Message from the A-VPR (Natural and Health Sciences)
I am honoured to be working with such an exceptional team of researchers. What are our strengths? Look in every faculty and you’ll find people and groups of scholars who are recognized at national and international levels. The fact that these top-of-the-field researchers are committed teachers who produce among the best undergraduates in Canada sets Brock apart from other universities. Our researchers have a solid funding record and a very good publication output, particularly for a university of our size.
Based on my discussions with faculty members, the “Number One” need for everyone is time. Because our researchers are so actively engaged in teaching and in research, we just don’t have enough time to devote all the energy we need for both of those ventures. Our team is committed to streamlining processes in the Office of Research Services – such as hiring students to help fill out the new Common CV, so that researchers have more time to spend on their scholarly activities.
For years the University has held an annual NSERC workshop that, among other things, discussed the NSERC grant application process. But I want to do more than that. I have been discussing with staff the possibility of hosting a series of grantsmanship workshops. Our team is also committed to providing to faculty better opportunities for peer feedback on their grants before submission to granting organizations. We want to establish internal peer review panels to which faculty members could send their grants if they wish. Other universities have demonstrated huge successes in doing that.
We used to say that the primary functions of the University were the generation of new knowledge and the dissemination of that knowledge, primarily through publications and teaching. But now we are increasingly becoming involved in the application of knowledge. With the support of our office, researchers in the natural and health sciences are creating and strengthening links in industry and in health-related organizations in the City of St. Catharines, the Niagara Region and elsewhere. Our engagement begins at the local community level and grows globally.
Enhancing our research
All these activities – streamlining paperwork, hosting grant application workshops, providing peer support and strengthening links with the community – are, I believe, some of the many ways my colleagues and I can support our researchers to be the best that they can be. They also will go far in achieving our overarching goals, which are to enhance our research output, enhance our funding for research and provide more opportunities for research avenues and funding sources.
Another major area I’m involved in is safety in research labs, particularly with regard to the use of hazardous chemicals and bio-hazardous materials. My current focus is on improving the reporting structure for the Science Safety Committee, which I am doing in consultation with the Science Safety Committee, the safety officers, the Associate Vice President Academic, associate deans and faculty members. We also need to establish mechanisms that will ensure compliance of our safety regulations.
I look forward to working with you all in what I think is an exciting, dynamic time in Brock’s research history.
Dr. Joffre Mercier:
Dr. Joffre Mercier
Dr. Joffre Mercier is a biologist who researches the mechanisms through which hormones and neurotransmitters modulate behaviour in animals, uncovering the mechanisms of action of hormones and transmitters at the cellular and sub-cellular levels. He received a PhD in Neuromuscular Physiology in 1984 and holds an MSc in Cellular Biology from McGill University and a BSc in Neurobiology from McGill University. Dr. Mercier was the Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies until his appointment as Associate VPR. He has occupied a number of offices throughout the years, including chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, Director of the Centre for Neuroscience, and Interim Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and Science.