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Celebrating undergrad research

Research and Graduate Studies

The pandemic has meant that people all over the globe have had to make adjustments to the way they work and live their lives. If this were a "normal" semester, our graduating undergraduate students would have had the opportunity to showcase their research during the Nick Novakowski Undergraduate Senior Project Conference. The program from 2019 is here.

Not surprisingly, in April 2021 the conference was cancelled for a second year in a row. Rather than let the opportunity pass by again, however, the Office of Research would like to use this space as a means to feature and celebrate the work of some of these students. Below you will find examples of the kind of research/scholarly activity being conducted in Grenfell Campus's senior undergraduate courses.

BFA, Theatre

The fourth-year final theatre production would normally rehearse at Memorial's campus in Harlow, UK. Not only was the trip not possible, but also students had to perform the show in "bubbles." Thanks to the wonders of technology, this production of "One Servant, Two Masters," directed by Prof. Jerry Etienne, was made possible.
To watch the production, visit the Theatre program’s Facebook page.
To check out the show program, click here.

BFA, Visual Arts

The opening reception for Carrying Wait, the graduating BFA Visual Arts Class of 2021's graduating show was presented virtually this year. The video below will show you what these hardworking artists worked on while doing the final year of their program online during a global pandemic.


B.Sc., Environmental Science

Final projects

Natalie Parsons
Home: Corner Brook, NL
Postgraduate plans: Will join the M.Sc. BEAS program in the fall.

Title: The Influence of Long-term agricultural management practices on seasonal red wiggler worm (Lumbricus rubellus) population abundance in Cormack, NL

The bioturbation carried out by earthworms is known for contributing to improvements in crop yields by enhancing the soil environment. Conventional agricultural practices have been designed for maximization of profit and rates of agricultural productivity, without much concern as to the environmental implications of such design. After centuries of unquestioned success, the agricultural sector is now failing due to the severe depletion of soil health that conventional practices have caused on a global scale. As a result, these environmental concerns are driving food insecurity for the ever-rising human population. Understanding the ways in which long-term land manipulation affects soil biota, particularly earthworms, provides deeper insight into soil management tactics. The overarching objectives of this study were to compile a history of long-term (>25 years) agricultural activities and management practices performed at this site, to determine how such activities have altered biological and physicochemical properties of the soil environment, to assess how these long-term anthropogenic actions have impacted earthworm abundance seasonally at this site, and to draw conclusions based on the data collected. A 10-acre area of farmland in Cormack, Newfoundland, which has been in operation since 1976 was chosen as the location of data collection. It was found that increasing moisture content, near or slightly above neutral pH, low bulk density, and ample organic matter to a lesser extent, give rise to higher earthworm abundance potential, indicating greater soil health in these areas. The more agriculturally degraded a site, the less suitable it becomes for soil biota, further inhibiting the remediation of these sites.

B.Sc., General Science

Final projects

Chelsea Alysha Trask 
Home: Stephenville Crossing 
Future plans: I aspire to be an optometrist and plan on continuing my studies completing prerequisite courses to be accepted into an optometry program. 

Title: Introduced Species of Insular Newfoundland – A Review of Invasion, Establishment, Spread, and Control

Newfoundland has many Asteraceae, Lepidoptera, beetle, and bee species. Many of these species were introduced to the island from other places. The island has a small area and the greatest species diversity, with the proportion of introduced species towering over the number of endemic species. There is little understanding of these alien species on the island, especially how and when they arrived. Previous data on introduced species in Newfoundland is sporadic and limited in availability. No definitive conclusions regarding introduction mechanisms on the island are available due to the lack of literature. Generally, it is thought that these species were associated with colonization. Using a subset of species provided by the Government of Newfoundland Fisheries, Wildlife and Agriculture division and culminating research and review articles creates a review paper tailored to Newfoundland. Newfoundland’s characteristics influenced invasion as well as species traits. Some influential Newfoundland properties were soil properties, island size, elevation, endemic taxa, disturbance levels, and climate. Several species-specific characteristics are also influential on establishment success. Some of these characteristics are: being characterized as invasive, thriving in disturbed regions, and having a great height. An increase in anthropogenic activity and faunal movement were also associated with the dispersal of these novel species. These activities throughout the island of Newfoundland increased the spread of the introduced species. Most species studied were uncontrollable or only biologically controlled. The lack of mitigation methods indicates that there are few required or manageable mitigation methods for the island.

