Ideafest 2014: Mobilizing and Celebrating UVic Research / Ideafest 2014 : mobiliser et célébrer la recherche à l’Université de Victoria

Tara Todesco, RIR-UVic

Tara Todesco, KMb Coordinator at the University of Victoria,blogs about IdeaFest, an annual festival of research held at UVic.

Tara Todesco, coordonnatrice de la MdC à l’Université de Victoria, au sujet d’IdeaFest, un festival annuel de valorisation de la recherche qui se déroule à son université.

This spring, I had the privilege of helping organize IdeaFest, the University of Victoria’s annual festival of research that celebrates and mobilizes diverse ideas, creativity and passion for knowledge from across the university.

Running from March 3-9, this year’s festival attracted over 4,000 participants from our on-campus and off campus communities and showcased over 50 events, with topics ranging from renewable energy technology and global peace making to innovations in music composition and human health. IdeaFest’s comprehensive roster proved once again to be a unique opportunity to celebrate the breadth of research at Uvic—and most importantly— to make this research accessible to both public audiences and the greater campus community.

IdeaFest 2014 photos

As a first time festival coordinator, I saw how the accessibility of this year’s event hinged on both the relevance of the ideas being shared, and most essentially, on the forms in which organizers used to convey their work. Students and faculty communicated new and emergent research in ways that transcended traditional modes of dissemination by presenting their work in a wide range of panels, workshops, exhibits, Pecha-Kucha presentations, performances, screenings and tours.

I found the most effective presenters were those that, regardless of form, brought their ideas to life through the power of their storytelling and a thoughtful engagement with the audience. Scholars who wove their research journey into a compelling story held the attention of festival- goers, incited intrigue and engaged participants’ in the exploration of new ideas and perspectives.

Over 300 faculty, students and staff, from over 50 of UVic’s faculties, departments, schools, centres and labs, took up the challenge of communicating their research and creative projects at IdeaFest. It was a huge team effort to organize the festival, but in the end, the achievements of this year’s event were a direct result of each of the participating scholars, artists and community experts. Their time, energy, passion and imagination- and courage- made IdeaFest 2014 a genuine success.

IdeaFest 2014 Website and Roster of Events

IdeaFest 2014 Tumblr Blog

Tara Todesco, Knowledge Mobilization Coordinator, Research Partnerships and Knowledge Mobilization Unit, Office of Research Service, University of Victoria

-IdeaFest is centrally organized by the Office of the Vice-President Research and the Office of Research Services’ Research Partnerships and Knowledge Mobilization Unit at the University of Victoria.

KMbuddies for Life / Des amis mobilisés pour la vie

Michael Johnny, RIR YorkU

Michael Johnny reflects on his seven year working relationship in knowledge mobilization with Joaquin Trapero from University of Victoria.

Michael Johnny témoigne de sept années de travail en mobilisation des connaissances en collaboration avec Joaquin Trapero de l’Université de Victoria.

I had to look back to see, but the first communication was an email on February 16, 2006.  It was an introductory email from Joaquin Trapero, the new Knowledge Transfer Specialist at the University of Victoria.  So it makes his career in KMb span over seven years.  And now because of the formal launch of the Research Partnership and Knowledge Mobilization (RPKM) office at the University of Victoria, Dr. Joaquin Trapero no longer has KMb within his portfolio of responsibility.  It has been a few years since he has worked as a KT Specialist, moving on to manage the Institutional Portfolio program.  Now this is his full-time responsibility.

Picture of prairie dogs at the University of Saskatchewan

I had wanted to write this blog for almost four days now, and even now while I write, I am staring at the screen looking for words to capture my feelings.  I remember very clearly the early days of this journey and our work together where we’d meet four times a year– twice here in Toronto and twice in Victoria.  Our Intellectual Property Mobilization grant supported this initial ‘experiment’ of institutional knowledge mobilization services.  Capably led by Dr. Richard Keeler (former AVP Research, University of Victoria) and Dr. David Phipps (Executive Director, Research Services and Knowledge Exchange, York University), Joaquin and I were exploring what it meant to be knowledge brokers and helping lead the development of a national network.

