Office of the President

Andrew Petter, President and Vice-Chancellor

Petter's Perspective: Notes from the President


SFU’s research strengths are worthy of celebration

February 01, 2018

Simon Fraser University’s standing in the Maclean’s ranking as Canada’s top comprehensive university is well known.  What is less well known is that two leading global rankings, Times Higher Education and QS, rank us 11th in Canada amongst all universities, including older medical-doctoral universities like UBC, the University of Toronto, and McGill.        

A major reason for this success is our research performance. Our growth in research funding, our impressive research impact, and the increased recognition being gained by our research faculty are all having a positive impact on our reputation and our rankings.

Last year, the University reached $139 million in research funding – up from under a $100 million in 2012, and four times what it was 15 years ago. With over one-third of this income coming from Tri-Council Agencies (NSERC, SSHRC and CIHR), SFU ranks among Canada's top universities for Tri-Council funding per full-time faculty.

The University has also excelled in attracting funding for research infrastructure. SFU-led research projects recently received $21.7 million in infrastructure funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) Innovation Fund, which supports research and development in areas where Canada demonstrates competitive potential.

The CFI investment places SFU in the top five institutions in Canada for this competition and supports the University’s commitments to create partnerships and collaborations, and generate social, environmental, health and economic benefits for Canadians. This funding is expected to leverage an equivalent amount from the BC Knowledge Development Fund.

We have also risen to the top tier in Canada for research impact. The QS World University Ranking places SFU second in Canada for citations per faculty member—a remarkable testament to the productivity and quality of our research faculty.

That productivity and quality is resulting in more SFU faculty members earning recognition for their research performance. For example, John Harriss (International Studies) and Nick Blomley (Geography), were recently named Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) while Nathalie Sinclair (Mathematics) was named to the RSC College. RSC fellowship is Canada’s highest academic honour, recognizing the best in their fields.

Our research strength is also helping us to attract more talent. Recently, SFU was recipient of a prestigious Canada 150 Research Chair. Mathematician Caroline Colijn, from London’s Imperial College, will join SFU this spring, bringing her expertise in public health and data analysis to our research endeavours. And we are expecting a second SFU Canada 150 Research Chair to be announced soon.

These are just a few leading indicators of our growing research strengths. My heartfelt thanks goes out to the entire SFU research community for your commitments and contributions. Thanks to you, 2018 promises to be another exciting year for research discoveries, innovations and recognitions.

SFU engineering science professor Rodney Vaughan is leading a CFI-funded project to accelerate research in remote sensing – one of five SFU-led projects to receive infrastructure funding
SFU professors John Harriss (centre) and Nick Blomley are the latest (2017) RSC Fellows, while professor Nathalie Sinclair has been named a member of the Royal Society of Canada College.
Canada 150 Research Chair Caroline Colijn