My Journey From Bench to Broker / Du lab de sciences au courtage de connaissances : mon itinéraire

The e-book, Career Journeys: Leaders share different career journeys in research administration (PDF), is one of six fabulous publications in the Canadian Association of Research Administrators (CARA) bookstore and presents the diverse career journeys of 11 different research administrators. It is a great resource for those wanting to learn about the myriad of career specialties within our profession. The ebook may be purchased on this page, toward the bottom:

Le livre électronique intitulé Career Journeys: Leaders share different career journeys in research administration (« Carrières au long cours. Parcours professionnels particuliers de leadeurs en gestion de la recherche », en format PDF), est l’un des six fabuleux ouvrages proposés dans la librairie de l’Association canadienne des administratrices et des administrateurs de recherche (ACAAR). On y présente les parcours professionnels très diversifiés de onze gestionnaires de recherche, personnalités reconnues de leur domaine. C’est une ressource formidable pour les personnes qui désirent connaitre la pléiade de spécialités qui existe au sein de notre profession. Vous pouvez vous procurer le livre en cliquant sur le lien qui se trouve un peu plus bas sur cette page :

Bench to Broker

This story was also a webinar for CARA delivered on February 3, 2016. Slides from that webinar may be found in Slide Share.

I wanted to be a vet when I was a kid. Then I wanted to be a doctor (which a vet friend once told me is just species specific veterinary medicine). Apart from one year where I decided to pursue music as a profession (I was a flute player playing in local orchestras) and one summer I took off my PhD to dance at Canada’s Wonderland (1989…Dancing in the City…which you CANNOT find on You Tube) science always underpinned my career choices.

I got into UofT Med School and turned them down because I was finishing my PhD. I deferred my acceptance to McMaster Med School so I could finish my PhD. When I did complete it in 1990, I turned down McMaster because I had all three of my post doc applications funded: NSERC, MRC, NHRDP (National Health Research & Development Program…funding most of the HIV research in Canada). I started my NHRDP post doc in 1991 working at the Toronto Hospital (Western Division). Fast forward 5 years and two more post docs (funded by Toronto Hospital and MS Society of Canada) and I was an inventor on what might have been a novel marker of HIV infection.

We disclosed that to the Toronto Hospital who referred us to the University of Toronto Innovation Foundation (their tech transfer office) who took on the technology as one of their commercialization projects.

It wasn’t a commercial success but that experience of being an inventor and seeing technology transfer gave me the inside track when a job opened up at the Innovations Foundation. I left the lab and started a career of managing research (and managing researchers…not an easy task) rather than doing research. A question I always ask of PhD scientists applying to a research admin job is “How do you think you will feel being among research but not doing it?”

From Manager of Biotechnology and Life Sciences at Innovations Foundation (1996-1999) to Director of Business Development at the Canadian Arthritis Network (1999-2001) to Director of Partnerships at CIHR (2001-2003) I landed at York as Director of Research Services, now Executive Director of Research and Innovation Services 12 years later.

My experience at the Canadian Arthritis Network was pivotal in forming the research management professional I am today. I was a tech transfer guy. Day 4 on the job I am meeting with researchers providing and researching community based arthritis care. There I was talking about patents and technology licensing and “bench to bedside” because that is all I knew. But in my naiveté (or arrogance) I didn’t know how much I didn’t know. Elizabeth Badley (Princess Margaret Hospital) called me on my narrow view of the world of research impact pointing out that many of their patients never saw a traditional hospital bed side as they were treated in community. Those researchers didn’t think bench to bedside but “chromosome to community”.  That comment started stretching my thinking about impacts of research beyond commercial relationships with industry.

That led me to reconfigure how we assigned “value” to funding applications recognizing the potential impacts on clinical practice, social services and public policy as well as creating the potential for commercial value. That helped me support a partnership at CIHR between CIHR, IDRC, CIDA and Health Canada that became the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research that is still running today. That experience allowed me then to work with DFAIT partners to craft language that became Section 6.4 of the 2002 Africa Action Plan of the 28th G8 Summit hosted in Kanaskis, Alberta.

And then, at York, we were able combine my experience brokering external research collaborations with York’s bench strength in socially engaged scholarship to create the Knowledge Mobilization Unit in 2006 that has become a national leader with an international reputation for providing institutional knowledge mobilization services.

