December 8, 2011 – After three very stimulating months as chief scientist, I am still very impressed by the excellence and variety of the projects undertaken by our researchers and students. Along with our partners, we must ensure that this work not only continues but intensifies in all of the activity sectors covered by the three Fonds.
Since assuming my duties as chief scientist, I served as the chairman of the board of directors of each Fonds for the first time. Our meetings led to productive discussions, and the members of the three boards are committed to ensuring the development and excellence of research in the province. I also began my university visits and very much look forward to meeting with each of you to exchange ideas on the future of research in Québec.
The Cabinet has just announced the appointment of Maryse Lassonde as scientific director of the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies. The names of the scientific directors of the two other Fonds are expected to be announced in early 2012. In late October, Minister Sam Hamad announced Ms. Julie Payette’s appointment as scientific authority for Québec in Washington. Part of her mandate is to increase the number of research partnerships between the United States and Québec.
To recognize the exceptional contribution of our students and postdoctoral researchers to the development and excellence of research in Québec and valorize scientific careers, the three Fonds will launch the Étudiant-chercheur étoile award in 2012. The honour will be presented every month by each Fonds. I certainly hope that our monthly stars will become as known and acclaimed as the three stars on Hockey Night in Canada! Program details will be released shortly.
Part of my mandate is focused on intersectoral research development, so please send me your comments and suggestions (firstname.lastname@example.org) regarding possible topics for future large-scale intersectoral projects (e.g. the Plan Nord, population aging, personalized medicine, the impacts of art and culture on our quality of life, sustainable development and climate change, education, etc.) by February 29, 2012.
Your proposal (maximum 5 pages) must consider these criteria:
- Niche for Québec and international leadership.
- Involvement of researchers affiliated with each Fonds and the excellence of the researchers and/or research teams.
- Training program based on a new intersectoral and interdisciplinary model.
- Potential for public and private partnerships in Québec, Canada and abroad.
- Relevance to the priorities set out in the Québec Research and Innovation Strategy.
- Funding required to yield impacts.
A sub-committee made up of members of the board of directors of each Fonds, the three scientific directors and the chief scientist will assess the proposals according to these criteria and recommend a maximum of five projects to the Ministère for funding.
We are counting on you to ensure that the topics are driven by the excellence of our researchers from the three Fonds and the development of a new generation of highly innovative and skilled researchers who are competitive at the national and international levels. Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information.
Finally, as you know, the dissemination of scientific and technical culture is very important to me, and I am fascinated by the tremendous communication potential of the projects carried out with the support of the Fonds de recherche du Québec. This is why I encourage you to take part in the 24 heures de science event, a day during which all scientific and technological organizations across Québec are invited to plan activities for the general public. In 2011, 260 activities were held in 17 regions, and over 20 000 people took part. Recognized by UNESCO, this event has been steadily gaining in popularity.
The seventh edition of the 24 heures de science will be held on May 11 and 12, 2012. This year’s theme is water in every way, shape and form! All of the organizations that work in collaboration with the Fonds de recherche du Québec are warmly invited to host activities for the public or school groups as part of this event. There is a wide range of options: animation, expeditions in nature, lab visits, conferences, science cafés, scientific competitions, films, etc. The activities may be focused on any scientific or technical discipline, including biology, the environment, health, astronomy, the natural sciences, engineering and many more.
All activities for the general public must be registered before February 1, 2012. Activities for school groups must be registered by March 21, 2012. For more information, contact Perrine Poisson.
I look forward to hearing from you and hope you enjoy the year’s end!
Rémi Quirion, Ph.D., CQ, OC, FRSC