New Signature Areas Announced

After a collaborative and iterative process that included input from hundreds of members of the USask community, three new signature areas of research have been selected. 

The new areas are: 
  • Communities and Sustainability (Doug Clark and Marc-Andre Pigeon) 
  • Health and Wellness(John Gordon)
  • Quantum Innovation (Steven Rayan) 

USask’s six current signature areas — Agriculture, Energy and Mineral Resources,  Indigenous Peoples, Synchrotron Sciences, One Health and Water Security — were selected a decade ago after a campus-wide consultation process. These will remain, although two areas have been refreshed and will undergo updates based on pitches presented in the process. Energy and Mineral Resources and Water Security have been selected to undergo a refresh process, and will now be named Water: Health, Equity, Access, Security and Sustainability of our Planet’s Fresh Water Resources (Jay Famiglietti) and Energy and Mineral Resources for a Sustainable Future (Andrew Grosvenor and Greg Poelzer). The other four areas will be reviewed in 2024. 

Although three new areas were selected, there are no unsuccessful proposals. Every group provided contributions that will shape the future vision of our research endeavours. 

We are grateful to those who served on the advisory circle, the steering committee, community members who attended or watched the pitches and provided feedback and otherwise offered support to these efforts. The USask community came out in a beautiful way for consultation sessions on the signature areas and the pitch sessions. The investment of time and energy from across the academy led to important conversations and vibrant vision casting of the future. 

This process has been transparent, and we want to continue in that spirit. There is a portal on this website where questions and comments can be directed. 

Now, we turn to the work of selecting leaders and ensuring we have a strong strategy to support the work of the research signature areas. The strategy to support the signature areas will be taken to University Council in April or May. We know the community will again guide and inform this work in a generous way. 

Objective

The Signature Areas Renewal Project is an engaging, inclusive process aimed at renewing the university’s signature areas.

We are shaping the university’s signature areas by developing an institutional definition, purpose, and criteria for signature areas, and recommending priority actions for elevating signature areas at our institution.

The project also aims to develop a framework for ensuring the signature areas’ ongoing success and effective management.

A message from Dr. Baljit Singh, Vice President Research and Dr. Airini, Provost and Vice-President Academic

To begin, thank you to those who attended and helped to promote the signature area engagement sessions held in May 2021. Our overarching goals for these sessions was to build community, generate discussion, and inform future directions in each of the university’s signature areas. The participation of more than 500 faculty and staff, coupled with overwhelming positive feedback on these suggestions, indicated that these goals were effectively achieved.

Over the past month, we have spent considerable time determining next steps in this engagement process. At this point, we are excited to announce that we will be initiating a signature area renewal process that will result in revisions to the university’s six signature areas as well as the establishment of an overarching framework for the enhancement of these areas. To do so, we have decided to form two bodies to support this work: the Signature Areas Advisory Circle and the Signature Areas Steering Committee.

Please stay tuned to updates on this page as this exciting work unfolds.

This process is meant to be open, transparent and allow the USask community a chance for vibrant discussion. We welcome feedback and your input on the signature areas renewal process.

Process

Hearing From The Campus Community

In May 2021, the Offices of Vice-President Research and Office of the Provost and Vice-President Academic held nine virtual discussion forumsopen to the campus community, to reflect on the signature areas of research, build community, generate discussion, and inform future directions in each of these areas. 

Over 500 people participated in the sessions, each sharing their perspectives on strengths, areas for enhancement, and future directions for the university’s signature areas.

Signature Areas Advisory Circle

The Signature Areas Advisory Circle has been formed to synthesize findings from the signature area engagement sessions that were held in May 2021, develop an institutional definition, purpose, and criteria for signature areas, and recommend priority actions for elevating signature areas at our institution. This group was established in June, 2021, and its work will occur between June and July 2021. Please see terms of reference for further details.

