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Winter 2014 - Volume 38 No 1

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In this issue

Welcome Pierre Charest

Pierre Charest

In November 2013, NSERC welcomed Dr. Pierre Charest's appointment as the new Vice-President of Research Grants and Scholarships Directorate. He replaced Isabelle Blain, who began her retirement in December.

Pierre previously held the position of Associate Vice-President of Corporate Policy and Planning at NSERC and is a seasoned manager with extensive past experience at Health Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Canadian Forest Service. He has worked as a research scientist and has both policy and operational experience. Pierre's complete profile is on NSERC's Web site and on This link will take you to another Web site LinkedIn.

In his new role, Pierre will become the discovery research champion and promote the foundation it provides for Canada's innovation system. To kick off this important priority, NSERC recently launched a new interactive tool featuring how science and engineering impacts the world around us. Visit NSERC's A World of Discoveries page to find out more, and contact NSERC Communications to share your own discovery research story.

Pierre looks forward to meeting the community over the coming months, including at engagement visits in the spring and at the CAURA Annual Conference in June.

Upcoming NSERC Deadlines

Note: institutions may have an earlier deadline in order to forward applications by NSERC's deadline.

Nominations Open for NSERC Herzberg, Brockhouse and Polanyi Awards

Do you know a researcher who deserves one of NSERC's top research prizes? Submit your nomination by March 1, 2014. Learn more.

Nominations Open for Synergy Awards for Innovation; New College Award Available

The nomination deadline for outstanding university-industry research and development (R&D) partnerships in the natural sciences and engineering is April 15, 2014. This year, in addition to the four categories for university awards, NSERC invites nominations for a new category for college research. Learn more.

Changes to 2014-2015 Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships Competition Timelines

The Vanier-Banting Secretariat has announced changes to the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships competition timelines, effective for the 2014-2015 competition. Visit the This link will take you to another Web site Changes to 2014-2015 competition timelines page on the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships Web site for more details.

International Research Opportunities

The Human Frontiers Science Program is now accepting grant applications for the 2015 cycle.

Government of Canada Announces Top Award Winners in Natural Sciences and Engineering Research

Dr. Ford Doolittle and David Johnston

On February 3, some of Canada's top researchers were honoured at an official ceremony for their outstanding achievements in the fields of natural sciences and engineering. The ceremony was hosted by His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, at Rideau Hall. He was joined by Janet Walden, NSERC's Chief Operating Officer.

Eight prestigious prizes were awarded to 36 recipients, including individuals and research teams. The top research prize, the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering, was awarded to Dr. Ford Doolittle from Dalhousie University for his work on the evolution of genes and genomes. Dr. Doolittle is studying, at the gene level, how living organisms survive in their environments and adapt to them. For more information, consult the news release.

Two New Council Members Appointed to NSERC

We are pleased to welcome Sudarshan A. (Raj) Mehta and Digvir S. Jayas as the newest members of NSERC's Council. Both members were appointed for a three-year term on December 17, 2013. Learn more.

NSERC at the Gender Summit 3 - North America

From November 13 to 15, 2013, NSERC, CIHR, the National Science Foundation (US) and the National Institutes of Health (US) united to support the Gender Summit 2013 in Washington, D.C. More than 600 participants from academia, government and industry gathered to address gender issues in research and innovation. This year's objectives included developing a roadmap for action and conveying evidence that gender consideration is fueling excellence in research and innovation.

The event had a strong Canadian presence, including NSERC's five Women in Science and Engineering Chairs: Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal (Atlantic), Dr. Nadia Ghazzali (Quebec), Dr. Catherine Mavriplis (Ontario), Dr. Annemieke Farenhorst (Prairies) and Dr. Elizabeth Croft (British Columbia and Yukon). The Chairs for Women in Science and Engineering Program attracted the attention of NSERC's international counterparts, who were looking to pilot it in their own countries.

