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UVic Aspiration Research Cluster Program

April 18, 2023

OVPRI is pleased to announce the inaugural cohort of UVic Aspiration research clusters.

The Aspiration Research Cluster program was established by the Office of the Vice-President Research and Innovation to support research excellence, facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration, and raise the external profile of the university through capacity-building resources and support.

In this funding round, six clusters receive $100,000 to support catalytic activities to enable growth and impact. The next round of the competition will be announced later this year.

Right to Housing Cluster

Leads: Bernie Pauly, Jeff Masuda

Homelessness and lack of self-determination in housing and home impacts the health and wellbeing of multiple generations with disproportionate impacts for Indigenous people, Black communities, people of colour, women, gender diverse people, families and youth. The Right to Housing Cluster will bring together academic researchers with communities and community organizations to generate a strong partnership that will mobilize future research and action on housing and homelessness.

Indigenous Economics Cluster

Leads: Donn Feir, Rebecca Johnson, Susanne Thiessen

To thrive, all societies require stable and flourishing economies; however, colonization has significantly undermined the infrastructure and resourcing of Indigenous economies. Despite these pressures, Indigenous communities continue to enact principles and practices of their economic orderings and take advantage of opportunities. The Indigenous Economics Cluster will make visible these orderings, as well as the challenges and opportunities that impact Indigenous economic well-being. As well, the cluster will engage in the work of restoring Indigenous economic institutions and practices in a way that aligns with contemporary Indigeneity and acknowledges gendered realities.

Indigenous Language Revitalization Cluster

Lead: Onowa McIvor

Indigenous language revitalization is a significant factor in community wellness, land connection and for the continuation of Indigenous knowledges, epistemologies and worldviews. It is also vital that the languages of the land on which the university occupies are strengthened and maintained as teachings contained in them support lands and ecosystems while contributing to the restoration of legal and governance systems. The Indigenous Language Revitalization Cluster will continue and deepen the consultation process with local Nations to determine what actions and supports are needed for local Nations’ languages to thrive.

Mental Health Cluster

Lead: Hector Caruncho

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, one in eight people worldwide lived with a mental disorder; during the pandemic the incidence of mood and anxiety disorders increased by ~30 per cent. The Mental Health Cluster will co-develop novel research venues to improve mental wellbeing, foster prevention, promote recovery in people suffering from mental disorders, and decrease/eliminate the stigma associated with these disorders. By engaging in interdisciplinary and multisectoral collaborations with people with lived experience, the cluster will provide a holistic approach for mental health research.

Nanotherapeutics Cluster

Leads: Ian Manners, Stephanie Willerth

The Nanotherapeutics Cluster will harness the expertise, knowledge and technologies from a diverse combination of interdisciplinary researchers to translate nanoparticle-based therapeutics into clinical and commercial applications. These therapeutics will be used to address key medical challenges of importance to Canadian society and globally, such as cancer and antibiotic resistance. In the longer term, as the cluster expands to include further expertise, research will target potential treatments for other diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, genetic conditions and viruses such as COVID-19.

Quantum Photonics Cluster

Lead: Thomas E. Baker

Canada is an international leader in the development of quantum technologies and has invested significantly to grow institutional capabilities within the country. The Quantum Photonics Cluster will bring together UVic researchers to create a robust collaboration on photonics, algorithms, and light-matter interactions for future technology. The study of new quantum-based technologies and their interaction with light has the potential to revolutionize current technologies over the short and long term, with potential applications for climate and sustainability, and health and wellness.