Now York is leading ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche, Canada’s knowledge mobilization network consisting of 12 universities investing in institutional knowledge mobilization and related services and I am off to spend December 2015 at Coventry University as a Fellow of the Association of Commonwealth Universities to work on competencies of knowledge brokers. All this from one moment on a Friday afternoon in 1999 when Elizabeth Badley made me think about chromosome to community.

Some reflections on my job journey:

  1. Be your own best advocate. The job at Innovations Foundation hadn’t been advertised. In fact it wasn’t even available. I knew the opening was coming up and I spoke to the President of the Innovations Foundation about the job before it was even open.
  2. Don’t be afraid of hoping from job to job in the early years to gain broad, but increasingly senior, experience. I didn’t stay in any job longer than 2.5 years until I hit York and have been there for 12 years.
  3. Don’t necessarily accept the first job they offer you. Many people think it is important to negotiate salary. That will never get you more than a few thousand dollars more than the first offer. Think of negotiating on the roles offered. I was offered grants and contracts at York. I negotiated in technology transfer. I got a broader work experience and aligned the role to fit my area of expertise.
  4. Be innovative with your research administration and management roles. Think of new ways to do things. Recognize opportunities for growth of your portfolio. Knowledge mobilization didn’t exist at York and barely existed anywhere before we developed the institutional vision.

Turning Ideas into Solutions / Transformer les idées en solutions

The following story first appeared on the Harris Centre website on November 20, 2014 and is reposted here with permission.

Ce récit a été publié la première fois sur le site Web du Harris Centre, le 20 novembre 2014. Il est repris ici avec permission.

Amy TuckerSeveral times a year, Memorial faculty, staff and students pile into a bus – sometimes a plane – and take to the highways and rural roads of Newfoundland and Labrador armed with a stockpile of flipcharts and markers.

They are off to a Harris Centre-hosted regional workshop, one of the centre’s cornerstone activities in its regional policy and development work. The workshops are made possible through the support of the Harris Centre-RBC Water Research and Outreach Fund.

The journey to a regional workshop begins weeks, or months, before the team actually heads out on the road. It starts with Amy Tucker-Jones, knowledge mobilization co-ordinator with the Harris Centre. It is Amy who identifies the region to visit and works with local community leaders to form the organizing committee for each workshop. She spends countless hours on the phone with community members and leaders learning about their concerns, challenges and opportunities unique to their place on the map.

“Each area of our province faces challenges and possesses assets that are specific to them, and the workshop needs to reflect that,” said Amy. “People around the province have great ideas and they are different for each region. We want to help find solutions and research opportunities that will be of real benefit, so it’s important that regional workshops are tailored to the area we are visiting.”

Local planning committees set the themes of the regional workshops. From there, Amy searches every nook and cranny at Memorial for interested students, staff and faculty to join the travelling team to listen, learn and share ideas about how to improve quality of life for residents in that particular region.

“The workshops are true information sharing,” said Amy. “Memorial researchers learn about the needs of specific areas of the province and how their work can help find solutions for a community. But the community also gets to learn about research being done at Memorial, and about the opportunity for university researchers to work on problems or issues facing them. In some cases, the regional workshop is the first time community leaders understand and realize that our researchers may be an avenue to help.”

Amy’s efforts don’t end on the road; in fact, in many ways the regional workshop is just the beginning. Once back at the offices on the St. John’s campus, Amy and the Harris Centre team keep the wheels moving, brokering projects and opportunities raised at the workshop. She follows up with workshop attendees, fields calls and ideas from community leaders and stakeholders, and connects them with resources, researchers and expertise at Memorial. This work has resulted in hundreds of applied research projects affecting every region of this province – from the tip of Labrador to the toe of the Burin Peninsula and all areas in between.

The breadth and scope of the projects are as varied as the regions and the stakeholders attending. For example, a workshop held on the Burin Peninsula saw 18 Memorial faculty, students and staff meet with 35 community representatives. From that workshop alone, two significant research projects were brokered with Memorial researchers, in the areas of tourism and health care, and the work is still ongoing. A regional workshop that took place in Port aux Basques saw the story of local heroine Ann Harvey turned into a play that toured the province for several summers, creating employment while preserving local history.

“It’s a lot of work organizing regional workshops and doing the followup work, but it is extremely rewarding. There is no other job that would let me travel our great province and meet the amazing people that I do,” said Amy, who has both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in geography from Memorial. “I’m happy to be working in the province and to be able to help people find answers to their questions through research at Memorial.”

The Harris Centre marks its 10th anniversary this year. With 26 regional workshops on the books, Synergy Sessions, Memorial Presents forums and $1.5 million granted to applied research projects in Newfoundland and Labrador, it is apparent the centre is an important link between Memorial and the people of the province.

