Research plan zeros in to build strengths

by Hilary Thomson
Staff writer

Putting research at the heart of UBC activities is the aim of Research Turns on Knowledge, a planning document recently released by the Office of the Vice-President, Research.

"We're starting from a position of strength in terms of our performance and reputation as a research university," says Bernard Bressler, vice-president, Research. "We want to engage all faculty, staff and students to make research central to what we do here."

The document is linked to the strategies outlined in Trek 2000, UBC's vision for the next century, and elaborates on the activities needed to make UBC one of the world's outstanding research universities.

It lists nine major objectives and provides a framework for making decisions, allocating resources and managing change.

Also included is a statement of values that will guide the mission of advancing Canadian intellectual, social, cultural and economic growth through scholarship. Innovation, investigative integrity and collaborative research are some of the values identified.

Many factors influence the success of research at UBC, says Bressler. These include human, physical and financial resources, technology, economic conditions and the activities of competing universities.

The Helping UBC Generate Excellence (H.U.G.E.) fund is being established to help build the quality and capacity of UBC research.

It co-ordinates existing sources of research support such as the Peter Wall Fund, the Hampton Fund and the Humanities and Social Sciences Fund.

UBC will also look for new contributors from private, industrial and public donors to create a UBC Research and Faculty Development Endowment Fund.

The University-Industry Liaison Office will contribute to the fund from equity holdings in UBC spin-off companies created as a result of the transfer of technologies discovered on campus.

Encouraging and celebrating individual and collaborative research will be accomplished by strategies such as a "Celebration of Research" recognition event and supporting UBC-wide research cafés -- informal meetings that promote discussion among researchers from various disciplines.

Integrating teaching and research is another key strategic objective.

"We will be working with the Academic Plan Advisory Committee to help faculty include undergraduate students in research and mentor them as investigators," says Bressler.

Research focus themes that cut across disciplines will be promoted, he adds. In addition to breaking down barriers between academic units and stimulating investigation, thematic research is attractive to funding sources such as the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Major Collaborative Research Initiative (a program of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) and the Network of Centres of Excellence.

UBC will also look for community, national and international partnerships to develop research questions and apply new knowledge. Opportunities include partnership with industry, investors and entrepreneurs, community and cultural organizations and philanthropic foundations.

Raising awareness of the value of UBC research continues to be a priority. Faculty and students will be encouraged to make presentations on their work and participate in community activities related to their research throughout B.C.

"We have such a richness of research here," says Bressler. "We want to develop that wealth by making sure it's integrated into our day-to-day activities."

The Executive Committee for Research welcomes responses to Research Turns on Knowledge. The document appears in this issue of UBC Reports. Copies are also available from the Office of the Vice-president, Research, or on the Web at Comments may be sent by e-mail to