This was the first Gender Summit held in North America. The Gender Summit 4 - Europe (GS4 - Europe) will take place in June-July 2014 in Brussels. Two additional regional summits are planned for 2015 in Asia Pacific (Seoul, South Korea) and Africa (Cape Town, South Africa). For more information, consult the This link will take you to another Web site Gender Summit 4 - Europe.

Research Portal and the Canadian Common CV

Over the last few months, the research community used the Research Portal and the Canadian Common CV (CCV) for the following programs: Discovery Grants, Subatomic Physics Grants and Canada Graduate Scholarships-Master's.

We have received extensive feedback through various channels and are actively working to enhance the user experience for the next round of competitions. By popular demand, an improved CCV preview will be available and users will benefit from improved integration of the two systems. A confirmation number will automatically transfer CCV data to the Research Portal, eliminating the need to manually upload a .xml file. Future priorities include simplified navigation and the development of tools to facilitate the entry of publications.

Evaluation of the Discovery Grants Program

The five-year evaluation of the Discovery Grants Program is nearing completion. It focuses on the impact of changes introduced in 2009-10 to the peer review process on the program's ability to achieve its objectives. The evaluation used results from surveys, consultations, interviews, bibliometric data analysis and other sources.

The findings from multiple lines of evidence were presented to an International Review Committee on the Discovery Grants (DG) Program, which met in July and September 2013 to develop conclusions and recommendations. In November, these were discussed with the Committee on Grants and Scholarships to inform NSERC's management response to the evaluation. In the end, the Panel came to the overarching conclusion that DG continues to be Canada's most important support mechanism for foundational research. Members agreed the revised peer review process should be maintained, and recommendations are for refinement only.

NSERC's management response will be finalized and approved by its Chief Operating Officer shortly. Both the response and the evaluation report are expected to be posted on NSERC's Web site by March 2014. In the meantime, please forward any questions to

Review of Discovery Grant Budget Allocations

Over the past year, NSERC considered key policy questions on allocating the budget of the Discovery Grants (DG) Program among its twelve Evaluation Groups. Since the release of the Council of Canadian Academies report This link will take you to another Web site Informing Research Choices: Indicators and Judgement in July 2012, NSERC has hosted a roundtable discussion with stakeholders from the research community and gathered additional input from an on-line survey and briefings from various discipline-based groups.

In May and November 2013, the Committee on Grants and Scholarships was consulted on three key matters: the basis for differentiating funding among disciplines; the process for determining allocations, including the roles of discipline communities and of an Expert Panel; and the context and timing of any changes.

NSERC does not expect any changes to the DG budget allocation approach to be implemented before the 2016 or 2017 competitions. We will keep the research community informed of future developments.

Open Access Consultation Closed

NSERC wishes to thank all those who provided their feedback on the Open Access consultation, which ended on December 13, 2013. We are now reviewing the submissions and will be providing an update on the consultation results in the coming months. A final version of the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy is expected to be available by fall 2014, subject to the results of the consultation.

Updated NSERC Dashboard

The NSERC Dashboard is now updated with the latest regional and sector-specific funding data for 2012-13 and new research stories that show the benefits those investments are creating for Canadians. We invite you to navigate the NSERC Dashboard and see where we invest and why.

NSERC is always looking for new research stories to feature on our Dashboard that show the impact of research on Canadians. For more information on how to share a story, please contact NSERC Communications.

Awards Database Now Available

NSERC's Awards Database (formerly known as the Awards Search Engine) has been revamped and updated with competition results for 2012-13. New features include a more user-friendly interface and improved search capabilities. The Awards Database is an online searchable resource featuring all of NSERC's awards and funding results since 1991. Users can search for results in multiple ways, including by researcher, institution, region and research area.

Results of the 2013 Digging Into Data Challenge

On January 15, 2014, the 2013 winners of the Digging into Data Challenge were jointly announced by 10 leading funders from four countries (Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States), including NSERC. Fourteen teams will receive funding to investigate how "big data" changes the research landscape for the humanities and social sciences. To learn more, please consult the This link will take you to another Web site news release issued by the US National Endowment for the Humanities.