Memorial University has a special obligation to Newfoundland and Labrador, and in many ways, the work of the Harris Centre helps bring that responsibility to life. The centre is Memorial’s primary conduit for regional development and public policy, connecting local and regional issues with the information, resources and people to make a difference in communities.

Planning is already underway for the next round of regional workshops, including determining which regions to visit and forming the planning committees. Early in the New Year, another group of Memorial faculty, staff and students, recruited by Amy, will hit the road to visit a community and hear their concerns first-hand. It’s regional and rural development in action, and it’s how the Harris Centre connects the university with communities to make things happen.

Diane Keough

A Knowledge Broker’s Perspective on Research / Recherche : le point de vue d’un courtier de connaissances

Michael Johnny, RIR-YorkU

This story was originally posted on the Mitacs website on Janaury 24, 2014 and is reposted here with permission.

Ce récit a été publié la première fois sur le site Mitacs, le 24 janvier 2014. Il est repris ici avec permission.

Michael Johnny

Michael Johnny

I have a unique and enjoyable role at York University as a knowledge broker.  My role is to connect York researchers with community, industry and government for collaborative research on complex social issues, which fits well with the type of work Mitacs does.  Knowledge mobilization is a key way to make the work done at universities relevant to greater society by helping shape policies and practices and by driving technological development through academic and industry collaborations.

There are three fundamental aspects of knowledge mobilization which I feel are important:

1. Co-produced knowledge is the most effective form of knowledge mobilization

Simply put, collaborative research projects provide the best environment for research utilization.  York’s David Phipps has introduced this previously and our work to support graduate student internships has reinforced this.  Bringing together researchers with decision makers at the start of the research cycle creates a clear and common research agenda, to maximize the benefits of outcomes.  There are two examples based on internships which we like to share with people that reinforce this point, one around youth homelessness and the other about green economic development.

2. Benefits of the research can take time

Since 2006, York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit has helped support almost 400 unique collaborative activities and projects.  Almost 50 of these have been internships.  This has not only helped students develop new skills and employment opportunities, it has also helped their non-academic partner organizations through research knowledge and access to university facilities. But while collaborative projects sometimes don’t provide impact immediately upon completion, many benefits can be seen longer term.  Impact can take time.

3. Relationships matter

The ability to facilitate a two-way exchange of knowledge, information and expertise relies on a strong relationship between researchers and decision makers.  Graduate student internships are a powerful mechanism to support knowledge mobilization.  Many of our success stories at York are predicated on successful internships.  If you want to embark on a successful internship, make the time to get to know your partner and understand them – their needs, motivations and assets.

Has your company benefitted from knowledge mobilization with a university?  Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Want to learn more about how Mitacs internships are helping to connect Canadian researchers with industry?  Contact a local Mitacs representative.

Social Media as a Tool to Disseminate ASD Mental Health Research / Les médias sociaux comme outils pour diffuser la recherche en santé mentale sur les troubles du spectre de l’autisme

Jonathan Weiss, Faculty of Health and CIHR Chair in Autism Spectrum Disorders Treatment and Care Research, York University
Michael Johnny, RIR York

A commitment to social media can help support important messages in research being shared to diverse audiences.

 L’emploi des médias sociaux peut favoriser la diffusion à des publics divers d’importants messages issus de la recherche.

Jonathan Weiss

Jonathan Weiss

Social media is not a new medium for disseminating academic research but it is one that is relatively new and not widely utilized by academic researchers. Dr. Jonathan Weiss of York University and CIHR Chair in Autism Spectrum Disorders Treatment and Care Research has adopted social media as an important component of his collaboration, engagement and dissemination efforts. His rationale is embedded in the title of an early blog entry on his recently created ASD Mental Health blog, “Why Focus a Blog on Mental Health and Autism Spectrum Disorders? How Could We Not“? An understanding that research is only part of the continuum of desired changes to policy and practice around Autism, social media was determined to be an important tool to support engagement with project partners, research dissemination to diverse end users, and an opportunity to access additional information and contacts to continue to support the ongoing research agenda.

This is all aligned with a clear and comprehensive knowledge translation (KT) strategy for the project team. Simply put, the objectives of KT for this project are to enable research to inform decision making along the spectrum of Autism service. Informed by the leading work of Melanie Barwick who had led Scientist Knowledge Translation Training courses, an integrated KT strategy has been employed. This means ongoing engagement with stakeholders. Information will be shared in a timely manner and in relevant formats allowing for easy access to research to encourage specific recommendations to enable research to meet its objectives of helping inform policy and practice.

