2.0 Research

Expand opportunities for research, scholarly and artistic work

Expanding the opportunities for research, scholarly and artistic work requires focus on priority research areas supported by the necessary infrastructure to undertake the research. It involves the development of stronger support structures for researchers at all levels: providing opportunities for promising undergraduates to engage in research, and enhancing funding for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in order to attract and retain outstanding academics.

2.1 Direct and attract resources to priority research areas, with local, national, and international importance

Graham Gagnon, Associate Vice-President, Research
(June 2018): • In 2017/2018, Dalhousie had research grants/awards totaling approximately $156M compared to $136.9M in 2016/2017
• Number of applications for Tri-Agency funding competitions for 2016/2017 to 2017/2018: applications increased from 80 to 85 for NSERC Discovery Grants; decreased from 182 (2 competitions) to 86 (1 competition) for CIHR Project Grants; and decreased from 23 to 20 for SSHRC Insight Grants
• Ranked 3rd in U15 in industry funding intensity; 7th in U15 in Tri-Agency funding intensity
• Nova Scotia Integrated Health Research and Innovation Strategy (IHRIS) – Dalhousie convened a partnership with Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA), IWK, NSHA Research Fund, Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education, Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness, Nova Scotia Department of Business, NSCC, health philanthropic consortium and other universities in the province doing health research to build a framework to allow Nova Scotia to address the most pressing health problems in a collaborative integrated health partnership
Major Research Project Awards
• DeepSense ocean data analytics project, led by the Faculty of Computer Science, brings together data and ocean scientists with industry partners to develop commercially useful predictive models, analytical prototypes and applications for use in the blue economy; $28M in federal, provincial and private partner (IBM) funding
• Dr. Katherine O’Brien – Canada 150 Chair in Vaccinology and Global Health $7M
• Dr. Alison Thompson, Chemistry – NSERC Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) Program in BioActives $1.65M
• Dr. Rob Jamieson, Civil & Resource Engineering – NSERC CREATE Program in Aquatic Systems Professional and Industrial training for the Restoration Economy (ASPIRE) $1.65M
• Dr. Michael Ungar, Social Work – SSHRC Partnership Grant entitled “Child and Youth Refugee Research Coalition (CYRRC): Using Research to Inform Best Practices for Language, Literacy, Learning, Social Integration, and Child and Family Wellbeing” $2.5M over five years
• CFI Innovation Fund – Dalhousie researchers awarded $22M in CFI-IF awards ($11M CFI/$11M NSRIT) in collaborative team projects, including Dr. Mladen Nedimovic, Faculty of Science; Dr. Paul Bishop and Dr. Stephen Corbin, Faculty of Engineering; Dr. Roy Duncan and Dr. Craig McCormick, Faculty of Medicine; and Dr. Sara Iverson, Ocean Tracking Network, Faculty of Science
• CIHR Project Grants $7.7M
• NSERC Discovery Grants totalled almost $7.5M
Major Research Funding Proposals Prepared

• Institutional awards: Canada 150 Research Chairs: 2 @ $7M over 7 years, 2 @ $2.45M over 7 years
• Tri-Agency: SSHRC Partnership Grant, Letter of Intent (LOI): 2 LOIs submitted, results pending; Value: $2.5M
Tracking of Research Performance
• Analysis of trend of research awards by major source reveals: decline in total Tri-Agency funding; opportunities for growth in not-for-profit and business/industry funding; growth in government funding (primarily federal/provincial)
• Analysis of research publications (Scival) and reseach funding from previous year (CAUBO) shows: Dalhousie accounts for approximately 2.5% of U15 research funds but produces 3.9% of U15 publications; Dalhousie’s number of publications per $M research funding is above the U15 average and generally
outpaces the U15 average over the past three years; Success rate for Dalhousie researchers in peer-reviewed Tri-Agency funding competitions has varied: 62% for NSERC (compared to 71% in 2016/2017); 12.8% for CIHR (compared to 10% in 2016/2017); and 55% for SSHRC (compared to 39% in 2016/2017)

Read more about priority 2.1

INFLUENCED BY: 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 3.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.5, 5.6
INFLUENCING: 1.1, 1.2, 1.5, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 3.1, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.5, 5.5, 5.6


Dalhousie’s Strategic Research Plan establishes four priority research areas and three emerging areasthat are aligned with national and provincial strategic priorities: Ocean Studies; Advanced Materials and Clean Technology; Health and Wellness; Governance, Society and Culture. The plan also establishes emerging areas: Information Science and Communication; Agriculture and Food Technologies; and Energy and the Environment.


  1. Increase the amount of funding sources from local, national and international sources for each of the priority and emerging areas by 2018 (to be measured in 5 year rolling windows).
  2. Develop 5‐10 year plans for attracting funds from multiple sources with every attempt to have $100 million from combined sources for at least 2 of the priority areas (measured in 5 year rolling windows).
  3. Increase endowments that support research.