Danielle Ricks 
Home: Pollards Point, NL 
Future plans: Hoping to further my education by obtaining a Bachelor of education degree 

Title: Introduced Species on the Island of Newfoundland and their Potential Impacts on the Environment

Introduced species are the main driver in shaping the environment they are introduced to. However, there is little knowledge known on how they affect the boreal biome in particular. Introduced species have more profound and disproportionate effects on islands than they do on continents. These introduced species can potentially have drastic effects on their new environment and the native species that live there. They affect the biodiversity, economy, and agriculture of the environment. They have the potential to completely eradicate the native species in the ecosystem. This study looks at 81 different plant and insect species that have been introduced to the island of Newfoundland. Current information was collected from a variety of webpages and compiled into an excel spreadsheet. This study looked specifically at how introduced species affect their new environment with an emphasis on modes of introduction, distribution, and potential threats and benefits. The main negative impacts that were found were the plants being toxic to livestock and overwhelmed the environment for native species. The main positive impact that the plant species showed was that they were used as ornamentals. The insect species mainly negatively affected the agriculture and economy factors such as destroying commercial beehives and grain products. The insect species positively affected the environment as being a food source for other animals. Future studies should consider focusing on how these introduced species become established in their new environment. Once a species becomes established in an environment their potential impacts increase.

Briana Kaitlyn Wight
Home: Corner Brook, NL
Future plans: Moving forward, I plan to take the knowledge I have gained from my undergraduate degree to complete a secondary education degree. I am grateful for my time at Grenfell Campus and the community I was surrounded with. 

Title: Alien invaders: A synthesis of the impacts of introduced species on the island of Newfoundland

Introduced species are a global issue for centuries past and will be far into the future. This paper looks at alien species as a whole, paying specific attention to a reduced list of plants and Lepidoptera introduced to the island of Newfoundland. Current knowledge on many of these species’ impacts on this region remains limited. Native and non-native organisms have complex relationships from many years of accidental and intentional introductions to the province. This paper looked into the broadened topic of introduced species, their positive and negative impacts, possibilities for biocontrol, and made various suggestions regarding future research and education. A primary conclusion of this paper’s research was the advisability in monitoring species distribution. Monitoring was recommended as a significant part of the work towards both limiting the spread of invasive or unwanted species and implementing biocontrols – because their impacts on the ecosystem can be radical. Recognized gaps in the research include the fact that each species has been studied to varying degrees and not necessarily at all on this island in particular. Available data has been compiled into a Microsoft Excel file. Results showed plants with possible biocontrol opportunities, introduced Lepidoptera with potential impacts to the forestry sector, and plants that can be toxic or irritants to human health. Findings suggested that prior to introducing biological controls, significant research must be done, as the risk to the ecosystem may outweigh the benefits. Also, public resources should be considered for the large quantity of risky plants introduced in the province. Moving forward, introduced species should be monitored more closely for impacts to local environments, and more research should be completed for many introduced species.

Haley Noseworthy 
Home: Point Leamington, NL
Future plans: After graduation i plan to attend Memorial University again for the intermediate/secondary education program. It has always been my dream to show young kids how fun science can really be! Especially to influence the next generation of women in STEM. 

Title: The Fragility of an Island Ecosystem: Where on an island is most susceptible to introduced species and why? How can these areas be managed more effectively?

Island ecosystems are an incredibly fragile entity in their own right, working together as a cohesive unit each playing a role and evolving together. This is threatened when species that did not evolve and adapt with the rest are introduced. Introduced species are becoming more of a problem in every ecosystem but in one as fragile as that of an island it can be devastating. We see these issues focused on natural as well as human-caused disturbed areas giving a place to focus research. Priority effects are explored to be a leading cause in how these species establish and overtake the native species (Laura et al. 2020). Managing these areas and ensuring the natural biome is preserved is a huge step in maintaining the balance in such a fragile ecosystem making it a very important topic to study. 

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Renee Barrett
Home: Corner Brook, NL
Future plans: I am hoping to continue my education with a Bachelor of education (intermediate/secondary).

Title: Advantages and disadvantages of introduced species on the island of Newfoundland and using interspecies relationships as a biological control

Introduced species are generally not well documented or researched, particularly in island ecosystems and especially plant and insect species that can be accidentally introduced. In this report I look at a selection of introduced plant and beetle species on the island of Newfoundland, Canada, to evaluate the potential benefits, deficits, and relationships these species may have in their introduced ranges. Given a portion of the provincial species list of introduced species to Newfoundland, which was supplied by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, I conducted a literature review to obtain information on the species. My research focused on when and how the species were introduced and the advantages, disadvantages, and roles each species plays in their environment. Select plant species showed benefits that could be significant in introduced ranges. Other plant species showed disadvantages and potential dangers in their new habitats and additional monitoring is necessary. Beetle species appeared to have no significant positive impacts aside from relationships with invasive plant species where they could act as a biological control. Further research is required to better understand relationships with native species, introduced species, and the environment.

