Community effort: Highlights from a year in research and innovation

- December 21, 2022

Left: An ocean glider from Dal's Ocean Tracking Network. Centre: Experimenting with light to photograph a crab in Fraser Clarke’s aquaculture research lab. Right: Wastewater testing for COVID-19.
Left: An ocean glider from Dal's Ocean Tracking Network. Centre: Experimenting with light to photograph a crab in Fraser Clarke’s aquaculture research lab. Right: Wastewater testing for COVID-19.

Dalhousie’s story of research and innovation in 2022 is a story of more than 1,000 researchers, each pushing the boundaries of their discipline, advancing knowledge and bringing light to new corners of the world. Guided by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, it’s the story of innovators working to improve the world with their ideas.

It’s also a story of impact through commercialization and entrepreneurship. There are ever greater numbers of faculty and students participating in Dalhousie’s robust slate of entrepreneurship and innovation programs via Dal Innovates, Emera ideaHUB, MindFrame Connect and the Sandboxes. Aimed at turning research-based ideas into ventures, these programs are empowering our community to grow their impact on the regional and national economies.  

“This year saw standout successes recognized by some of Canada’s top awards for excellence and with funding for a diverse range of scholarship from ocean and water science to Indigenous knowledge and community health,” said Alice Aiken, Dalhousie’s vice-president of research and innovation.

Below are a few highlights, but as Dr. Aiken points out, "the true success of Dalhousie’s research and innovation community is the community itself, the thriving group of scholars across every discipline who enrich it.”

Recognizing excellence

In 2022, Dalhousie scholars and innovators took top prizes for excellence across a broad range of disciplines and ranked among the best in the world, further helping to cement Dalhousie’s reputation as a global leader.

Drs. Françoise Baylis, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and Jeff Dahn, Faculty of Science
The Killam Prize

Drs. Baylis and Dahn were each honoured with a $100,000 Killam Prize, winning two of the five prestigious awards granted annually by the Killam Trusts. Dr. Baylis is a world leading bioethicist guiding the discussion on how to proceed with human genome editing for reproduction. Dr. Jeff Dahn is a major force in battery science, who created much of the technology that has enabled lithium-ion batteries to become a preferred power source.

Erin Johnson, Faculty of Science
The Steacie Prize

Dr. Johnson was awarded the Steacie Prize, Canada’s most prestigious award for early-career scientists. She focuses on intermolecular chemistry, studying the forces between molecules that facilitate interactions. The impact of her work can be felt across a range of leading-edge applications from pharmaceuticals to batteries. Hers is the first Steacie Prize to go to a Dalhousie researcher and the first awarded to a scientist in Atlantic Canada.

Afua Cooper, Faculty of Arts and Social Science
J. B. Tyrrell Historical Medal

Dr. Cooper was recognized by the Royal Society of Canada with the country’s top prize in the discipline of history. Credited for dispelling the myth that slavery was absent from the Canadian story, she is currently leading ‘A Black People’s History of Canada’, an ambitious Canadian Heritage-funded project addressing the inadequacy of African Canadian history education across the country at all grade levels.


Rita Orji, Faculty of Computer Science
The Global Young Academy

Dr. Orji became one of 39 new Global Young Academy (GYA) members, joining the 2022 cohort of individuals from 24 countries and 27 nationalities. She is one of two new members from a Canadian institution. Global Young Academy develops, connects and mobilises young talent from six continents, and empowers young researchers to lead international, interdisciplinary and intergenerational dialogue.

Michael Ungar, Faculty of Health
World’s leading social work scholar

Dr. Ungar ranked as the most impactful social work researcher in the world based on the impact of his scholarly writing and citations. The result was published by the journal Research of Social Work Practice which drew on a database of more than eight million scientists globally from every discipline and parsed out the top 100 researchers in the field of social work. At number one, Dr. Ungar was the only Canadian social work scholar to rank in the top 25.

Dal Innovates
Deshpande Award

Dalhousie received an international award for its work facilitating the transformation of student and researcher innovations into commercially viable products and services. Dal Innovates received the “Deshpande Symposium Award for Technology Commercialization,” along with fellow recipient the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras. The award recognizes leading universities globally for excellence in delivering programs that empower students and researchers to turn their research-based innovations into market-ready enterprises.

Fueling research innovation

In fiscal 2021-2022, Dalhousie earned a record $214 million in research funding. 2022 saw substantial investments from our government, not-for-profit and industry partners.


Diving into an ocean of data

The Ocean Tracking Network was awarded $38.5 million from Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) Major Science Initiatives Fund to continue their research and work deploying innovative ocean monitoring equipment and marine autonomous vehicles in aquatic locations around the globe. Collaborators use OTN’s global infrastructure and analytical tools to document the movements of more than 300 keystone and commercially and culturally valuable aquatic species to understand the impacts of the changing ocean and freshwater environments.

Ensuring our water is safe

NSERC and public and private partners are providing $9.26 million in funding through a new Alliance Grant that will enable Dalhousie researchers to pursue research focused on water testing and treatment. The aim is to better understand the coming impacts of climate change. Led by Dr. Graham Gagnon with co-investigators Drs. Amina Stoddart, Mita Dasog and Alison Scott, the team is set to study how rising temperatures could affect our water systems, from the water we drink to the water we pump out into the world.

Building effective substance use policies

Clinical psychology and psychiatry researcher Dr. Sherry Stewart will lead a new Atlantic Canadian research “node” dedicated to guiding substance use health policies and practices funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. She will receive $2.4 million as part a new $17 million CIHR investment in the Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse (CRISM). Funding will also support a national study on methamphetamine-use disorder, including research to take place at an Atlantic site in Fredericton, N.B.

A better world through Indigenous knowledge

Dr. Sherry Pictou is part of a $24-million project funded by the Government of Canada via its New Frontiers in Research Fund. Joining a lead investigator and four co-principal investigators she will pursue work to empower Indigenous Peoples in countries including Canada, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Uganda, Mali, Brazil, and others to address issues such as food security, human-wildlife management, and the decolonization of science.

Our Canada Research Chairs

Canada Research Chairs (CRCs) empower Canadian universities to achieve the highest levels of research excellence and are a cornerstone of Canada’s strategy to become a global research leader. Tier 1 CRCs are acknowledged by their peers as world leaders in their fields. They are appointed for seven-year terms supported with annual $200,000 grants to the university.


Dal’s 2022 Tier 1 CRCs include:

Dr. Gregory Fairn, Faculty of Medicine
Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Multiomics of Lipids and Innate Immunity (New)

Dr. Kate Swanson, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in International Peace, Security and Children (New)

Tier 2 CRCs are awarded to exceptional emerging researchers regarded as potential leaders. They are appointed for five-year terms supported with annual $100,000 grants to the university, and an additional $20,000 per year for those in their first term. Our new and renewed Tier 2 CRCs include:

Dr. Channakeshava Umeshappa, Faculty of Medicine
Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Human Immunology and Inflammation (New)

Dr. Stefanie Colombo, Faculty of Agriculture
Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Aquaculture Nutrition (Renewed)

Dr. Javeria Hashmi, Faculty of Medicine
Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Pain Research (Renewed)

Dr. Lam Ho, Faculty of Science
Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Stochastic Modelling (Renewed)

Read more about Dalhousie’s 2022 CRCs in the June and November announcements via Dal News.