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Memorial University Strategic Partnership Grants

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada's (NSERC) Strategic Partnership Grants support research conducted by Canadian scientists and engineers who are working with industry and other organizations to enhance Canada's economy, society and/or environment.

The Strategic Partnership Grants focus on four target areas: environment and agriculture, information and communications technologies, advanced manufacturing, and natural resources and energy. This year, more than $48 million will be going to 74 projects and 2 networks.

Two partnership grants were awarded to scientific teams at Memorial University:

  1. The first partnership, the NSERC Canadian Healthy Oceans Network, is led by Dr. Paul Snelgrove. This network is receiving $5 million over five years to develop tools to aid in the sustainable management of marine resources.

    The network will build on the results and products of its previous five year award, which were focused on marine biodiversity, ecosystem function and population connectivity in Canada's three oceans. The new network will assist partners, primarily Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and the Port and City of Sept-Îles, in managing sustainable ocean use.

    Most of the network's previous partner institutions and collaborators are returning, bringing with them a history of strong collaboration and interaction with the main partner, DFO. They are also well connected with other major marine initiatives like ArcticNet, MEOPAR, VENUS, NEPTUNE and Ocean Networks Canada, which enables access to the best practices of these groups.

    The network brings together researchers from 12 universities and other partners. DFO is also investing $1 million over five years in the network and providing researchers with access to specialized equipment and laboratory space, ship time and at-sea sample collection.

  2. The second partnership, Climate controls on terrestrial-to-aquatic biogeochemical fluxes in boreal forest watershed, is led by Dr. Susan E. Ziegler. This project is receiving over $590,000 to study the impact of climate change on natural organic matter in boreal forest landscapes and associated aquatic ecosystems.

    Soil organic carbon represents the earth's largest actively cycling reservoir of carbon, underscoring the need to understand the drivers of its transformation and their sensitivity to climate change. Soil organic matter is also the largest reservoir of carbon, energy and nutrients in forest ecosystems, making the predictive understanding of its cycling with the changing climate a priority for the strategic management of our forest and aquatic resources.

    This research will determine the impact of climate change on the buffering capacity of the upland boreal forest-to-headwater stream critical zone in regulating the delivery of soil dissolved organic matter and nutrients to downstream aquatic ecosystems. This is particularly important given the predicted increases in temperature and precipitation for the boreal zone in the coming century.

    This research will benefit supporting organizations, which include forestry industry firms and provincial and federal forest services, by providing a predictive understanding of climate change responses in boreal forests and their associated aquatic ecosystems. Results will inform forestry management practices aimed at reducing the potential negative interactive effects of climate change and harvesting.

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