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

VP Research

Associate Vice-President, Research (Graham Gagnon)

(June 2019):

  • In 2018/2019, Dalhousie had research grants/awards totaling approximately $168M compared to $156M in 2017/2018
  • Number of applications for Tri-Agency funding competitions for 2017/2018 to 2018/2019: applications decreased from 85 to 72 for NSERC Discovery Grants; decreased from 86 to 72 for CIHR Project Grants; and decreased from 20 to 16 for SSHRC Insight Grants
  • Impact Together: Dalhousie’s Research and Innovation Strategic Direction, 2018-2023 finalized and launched; grounded in UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • Dal Innovates suite of programming launched and operational (dalinnovates.ca) under oversight of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Steering Committee
  • Academic Minors in Innovation and Entrepreneurship successfully approved, will start September 2019
  • Internal awards created and inaugural competitions launched: VPRI International Seed Fund, Belong Research Fellowships, President’s Excellence Research Awards
  • Emera IDEAHub ready for launch in Spring 2019
  • Creative Destruction Lab-Atlantic (CDL-Atlantic) started second round
  • Sandboxes: 4th in Science opened (Surge), 5th in Health to open 2019
  • Nova Scotia Integrated Health Research and Innovation Strategy (IHRIS) Network established governance structure, commenced startup activities and has project plan in place to ensure success

Major Research Project Awards

  • CFREF-funded Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI) fully operational with second-round competition for large-scale project funding underway
  • Ocean Tracking Network received additional $2.3M from  Canada Foundation for Innovation for operations and maintenance support
  • Solutions for Kids in Pain (SKIP) awarded funding as an NCE-Knowledge Mobilization project ($1.6M over 3 years)
  • Mitacs activity has increased; Globalink Research Awards proposal development for Strategic Clusters program for 2019-2022; Dalhousie moved from 11th to 6th in the country for participation in Mitacs
  • The university had great success with external applications and awards in this period. Highlights:
    • Dr Sherry Stewart’s project “Univenture: A Partnership to Address Heavy Drinking and Other Substance Misuse on Canadian University Campuses” was awarded a $2.5M SSHRC partnership grant;
    • A $1.62M collaboration led by Dr. Ian Hill at Dalhousie and Metamaterial Technologies Inc. (MTI), on light manipulation, was funded by the Mitacs Accelerate program, the largest-ever Mitacs award in Atlantic Canada;
    • $2M in awards to 8 Dal early career researchers, from the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF)

Tracking of Research Performance

  • Analysis of trend of research awards by major source reveals increase 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 research funding from previous year (CAUBO) shows: Dalhousie accounts for approximately 2.6% of U15 research funds but produces 3.8% 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: 64% for NSERC (compared to 62% in 2017/2018); 17% for CIHR (compared to 12.8% in 2017/2018); and 25% for SSHRC (compared to 55% in 2017/2018)

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

: Provost & VP Academic (VP Finance & Admin)

PROJECT LEAD: Vice-Provost, Planning and Analytics (Susan Spence) and Assistant Vice-President, Human Resources (Jasmine Walsh)

(June 2019):

Canada Research Chairs (CRC) Program

  • Dalhousie gained 11 new Canada Research Chairs (3 Tier 1, 8 Tier 2; 4 CIHR, 4 NSERC, 3 SSHRC), increasing the total available Canada Research Chairs at Dalhousie from 49 to 60
  • 4 new Tier 1 CRCs and 3 new Tier 2 CRCs were awarded (six were awarded to new hires at Dalhousie)
  • Dalhousie reconfirms 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; CRC Chairs have been allocated to support diversity candidates to ensure that Dalhousie meets or exceeds its equity targets for all four designated groups (women, visible minorities, people with a disability, Indigenous peoples)

NSERC Industrial Research Chairs

  • Dalhousie currently holds 5 NSERC IRCs; program is being phased out by NSERC, and as of February 1, 2019 is no longer accepting new applications or renewals; NSERC has consolidated its Research Partnership grants into a single program, Alliance grants

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

: VP Research (Provost & VP Academic)

Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies (Marty Leonard)

(June 2019): 

  • Graduate students were awarded $29.3M in scholarships and bursaries (including the NS Bursary Program) in 2018/2019 compared to $28.5M in 2017/2018
  • Dalhousie has 141 post-doctoral fellows as of 2018/2019, compared to 132 in 2017/2018
  • Fee structure for PhD students at Dal reviewed as part of initiative to support doubling number of PhDs; waiving of international differential fees for PhDs, normalizing tuition over 4 years of the degree approved by Board of Governors
  • Proposal, in collaboration with Suzanne Sheffield at CLT, to create a Professional Development Certificate for Graduate Students and Post Doctoral Fellows approved; curriculum developer hired on a three-year contract
  • FGS website undergoing redesign

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

: Provost & VP Academic

Associate Vice-President Academic (Pemberton Cyrus (Acting))

(June 2019):

  • NSERC USRA awards: 63 in Science, 16 in Engineering, 4 in Computer Science, 3 in Agriculture
  • ILA SSRS awards: 5 awarded (Science, Health, Engineering, Computer Science, Medicine)

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)

: VP Research

Associate Vice-President, Research (Graham Gagnon)

(June 2019):

Major Research Awards and Prizes

Royal Society of Canada: Fellows

  • Janice Graham
  • Sara Iverson
  • Sherry Stewart
  • Ian Meinertzhagen
  • Marlon Lewis
  • Michael Ungar

Royal Society of Canada College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists: Members

  • Natalie Rosen
  • Sean Myles
  • Anna MacLeod

SSHRC Impact Awards: Connection

  • Jennifer Llewellyn

Canadian Academy of Health Sciences: Fellows

  • Sultan Darvesh
  • Christopher McMaster

Discovery Awards

  • Erin Bertrand — Emerging Professional
  • Gerhard Stroink —Hall of Fame
  • Michael Schmidt (DMF Medical) — Innovation
  • Patrick McGrath — Professional of Distinction
  • Kevin Hewitt — Science Champion

Engineers Canada: Support of Women in the Engineering Profession Award

  • Mae Seto

The Martin Bergmann Medal for Excellence in Arctic Leadership or Science

  • James Drummond

Research Facilities and Processes

  • ROMEO Researcher Portal launched November 2018
  • UNIWeb purchased and implemented as a tool for the research community to track CVs, annual reports, CommonCV etc.
  • Centres and Institutes policy revised: VPRI now managing on behalf of Senate, goal to make Centres and Institutes the hubs of collaborative research at Dal
  • Reorganization of Office of Research Services with Director/Finance Manager and an additional facilitator hired for grants

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]