BES, Environment and Sustainability

Matthew Hayden
Home: Kippens, NL 
Future plans: After my program, I want to pursue a career that contributes to solving a larger environmental issue. I have always cherished the natural environment and my goal is to aid future generations in sharing the same passion as me!

Title: Climate change implications for spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana) outbreaks in Atlantic Canada

Anthropogenic influence is exponentially shifting climatic regimes in Canada’s boreal forest. Specifically, climate variability, fluctuations in resource availability, and phenotypic plasticity has brought upon extreme weather conditions, alteration in inter-ecological relationships, and changes in pest dynamics. A persistent environmental topic of concern is that of cyclic pest outbreaks, specifically the spruce budworm in Atlantic Canada. Climate change is exasperating the severity of pest outbreak dynamics, through range shifts, phenotypic changes as adaptive response to changing environmental conditions, and morphological changes in both predator and prey species. Such changes are exhausting preventative and anticipatory mitigation measures and highlighting the need for a more integrative approach. To counteract spruce budworm outbreaks in Atlantic Canada, and to circumvent further ecological and economic destruction, the development of early pest intervention strategies with continual monitoring and the reduction or effective adaptation of anthropogenic influence is paramount.

Matthew Helps

Title: An Analysis and Comparison of the Sustainability of Ocean and Land-based Aquaculture Options 

My goal for this paper was to investigate ways aquaculture can become more sustainable and its future as a replacement for fleet fishing and which method of aquaculture would be best suited for this, specifically looking at the differences between open pen and terrestrial-based salmon farms. This paper uses a content and SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis based off data from previous research papers, as well as more common media like news articles. Out of the two methods considered: closed, land-based systems are more sustainable than ocean-based systems. From a comparison of aquaculture sites with similar output capacities, land-based systems have smaller footprints, are better for the environment, hire more people, provide better fish welfare, and deliver more consistent production.  

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Lexi Rae Fequet
Home: Corner Brook
Future plans: I plan to attend Dalhousie University in the fall to complete a master of resource and environmental management.
Title: The Issue of Marine Plastic Pollution in Gros Morne National Park

Plastic pollution in marine environments is the cause of negative environmental, social, and economic impacts. Plastic pollution in marine environments is rapidly increasing, calling for action on reducing and preventing the plastics found in the marine environments. Examining how tourism and current federal and provincial policies affect waste management in Newfoundland and Labrador can aid in my recommendations for the policies and frameworks that can be adopted and established. In 2020, an environmental organization called Atlantic Healthy Oceans Initiative conducted 3 beach clean-ups in Gros Morne National Park. Through the items collected from the clean-ups, I discovered what brands are responsible for the plastic pollution in Gros Morne National Park and what can be done to reduce and prevent plastic pollution. Through extended producer responsibility policies active in other countries, I concluded that Newfoundland and Labrador could benefit from banning single-use plastics and the end-of-life care from a company that produced the plastic product. 

Lucas Hoyles
Title: Reclaimed Wood in Deer Lake, Newfoundland: A Feasibility Study

B.Sc., Computational Mathematics

Final projects

Ian Duncan Chandi Anunda
Home: Nairobi, Kenya
Postgraduate plans: I hope to do a master’s in mathematical modelling with a focus on epidemiology

Title: Mathematical modelling of the spread of infectious diseases

A model is a simplified representation of a complex real-world event or structure, which is used to explain or predict the observed phenomena. Mathematical modelling of spread of diseases helps in understanding the dynamics of emergent diseases and the factors that determine whether they become endemic, epidemic or of little danger to health. It studies the principles that govern the spread of diseases and informs health workers on what steps to take to handle it. 

This paper serves an introduction to infectious disease modelling. It seeks to explain how we can use Ordinary Differential Equations to model the spread of diseases. We analyse the simple common cold model, the fatal disease model – with and without migration – and finish with a COVID-19 model. To analyse the models, we use the linearization technique based on the Grobman-Hartman Theorem, the graphical method known as the phase plane analysis and the Routh-Hurwitz criterion.

For each of the derived and analysed models we check for the conditions and circumstances that will make it possible to eliminate the disease, check if the disease will become an endemic or if the whole population will become infected, and we check how interventions and control measures will alter the disease dynamics. 

Office of Research and Graduate Studies

Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland
20 University Drive, Corner Brook, NL
A2H 5G4, Canada

Office: FC4020-4027
Phone: (709) 637-7193
Email: research@grenfell.mun.ca

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