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Kyle Demes joins SFU as director, Institutional Strategic Awards, to support the university’s increasing research capacity

Kyle Demes, SFU’s new director, Institutional Strategic Awards.
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The Office of the Vice-President, Research is thrilled to welcome Kyle Demes to Simon Fraser University in his new role as the director of Institutional Strategic Awards (ISA).

Kyle is a marine ecologist – and postdoctoral research fellow SFU alumnus – motivated by a desire to increase the impacts of research beyond singular research projects. He has been hired to enable research excellence across all disciplines, and in turn, support the rapidly growing research enterprise at the university.

Over the last 15 years, SFU has increased its research capacity more than four-fold, having reached $139M in 2017. It is Kyle’s responsibility to lead SFU’s ISA team in supporting this capacity, focusing on pre-award development and post-award management of the largest and most complex grants, contracts, prizes and awards at the university.

Kyle’s experience with and understanding of the development and submission of proposals is vast. He has co-authored a paper detailing a framework and tangible examples of support processes for research institutions to help enable collaborative research clusters. Additionally, Kyle brings three years of experience as strategic advisor to the Vice-President, Research and Innovation Office at the University of British Columbia to his new role at SFU. He is keen to share his knowledge with scholars across SFU’s eight faculties.

What excites you most about joining SFU as director, Institutional Strategic Awards?

SFU is at an exciting inflection point; external funding has been steadily increasing, creating more opportunities for ground-breaking research. This expanding research enterprise helps attract and retain world-class research talent and positions SFU for success in large-scale research award competitions. ISA is a linchpin in the continued growth of SFU’s research enterprise and scholarly reputation and I find that very exciting!

How does your previous work experience as a researcher and strategic advisor to a VP Research and Innovation Office align with your new role?

Large-scale research programs and institutional awards are a complicated alignment of technical reasoning and institutional strategy. Likewise, successfully enabling large-scale research development requires a firm anchor in research practice and a fluency with institutional processes and strategy. A career straddling the interface of research and institutional strategy has forged that alignment into my psyche.

Launched in July 2018, ISA is a fairly new department at SFU within the VP Research portfolio. What do you feel people should know about ISA?

ISA is new, but there are no rookies on this team. Instead, ISA brings together—for the first time—experienced pre-award proposal development and post-award management professionals. This revamped structure is intended to provide a seamless support experience for researchers from the initial conception of a research idea, to the final report after a grant has ended, all the way to developing nominations for honours recognizing the achievements of the research project.

What will be your initial work priorities? What are your long-term goals for ISA?

Initial priorities for ISA will be to create proactive developmental support structures for all major grant programs (for instance, workshops and information sessions) and to build a culture of early engagement with the research community. Long-term goals include securing big-ticket awards that enable the development of world-class infrastructure and raise the profile and reputation of research at SFU.

What advice would you give to applicants, faculty and graduate students to help them create successful applications?

Don’t do it alone! We have a strong team of staff experienced in building competitive applications to all major award programs and we are here to help you. Whether you have a draft of an application that would benefit from a constructive review or are just starting to brainstorm ideas, don’t hesitate to reach out for support — that is what our team of experts are here for.

Do you have any causes that inspire you that inform your professional pursuits?

I strongly believe the inclusion of many diverse perspectives increases the quality and potential impact of research. I have been particularly inspired by recent EDI (equity, diversity, and inclusion) initiatives at the federal level and am firmly committed to striving for EDI excellence in research at SFU.

If there is one thing you’d like the public to know about your goals for ISA and the university as a whole, what would it be?

At the heart of SFU’s strategic research plan lie six ambitious challenges meant to better our world. Ultimately, the ISA team is here to help secure the large-scale opportunities needed for SFU to tackle these challenges and to foster an environment where researchers can make a difference from the local to the global scale.

Learn more on the Institutional Strategic Awards website.

About INSTITUTIONAL STRATEGIC AWARDS

The Institutional Strategic Awards (ISA) team focuses on pre-award development and post-award management of the largest and most complex grants, contracts, prizes and awards at Simon Fraser University. As SFU’s sponsored research funding approaches the $140 million mark, our researchers are increasingly pursuing larger and more complex opportunities. 

Learn more on the Institutional Strategic Awards website.