Memorial University of Newfoundland
St. John's, Canada

Memorial University of Newfoundland, is a comprehensive university located primarily in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. With historical strengths in education, engineering, business, geology, and medicine, it is one of the top comprehensive universities in Canada. With over 17,500 students, it is also the largest university in Atlantic Canada. MUN's four main campuses are served by more than 900 faculty and 2,300 staff members. Wikipedia.

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News Article | May 15, 2017

GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- New research shows climate change is altering the delicate seasonal clock that North American migratory songbirds rely on to successfully mate and raise healthy offspring, setting in motion a domino effect that could threaten the survival of many familiar backyard bird species. A growing shift in the onset of spring has left nine of 48 species of songbirds studied unable to reach their northern breeding grounds at the calendar marks critical for producing the next generation of fledglings, according to a paper published today in Scientific Reports. That's because in many regions, warming temperatures are triggering plants to begin their growth earlier or later than normal, skewing biological cycles that have long been in sync. The result, researchers say, could be a future much like the one Rachel Carson hinted at more than 50 years ago. "It's like 'Silent Spring,' but with a more elusive culprit," said Stephen Mayor, a postdoctoral researcher with the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida and first author of the study. "We're seeing spring-like conditions well before birds arrive. The growing mismatch means fewer birds are likely to survive, reproduce and return the following year. These are birds people are used to seeing and hearing in their backyards. They're part of the American landscape, part of our psyche. To imagine a future where they're much less common would be a real loss." A multi-institutional team led by Mayor used data from satellites and citizen scientists to study how quickly the interval between spring plant growth and the arrival of 48 songbird species across North America changed from 2001 to 2012. The researchers found the gap lengthened by over half a day per year across all species on average, a rate of five days per decade--but for some species, the mismatch is growing at double or triple that rate. Nine species were clearly unable to keep up with the shift: great crested flycatchers, indigo buntings, scarlet tanagers, rose-breasted grosbeaks, eastern wood-pewees, yellow-billed cuckoos, northern parulas, blue-winged warblers and Townsend's warblers. While the majority of species studied adjusted their arrival dates, the study suggests the rate of change could be outpacing their efforts. The study is the first to investigate the increasing mismatch between songbirds' springtime arrival and plant growth at the continental scale and across dozens of species, said Mayor, who led the project chiefly at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Previous studies have predicted climate change will drive hundreds of bird species to extinction and greatly reduce the ranges of others. But some are shifting the timing of their major life events, such as reproduction and laying eggs, in an attempt to keep up with the changes. The key question, Mayor said, is whether this strategy will work long term. "If anything could adapt to climate change, you'd think that birds that migrate thousands of miles could," he said. "It's much easier for them to move in response to climate conditions than salamanders, for example, or trees. But because every species relates to another, one of our fears is that climate change can disrupt these relationships between organisms such that their critical life events are not timed optimally, putting them at risk." Birds leave their winter homes in Central and South America for the north based on the seasonal shift in hours of daylight, a cue unaltered by climate change. To produce healthy young, they must arrive at their breeding grounds to take advantage of the early-season boom in insects that emerge with springtime plant growth. But as climate change shifts the timing of when plants put out new leaves -- a temperature-driven process known as green-up - migrating birds become more likely to reach breeding grounds when temperatures are still frigid and food is scarce or after insect numbers have begun to dwindle. The researchers found green-up is beginning earlier in eastern North America and -- surprisingly -- later in the West. Birds that breed primarily in eastern temperate forests tended to lag behind green-up while species that breed in western forests reached breeding grounds too early. The rate of change is concerning, given predicted accelerating climatic changes, which could mean timing will be more out of sync in the future, said study co-author Rob Guralnick, associate curator of bioinformatics at the Florida Museum. "That's the future many of us will see," he said. "Not every year will plot exactly along that line, but the trend is clear." The increased variability in weather conditions that comes with climate change could also compound birds' difficulties in tracking year-to-year changes. The team is examining why some species of birds seem to adjust to the shifts better than others, Mayor said. A resource that enabled the study's broad scale investigation of nearly 50 bird species across North America are the tens of thousands of data points contributed by citizen scientists, the researchers said. "As more and more birders record their observations, they are creating a density of data that allows us to start from a continental level and zoom down further and further to the ground," Guralnick said. "It's powerful. Whether they know it or not, birders are helping scientists do their work, and they could end up helping birds in the process." The researchers emphasized the complexity of their findings, which vary by species, region and rate of change. Determining conservation risks and the potential for extinction will require looking at the impacts on each species individually, they said. Diving deeper into the data to determine whether population numbers of bird species that are not adapting to the shift in green-up are falling is one of the next steps in the project. "The natural world is very complex," Mayor said. "When you kick it with a big change by altering the climate, different parts of that natural world respond in different ways. We're just beginning to understand the consequences of this grand unnatural experiment." Researchers from Memorial University of Newfoundland, the University of Colorado, the University of Connecticut, Florida International University, Murdoch University and the Illinois Natural History Survey also contributed to the study.

