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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

Ian Hill, AVP Research
(June 2017): • In 2016/2017, Dalhousie had research grants/awards totaling approximately $136.9M compared to $139.6M in 2015/2016
• Number of applications for Tri-Agency funding competitions for 2015/2016 to 2016/2017: applications decreased to 80 from 87 for NSERC; increased to 108 from 74 for CIHR; and increased to 23 from 17 for SSHRC
• 3rd in U15 in industry funding intensity; 7th in U15 in Tri-Agency funding intensity
Major Research Project Awards
• Canada First Research Excellence Fund - Safe and Sustainable Development of the Ocean Frontier $220M
• Ocean Tracking Network re-funding $28.8M
• MEOPAR re-funding $58.5M
• Syrian Refugee Children and Youth consortium SSHRC Partnership grant $3.6M
• Dr. Christopher McMaster - A scientific and clinical hub of orphan disease drug development $4.5M
• Dr. Jeremy Brown - Development of a miniature ablation endoscope for guided neurosurgery $4M
• Dr. James Robar - Development of novel technologies for treatment of cancer with precision radiotherapy $3.5M
• Dr. Stan Matwin awarded $4.9M in research infrastructure funding through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) Cyberinfrastructure Initiative competition
Major Research Funding Proposals

• CFI Innovation Fund - 5 Dalhousie-led applications totaling $48.5M; 11 Dalhousie-partnered applications totaling $132M
• Deepsense proposal $25M
• 2 Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) proposals in Clean Energy & Viroceuticals worth $20M+
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 2.6% 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: 71% for NSERC (compared to 61% in 2015/2016); 6.5% for CIHR (compared to 15% in 2015/2016); and 39% for SSHRC (compared to 35% in 2015/2016)

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 Wach, Vice-Provost Planning and Jasmine Walsh, AVP Human Resources
(June 2017):
Canada Research Chairs (CRC) Program
• 3 new Tier 2 CRCs and 1 new Tier 1 CRC began their first award period (the Tier 2 CRCs were new hires to Dalhousie); there were also 2 Tier 2 renewals and 1 Tier 1 renewal
• Dalhousie confirms its commitment to the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan set out for the CRC Program by the Federal Government — the university currently meets or exceeds targets for both women and visible minority
NSERC Industrial Research Chairs
• Dr. Jeff Dahn’s NSERC/Tesla Canada Industrial Research Chair in long-lived, high-energy density and low-cost lithium-ion batteries for automotive and energy storage applications was renewed for a new five-year term (August 2016 to July 2021)
• Dr. Clifton Johnston, NSERC Chair in Design Engineering was renewed for a five-year term (September 2016 to August 2021)
• Review of recruitment approaches and best practices analysis underway

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 2017): •  Faculty of Graduate Studies awarded $27.4M in scholarships and bursaries to students in 2016/2017 compared to $26M in 2015/2016
• Dalhousie has 130 post-doctoral fellows as of 2016/2017, compared to 149 in 2015/2016
• Two new graduate scholarships established: Special Provost-Alumni Scholarships for outstanding doctoral students in FASS and the Abdul Majid Bader graduate Scholarship for Iranian and international graduate students
• Progress made in infrastructure to support graduate students and their supervisors includes establishment of the Graduate Student Experience Committee, completion and endorsement of the Graduate Student Recruitment Report and facilitating regular workshops on supervision for faculty supervisors
• Approval of the electronic graduate student funding project

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: Fiona Black, AVP Academic
(June 2017): • Award from Labour & Advanced Education of $100k for innovation-themed undergraduate research won through a competitive process
• $500k from donor for undergraduate research in science

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: Mark Filiaggi, AVP Research
(June 2017):
Major Awards and Prizes
• Dr. Jeff Dahn awarded The Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal in Science and Engineering and named to the Discovery Awards Hall of Fame
• Dr. Rudolph Uher awarded The Royal-Mach-Gaensslen Prize for Mental Health Research and inducted as a member of the Royal Society’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists
• Dr. Jennifer Bain and Dr. John Archibald inducted as members of the Royal Society’s college of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists
• Dr. Françoise Baylis awarded the Royal Society of Canada’s Mcneil Medal
• Drs. Jean Marshall and Randall Martin named inaugural Arthur B. McDonald Chairs
• Dr. Alex Falkenham named the Discovery Awards Emerging Professional
• Dr. James Robar named the Discovery Awards Professional of Distinction
• Dr. Boris Worm named Discovery Awards Science Champion
• Dr. Richard Goldbloom inducted to Canadian Medical Hall of Fame
• Dr. Ford Doolittle awarded the 2017 Canada Council for the Arts Killam Prize in the Natural Sciences
• Dr. Gail Eskes named Woman of Excellence in Education and Research by the Canadian Progress Club
Research Facilities

• Structured, multi-Faculty internal peer review process initiated (CIHR, SSHRC)
• Review and alignment of internal research funds in support of current and planned Priority 2.1 and 2.5 (IFSR) activities to improve utilization of existing resources available to faculty and trainees in supporting and building the research enterprise
• Support of a searchable Dalhousie core facilities and equipment database though Atlantic Facilities and Research Equipment Database (AFRED)

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]