So many memories poured back over the past few days while reflecting back on seven years:  our first Congress at University of Saskatchewan back in 2007 (which was the source of infamous beer, pizza and KMb planning talks); one of Joaquin’s first trips to Toronto to visit with us (where we naively planned a day-long event which began with a breakfast at 7:30 am EST… that’s 4:30 PST… oops); a decision to leave the KTS portfolio to take on UVic’s Institutional Portfolio (but fortunately allowed him to retain working responsibilities in KMb); and the success of KMb within our institutions which has helped enable the growth of ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche.

Congress this year is going to be held in Victoria.  How fitting!  While Joaquin will not be involved in the RIR booth at the book fair, David Phipps and I are going to make sure we meet up for one last beer, pizza and KMb planning talks!  And with that to look forward to, I am happy to share how I am feeling now and that is grateful.  What I have learned from Joaquin over these seven years?  Sharing a commitment to develop strong KMb programs and support RIR, attention to detail and planning, shared values around processes for successful KMb, and having fun along the way!

Joaquin, my friend, I appreciate all you’ve done to make this work in KMb a success and a pleasure.   I wish you success and happiness!  Thanks for a great seven years!

Picture of Joaquin Trapero, David Phipps and Michael Johnny

Joaquin Trapero, David Phipps and Michael Johnny

Knowledge Mobilization Isn’t Rocket Science… Or Is It? / La mobilisation des connaissances, ce n’est pas sorcier… quoi que…

David Phipps, RIR-York

Reflecting on seven years of developing an institutional capacity to support knowledge mobilization David thinks that knowledge mobilization isn’t rocket science. Changing institutional culture is. Good thing we have a rocket scientist in our midst.

En réfléchissant sur sept années de développement de capacités institutionnelles de soutien à la mobilisation des connaissances, David pense que la mobilisation des connaissances n’est pas sorcier. Par contre, changer la culture institutionnelle est une autre paire de manches. Heureusement que nous avons un sorcier parmi nous.

Joaquin Trapero

Joaquin Trapero

Joaquin Trapero started working as a knowledge broker for the University of Victoria in February 2006. None of us knew what knowledge mobilization was. He joined at the same time that Michael Johnny, Manager of Knowledge Mobilization at York University started and together they learned about knowledge mobilization by experimenting through doing. Now we know what we’re doing (or at least we think we do) and we don’t think knowledge mobilization is rocket science. You can read in detail about York’s knowledge mobilization services but they all boil down to helping people work together.

Simply put knowledge mobilization helps make research useful to society. And we do this simply by helping people work together.

Pretty simple, huh?

Well yes, and no. Holding research forums (breakfasts, lunches or all day events) is pretty easy. If you’ve got money then placing graduate students as interns in partner organizations is really easy. Social media takes a while to get used to but like swimming, all you have to do is jump in the pool and just start swimming (but with a buddy or a life guard!). Matching up researchers and partners is really easy once you know your research and your partner audiences. That takes time but is actually really easy to do. . York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit is successful in getting researchers and partners to connect 92% of the time. Shared activities arose 24% of the time and collaborative projects arose 39% of the time. And some of those projects yield amazing impacts like the expansion of the Welcome Centre program in York Region, Toronto’s Heat Registry Guide, the Green Economy Centre and the Strength Investment program of United Way York Region, among others.

Pretty simple, huh?

Not if you read the literature. Many researchers look at the drivers of knowledge mobilization, research utilization and implementation science in excruciating detail. Take the work of Laura Damshroder that I reviewed in a Knowledge Mobilization Journal Club posting. There I observed:

  • “This paper (and many others, especially from the KT literature) make KMb sound very complicated. The authors advise us that “the constructs described in the CFIR represent a beginning foundation for understanding implementation. Implementation researchers should assess each construct for salience, carefully adapt and operationalize definitions for their study (paying special attention to sometimes indistinct boundaries between constructs), discern the level(s) at which each should be evaluated and defined (e.g., individuals, teams, units, clinics, medical centers, regions), decide how to measure and assess, and be aware of the time points at which measurement and evaluation occurs while acknowledging the transient nature of the state of each of these contextual factors.” I often think that what we do at York’s KMb Unit – brokering researcher/decision maker relationships – is not rocket science but then I read this degree of complexity. I struggle with reconciling something that is not rocket science with something that engages along many of these constructs to reduce the risk of researchers and decision makers forming productive relationships.