Memorial University of Newfoundland | Date: 2015-05-29

Vibration assisted rotary drilling (VARD) tools that provide axial compliance and low amplitude axial displacements at the drill bit while transmitting the full rotary speed and torque of the drill string to increase drilling penetration rate. The VARD tools consist essentially of: i) an axially compliant section which transfers axial load across the tool; ii) a mechanism for opposing ends of the tool to displace axially relative to each other; iii) an energy absorbing section which dampens axial bit displacements; iv) a rotation transfer section which allows any rotation and torque applied to the drill string above the tool to be applied to the bit; and v) an optional axial force generating section.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: BG-02-2015 | Award Amount: 5.20M | Year: 2016

The overall goal of ClimeFish is to help ensure that the increase in seafood production comes in areas and for species where there is a potential for sustainable growth, given the expected developments in climate, thus contributing to robust employment and sustainable development of rural and coastal communities. The underlying biological models are based on single species distribution and production, as well as multispecies interactions. Forecasting models will provide production scenarios that will serve as input to socio-economic analysis where risks and opportunities are identified, and early warning methodologies are developed. Strategies to mitigate risk and utilize opportunities will be identified in co-creation with stakeholders, and will serve to strengthen the scientific advice, to improve long term production planning and the policy making process. ClimeFish will address 3 production sectors through 16 case studies involving 25 species, and study the predicted effects of 3 pre-defined climate scenarios. For 7 of these cases ClimeFish will develop specific management plans (MPs) coherent with the ecosystem approach and based on a results-based scheme that will allow regulators, fishers and aquaculture operators to anticipate, prepare and adapt to climate change while minimizing economic losses and social consequences. A guideline for how to make climate-enabled MPs will be produced, and published as a low-level, voluntary European standard after a consensus-based open consultation process. As a container for the models, scenarios and MPs ClimeFish will develop the ClimeFish Decision Support Framework (DSF) which also contains the ClimeFish Decision Support System (DSS); a software application with capabilities for what-if analysis and visualization of scenarios. The presence of key international stakeholders in the project will ensure quality and relevance of the project outputs thus ensuring uptake and significant impact also after project end.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: BG-10-2014 | Award Amount: 5.28M | Year: 2015

