CURE event connects researchers to community

It's not quite speed dating, but the idea is similar.

On Friday, Mar. 22, the Office of Research & Innovation Services (ORIS) team will host its first Community/University Research Exchange (CURE) event where they are looking to do some relationship building between community groups and University of Lethbridge researchers.

Researchers often experience barriers when trying to involve external partners in their research programs.

The CURE event aims to reduce those barriers by bringing community partners and U of L researchers together to talk with, and learn from, each other at a one-day open house.

A broad cross-section of external community groups and partners are attending the event, which will take place in Markin Hall.

The event will feature keynote speakers with extensive expertise in the transfer of research outcomes to the public domain, displays and posters that highlight research outcomes of U of L faculty and graduate students, a series of short talks from researchers and community group representatives, plus a networking reception where those who attended CURE can interact face-to-face.

"In the current funding environment, events like this are vital to sustaining funding levels and growing research programs," says Dr. Lesley Brown, the U of L's associate vice-president (research) and a kinesiology researcher who, with her students and colleagues, has developed a number of productive and successful community-based research partnerships.

"We are already working quite successfully with a number of community organizations across all Faculties and in the School of Graduate Studies," says Brown.

"We expect that this event will provide an opportunity for our faculty and students to communicate with even more people, and make more connections. This will increase their accessibility to community members interested in participating in future research projects."

Federal granting agencies, including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Social Sciences & Humanities Research (SSHRC), as well as provincial funders such as the Alberta Innovates corporations, are seeking the involvement of external partners in funding applications.

"It is becoming imperative that universities become proactive in engaging the local, provincial and national communities in their research programs."

One way to make this happen, says Brown, is to gather as many people as possible, let them talk with colleagues and community representatives so that they can learn about the various ways they can work together.

"As part of the University of Lethbridge Strategic Plan (2009-2013), the institution has named building internal communities and enhancing relationships with external communities as one of the major strategic directions," says Brown.

"We have taken this priority to heart, and we want to have as many people as possible join us for our event."