Over the past five years, Tim Kenyon’s goal has remained consistent: to provide the supports necessary to help Brock University’s researchers thrive.
Brock’s Vice-President, Research intends to continue building on that foundation as he embarks on his second five-year term in the role, effective Jan. 1, 2023.
“Brock researchers have been doing amazing work for many years. More recently, the University has made real strides in its own attitude toward the prioritization of research,” Kenyon says. “I think what we’ve seen, and what I’ve been very proud to be a part of, is a team effort across campus to place research where it belongs: at the heart of the University’s self-understanding, and its practices and policies.”
Much of Kenyon’s focus since beginning at Brock in January 2018 has been on putting support systems in place to help researchers reach new heights with their work.
In years past, Brock’s strong research performance stretched the University’s infrastructure, policies, practices and supports. Updates and investments were required before an expansion was possible, he says.
“On one hand, that was a great credit to the researchers themselves and to the support staff and research enterprise that went above and beyond to make that happen,” he says. “But it meant there was no way to scale up — things were already stretched as far as they could go, and then some.”
Work has since been underway to increase the University’s research capacity, with the groundwork laid to continue that expansion into the future, Kenyon says.
The results have seen Brock University continue to build momentum in the research landscape recently, with highlights that include:
- Setting a new institutional high for total research revenue in 2020-21.
- Brock ranking first amongst universities in its cohort for corporate research income growth, with grants and contracts from corporate sources increasing 134.5 per cent from 2019 to 2020.
- Receiving three additional Canada Research Chair allocations since 2018, including a Tier One CIHR Chair, bringing the total number to 14.
- Increasing research intensity, including a 28 per cent increase in research outputs over 2020-21, as measured by SciVal data.
- Creating the Yousef Haj-Ahmad Department of Engineering, opening new areas of impactful research at Brock.
- Inaugurating the Brock LINC in the new Rankin Family Pavilion to support campus and community engagement with innovation, entrepreneurship and applied research and creativity.
- Launching the Brock-Niagara Validating, Prototyping and Manufacturing Institute (VPMI)in 2020, a $15-million project that includes a $5-million FedDev grant, providing advanced scientific equipment, partnership incentives and a major new research space to enhance the connections between Brock researchers and industry partners.
- Introducing significant institutional funds to support research activities and expenses ranging from major equipment needs to publication costs.
- Introducing the Indigenous Research Grant as well as the VPR Canada Games Grant to support valuable areas of research and key elements of Brock’s Institutional Strategic Plan.
The creation of the Indigenous Research Grant, which recently funded a second round of projects, is a prime example of how the Brock community is working to support the advancement of research at the University.
The grant was created with the help of Indigenous colleagues from across the institution, who volunteered their time and insight to ensure the funding program was properly structured, Kenyon says.
“Without their involvement and commitment, it wouldn’t have been possible,” he says. “This grant has provided us with a real sense that we’re starting to build something substantial — and this is the first step.”
Engagement from across the University has also led to the overwhelming success of the Canada Games Grant, which saw Brock further enhance its research connection with the community.
“The Games have a storied history, but nothing like what’s happening here at Brock has ever happened before with respect to the Games. The research and academic focus are unprecedented,” Kenyon says. “That really illustrates the creativity and ambition of Brock researchers. As much as anything, I think my goal has been to help provide those opportunities to enable that creativity, that ambition and that engagement.”
Looking forward at next steps for Brock research, Kenyon anticipates “bringing in additional grant funding, building more partnerships to engage with our community in even richer ways and ensuring we’ve got the capacity in place to enable that.”
“We want to continue building research in the right way,” he says.
He adds that in addition to providing new and existing researchers with the resources and opportunities they need to succeed, focus will also be placed on enriching the research experience for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows — key contributors to research at Brock.
Brock’s Interim President and Vice-Chancellor Lynn Wells thanked Kenyon for his continued contributions to enhancing research at the University.
“Through his leadership and vision, Tim Kenyon has done an excellent job of helping to shape Brock’s strategic research direction over the past five years,” she says. “Brock has established itself as a comprehensive university whose researchers are creating positive change both in the local community and around the world, and there is limitless potential to continue growing that research impact as we look to the future.”