Despite all of this pssible detail I still think what we do isn’t rocket science. What is rocket science is actually securing the institutional resources and developing an institutional culture to support knowledge mobilization. York and UVic were fortunate to have been awarded a 4.5 year (2005-2009) Intellectual Property Mobilization grant funded by SSHRC and CIHR. This grant allowed us the space to experiment and learn about knowledge mobilization as an institutional capacity. Using this grant and others as seed funding we were able to develop evidence of the value of knowledge mobilization for researchers, students, partners and for the institution itself. Our institutions and those in the ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche network have all used that evidence to make informed decisions about investing in institutional knowledge mobilization.

That’s the rocket science. Changing institutional culture and securing institutional resources takes time. It takes evidence. It takes leadership. It takes tireless commitment. Our university decision makers are no different than any other decision makers and with the right combination of evidence, leadership and commitment and given enough time to change the institutional culture then that change can happen and you can create an institutional knowledge mobilization unit.

So it’s not all rocket science… but it never hurts to have a rocket scientist on board. Joaquin is actually an astrophysicist. His PhD Thesis was titled “Physical Parameters of Individual Clouds in the Local Interstellar Medium” (well, it was in Spanish so he kindly translated for us). His research was (using optical, ultraviolet and radio high resolution spectroscopy) to determine the physical parameters of interstellar clouds in the “vicinity” of the Sun. The Interstellar medium is the matter that exists between the stars (space is not totally void, but includes gas, dust, etc.). A region in the interstellar medium that is denser than average is called a “cloud”. In his thesis, he focused on exploring the physical parameters (size, velocity, density and temperature) of the clouds situated in the vicinity of the Sun, the so called Local Interstellar Medium, local being about 300 light years in diameter. Now THAT’s rocket science!Keep calm it's not rocket science

Post Cards from Congress – Day 3: Thinking Pan-Canadian

There are lots of pan-Canadian scholarly associations at Congress. There are lots of book sellers and publishers at Congress. There are lots of individual scholars talking about their projects at Congress. And there are three pan-Canadian organizations that support them with a presence in the book fair, the agora of Congress: Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council (SSHRC); Canadian Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences (CFHSS) and ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RIR). Our good friends at the Canada Foundation for Innovation are also here but without a booth.

The Governor General spoke of the Community Campus Collaboration Initiative when he opened Congress with his Big Thinking lecture. The CCC Initiative is a big tent stretching across the country. It is big enough to welcome RIR along with the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, the Association of Canadian Community Colleges, Philanthropic Foundations of Canada, United Way Centraide Canada, SSHRC, Imagine Canada, Community Based Research Canada, CFHSS, Campus Community Partnerships for Health and Social Innovation Generation.  A very pan-Canadian tent.

Last night RIR, SSHRC and CFHSS enjoyed dinner with University of Victoria, hosts of Congress 2013. We spoke of the need to bring the country to Victoria and build on the efforts of Congress 2012 that has a theme of social innovation and collaboration. UVic hosted Community University Expo 2008. UVic is home to Office of Community Based Research and a Knowledge Mobilization Unit. We are looking to UVic to create its own big tent not only for all of Canada but for its local communities as well.

How to Talk About Science / Comment parler de la science

Dale Anderson, RIR-UVic

Strategic outreach is vital if you want to affect policy, bring media attention to your work or spark a lifelong interest in science in everyone you meet. It’s also the only way you’ll be able to directly communicate the results of your work for social benefit.

Une approche stratégique est essentielle si vous voulez influencer les politiques, attirer l’attention des médias sur votre travail ou susciter un intérêt durable pour la science auprès de tous ceux que vous rencontrez. C’est aussi la seule manière qui vous permettra de communiquer de façon directe les résultats de vos travaux pour le bénéfice de la société.

