Grand Challenges

Research that fuels innovation and pushes the boundaries of knowledge.

Explore our research themes

Our Grand Challenges align with the university's Strategic Research Plan, which addresses current and future societal needs, engages our communities, and creates opportunities for international prominence. We take pride in our ability to transfer knowledge and contribute to growth through research, innovation, and entrepreneurial thinking.


Our research platforms

In pursuing solutions to these Grand Challenges, we build on the following platforms:

In the Faculty of Science we discover, explore, and seek to learn new things. Our fundamental research fuels innovation, helps us deliver on our Grand Challenges, and pushes the boundaries of knowledge. It also plays a central role in how we deliver our educational mission.

Fundamental research means we use basic principles of science to advance understanding of natural, human-made, and social systems.

In our faculty, undergraduates, graduate students, and staff including faculty members, postdoctoral fellows, research associates, and technicians get their feet wet and hands dirty doing fundamental research. Our students get involved with research, often early in their programs, and explore how the skills they learn enable scientific advancement.

Our current research initiatives include studying the biology and behavior of dinosaurs, quantum entanglement, the effects of climate change on bees, photosynthesis, antimatter, differential geometry, how to catalyze the splitting of water by sunlight, the theory of algorithms, extremophiles, subduction zone hydrogeology, and much more.

Fundamental research is an engine that supports the work on our Grand Challenges - and everything else we do.

Exceptional science demands world-class tools and innovative ways of thinking. Cutting-edge research requires exceptional observational, experimental, and computational facilities. To organize our efforts around our grand challenges, our centres and institutes facilitate concentrations of expertise and crosscutting interactions among disciplines.

Our major facilities, centres, and institutes are tangible displays of our evolving vision. They reflect how and where we want to make a difference. They differentiate us as a faculty, representing a history of institutional investment and success in securing external funding through competition and partnership.

Scientists today have access to more data than at any point in history. How do we make sense of the unprecedented amount of information available to us? This platform focuses on the process fundamental to addressing Canada’s greatest challenges: collecting and producing unique data sets, and turning this data into new insights, policies, and inventions.

With The Internet of Things, data is available on just about anything at just about any time, and with just about any level of resolution. Globally, data is generated, transmitted, and stored from satellites, sensor networks, and biosensor chips that observe our planet, solar system, oceans, landmasses, atmosphere, and humans in real time. Can we take this information and translate it into results, discoveries, and advancements?

Through our research, we aim to empower individuals and governments at all levels, to make decisions based on accurate and predictable data. This can range from acute financial decisions to escaping hazardous weather. The insights we seek are often hidden and encoded.

Using sophisticated statistics, pattern recognition, and state of the art experiments, we can work on finding these insights with increasing predictability. Visualization helps us understand this complex data, while analytics and statistics extract relationships and trends. Modelling helps us understand and predict the behaviours that will shape the world around us. Research in this platform crosscuts all disciplines from human-computer interaction to geospatial intelligence.