Welcome to the Faculty of Science Strategic Planning Blog

Welcome to the Faculty of Science Strategic Planning Blog

Thank you for visiting our blog. The Faculty of Science at the University of Alberta is developing a new five-year strategic plan. We need your help in creating a vision for the future. What should we be doing today to set the Faculty up for further success five years from now? Ten years from now? Let's be bold. Let's be creative. Let's create a plan that is challenging but realistic to achieve. Together we can chart a course that will engage our talented students, staff, and faculty members as we work to advance the frontiers of knowledge to the benefit of our community, province, country, and the world.

Please contribute your ideas and feedback. I hope to have all the input needed for the plan by the end of June, and then write the document over the summer.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Working Together on a Common Project

Some researchers do their work on their own, while others are part of small/large teams working on research problems of related interest. But one thing we do not have in Science is an umbrella project that would be applicable to a significant number of faculty members.

We have extensive research breadth in the Faculty of Science, and in many areas exceptional research depth.  Is it possible for us to envision a research theme or grand challenge that could bring many of these seemingly-diverse areas together? Could we create a marquee research project for the Faculty of Science? Of course, it is not required that we have one. But… if there was a topic that made sense for the Faculty then it could be a powerful force to create critical mass and build reputation.

When I talk about the research done in the Faculty Science to alumni, donors, community people, and government, it is challenging to succinctly communicate our impressive capabilities and accomplishments. The diversity of research topics such as nanotechnology, glycomics, black holes, dinosaurs, machine learning, wildlife management, fracking, algebraic geometry, and neuroprotective treatments -- the proverbial tip of the iceberg -- make for a fragmented message.

Two come to mind: environment and sustainability. Obviously they are related to each other, but can be spun in different ways. It is easy to see how many areas in most of our departments could fall under an umbrella research theme such as (and I am just making this up; you can do better): "Diagnosing and Treating our Environmental Future". We might even have a catch-phase such as (again, I am making this up): "Informed by the Past. Understanding the Present. Acting for the Future".

I confess that a research theme around the environment/sustainability, while important subjects, does not have much of a cachet. How many other universities have been there and done that? Whatever idea/theme we choose to work on, we will need to make it uniquely ours. We want to be seen as innovative, not just rehashing old ideas.

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