Research Personnel Initiative

The Project

The Research Personnel Initiative (RPI) was established in 2018 in support of SFU’s Engaging Research goal of being innovative, competitive and attracting the best researchers. The contributions of our research personnel is invaluable in facilitating our strong research performance – and this foundation is strengthened with our Postdoctoral Fellows and Research Assistants as SFU employees.

  • Better recognize the important role research personnel play at the university.
  • Provide the rights and benefits of employment status.
  • Reflect our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.
  • Be competitive with other universities.
  • Provide faculty members with support.
  • Create consistency in employment practices.
  • Reduce the risks associated with managing complex employee relationships.

What it Means

Research employees (those conducting and those supporting research) must receive and sign a formal Offer of Employment before they begin their work.

PIs/Supervisors must apply provincial and federal employment standards and university practices consistently through the appointment, supervision and termination of their employees. 

The Supervisor’s role includes orienting new employees, supervising their work and the need to keep track of time worked and time off.

Some research employees may be eligible to join a union. 

RPI maintains employee files and provides assistance with all HR related matters for this group.

Additional Information

Please direct all questions or concerns about the Research Personnel Initiative to rp_info@sfu.ca

The Team

The RPI team comprises representatives from Human Resources and special advisors on research project implementation and change management.

Our goal is to facilitate an effective appointment process and support supervisor/ department needs in the implementation of day-to-day employment practices as they relate to RAs. Members of the team will provide assistance with processes and forms, advice for unusual situations, and guidance on compliance requirements.

  • Elsa Plican, HR Director Research Personnel & HRIS and RPI Project Lead
  • Deborah Walker, HR Strategic Business Partner
  • Tia Gramuglia, HR Specialist
  • Petra Morris, HR Associate 
  • Selena Wang, HR Associate
  • Kate Du Cros, HR Associate
  • Eileen Lee, Business Analyst
  • Barbara Sherman, Research Project Manager & Special Advisor to RPI 
  • Erin Driscoll, Communications & Change Management Lead (consultant)

This is your support team - reach out to us at rp_info@sfu.ca.

See also Who We Are


Strategic Direction

The RPI team is fully supported by a Steering Committee:  

  • Dugan O’Neil, Vice-President, Research and International 
  • Jeff Derksen, Dean and Associate Provost, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies
  • Wade Parkhouse, Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President, Academic
  • Alison Blair, Associate Vice-President, Finance