The overall aim of PrimeFish is to improve the economic sustainability of European fisheries and aquaculture sectors. PrimeFish will gather data from individual production companies, industry and sales organisations, consumers and public sources. The data will be related to the competitiveness and economic performance of companies in the sector; this includes data on price development, supply chain relations, markets, consumer behaviour and successful product innovation. The large industry reference group will facilitate access to data on specific case studies. A data repository will be created, and PrimeFish will join the H2020 Open Research Data Pilot to ensure future open access to the data. The effectiveness of demand stimulation through health, label and certification claims will be evaluated and compared with actual consumer behaviour. PrimeFish will assess the non-market value associated with aquaculture and captured fisheries as well as the effectiveness of regulatory systems and thereby provide the basis for improved societal decision making in the future. The collected data will be used to verify models and develop prediction algorithms that will be implemented into a computerized decision support system (PrimeDSS). The PrimeDSS, together with the underlying data, models, algorithms, assumptions and accompanying user instructions will form the PrimeFish Decision Support Framework (PrimeDSF). The lead users, typically fishermen, aquaculture producers and production companies, will be able to use the PrimeDSF to improve understanding of the functioning of their markets and in setting strategic plans for future production and innovation which in turn will strengthen the long term viability of the European fisheries and aquaculture sectors. This will also benefit consumers, leading to more diversified European seafood products, enhanced added value, novel products and improved information on origin, certification and health claims.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: SFS-09-2014 | Award Amount: 5.55M | Year: 2015

The European Union has committed to the gradual elimination of discarding. DiscardLess will help provide the knowledge, tools and technologies as well as the involvement of the stakeholders to achieve this. These will be integrated into Discard Mitigation Strategies (DMS) proposing cost-effective solutions at all stages of the seafood supply chain. The first focus is on preventing the unwanted catches from ever being caught. This will promote changes in gear using existing and innovative selectivity technology, and changes in fishing tactics based on fishers and scientists knowledge. The second focus is on making best use of the unavoidable unwanted catch. We will detail technical and marketing innovations from the deck, through the supply chain to the final market, including monitoring, traceability and valorization components. DiscardLess will evaluate the impacts of discarding on the marine environment, on the economy, and across the wider society. We will evaluate these impacts before, during and after the implementation of the landing obligation, allowing comparison between intentions and outcomes. Eliminating discards is as much a societal challenge as a fishery management one, so we will also evaluate stakeholders perception of discards. DiscardLess will describe the changes in management and the associated governance structures needed to cement the process. We will propose approaches to managing discards in a range of case study fisheries across Europe, encompassing differences in specific discarding issues. All these innovations will be combined in integrated Internet based interactive programs (DMS toolbox) that will help fishers to evaluate the present and future situation and to take a more qualified decision of how to adjust to the new regime. Also, we will disseminate the outcome of the project and maximize knowledge transfer across Europe through an educational environment teaching the next generation as well as more conventional routes.

Kovacs C.S.,Memorial University of Newfoundland
Physiological reviews | Year: 2014

Mineral and bone metabolism are regulated differently in utero compared with the adult. The fetal kidneys, intestines, and skeleton are not dominant sources of mineral supply for the fetus. Instead, the placenta meets the fetal need for mineral by actively transporting calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium from the maternal circulation. These minerals are maintained in the fetal circulation at higher concentrations than in the mother and normal adult, and such high levels appear necessary for the developing skeleton to accrete a normal amount of mineral by term. Parathyroid hormone (PTH) and calcitriol circulate at low concentrations in the fetal circulation. Fetal bone development and the regulation of serum minerals are critically dependent on PTH and PTH-related protein, but not vitamin D/calcitriol, fibroblast growth factor-23, calcitonin, or the sex steroids. After birth, the serum calcium falls and phosphorus rises before gradually reaching adult values over the subsequent 24-48 h. The intestines are the main source of mineral for the neonate, while the kidneys reabsorb mineral, and bone turnover contributes mineral to the circulation. This switch in the regulation of mineral homeostasis is triggered by loss of the placenta and a postnatal fall in serum calcium, and is followed in sequence by a rise in PTH and then an increase in calcitriol. Intestinal calcium absorption is initially a passive process facilitated by lactose, but later becomes active and calcitriol-dependent. However, calcitriol's role can be bypassed by increasing the calcium content of the diet, or by parenteral administration of calcium. Copyright © 2014 the American Physiological Society.