Vous êtes invités à apprendre à parler de science lors d’une conférence à l’Université de Victoria en mai 2012. Après deux jours de sessions interactives, vous disposerez des outils pour affiner vos stratégies de communication en utilisant les astuces de scientifiques de haut niveau et de médias qui œuvrent en communication scientifique.
You’re invited to learn How To Talk About Science at a conference at the University of Victoria May 25-27, 2012. After two days of interactive sessions you’ll have the tools to fine-tune your outreach strategies using pointers from some of the top scientists and media working in science communications today.

The conference will follow a ‘track’ model, which will include general keynote sessions and panels. The panels link to themed breakout sessions which the attendees can choose.

Conference Tracks:

  • Track A: Talking to the general public (key messages & methodology)
  • Track B: Talking to the media (publicizing your work)
  • Track C: Talking to the K-12 audience (education and messaging)

Track Keynotes:

  • Track A: E. Paul Zehr, author “Becoming Batman” & “Inventing Iron Man” (general public)
  • Track B: Bob McDonald, science journalist and host of CBC Radio “Quirks & Quarks” (science media)
  • Track C: Bonnie Schmidt, President, “Let’s Talk Science” (K-12)

Early Bird Registration is now open and conference registration fees start at only $75 for trainees (Postdoctoral Fellows, Graduate and Undergraduate Students) and $150 for regular attendees.

Please see for information and a link to registration, or contact with any questions.

Organized by the Centre for Biomedical Research at UVic, with assistance from the Knowledge Mobilization Unit.

New Knowledge Mobilization Award at UVic / Nouveau prix afin de reconnaître l’excellence en matière de mobilisation des connaissances

Dale Anderson, RIR-UVic

The University of Victoria has a new award to recognize excellence in knowledge mobilization by UVic researchers. The Craigdarroch Award for Excellence in Knowledge Mobilization is currently accepting nominations for the 2012 award. This award replaces the former Craigdarroch Awards for Excellence in Societal Contribution, and Excellence in Communicating Research. 

L’Université de Victoria compte sur un nouveau prix afin de reconnaître l’excellence en matière de mobilisation des connaissances par les chercheurs de l’Université, le Prix Craigdarroch. Les mises en candidatures sont ouvertes pour l’édition 2012. Ce prix remplace l’ancien Prix Craigdarroch récompensant l’excellence de la contribution à la société, et l’excellence en communication de la recherche.

The University of Victoria has a new award to recognize excellence in knowledge mobilization by UVic researchers.

The Craigdarroch Award for Excellence in Knowledge Mobilization is currently accepting nominations for the 2012 award. This award replaces the former Craigdarroch Awards for Excellence in Societal Contribution, and Excellence in Communicating Research.

The new award will recognize a significant project or body of work that demonstrates excellence in Knowledge Mobilization (KM). At the University of Victoria, KM is defined as “the purposeful exchange and application of knowledge developed through an ongoing process of research and/or creative and artistic endeavor for the benefit of society.” KM applies across the academy and includes the dissemination of both basic and applied research as well as the full range of creative and artistic activities undertaken by faculty members. The concept of societal benefit resulting from KM is equally comprehensive, ranging from advances within academic disciplines, to community engaged research, to advances affecting wider society through social, economic, humanistic and/or environmental improvements.

The Craigdarroch Research Awards are named for Craigdarroch Castle, which was home to Victoria College from 1921 to 1946. These annual awards are an opportunity to recognize those who have been instrumental in original, productive, entrepreneurial and ground-breaking research at the University of Victoria.

For more information and nomination forms, please see the website.

A Knowledge Mobilization Lunch at UVic / Un déjeuner de la mobilisation des connaissances à UVic

Dale Anderson, RIR-UVic

Knowledge mobilization and the public: That was the theme of the inaugural event in our KMb Lunch Series held on October 19 at UVic.

La mobilisation des connaissances (MdC) et le public: tel était le thème de l’événement inaugural de notre série Déjeuner de la MdC à UVic du 19 octobre.

Our kickoff speaker, Dr. E. Paul Zehr, shared his story of the very successful Café Scientifique he and colleagues from the Centre for Biomedical Research have established. The Café features talks (and he stressed they are talks, not PPT lectures) by university faculty on their research, held for a small group of up to 70 people at a local pub. Faculty talk, participants listen, beer and other beverages are consumed, and questions and discussion ensue. Paul believes sharing research with the public this way actually serves the interests of researchers, as it helps the public see the value of research dollars, and also helps them apply research findings to their own lives. The Café has been so successful, it has folks who sign up for all nine sessions, and has led to a spin-off Café organized by Physics and Astronomy.

