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Meet Associate VP Research Fraser Hof

AVP Research Fraser Hof in his lab

As Fraser Hof gets ready to kick off his new Associate Vice-President role next week, he shares some of his insights, philosophy and goals.

VPRI: What excites you most about your new role as AVP? Do you have specific goals you’d like to achieve during your five-year term?

Fraser Hof: It’s exciting to be starting this job when there is a lot of energy on campus for new initiatives. What drew me to the AVP role was the opportunity to help facilitate change and move new initiatives forward. In particular, I would like to help UVic attract more funding for major infrastructure – especially for facilities that can have an impact on many researchers and on the larger community.

VPRI: Leading innovation will be part of your new role. Can you share an example of when your own failure presented an opportunity for growth? What did you learn from the experience and how did it impact your work?

Fraser: When I was a new Assistant Professor, I was pretty sure I could design the perfect molecule to achieve each of my research goals. I was really hooked on that idea for the first few years of my career, but it wasn’t working and my students and I were frustrated. Eventually, I learned that you can’t design the perfect solution to a problem. If you design a really good experiment and pay attention to the results, then you can discover cool things and achieve greater impact by giving up a bit of control and letting the research results lead the way.

VPRI: What makes the UVic research community unique and what advice would you give new faculty?

Fraser: UVic is one of the most highly connected research communities that I’ve seen, both internally and with meaningful partnerships out in the community. I encourage new faculty to seek out opportunities to talk to people from other disciplines and different walks of life. Ask a new contact about what fascinates them, and be curious when you listen to their answer. Sometimes you find common interests in unexpected places.

VPRI: How has your background prepared you for this new chapter?

I grew up playing competitive soccer, but what does a competitive person do when they don’t care about winning any more? I started refereeing several years ago, and I get a real satisfaction from doing the best job I can to help others have a great game. I always thought I’d be a career researcher but when I started taking on administrative roles, I found them to be varied and hard and interesting and, ultimately, very satisfying. I hope I can use the skills I gained as a researcher to do good things in a broader context.

(photo: Associate Vice-President Research Fraser Hof)