Strategic Areas of Development in Research

Destination 2020 outlines four major strategic goals: research excellence, internationalization, the student experience and bilingualism. The vision for research excellence is to rank among the top 5 Canadian universities in research intensity and to rank among the top 100 worldwide, in specific centres of excellence.

Drawing from a solid culture of inquiry, advancement and excellence across disciplines, uOttawa focuses research strengths and efforts in four Strategic Areas of Development in Research (SADRs), Canada and the World; Health; e-Society; Molecular and Environmental Sciences.

These areas are important to attract significant funding in the form of grants, contracts, donations and partnerships; to devote considerable resources to the training of students; and to disseminate knowledge widely within the academic community, to policy-makers as appropriate, and to the broader public.  They also provide direction on strategic investments in infrastructure, recruitment of faculty and staff, and allocation of internal research funds.

In 2012, uOttawa reviewed its strategic research plan to assess relative strength and to identify areas that hold promise for the future.  The review confirmed that significant capacity had been developed in all strategic areas of development in research and that only minor modifications were required.

Moving forward, we will build on these research strengths for increased competitiveness on the international scene and to position our researchers to lead global networks.  We will also nurture selected areas of emerging excellence that hold promise for the future.

Canada and the World

Given its bilingualism, its bijural tradition and its location in the nation’s capital, the University of Ottawa naturally places a high research priority on issues and themes pertaining to Canada, Canada’s role in the world, and its response to global challenges. Issues related to francophone communities in Canada, especially in Ontario, are an important priority for the University. This area includes a broad range of pressing cultural, social and ethical issues, as well as those relevant to politics and policy. These themes cross all faculties within the University.

  • Human Rights, Diversity and Social Justice
  • la Francophonie
  • Linguistics, Official Languages and Bilingualism
  • Governance, International Studies and Public Policy
  • Multijuralism


Health is an area of historic strength in research and education at uOttawa. The themes reflect an integrated, interdisciplinary approach which includes research across all four pillars: biomedical, clinical, health systems and services, and population and public health.   Health research is conducted in all faculties, from social sciences and arts to science and engineering, across the university and within the affiliated institutions.

  • Brain and Mind Health
  • Vascular Health
  • Regenerative Medicine and Innovative Therapeutics
  • Human Development and Health Promotion
  • Genetics and Systems Biology of Disease
  • Practice-Changing Research


The university’s significant strength in information and communication technology was the initial driving force for e-Society. These technologies enable innovation in many fields, such as health, scientific discovery, business, education, Internet law and the visual arts. Understanding the social, cultural and legal impacts of the evolution was also an important theme.  

Since then, advances in electronic technology have spurred the knowledge society and is rapidly transforming virtually all areas of human life and interaction. At the same time, emerging photonic technologies, which range from basic discovery to applications, such as optical data recording and fiber optic telecommunications, provide multiple opportunities to improve speed and efficiency, improve life and create economic opportunity.  Photonics, a new theme in e-Society, is a growing strength as uOttawa continues recruiting top talent to one of the strongest groups of photonics researchers in the world.

  • Enabling Technologies
  • Digital Media and Communications
  • Technology & Society
  • Photonics

Molecular and Environmental Sciences

The convergence of technologies at the unit level (bits, atoms and genes) has the potential to generate important innovations in many areas, such as supporting health through the treatment of diseases and having impacts on the environment through the development of new green processes that support both economic prosperity and environmental sustainability. Measuring trace substances and understanding the mechanisms by which contaminants alter the environment and human health is also an important aspect of this cluster. At the same time, the ethical, legal and regulatory challenges of these new technologies need to be addressed through a multidisciplinary approach, which involves research in engineering and sciences as well as business, law, humanities and social sciences.  Materials, an emerging research strength at uOttawa, focuses on the development of biomaterials and optoelectronic materials for a broad range of innovative applications such as biomedicine, digital communications and optimal quantum computing.  This area complements and builds on existing research strengths in catalysis and photonics.

  • Catalysis and Nanotechnology
  • Environmental Genomics
  • Sustainable Environment
  • Renewable Energy  
  • Materials
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