For Dalhousie’s Vice President of Research Martha Crago, her first three years at Dalhousie have been like climbing the initial incline of a roller coaster.
This roller coaster would undoubtedly have a spectacular view of the ocean, and luckily, there’s time to enjoy the glorious scenery before the rush hits and the next heady turn arrives.
“It feels like we’ve reached a key moment in realizing some of the things I’ve been working on,” says Dr. Crago, who worked for 40 years at McGill University before deciding to take on a new adventure at Dalhousie. She’s an expert in psycholinguistics and speaks four languages — English, French, German and Inuktitut. “I do feel we have momentum building.”
As Dalhousie Oceans Week starts rolling, adrenalin kicks in with the launch of the Halifax Marine Research Institute and its first annual symposium on Thursday, June 2.
The institute, a federally incorporated not-for-profit entity, will apply world-class science to the economic, social and environmental issues related to oceans. Dalhousie has been working closely with the private sector marine community, other universities and federal research labs in its creation.
The symposium is a snapshot of the partnerships behind the Halifax Marine Research Institute. It brings together Dalhousie’s stars in oceans research—Professors Doug Wallace, Keith Thompson, Boris Worm, Lucia Fanning and Phillip Saunders, to name a few—with representatives from research labs, marine industries and universities from up and down the eastern seaboard and around the world. Discussions will focus on the research themes of the new institute: marine observation, prediction and response; marine resource conservation, biodiversity and risk assessment; marine renewable energy; marine security; and marine policy and governance.
The HMRI will find its home at Dalhousie in a new, four-story wing to the Life Sciences Centre, now under construction. Dubbed the Oceans Excellence Centre, the 68,000-square-foot complex is being added to the west end of the building and connected with a glass atrium to the Oceanography wing.
Besides HMRI, the building’s other tenants will be Doug Wallace—Dalhousie’s new Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Ocean Science and Technology—his lab group and the Ocean Tracking Network.
“And the HMRI is just one of the ways Dalhousie is putting itself forward as a leader in terms of economic development, the environment and human health,” says Dr. Crago. “It’s just the first step in capturing, celebrating and strengthening Dalhousie’s key research areas.”
Also coming down the track is the official opening of the Life Sciences Research Institute, a new building at the corner of Summer and College Streets, part of Dalhousie’s Carleton campus and in close proximity to Halifax hospitals. Under construction for past three years, the building brings together the world renowned Brain Repair Centre, InNOVAcorp, and Dalhousie’s Industry Liaison and Innovation Office.
For Dr. Crago, it’s all about making connections. “The whole notion of the university is to open its doors to the world—to policy makers, industry partners, nongovernmental organizations, federal research labs and more—and work for societal good.” Among the other strength areas that she would like to see elevated are children in challenging contexts, clean technology and health policy and promotion, all of which are important both locally and globally.
At a time when most people might be thinking about winding down, Dr. Crago’s holding fast and ready to climb the next steep slope. “I’m just getting going,” she says with a laugh. “I find this exhilarating, energizing work.”
But first remember ... exhale ... it’s time to enjoy the view. “That’s what Dalhousie Oceans Week is, a chance to say, ‘Hey, look at the great stuff we’ve been doing. Let’s celebrate.’”
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