Clusters designed to tap research opportunities
Nine groupings built in consultation with faculties
by Hilary Thomson staff writer
UBC has designed a new framework for its research activities that is
aimed at creating synergies among researchers and attracting funds available
for interdisciplinary work.
"Research questions often occur at the intersections of traditional
disciplines," says Indira Samarasekera, vice-president, Research. "By
clustering areas of investigation we can respond more quickly and
comprehensively to these questions."
The research clusters -- designed in consultation with faculties, institutes and
the teaching hospitals -- are built on existing centres of excellence as well as
areas selected for growth. Their goals and activities form the recently
developed Strategic Research Plan.
The nine research clusters are: Biotechnology and Genomics; Human Health and
Genomics; Microelectronics and Information Technology; Neuroscience and
Cognitive Systems; Origins and Mathematical Structure; Population Health,
Services and Human Development; Quantum Structures and Information; Society and
Culture and Sustainability/Environment.
The new clusters correspond directly with UBC's allocations for Canada
Research Chairs (CRC).
The federal government has provided $900 million to fund 2,000 chairs at
universities across Canada by 2005. The first chairs will be announced early in
the new year.
"By providing key funded positions we hope to attract new young scholars to the
clusters," says Samarasekera. "We will also add faculty positions to the
clusters to keep our top researchers."
Clusters span traditional boundaries to address questions common to a variety
of research areas.
For example, the Human Health and Genomics cluster and the Biotechnology and
Genomics cluster are integrated with research in ethical and moral issues.
Investigations will address such issues as how public policy and law relate to
advances in biological knowledge.
Clusters will also help to develop existing research groups on campus.
The Quantum Structures and Information cluster brings together investigators
from the faculties of Science and Applied Science who form a core research
group in this area.
There is also a nucleus of outstanding research in the field of quantum
computing and high-temperature superconductivity.
Investigators in this cluster will look at areas such as quantum computing
which uses nanotechnology -- the science of structures on the nanometer scale
such as atoms and molecules -- to revolutionize the power of computers.
Seven faculties ranging from Law to Forestry will collaborate in the
Sustainability/Environment cluster which aims to help develop sustainable
societies and promote environmental stewardship.
The cluster will build upon the work of the Georgia Basins Futures Project, the
Fisheries Ecosystems Research Laboratory, the Earthquake Engineering Research
Facility and other UBC initiatives.
Research clusters and UBC's Strategic Research Plan Statistics and Reports: www.research.ubc.ca
Canada Research Chairs: www.chairs.gc.ca