Katy Nelson and Inba Kehoe from the University Library were our second speakers. They told us about UVic’s open access publishing options, including UVic Space and UVic’s online journal hosting service. Getting research into the hands of those who don’t have access to peer-reviewed journals is becoming a requirement of many funding agencies, and is one of the first steps in the knowledge mobilization journey.  UVic Space helps meet this need, and the library’s webpage lets you see how many people from across the world do access these documents: Russia, China, Switzerland … who knew?  

Sharing KMb knowledge and experience with colleagues was important, but equally important, the event gave participants an opportunity to make those connections we all realize are critical to KMb. While we gathered for just an hour, in that short hour we planted the seed for yet another Café Scientifique … and thus KMb grows, and researchers and the public all share the benefits.   

For more information, check out:

Café Scientifique 

Open Access Publishing at UVic

Online Journals hosted by UVic

Mobilizing Knowledge… with Comic Books? / La mobalisation des connaissances … à l’aide de bandes dessinées?

Dale Anderson, RIR- UVic

There’s lots of ways to mobilize knowledge—open access publishing, briefing notes for policy makers, face-to-face meetings, KMb Expos—all these sound familiar. But have you ever thought of using comic books? One faculty member at the University of Victoria has.

Il y a plusieurs manières de mobiliser les connaissances. Les publications en libre accès, les notes d’information pour les décideurs, les réunions en face-à-face et les Expos-MdC sont des exemples familiers. Mais avez-vous déjà pensé à utiliser des bandes dessinées pour y arriver? Un professeur de l’Université de Victoria, lui, a eu cette idée.

There’s lots of ways to mobilize knowledge—open access publishing, briefing notes for policy makers, face-to-face meetings, KMb Expos—all these sound familiar. But have you ever thought of using comic books? One faculty member at the University of Victoria has. Neuroscientist Dr. E. Paul Zehr drew on the comic book saga of Batman three years ago to demonstrate that extreme and prolonged physical training can produce superheroes of us all. Now with his latest book, Inventing Iron Man: The Possibility of a Human Machine, Zehr explores whether modern-day technology is up to the challenge of inventing a real-life Iron Man.

“Science is inching closer to a point where portions of an Iron Man suit could in fact be made and used,” says Zehr. “But what does connecting the body to this kind of technology actually do to the person inside the suit? What will it mean to blur the line between human and machine?”

His critically acclaimed first book, Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero, was released in 2008. Zehr’s new book is published by Johns Hopkins University Press and is available now.

Zehr, director of UVic’s Centre for Biomedical Research and a professor in the Rehabilitation Neuroscience Laboratory at UVic’s School of Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education and in the Division of Medical Sciences, is a lead researcher at ICORD and a martial arts expert.

He attended the Comic Con International in San Diego in July 2011, and will be at the New York Comic-Con in mid-October. Comic-Con, a comic book and popular arts convention, frequently serves as the launching pad for upcoming movies and TV series. For more info, please visit:

Reaching Out on Climate Change: PICS Offers Online Climate Change Course / Tendre la main en matière de changements climatiques: PICS offre un cours en ligne sur les changements climatiques

Dale Anderson (RIR – University of Victoria)

The Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) recently announced the launch of an innovative series of online climate change short courses for civil servants and British Columbians. Throwing the old-fashioned textbook approach out the window, “Climate Insights 101” uses a combination of animation, interviews and click-thrus to engage people on the basic concepts and findings of climate science research.

Le Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) a récemment annoncé le lancement d’une série de brefs cours en ligne portant sur les changements climatiques. Innovante, cette série est conçue à l’attention des travailleurs du secteur public ainsi que des Britano-Colombiens. À mille lieues des traditionnels manuels, « Faits saillants sur le climat 101 » combine à la fois animation, interviews et annonces afin d’interagir avec les participants au sujet des concepts fondamentaux et des découvertes issus de la recherche en sciences du climat.

The Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) recently announced the launch of an innovative series of online climate change short courses for civil servants and British Columbians. Throwing the old-fashioned textbook approach out the window, “Climate Insights 101” uses a combination of animation, interviews and click-thrus to engage people on the basic concepts and findings of climate science research. The first of four planned modules in the series is available online at These courses, targeted for civil servants but available to anyone online, are the first of their kind.

PICS Executive Director Dr. Tom Pedersen says the courses provide a vital bridge between the scientific community and BC’s 26,000 civil servants who help inform and shape the province’s policies and planning. “People who don’t work in science are often intimidated by it, so these courses will go a long way towards demystifying the physics of the climate change we are seeing. It makes traditionally tough subject matter accessible as well as entertaining.”

Module One’s content has been provided by climate change experts Pedersen and Dr. Francis Zwiers, director of UVic’s Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change contributor. Environment Canada and the BC Ministry of Environment have also provided input.

Pedersen says the courses have a strong BC context but the global scope of the science makes it relevant to a wide audience. “I anticipate that schools, media and general society, as well as the target audience of people working in local government or ministries, will find the series invaluable for clarifying what is too often seen as a difficult or complicated issue.” Module Two (regional climate change and its impacts), Module Three (adaptation) and Module Rour (mitigation) are currently in production and are planned for release next year by PICS.

PICS is hosted and led by the University of Victoria in partnership with BC’s other research-intensive universities.

For more information and to take the course yourself, please see

CanAssist Boosts Independence for Seniors, People with Disabilities / CanAssist accroit l’autonomie des personnes âgées et de celles ayant un handicap

By Dale Anderson (ResearchImpact, University of Victoria)

CanAssist, a university-based organization dedicated to developing and delivering technologies, programs and services that improve the quality of life of those with special needs, and just received $3.5 million to continue its work—a shining example of knowledge mobilization in action at UVic.

CanAssist est une organisation liée à UVic dont le mandat est de développer et de fournir des technologies, des programmes et des services améliorant la qualité de vie de ceux qui ont des besoins spéciaux. Elle vient tout juste de recevoir 3,5 millions de dollars afin de poursuivre ses activités – un exemple éclatant de mobilisation des connaissances à UVic.

CanAssist is a university-based organization dedicated to developing and delivering technologies, programs and services that improve the quality of life of those with special needs. It is a shining example of knowledge mobilization in action, and has just received funding to continue its innovative KMb work.

Recently, BC Premier Christy Clark announced $3.5 million for the University of Victoria to support an innovative project by CanAssist that will help seniors and people with disabilities remain as independent as possible while still living at home. Premier Clark had the opportunity to test CanConnect, an online tool that is helping seniors connect with care providers and children with special needs in remote communities connect with family and friends. CanConnect is a simple and user-friendly enhancement of Skype that allows people who are normally unable to use computers to make free telephone calls and have face-to-face chats in real time over the Internet.

By 2031, almost a quarter of B.C.’s population will be over 65 and the number of individuals with disabilities or who face serious barriers to employment and inclusion is expected to increase in the next 20 years. It is estimated that thousands more families in B.C. will benefit from today’s announcement.

Most of the $3.5 million will support an innovative partnership between CanAssist at the University of Victoria, Tyze Personal Networks and the PLAN Institute for Caring Citizenship. These partners will combine their expertise to create Connect for Care, new online tools that will help connect clients with their families, caregivers and health care providers. The remaining $500,000 will support CanFITT, a partnership between CanAssist and the Vancouver Island Health Authority to prototype the use of customized technologies to improve the quality of life for clients receiving services through the Choice in Supports for Independent Living program.

CanAssist has helped hundreds of families in B.C. since it was established in 1999. Over 4,500 students, 200 university faculty and more than 400 volunteers have participated in CanAssist, including retired physicians, machinists, seamstresses and engineers.

“CanAssist is a great example of a faculty member’s initiative that has grown to make UVic a national leader in the development of innovative technologies for people with disabilities,” said University of Victoria President David Turpin. “With this generous support from the B.C. government, CanAssist and its community partners will continue to create practical and empowering tools to help special needs individuals and their families overcome the challenges they face.”

Visit the CanAssist website for more information.