Download the charter [PDF-137kB]


2.2 Attract and retain outstanding academics

EXECUTIVE SPONSOR: Provost & VP Academic (VP Finance & Admin)
Susan Spence, Vice-Provost Planning and Jasmine Walsh, AVP Human Resources
(June 2018):
Canada Research Chairs (CRC) Program
• 5 new Tier 2 CRCs began their first award period (4 are new hires to Dalhousie), 3 Tier 1 CRCs were renewed. CRC did a correction of allocations to each of the Tri-Agencies and as a result, Dalhousie lost 1 NSERC Tier 1 CRC and 2 NSERC Tier 2 CRCs. However, since these positions were unfilled, the university did not lose people. Dalhousie did gain 1 SSHRC Tier 1 CRC and 1 Tier 2 SSHRC CRC. Both positions are in the process of being filled.
• Dalhousie developed two documents on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion related to the Canada Research Chairs Program: 1. Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Public Accountability and Transparency Requirements; 2. Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan
• Dalhousie confirms its commitment to the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan set out for the Canada Research Chairs Program by the Federal Government and has implemented approaches to ensure all hiring competitions are attracting a diverse group of candidates. For CRCs, the university currently meets or exceeds targets for women and Aboriginal peoples.
NSERC Industrial Research Chairs
• Dr. Stephen Corbin’s NSERC/Pratt and Whitney Canada Industrial Research Chair in Structural Brazing and Processing of Powder Metallurgy Superalloys was renewed for a new five-year term (April 2017 to March 2022)
• Dr. Graham Gagnon’s NSERC/Halifax Regional Water Commission Industrial Research Chair in Water Quality & Treatment was renewed for a new five-year term (April 2017 to March 2022)

Read more about priority 2.2

INFLUENCED BY: 1.1, 1.5, 2.1, 5.1, 5.3
INFLUENCING: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.5, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 3.1,
4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.5, 5.1


The success of Dalhousie centres on the excellence of faculty members. Strategic priority 2.2 focusses on the strategy and tactics related to recruitment and retention of "outstanding professors". Faculty members are core to the academic mission and the University needs to ensure leadership approaches, processes, practices, supports and recognition are in place to support recruitment of outstanding faculty members and to retain them. We also need to articulate the components of “outstanding “ faculty.

This strategic priority links to the broader human resource strategy contained in strategic priority 5.1 "Develop a human resource strategy that allows us to attract, support, and reward the best faculty and staff”. There will also be considerable interface with related initiatives.


  1. Renew and develop consistent best practices for academic leadership and faculty member recruitment across all Faculties by January 2016 (recruitment practices, orientation, mentorship; and best practice guidance regarding grant writing/application).
  2. Articulate the dimensions of “outstanding” faculty.
  3. Develop specific retention practices and goals that support and recognize teaching and research excellence in support of retaining outstanding professors.

Download the charter [PDF-137kB]


2.3 Attract and support excellent graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to strengthen the impact of research

EXECUTIVE SPONSOR: VP Research (Provost & VP Academic)
PROJECT LEAD: Marty Leonard, Dean Faculty of Graduate Studies
(June 2018): •  Faculty of Graduate Studies awarded $28.5M in scholarships and bursaries (including the NS Bursary Program) to students in 2017/2018 compared to $27.4M in 2016/2017
• Dalhousie has 132 post-doctoral fellows as of 2017/2018, compared to 130 in 2016/2017
• Formation of Pan-university Research Student Recruitment Committee: As recommended by the ad hoc Graduate Student Recruitment Committee (see Progress Report 2017), a university-wide committee was struck to enhance graduate student recruitment
• Appointment of Part-time Communication and Marketing Advisor to create a communication plan and overhaul FGS website
• Three postdoctoral fellowships established: the Donald Hill Family Postdoctoral Fellowships in Medicine, Arts and Social Sciences, and Computer Science are supported by a generous donation from Dr. Donald Hill, a Dal alum, and will provide $55,000/year for up to three years for each Fellow

Read more about priority 2.3

INFLUENCED BY: 2.1, 2.5, 4.2, 4.3, 4.5, 5.6
INFLUENCING: 1.2, 1.5, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.5


Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are a core component of the university's mission. Graduate students are critical to the quality and volume of research undertaken at a university. They are instrumental in the performance of research, in innovation and in scientific and scholarly publishing as well as creative performance. They also help to improve the undergraduate experience.

The funding of graduate students across a range of disciplines is key to attracting and supporting excellent students. In turn, an appropriate number of graduate students is key to research productivity and obtaining ample competitive research funding and is important in maintaining the university's competitiveness.

Postdoctoral fellows play a significant role at Dalhousie, as they do at all research intensive universities, contributing in various ways to teaching and research, while furthering their own development as newly qualified academics.


  1. Provide competitive funding for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.
  2. Increase the percentage of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows relative to the number of Dalhousie undergraduate students and professors to the U15 average by 2018.
  3. Enhance the graduate student experience at Dalhousie as measured by national survey results.
  4. Increase the percentage of graduate students who are funded through external competitive scholarships.

