The Hub Research at AU: Beyond the Norm!

What a day! Research was center-stage at a recent forum hosted by Athabasca University’s Research Centre.

With a theme of “Moving Research Beyond the Norm,” AU’s diverse community of researchers was brought together to discuss the themes teased out of our foundational plans, including the Imagine and the Strategic Research Plan.

“Our theme was "Beyond the Norm." We took a risk to create a forum different from the past forums. Our researchers responded with enthusiasm and a strong desire to learn about the research of their colleagues and initiate collaborations with each other. The strength of their collaborations is instrumental in creating a strong research environment at AU.”

– Dr. Pamela Hawranik, Associate Vice President, Research (Interim)

At the afternoon plenary session, the name of the game was to explore multidimensional and multidisciplinary approaches and opportunities were discussed. An ice breaker had everyone interacting with the presentation and got us all thinking about research at AU.

Then, a novel approach was taken for helping to explore the strengthens and experiences each researcher brings to AU: Brain Dating!

Participants in the room and online were encouraged to set up an online profile of what each researcher can contribute and what they’re looking for in terms of collaboration. To explore this concept further, a number of tables with strategic themes were set up and everyone gathered around the theme that interested them and was the most linked with their research.

With a number of routes for researchers to reach out and connect, fostering collaborations with the broader AU community was evident and opportunities abounded!

“The Research Forum revealed how well-connected research is at AU. I am thrilled to be a part of this exceptional group of researchers.”

– Dr. Vivekanandan Suresh Kumar, Professor, FST

With the data from the tables and the Brain Dating profile information, Dr. Vive Kumar and his team will identify clusters, linking up researchers and possible funding opportunities.

“The Research Forum was an excellent event and good opportunity to interact with fellow faculty members conducting research, and to explore collaboration opportunities. It was also great to engage with funding agencies and other potential research partners to discuss common research interests. I’ve continued the conversation with several new contacts that I met at the Research Forum, which demonstrates the success of this event.””

– Dr. Scott J. Ketcheson, Canada Research Chair in Hydrological Sustainability and Assistant Professor, FST

Overall, the whole day was a great opportunity to talk about research and exploring our collective creativity, innovation, and drive to transform lives and communities.