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MUN database connects school to community

Yaffle applauded by academic community


Here comes Yaffle, a one-stop site for accessing experts and research at Memorial University. Yaffle (the word means an armload, usually of sticks or fish) is drawing interest from across Canada and around the world.

Want to find out who at Memorial is working on blue mussels or hook up with someone researching aquaculture? Just call up Yaffle ( and punch in the appropriate key words, says Rob Green-wood, director of the university’s Leslie Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development.

Unlike many academic sites, which may not be user-friendly or even open to the public, Yaffle is designed to make access to academic information easy, says Dr. Greenwood. University faculty members can use the site to connect with colleagues while the public can search and peruse the site and even suggest research ideas.

“Our sole mandate is to connect with the community,” says Dr. Greenwood, who helped get the project off the ground.

After about two years of planning, and at a cost of about $1 million, Memorial launched the site earlier this year with expertise from the university’s IT department and with external collaboration from the community and the federal, provincial and municipal governments. The site now averages 100 visitors a day from all over the world who stay for an average of five minutes. “We’ve had hits from every continent except Antarctica,” says Dr. Greenwood.

Other campuses from as far away as Australia have expressed an interest in the technology. Dr. Greenwood envisions the site eventually extending beyond the university; so, for example, a user could learn who at Memorial – or anywhere else – is researching blue mussels.

For Olivier Dupuis, systems manager in the faculty of graduate and postdoctoral studies at the University of Ottawa, Yaffle stimulates ideas and social involvement at universities and is a useful service for current and prospective students. “The possibilities are endless with such an infrastructure,” he says. “It certainly helps make your information more dynamic versus static information found in soulless web pages.”

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