Action plan to advance research excellence at the University of Montreal

Supporting collaboration, promoting responsibility in research and maximizing scope for excellence, these are the three priorities of the University of Montreal’s plan of action in terms of research, discovery, creativity and innovation for the next five years.

This plan will be presented by video conference noon on March 22nd, which UdeM invites to its community members.

The university’s Vice President for Research, Discovery, Creativity and Innovation, Marie-José Heber, unveiled the plan of action as a result of the collective thinking in Excellence in Research which was attended by more than 100 researchers from all sectors of UdeM’s research also as Deans and Provosts of the University.

From this reflection emerged the priorities of identifying and developing the significant strengths of the disciplinary diversity exemplified by UdeM’s thirteen colleges and schools, which up to its 465 research units and its extensive network of health and social services.

“Our planning is based on the three main pillars of the strategic planning of the University of Montreal, which requires us to be bold to change, live our pluralism and unite energies, as Marie-José Hébert explains. It therefore aims to support and enhance research, creativity and innovation activities that contribute effectively to the discovery, progress and sharing of knowledge from order to respond in a responsible and sustainable manner to the major challenges of today and tomorrow.”

Ten areas of excellence

Marie Jose Hebert

Credit: Amelie Philibert

Collective thinking has made it possible to designate 10 sectors of excellence dedicating a research area that combines a critical mass of talent, research and exceptional influence as well as a creative and innovative methodology, which holds great potential for knowledge enrichment.

These 10 Sectors of Excellence – presented below in alphabetical order – represent the solid foundations that have been in place for several years in basic and applied research on which UdeM is based in the current and future development of projects capable of responding authentically, accurately and appropriately on the way to the major societal challenges that arise and will arise in the future.

  • Bioinnovation and digital health: This sector brings together diverse and integrated expertise covering core approaches in structural biology, genomics, metabolism and proteomics as well as its application in the perspective of micro-health throughout life. This expertise relates, among others, to the discovery and production of innovative drugs, biosynthesis, as well as research in immunotherapy and cell therapy, in pharmacogenomics and nanomedicine. They thus join the broader applications of digital health and are part of the effort to be adopted by society.
  • Brain, thought and perception: This sector includes research in cognition, psychology, neuropsychology, and neuroscience, which develops fundamental aspects of cognition throughout the life course, including sensory perception, sleep, memory, communication, and music, both in terms of normal development and performance and as a consequence. Brain damage. In addition to these approaches, there is expertise related to motor, communication and cognitive rehabilitation, drug addiction and addiction treatment, mental health, play or art therapy, and music therapy.
  • Creativity, culture and imagination: This sector includes intercultural communication, mediation, digital humanities, the study of religions, socio-cultural views of the sacred, musicology, ethnomusicology, the study of memory and intangible or built heritage, literature, civilizations and cultures, particularly those of first peoples. . The alliance of this nuanced sociocultural knowledge is often at the heart of new highly creative approaches that allow us to gain a better understanding of our relationships with others and with the world.
  • The environment, biodiversity and society: This sector brings together the latest research in the areas of plant or microbial biodiversity and animal health or the environment that addresses issues of biodiversity conservation, preservation and adaptation as well as issues of water management, environmental toxicity, agro-food, green chemistry, and energy. Storage, transfer or land use planning. It also integrates the study of the implications of social activities on the world, relationships with landscapes, territories and vulnerabilities.
  • Basic explorations of reality: This sector corresponds to the enrichment of basic theoretical knowledge, that is, which explores the basis of our concepts of existence, life, the universe and matter. This research, which is generally part of the long-term, is a particularly dynamic area of ​​investigation for UdeM, among others in the sciences at atomic, molecular, cellular and tissue scales, mathematics, quantum, astrophysics, the study of dark matter and exoplanets or even philosophy and epistemology.
  • Digital, artificial and human intelligence: This sector includes research in machine learning, deep learning, natural language, computational linguistics, neuroinformatics, mathematical optimization, operations research, bioinformatics, biostatistics, social statistics as well as digital information sciences. At the same time, researchers in these areas have gained globally recognized expertise, particularly in e-justice, digital health, cybercrime and cybersecurity, privacy and confidentiality, and the socially responsible development of artificial intelligence.
  • Tomorrow’s materials and processesThis sector brings together artificial intelligence professionals as well as designers and manufacturers of new materials. UdeM has unique expertise in sectors such as nanostructures, polymer physical chemistry, catalytic conversion, non-equilibrium processes, surface and interface engineering, biological tissues and membranes, and bio-sourced materials or materials. This work is generally part of an environmentally responsible perspective and aims, among other things, to design materials and processes for tomorrow’s energy and mobility transition.
  • Social relations, democracy and responsibilityThis sector combines the study of collective systems, social relations, governance and democracy issues at the regional, national and international levels. This paper touches on the precise definition of our democracies – whether in terms of models of governance, globalization, international relations or legal and political systems – and social relations, living together and their indissoluble corollaries. , including equality, diversity and inclusion as well as social inequality and vulnerabilities.
  • Knowledge and knowledge acquisition: This sector includes theories of education up to the study of language and oral, musical, visual or digital communication, including research in pedagogy, foundations of pedagogy, psychology or the neuroscience of learning. UdeM has extensive experience in the acquisition of knowledge and our relationship with knowledge, aimed at the success and well-being of learners of all ages. Research teams develop innovative ideas and methodologies that allow for the enrichment of knowledge and educational innovation, the reduction of inequality, and the improvement of educational policies and systems.
  • one healthOne Health’s approach highlights the importance of interactions between humans, animals and their environments in response to common issues that are expressed at several local levels (individual, community, regional) in a global context. The scope of expertise in this field is wide, covering animal and agricultural production as well as health humanities, environmental sciences, land use planning and management, and all determinants of health, welfare and living conditions for humans and animals.

Support mechanisms to enhance cooperation

The implementation of the Action Plan will depend on strengthening support for the research community in order to better equip it to meet the current challenges of research and innovation.

This support will pass through the development of a digital strategy, modernization of services provided to the research community, enhancement of research facilities and increased knowledge sharing.

One of the main support mechanisms is the Innovation Lab, which aims to facilitate communication between researchers from different faculties and units, and to promote the launch of new major initiatives across sectors.

“In this period of profound changes in the world around us, the production of new knowledge through university research is more important than ever,” concluded Marie-José Heber. Thanks to the strategic plan presented today, the University of Montreal is committed to actively supporting research excellence that is collaborative, innovative, diversified and open to the world in order to further lead its research community for the benefit of today’s and tomorrow’s.

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