Members

  • Trever Crowe, Associate Dean Research and Graduate Studies, College of Agriculture and Bioresources
  • Angela Jaime, Vice-Dean Indigenous, College of Arts and Science
  • Lisa Vargo, Department Head of Art and Art History, College of Arts and Science
  • Tracie Risling, Associate Dean Research and Graduate Students, College of Nursing
  • Deborah Anderson, Professor, College of Medicine
  • Julia Montgomery, Associate Professor, Western College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Kerry McPhedran, Associate Professor, College of Engineering
  • Vince Bruni-Bossio, Department Head of Management and Marketing, Edwards School of Business
  • Kavitha Ramachandran, PHD Candidate, College of Medicine
  • Kristine Dreaver-Charles, Instructional Designer, Distance Education Unit
  • Christopher Martin, Executive Officer, Office of the Vice-President Research
  • Tonya Wirchenko, Manager of Executive Initiatives and Projects, Office of the Vice-President Research

Contact

To engage with the advisory circle, please email one of the two co-chairs:

Terms of Reference

Signature Areas Steering Committee

The Signature Areas Steering Committee will be formed to review and make decisions on findings from the advisory circle, coordinate and adjudicate a series of “pitch your idea” sessions for new/revised signature areas, and to develop a framework for ongoing enhancement of the university’s signature areas. This work will occur between August 2021 and October 2021. This group will play a prominent role in shaping the university’s signature areas for the next decade, and thus we want to ensure it is comprised of diverse, visionary, and dedicated committee members. Please see terms of reference for further details.

Members

  • Baljit Singh, Vice-President Research (Chair)
  • Airini, Provost and Vice-President Academic (Co-Chair)
  • Preston Smith, Dean, College of Medicine
  • Angela Bedard-Haugh, Dean, College of Agriculture and Bioresources
  • Peta Bonham-Smith, Dean, College of Arts and Science
  • Loleen Berdahl, Executive Director, Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Puclic Policy
  • Volker Gerdts, Director and Chief Executive Officer, Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization
  • Jay Wilson, Chair of University Council
  • Marjorie Delbaere, Chair of Research, Scholarly, and Artistic Works Committee of Council
  • Angela Jaime, Co-Chair of Signature Areas Advisory Circle
  • Julia Montgomery, Co-Chair of Signature Areas Advisory Circle
  • jake moore, Director, University Art Galleries
  • Kari Harvey, Chief Executive Officer, Innovation Saskatchewan
  • Aaron Genest, Applications Engineering Manager, Siemens

Supported by:

  • Christopher Martin, Executive Officer, Office of the Vice-President Research
  • Tonya Wirchenko, Manager of Executive Initiatives and Projects, Office of the Vice-President Research
  • Heather Persson, Director Research, Profile and Impact, Office of the Vice-President Research

Contact

To engage with the steering committee, please email one of the two co-chairs:

Terms of Reference

Signature Area “Pitch Your Idea”

The USask community is invited to attend "pitch" sessions on new/revised signature areas. A total of 16 pitches were received.  Full information on the pitches, the executive summary for each, and schedule for pitch presentations can be found on the Signature Areas Renewal SharePoint site.

Recorded pitch sessions will be posted on the site as they are completed. There will also be opportunity for feedback from USask community members on all the sessions.

Read Pitch Executive Summaries, See the Pitch Session Schedule, Attend a Pitch Session (NSID required)

Feedback

The survey on Signature Area Renewal pitches is now closed, however, the videos and executive summaries remain available for review. Drs. Airini and Singh are grateful for those who created pitches, the hard work of the steering committee and all members of the USask community who have taken part in this invigorating process so far. The steering committee will now begin the work of evaluating the pitches, and will report back to the academy prior to the end of 2021.

Outcomes

The findings from the Signature Area renewal process will be shared with the USask community in a forum to be held in Fall 2021. The details are to be confirmed. Stay tuned!

Contact

Share your input

This process is meant to be open, transparent and allow the USask community a chance for vibrant discussion. We welcome feedback and your input on the signature areas renewal process.

Questions?

If you have any questions please contact:

Tonya Wirchenko
she/her 
Manager, Executive Initiatives & Projects
Office of the Vice President Research
tonya.wirchenko@usask.ca 

USask accountability

The Signature Areas Renewal is USask delivering on the commitments of our University Plan 2025.

COMMITMENT
Courageous Curiosity

GOAL
Unleash Discovery

EXECUTIVE SPONSORS
Dr. Baljit Singh: Vice President Research
Dr. Airini: Provost and Vice-President