ASD Mental Health Chair logo

The Chair website and blog have been combined with the work of numerous project partners, to create a web of engagement that meets the needs of all involved. For ResearchImpact, this is an excellent example of how social media can be effectively used as part of a KT strategy. For the project team, it is an important tool to disseminate and access relevant information related to Autism and Mental Health research.

Visit the Chair in Autsim Spectrum Disorders Treatment and Care Research website at,  the ASD Mental Health blog at and the complete list of research summaries at And watch the ResearchImpact twitter feed @researchimpact for the rest of this week, where we will be tweeting about ASD Mental Health ResearchSnapshots.

Another KM-bee Leaves the Bee Hive / Une autre abeille de la mobilisation quite la ruche

David Phipps, RIR-York

Gary Myers, a former volunteer in York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit, has joined another York KMb Alumnus working in knowledge mobilization at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Their contributions to the field continue even beyond their work at York University.

Gary Myers, qui a été bénévole à l’Unité de mobilisation des connaissances de York, a rejoint un autre ancien élève de l’Unité de MdC de York au sein du Centre de toxicomanie et de santé mentale (CAMH). Leurs contributions au champ s’étendent bien au-delà de leur travail à l’Université York.

Jason Guriel

Jason Guriel

It gives us great pleasure here at York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit to have another one of our alumni fly the knowledge mobilization nest (or KM “bee”-hive) to land a knowledge mobilization job in the field. First, we saw Jason Guriel, one of our summer grad students – and poet extraordinaire – find his way to working at the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health as Communications Associate at EENet – the Evidence Exchange Network at CAMH.

Now, another of our York U graduates, and Knowledge Mobilization Unit volunteers, Gary Myers, has been hired by CAMH to work as Knowledge Exchange Events and Resources Planner as part of the Provincial Systems Support Program (PSSP).

Working in the Knowledge Mobilization Unit, both gained experience in the world of knowledge mobilization, and both helped develop the ResearchSnapshot format of clear language research summaries that has been adopted by several institutions including CAMH. Gary also helped organize our successful Knowledge Mobilization Expos, and worked for several years as a volunteer research assistant in a Health Psychology Lab at York University.

Gary Myers

Gary Myers

Gary is an active member in the Canadian Knowledge Transfer & Exchange Community of Practice, and he is interested in how social media is being used for knowledge exchange. He has been writing a blog for the past few years about Knowledge Mobilization (Knowledge mobilization) at

Along with being co-author of a paper about clear language research summaries and a book chapter on the role of social media in knowledge mobilization, Gary was also a co-presenter at a UK knowledge broker conference “Bridging the Gap Between Research, Policy and Practice: The Importance of Intermediaries [knowledge brokers] in Producing Research Impact” in November 2011.

In addition to his knowledge mobilization experience, Gary worked in the hospitality industry as both a flight attendant and guest service agent dealing with a variety of high profile and diverse individuals from around the world.

Thank you Gary for your contributions to knowledge mobilization at York and good luck mobilizing knowledge (or at least transferring and exchanging it…. they use KTE) at CAMH.

Comment je suis devenu agent de soutien à la mobilisation des connaissances ? / How did I become a knowledge mobilization officer?

Jérôme Elissalde, RIR – UQAM

Jérôme Elissalde est agent de soutien à la mobilisation des connaissances au Service de la recherche et de la création de l’Université du Québec à Montréal. Petit survol de son parcours de la France au Québec, de la physique-chimie au soutien à la mobilisation des connaissances, tout en passant par la communication…

Jerome Elissalde is a knowledge mobilization officer at the Université of Québec at Montréal’s Research Office. This is a brief overview of his journey from France to Quebec, from physics-chemistry to knowledge mobilization support at the University of Quebec at Montreal , all that with an interlude in communication studies.

Jérôme ElissaldeMon nom est Jérôme Elissalde. Enfant, je rêve de devenir vulgarisateur scientifique. On me conseille de commencer par comprendre la démarche scientifique afin d’être mieux outillé pour l’expliquer (conseil qui peut se discuter). J’entre donc à l’université en France (mon pays d’origine) et étudie la physique et la chimie. En parallèle, j’anime des activités de découvertes scientifiques et techniques dans différentes associations d’éducation populaire. Ces activités sont utilisées comme des prétextes pour développer les capacités d’argumentation et d’esprit critique des enfants.

