Charting a new course

Dr. Daniel J. Weeks is an explorer in every sense of the word. When he isn't busy in the lab pursuing new discoveries in the areas of cognition and motor performance, or pioneering brain imaging applications for individuals with intellectual and developmental challenges, Weeks can often be found at the helm of his sailboat out on the waters of the Georgia Strait. Whether his passion for discovery was born in academia or on the open seas, one thing is certain: Weeks' innate desire to continually explore new frontiers makes him an ideal choice for the position of vice-president (research) at the University of Lethbridge.

Weeks joins the U of L after more than a decade at Simon Fraser University, where he was professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology, and operator of the Psychomotor Behaviour Laboratory located on the Burnaby campus. With an academic background in kinesiology and psychology, Weeks' research focuses on the mental processes involved between perception and action in goal-directed behaviour, particularly in relation to people with developmental disabilities such as Down syndrome and autism. Weeks is very well connected within the international Down syndrome community and is strongly committed to improving the lives of people with the disorder. He is a member on the board of Down Syndrome International and was co-founder of the Down Syndrome Research Foundation in Vancouver – a facility that has become one of the most highly regarded research and imaging labs of its type in the world.

"Dr. Weeks is well known on both sides of the border at all levels of the academic and research community," says U of L President Dr. Bill Cade.
"His work not only helped to build research capacity and attract significant funding at SFU, it positively affected many lives. We're very pleased that Dan has chosen to join our team, and we look forward to having him in the U of L community."

Weeks brings a well-constructed plan for research development at the University of Lethbridge, with a particular interest in raising the profile of the institution through strategic partnerships and projects. He feels that the U of L is well positioned to take on an even greater research role in many disciplines on both national and international fronts, thanks in large part to the strategic approach the university has taken toward research initiatives thus far.

"There's a tendency for many institutions in Canada to chase available research funding. The University of Lethbridge has taken a much more thoughtful approach," Weeks says. "The initiatives the U of L has pursued are significant and will have staying power. There's true leadership here, and careful consideration about the direction the University should go – which tells me that Lethbridge is a place where big ideas can come to fruition."

Weeks plans to leverage local, provincial, federal and international research opportunities for the U of L across all disciplines, maintaining the balance between the Faculties that helped to draw him to the University in the first place. He cites international recognition for studies done in a diverse range of disciplines as a major factor in his decision to join the U of L.

"It's no surprise that Lethbridge is a world leader in neuroscience, in water research, in the arts and social sciences – in as many disciplines as it is, because liberal education is respected and fostered here," Weeks says. "Our diversity is a great strength. If all of the Faculties can continue to advance together, the U of L will be stronger for it."

In addition to pushing existing research initiatives forward and facilitating the groundwork for more, Weeks plans to bolster the service infrastructure at the University to ensure projects have the support they need to succeed. He sees the size of the U of L as a major advantage in this regard.

"We'll have to keep up with the momentum," Weeks explains. "We can't just be successful – we have to be able to manage the success. The U of L is nimble because of its size, and things often get done with a phone call and a handshake that might take months of paperwork elsewhere."

Weeks intends to work closely with the School of Graduate Studies in order to build programming that will attract students to research programs, noting with emphasis that studies don't happen without bright young minds to conduct them.

"We're building something here; we're setting precedents," he says, with clear excitement. "We're creating policy and pushing the University forward. That's the great thing about research – it never ends. There's always a way to take things to the next level."