UNBC research addresses global issues with local innovation

Dr. Geoffrey W. Payne
Vice President of Research and Graduate Programs
University of Northern British Columbia

UNBC continues to transform into a destination university that offers world-class education and leading research, while building a supportive environment for faculty and students that is second to none.

The past few years have been incredibly productive for research at UNBC, making it an exciting period for a vibrant university where research is an integral part of the mission. Our inclusion on this year’s list of Canada’s leading research universities is a proud moment for our community – realizing a 29.8 per cent increase in research funding in one year is a significant accomplishment. This increase also marked UNBC’s rise on the top 50 Research Universities in Canada ranking to number 45. While a big reason for that success is the effort of our students, faculty and staff, UNBC’s culture of embracing innovation plays a major role as well.

The projects we develop create local solutions that have global impact:

Hakai Cryosphere Node opens at UNBC

UNBC and Vancouver Island University embarked on a joint $2.4 million research project with the Hakai Institute with a focus on understanding the role that seasonal snow cover and glaciers play in the hydrology of key watersheds along B.C.’s Central and Southern Coast.

Interior University Research Coalition

UNBC, Thompson Rivers University, and UBC Okanagan have created the Interior University Research Coalition (IURC), a partnership that fosters new possibilities for student development, and facilitates research collaboration and co-ordinated joint funding proposals.

International Engineering Partnerships

As a leader in wood engineering innovation, researchers at UNBC are developing sustainable solutions that have the potential to revolutionize the construction industry in Canada and around the world. UNBC and the Faculty of Engineering at the University Santiago de Chile will be co-operating in research and teaching on topics related to wood engineering and wood-frame construction technologies.

UNBC Partners with University of Toronto on Remote Internship Program

UNBC and the Impact Centre at the University of Toronto are creating new national entrepreneurial experiential learning opportunities for post-secondary students. Together they launched a new remote entrepreneurial work integrated learning program (eWIL) that connects UNBC students with Toronto-based startup internships.

UNBC, TeejLab Partner on Centre of Excellence

UNBC and TeejLab Inc. have launched a new Centre of Excellence in Data Privacy, Security and Integrity that will provide thought leadership, best practices, research support and training. The centre is a unique opportunity for TeejLab and UNBC to promote their mutual interest in close industry-academia collaboration while fostering economic opportunities in British Columbia and Western Canada.

Passive House, Active Research

The Wood Innovation Research Laboratory (WIRL) at UNBC stands as proof that an ultra-energy efficient industrial-style building in a northern climate can be done. Home to researchers seeking to discover novel materials and techniques for the next generation of tall wood buildings, the laboratory is itself an engineering marvel. It is a certified Passive House, the first building of its type in North America to exceed the exacting international standard. Certified Passive House buildings use up to 90 per cent less energy for heating and cooling when compared with standard buildings and use up to 70 per cent less energy overall.

Rooting for Clean Water

Harvesting Moringa tree root bark to grind into a powder to be used as a potential water treatment, for use in at-risk communities such as rural First Nations in Northern B.C., which could have significant global impacts.

These are but a small sample of how UNBC continues to embrace innovation.

UNBC is proud to be a vital player in the national post-secondary research culture. We are inspired by our colleagues, and motivated to continue developing leading edge research, discovery and innovation. The university research environment is grounded in the ability to ask the question, ‘why?’ and then challenge what we think we know. Bold and creative ideas ensure that new knowledge will be developed, but the role of a university is to apply that knowledge and share the results with our communities so the research ultimately has a positive impact.

As we move further into the 21st century, more global issues will emerge that will require consolidated efforts from our collective knowledge bases to address. Only through collaboration, initiative and sheer determination will we rise to overcome these challenges.