En complément de ma formation en sciences de la matière, j’assiste en auditeur libre à des cours sur l’histoire et la sociologie des sciences. Cela accélère mon départ vers une formation en communication et information scientifique et technique que je finalise par l’obtention d’un master. J’étudie alors la circulation sociale des savoirs, notamment  dans le cadre des controverses scientifiques qui surgissent lors des débats sociétaux. Cette expérience me convainc que ma place est dans le soutien à l’hybridation et à la pollinisation des idées et des connaissances, plutôt que dans que dans la vulgarisation scientifique.

Qu'est-ce qui m'allume?Je viens ensuite compléter mes études en communication sociale et publique au Québec. Grâce à l’accueil de Lise Renaud, directrice du Groupe de Recherche Médias et Santé de l’Université du Québec à Montréal, je crée un poste d’agent de « valorisation et de transfert de connaissances ». En 2008, ce poste devient « agent de mobilisation des connaissances». C’est là que je développe, expérimente et documente différentes facettes de la « mobilisation des connaissances». Cette expérience me permet notamment de documenter avec des collègues notre conception de la mobilisation des connaissances dans un cadre plus large de circulation des connaissances.

Depuis 2010, au Service de la Recherche et de la Création de cette même université, j’œuvre à la mise en place de services et d’outils de soutien à la mobilisation des connaissances avec mon collègue Luc Dancause. Ce soutien mise sur des stratégies allant de l’individu, jusqu’à l’institution

Les outilsMes outils ? La cartographie de l’information, la veille stratégique, le bouton à quatre trous, la collaboration, la curiosité… Je mise sur différentes stratégies, principalement la valorisation de l’existant et la mise en réseaux. Finalement, bien souvent, les principaux défis que je rencontre sont des défis de communication : la bonne information, dans le bon format, à la bonne personne, au bon moment et dans un contexte organisationnel propice.

Pour poursuivre et échanger sur les sujets présents dans ce billet sur twitter : @jelissalde  Autrement, autour d’une bonne bière nous pourrions parler de Jazz, de documentaires, de photographie… et de tout autre sujets que vous pourrez me faire découvrir !

Meet a Mobilizer – Sabah Haque / Faites la connaissance d’un agent de mobilisation – Sabah Haque

Sabah Haque, RIR – York

This past summer, the KMb Unit at York University was fortunate enough to work with three excellent students. Sabah Haque, a fourth year student in York’s Schulich School of Business, worked as a Research Translation Assistant developing ResearchSnapshot research summaries. She shares her story in this post.

Au cours de l’été, l’Unité de MdC de York University a eu la chance de travailler avec trois excellents étudiants. Sabah Haque, une étudiante de quatrième année à la Schulich School of Business de York, a travaillé au développement des résumés de recherche en langage clair (ResearchSnapshot) à titre d’Assistante à l’adaptation des recherches.

Sabah Haque

As long as there is a worthy cause, I’m in. I have a passion for working with growing organizations, especially when their objective is to create positive social change.  I enjoy using my strengths to do the groundwork and drive the mission forward. This summer, I jumped at the chance to join the KMb Unit at York because the work involved my passion and best skills all in one. Knowledge mobilization has given me the opportunity to use written communication for social innovation. I highly value being able to do work towards community well-being. At the KMb Unit, I contributed to the development of our repository of clear language ResearchSnapshot summaries.

The focus of this summer’s summary development was around Poverty Eradication. I collected research and examined poverty from a variety of perspectives, such as health, inequality, public policy, business and corporate social responsibility, homelessness, and social work. My interests in different subjects like the sciences, humanities and business proved to be an asset in my work because I summarized research from several unique disciplines.

Not only did I get the chance to learn a lot, but most importantly, I was also able to spread the knowledge. Through my work as a Research Translator, I sought to provide holistic insight on the root causes of poverty in Canada and around the world, so that research users can make informed decisions in the effort to eradicate poverty.

I believe knowledge mobilization is an effective method for bridging the gap between research and practice. I hope that the KMb unit continues to make greater impact in the years to come.

How I Became a Knowledge Mobilizer / Comment je suis devenu une mobilisatrice de connaissances

Shawna Reibling, RIR – Guelph

Shawna Reibling, Knowledge Mobilization Coordinator at the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship (ICES) at the University of Guelph, describes her journey to becoming a knowledge mobilizer.

