Dalhousie researcher receives $1.8M for world‑leading research in ocean acoustics

- September 15, 2016

Stan Matwin, director of the Institute of Big Data Analytics. (Bruce Bottomley photo)
Stan Matwin, director of the Institute of Big Data Analytics. (Bruce Bottomley photo)

Dalhousie’s own Dr. Stan Matwin has been awarded $1.8 million in research infrastructure funding through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) Cyberinfrastructure Initiative competition.

Dr. Matwin is the Canada Research Chair in Visual Text Analytics and director of the Institute of Big Data Analytics at Dal. He received the research infrastructure funding for the MERIDIAN initiative (Marine Environment Research Infrastructure for Data Integration and Application Network).

MERIDIAN is an initiative to build a distributed data centre and a hub of expertise devoted to ocean data needs of Canadian researchers. The MERIDIAN Consortium includes world-class researchers from global centres of expertise, as well as from 12 research organizations in Canada.

“The CFI funding will create a globally unique opportunity for data scientists and ocean scientists to work together on focused, data-rich projects at the cutting edge of data management and data analytics technologies,” says Dr. Matwin. “At the same time, we will be able to address ocean science questions of major importance for Canada and the world."

Turning down the volume on ocean noise

Noise in the ocean from shipping and other offshore industrial activity is becoming a significant issue due to its impact on protected marine species, especially great whales and other marine mammals who use sounds to communicate. As a result, future developments in the ocean must be done sustainably, which means lowering the noise impacts.

MERIDIAN will be a valuable tool for monitoring trends in the state of the ocean acoustic environment, and will enable more timely, effective and efficient protection of valued marine species and protected areas. The MERIDIAN team draws on the expertise and monitoring activities in academic institutions across Canada, as well as from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and nongovernmental organizations such as Eastern Charlotte Waterways, which has been monitoring noise in the Bay of Fundy.

“I am thrilled to see Dr. Matwin recognized for his innovative research,” says Martha Crago, vice-president research at Dal. “His work with MERIDIAN is beneficial not only to the province of Nova Scotia, but to Canada and beyond.”

Global leadership

MERIDIAN's focus on acoustic data aims to establish Canada as a global leader in the field. Over the course of three years, three research data infrastructure projects will take place, creating a cloud-based platform of research tools based on data science methods, techniques and tools, including: data integration and interoperability; engaging and interactive data visualization; and data discovery and data analyses designed for streaming data.

All of this will enable Canada's leading oceans researchers to fully exploit Canada’s ocean data. No other country has established a national data resource for noise in the ocean.

"CFI continues to show extraordinary leadership with cutting edge science,” says Fred Whoriskey, Ocean Tracking Network executive director. “The Ocean Tracking Network is proud to be a partner in the MERIDIAN Project and the CyberInfrastructure Program."

Dr. Matwin is also one of the 10 researchers profiled in the successful Canada First Research Excellence Fund grant application by Dalhousie, Memorial University of Newfoundland and the University of Prince Edward Island for the Ocean Frontier Institute. His contribution will be in building targeted data science solutions.

The CyberInfrastructure Program announcement was made this morning at McGill University by the Honourable Marc Miller, member of parliament for Ville-Marie — Le Sud-ouest — Île-des-soeurs.


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