ConspectusJust as complete molecules have no boundaries and have "fuzzy" electron density clouds approaching zero density exponentially at large distances from the nearest nucleus, a physically justified choice for electron density fragments exhibits similar behavior. Whereas fuzzy electron densities, just as any fuzzy object, such as a thicker cloud on a foggy day, do not lend themselves to easy visualization, one may partially overcome this by using isocontours. Whereas a faithful representation of the complete fuzzy density would need infinitely many such isocontours, nevertheless, by choosing a selected few, one can still obtain a limited pictorial representation. Clearly, such images are of limited value, and one better relies on more complete mathematical representations, using, for example, density matrices of fuzzy fragment densities. A fuzzy density fragmentation can be obtained in an exactly additive way, using the output from any of the common quantum chemical computational techniques, such as Hartree-Fock, MP2, and various density functional approaches.Such "fuzzy" electron density fragments properly represented have proven to be useful in a rather wide range of applications, for example, (a) using them as additive building blocks leading to efficient linear scaling macromolecular quantum chemistry computational techniques, (b) the study of quantum chemical functional groups, (c) using approximate fuzzy fragment information as allowed by the holographic electron density theorem, (d) the study of correlations between local shape and activity, including through-bond and through-space components of interactions between parts of molecules and relations between local molecular shape and substituent effects, (e) using them as tools of density matrix extrapolation in conformational changes, (f) physically valid averaging and statistical distribution of several local electron densities of common stoichiometry, useful in electron density databank mining, for example, in medicinal drug design, and (g) tools for combinatorial quantum chemistry approaches using fuzzy fragment databanks and rapid construction of a large number of approximate electron densities for large sets of related molecules, relevant in theoretical molecular and nanostructure design. © 2014 American Chemical Society.

Kovacs C.S.,Memorial University of Newfoundland
Annual Review of Nutrition | Year: 2012

Maternal adaptations during pregnancy and lactation appear to provide calcium to fetus and neonate without relying on vitamin D or calcitriol. Consequently, the blood calcium, calciotropic hormones, and skeleton appear normal at birth in the offspring of mothers who are severely vitamin D deficient or who lack calcitriol or its receptor. It remains unclear whether skeletal or extraskeletal problems will develop postnatally from exposure to vitamin D deficiency in utero. During the neonatal period, calcitriol-stimulated intestinal calcium absorption becomes the dominant mechanism of calcium delivery. The vitamin Ddeficient neonate is at risk to develop hypocalcemia, rickets, and possibly extraskeletal disorders (e.g., type 1 diabetes). Breastfed babies are at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency because normally little vitamin D or 25-hydroxyvitamin D passes into breast milk. Dosing recommendations during pregnancy and lactation should ensure that the baby is born vitamin D sufficient and maintained that way during infancy and beyond. Copyright ©2012 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.

Memorial University of Newfoundland | Date: 2016-08-17

An improved parallel kinematic mechanism to orient a platform has a higher range of motion for its volume due to the use of magnetically coupled ball joints at the orienting platform and the individual linear actuators operating those joints. The linear actuators may be printed circuit board (PCB) based voice coil actuators, in a magnetic field which may be generated by permanent magnets configured as a modified Halbach array. The PCB based voice coil actuators may have a position sensitive device (PSD) embedded on the PCB to assist in determining location of the actuator with a high degree of accuracy. The payload of the orienting platform may be dynamically repositioned with improved accuracy and speed.

Memorial University of Newfoundland | Date: 2016-10-06

An improved apparatus for processing sea cucumbers having stages for orienting/aligning, cutting, splitting, flattening, eviscerating and cleaning the sea cucumber, and for collecting the eviscerated innards. A method for the automated splitting and evisceration of sea cucumbers using the apparatus of the present disclosure. A flattening plate and trough during the orienting/aligning step relax the sea cucumber and discourage its defence mechanisms. A wedge shaped flattening plate splits and flattens the sea cucumber immediately after the incision. Pronged discs maintain positioning of the sea cucumber during an aggressive wash and brush cleaning cycle, which may be repeated. Optionally, a vacuum may suction off a portion of the innards prior to cleaning.

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