Interim Vice-President (Research) message

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As I write this in late March, our world has been turned upside by the spread of COVID-19. For many of us, our personal and work lives have been fundamentally altered – in just a few short weeks. It’s difficult to imagine that not so long ago, many of us had never thought about, or even heard of, social or physical distancing, let alone the grave consequences of not doing so.

While I cannot begin to predict what the world might look like when you open this publication in early May, I do hope that some semblance of normalcy has returned to our lives and to our work.

I am also hopeful that people the world over are recovered or recovering from any physical or mental health issues they have faced in relation to the pandemic.

What I do know, is that COVID-19 has forced us to do things differently at the University of Regina, and while this can be difficult, it has also driven us to move in new and exciting directions that will transform some of the ways we work from this moment forward

As a University, we are now teaching, learning, and working remotely. Our Online Therapy Unit increased capacity to allow more people to access their online mental wellness programs in light of COVID-19. We are also in the midst of creating exciting online programming with our researchers so that community members can access these much-needed supports while at home.

Since mid-March, for the safety of our faculty, staff, and students, we have suspended most University of Regina fieldwork and closed many of our research labs. However, our research has not ground to a halt. In this time of immense change, our scholars are forging ahead, embracing the challenges that these new and different ways of working have presented.

Research is fundamentally about exploration, overcoming obstacles, and working beyond comfort zones. As a research community, the University of Regina is invested in creating new knowledge and developing innovative ways of responding to what is going on around us. This is certainly the time for ingenuity to take centre stage – and I’m proud to say that University of Regina researchers are responding with nimble, solid, and purpose-driven work.

Some of our researchers have been working feverishly for weeks on COVID-19-related projects, such as delving into the impact pandemics have on our mental health, the serious implications misinformation about COVID-19 can have, and how to avoid spreading potentially fatal fake news. Others are moving ahead with their pre-COVID-19 research programs. Some continue to work remotely with their collaborators an ocean away. Still others are developing new research programs that they can undertake in this brave new world.

Researchers thrive on inventive thinking, and while it can be scary to move forward into the unknown – as this situation certainly is – it is also invigorating. I applaud the calculated risks our researchers are taking, the fruits of which we will see emerge because of their leadership and dedication.

As our researchers continue to think outside the box and to face ever-changing challenges head-on for the benefit of our society and our economy, I know that our collective ability to transform new ideas into real solutions is, and will remain, critical in determining how we move forward in the coming days, months, and years.

For now, as researchers at the University of Regina respond to the extraordinary challenge of working differently to help curb the spread of COVID-19, this is our new normal. And, while it has a far-reaching impact on the University’s research enterprise, it offers us a timely opportunity to share with you a taste of some of the world-leading research undertaken here at the University of Regina.

I encourage you to read these stories that feature our researchers and their innovative work that is making a difference here in Saskatchewan and around the world.

Be safe and stay healthy.

Kathleen McNutt
Interim Vice-President (Research)