Transformational Research 2013-2018 Strategic Plan Mini Town Hall Questions and Answers

Held March 18, 2014 | 2 to 3 p.m.

Do you feel UWaterloo is globally recognized?

Yes, in certain fields, including quantum computing, water and nanotechnology. More generally, we have significant global recognition in the STEM disciplines and in selected areas in the social sciences, for example, psychology and global governance.

How can the relationship between teaching and research be strengthened?

This relationship is dependent, in part, on faculty members bringing their research into the teaching environment in a stimulating way, particularly in 3rd and 4th year courses.

Has there been a piece of UWaterloo-based research that has inspired you?

Brain research leading to the development of SPAUN (Semantic Pointer Architecture Unified Network) that has come out of the Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience.

How could the university better promote its researchers?

Nominating eligible faculty for prestigious international awards.  Ensuring that worthy UWaterloo research stories are widely disseminated. 

What attracts faculty and student researchers to UWaterloo?

Availability of leading edge research facilities; critical mass of well-recognized faculty in their specific areas of research; quality of students; overall reputation of the University

What are some of the research areas in which Waterloo will lead in the future?

Waterloo will continue to lead in many areas of research.  Some examples are:

  • Discovery and Design of Materials and Systems
  • Environment and Energy; Health and Well-being
  • Information and Communication Technology
  • Manufacturing and Devices
  • Mathematical Sciences
  • Computer Science
  • Society, Culture and Governance
  • Quantum Information and Nanotechnology

Questions for the Panel

Have any specific steps been taken to assist researchers in finding revolutionary research areas?

It is important to appreciate that this is a bottom-up, organic process; faculty members identify their own research areas.  The role of the University is to assist in the provision of facilities and equipment required to pursue leading-edge research; to provide selective internal funding in areas where uW has the capacity to lead;  and, more generally, to promote an environment in which creativity thrives.

What are the main challenges in executing the strategic plan?

  • The availability of external funding for research in a period of government (and industry) fiscal restraint
  • pressure on faculty time in the face of heavy teaching loads in many sectors of the University
  • ability of the University to continue to provide leading-edge research  facilities in the face of fiscal restraint
  • buy-in by faculty, graduate students and [post doctoral fellows] PDFs.

How will we know if we have succeeded?

  • Increase in number of UWaterloo faculty holding prestigious international research awards
  • increase in external funding for research
  • increase in research productivity (e.g., number of publications and citations)
  • increase in international rankings.

The University has prioritized 3 research areas, quantum science, water and aging,  in the Strategic Plan – I don’t see myself fitting into these so how will this affect my research?

It is important to note that these are identified as examples of research areas in which the University is, or has the potential to become, a world leader.  It is also important to recognize that the vast majority of funding for research is obtained competitively by faculty members from external sources.

To the best of its ability, the University will continue to provide internal support for all areas of high quality research, including legacy research on which the research reputation of UWaterloo has been built as well as new and emerging areas of research in which UWaterloo has the potential to be a world leader.

How will the administrative burden on faculty be reduced to allow them to concentrate more on research?

Decreased paperwork through the use of technology that will enable improved, more efficient research administrative procedures;  shift, as much as possible, the burden of research administration from the shoulders of faculty to research administrative staff.