The real-world impact of research at UNBC
Dr. Kathy Lewis
Interim Vice-President, Research and Innovation

University of Northern British Columbia

As a research-intensive institution with a focus on innovation and community connections, the University of Northern British Columbia is uniquely positioned to address some of the most pressing challenges facing society.

Located in the spectacular landscape of northern B.C., our proximity to natural resources and distance from large, urban centres provide unique opportunities to research issues surrounding health care, Indigenous peoples and communities, sustainable resource development, energy production and export, climate change, the availability of fresh water and more.

To support this, UNBC researchers have formed partnerships with community groups, industry leaders and government agencies with the goal of transforming the quality of life in northern B.C. and beyond. These partnerships ensure this new knowledge is mobilized and the positive impacts of our research extend beyond our campus to the global community.

For the third year in a row, the University of Northern British Columbia increased its research funding to ensure the crucial work of examining these pressing issues continues. UNBC's total research income rose to $15.2 million in 2022, a 9.1 per cent increase from the previous year and the largest overall total since 2010. In addition, UNBC is first among universities in its tier for the percentage of funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

And the results of research and partnerships at UNBC inform real-world change - for example:

• UNBC is the host institution for the Centre for Technology Adoption for Aging in the North (CTAAN), an AGE-WELL National Innovation Hub. CTAAN supports aging in northern and rural communities by making technologies more available to older adults, caregivers and the healthcare systems that support them. The Centre's research programs focus on testing, piloting, implementing and promoting new and existing technology solutions to provide equitable access to technology for quality aging.

• The National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health and the Health Arts Research Centre, both housed at UNBC, have received $1 million in federal funding to collaborate on a project focused on promoting cultural safety and Indigenous knowledge in health care. The Hearts-based Education and Anticolonial Learning (HEAL) initiative is anchored in training and educating healthcare students and professionals to create better outcomes for Indigenous people.

• The Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada provided $1.9 million in funding to support the establishment of the new Environmental Solutions Innovation Hub at UNBC. The hub, housed in the Northern Analytical Laboratory Services lab, has facilitated the procurement of personnel and the advanced analytical equipment needed to meet an ever-expanding demand from local and regional natural resource-based firms to perform chemical and analytical work leading to environmental sustainability.

• An international team of scientists used a supercomputer at UNBC to calibrate their findings in their ongoing efforts to study the impact of climate change on glaciers in Western Canada and around the world. The computer, jointly funded by UNBC and the Tula Foundation, allowed researchers to analyze more than 440,000 satellite images and construct digital elevation models to calibrate their projections.

• New research underway at UNBC looks to advance the development of hydrological forecast systems and quantify the impact of climate change and forest disturbances on streamflow and river water temperatures across several watersheds in northern British Columbia. An Environmental Science research team has received Discovery Grant funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to fund five interrelated projects with the overarching goal of designing an improved hydrological prediction system hoped to increase Canada's capacity in reliable river streamflow forecasts.

At UNBC, we are proud of the positive impact our research has the region we serve, and we will continue to push the boundaries of knowledge and innovation to make meaningful differences in our Province, Canada, and the world.