Download the charter [PDF-137kB]


2.4 Foster undergraduate research

EXECUTIVE SPONSOR: Provost & VP Academic
PROJECT LEAD: Pemberton Cyrus, Associate Vice-President (Acting)
(June 2018): • Academic Innovation-funded projects in this period funded undergraduate research through Dr. Amy Bombay (Psychiatry and Nursing), Dr. Mona Holmlund (History and FSPA) and Dr. Allison Schmidt (Science)
• Multi-year Academic Innovation funding is strategically enhancing course evolution for undergraduate research development

Read more about priority 2.4

INFLUENCED BY: 1.1, 1.2, 1.4, 1.5, 3.1, 3.2, 4.2
INFLUENCING: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 2.1, 3.1, 4.2, 4.3


The student experience greatly benefits from exposure to research and to the research community. The knowledge of inquiry-based methods is a lifelong benefit. There are opportunities to bring research and teaching together which better support student success.

By focusing on research and undergraduate involvement in research Dalhousie aims to maximize the student learning experience.


  1. Provide greater opportunities for undergraduates to engage with research as part of their degree.
  2. Develop an undergraduate research and inquiry-based learning component for the emerging Dal learning charter (1.5).

Download the charter [PDF-146kB]


2.5 Enhance research with state‐of‐the‐art facilities and resources in accordance with the Institutional Framework for the Support of Research (IFSR)

PROJECT LEAD: Graham Gagnon, Associate Vice-President, Research
(June 2018):
Major Research Awards and Prizes
• Dr. Julia Wright inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada
• Dr. Michael Dunbar and Dr. Janice Graham inducted as Fellows of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences
• Dr. Jeffrey Hutchings, A.G. Huntsman Award for Excellence in Marine Sciences
• Dr. Josef Zwanziger awarded the 2017 John C. Polyani Award and the 2018 E. W. R. Steacie Award and Dr. Erin Johnson awarded the 2018 Tom Ziegler Award by the Canadian Society of Chemistry
• Dr. Marsha Campbell-Yeo inducted as a Member of the Royal Society of Canada College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists
• Dr. Erin Johnson awarded the Dirac Medal by the World Association of Theoretical and Computational Chemists
• Dr. Noni MacDonald awarded IPPH Trailblazer Award by Canadian Institutes of Health Research
• Dr. Christine Chambers awarded 2018 Mentorship Award and Dr. Natalie Rosen awarded 2018 Early Career Award by the Canadian Pain Society
• Dr. Peter Allen named to Discovery Awards Hall of Fame
• Dr. Ghada Koleilat named Discovery Awards Emerging Professional
• Densitas Inc. (Mohamed Abdolell) awarded Discovery Awards Innovation prize
Research Facilities and Processes

• Currently beta testing the Research Services’ ROMEO Researcher Portal, which will be used by Dalhousie researchers to electronically submit research applications and award documents
• Completed a business process mapping exercise for Research Services to inform how research administrative processes including document handling can be streamlined
• Surveyed the Dalhousie research community, including all faculty members, for feedback on Research Services including effectiveness, efficiency and areas for further development
• Conducted an external review of Research Services with research community stakeholders to better understand researcher challenges and areas in which the office needs to improve
• Created new institutional research awards (President’s Research Excellence Awards) to recognize early career research faculty as well as topical, high-impact research
• Established a Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Facilitator to assess existing RCR resources and supports at Dalhousie, and identify (or develop as needed) additional educational tools for promotion in subsequent outreach sessions

Read more about priority 2.5

INFLUENCED BY: 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.5, 5.3, 5.5, 5.6
INFLUENCING: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.5, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.5


Dalhousie's emerging strategy to build overall research support and increase funding success focuses on three broad efforts: pursuit of strategic research areas, implementation of an Institutional Framework for the Support of Research (IFSR) and the engagement of industry and other partners.

During the 100 Days consultation, participants offered a great deal of feedback on the many ways in which research support could be improved at Dalhousie. In parallel with this consultation, an IFSR was developed through intense community engagement, and subsequently operationalized with clear deliverables and milestones. This framework is intended to support and encourage researchers, particularly emerging scholars, in enhancing their success with grant applications and management through: mentorship and facilitation; improved integration of services and existing resources and infrastructure relevant to the research enterprise; and identification of new funding sources and opportunities.


  1. Improved integration and coordination of services and communications across sectors relevant to the research enterprise.
  2. Enhanced support and facilitation of pre‐ and post‐award activities that will reduce the administrative burdens on researchers while increasing their capacity to compete successfully for research funding (including raising success rates in Tri‐Council funding competitions to the U15 average).
  3. Enhanced researcher networking capability and collaboration within and outside of Dalhousie.
  4. Development and support of core research facilities and multi‐user space.
  5. Development of additional research revenue streams and strategic deployment of internal, centrally held research‐related funding.
  6. Increase the number of national and international research awards.

Download the charter [PDF-135kB]