Shawna Reibling, Coordonnatrice de la mobilisation des connaissances à l’Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship (ICES) de l’Université de Guelph, décrit le cheminement qui l’a menée à devenir mobilisatrice de connaissances.

I discovered to the field of knowledge mobilization by way of biology. In my Grade 11 year of high school I was a naturalist assistant in Neys Provincial Park. In this position I discovered that sharing hands-on knowledge about lichen, garter snakes and lamprey, was something that park visitors could appreciate. The ability to share the information about the wonders of the park, to transfer knowledge, was my passion. Recently, when I was writing a clear language summary of Dr. Hanner’s work entitled “Genetic calibration of species diversity among North America’s freshwater fishes”, he mentioned lamprey and I was immediately engaged – there is still so much to learn about fresh water ecosystems. This is one of the drivers of a knowledge mobilizer – the desire to spread information and allow people to wonder with you.  Engaging knowledge translation and exchange may lead to co-creation of knowledge. Did some of those kids who held the garter snake go on to be biologists, working with park rangers?

First panel shows a person looking at a flower questioningly and reads "Step One: Wonder at Something...". Second panel shows many people looking at the same flower and reads "Step Two: Invite Others to Wonder with You..."

I rediscovered knowledge mobilization in graduate school. My work at the School of Communication  at Simon Fraser University focused on technology policy and analysis. I was assigned was to write a mock SSHRC grant to fund my thesis proposal and convince a Committee that my thesis was fundable. The classic “So what? For whom?” questions of knowledge mobilization were made clear to me in my first steps as a researcher. I believe that it is never too early to embed knowledge mobilization in education!

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A Love Story: Working in KMb / Une histoire d’amour: travailler en MdC

Michael Johnny, RIR- YorkU

I have the best job within the university. I know this because I feel like I am 23 years old again!

J’ai le meilleur emploi de toute l’université. Je le sais parce que je me sens comme si j’avais de nouveau 23 ans!

This is likely not what you’re hoping this blog post to be.  Love stories are seldom about work, they are about people.   This is about my relationship with my work, does that make sense?

I tell people that I have the best job in the university.  Being a knowledge broker is extremely fulfilling; working within a service unit that is respected and appreciated, and has a capacity to help enable research to impact society is important.  I like it.  Check that, I love it.  It was in reflecting with some other brokers about my career path to get to this place of enlightened happiness that made me realize this is an important story.

When I was 23 years old I started my career as Aboriginal Literacy Coordinator within the Hamilton Regional Indian Centre, a Friendship Centre which provides diverse social services to the Aboriginal population of the Greater Hamilton area.  It is not an understatement to say the work was transformative for me.  I quickly developed a passion for my work.  Complex service work that is rooted in values of honesty, respect and humility are not only important for my professional happiness, they are essential.  Over a nine-year span I grew within my role and found interests in research (eventually going back to graduate school to research the very work I was responsible for) and community development (working with other skilled professionals to advance issues important to the community).  I loved my work, and the relationship was reciprocal.

Yet as we want to do sometimes, we seek more.  Growth opportunities were no longer readily available for me in Hamilton in my organization and my interests in literacy provided me contract opportunities for many provincial and regional organizations.  The work was important but there was a missing element (or elements).

And sharing my favourite beer in a great pub in Ottawa, I was able to tell my current colleagues how the work I am doing in KMb has brought me back to a place I was more than 20 years ago.  KMb has rekindled my passion for work and at the core of this is that the work provides a complex service base (after all, we are a service unit) and in order to be successful it is critical to operate with values that are completely aligned with my early career work in Hamilton.

This is a love story I embrace every day, along with a deep sense of appreciation from having thought I may have lost it for good many years back.

Meet Jane Wedlock, Knowledge Mobilization Officer at United Way York Region

The following blog story was first published in the United Way of York Region’s blog on November 29, 2011. It is reposted here with permission.

Meet Jane Wedlock – a Knowledge Mobilization Officer who was hired to work for us as part of our partnership with York University to develop research initiatives that will examine how living conditions (the social determinants of health) affect health.

The goal of this initiative, according to Jane, is to support the advancement of UWYR’s Community Impact agenda: “helping youth grow up strong, healthy, caring and responsible; enabling individuals and families to achieve economic independence; and improving the well being of individuals and communities to enhance overall quality of life through this additional partnership with York University’s Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) Unit.”

Jane’s position provides community based knowledge mobilization services, which means building relationships and brokering partnerships between community organizations and faculty/students; enhancing access to academic research to support community policy development and program activities through various media; and creating training and capacity building opportunities in conjunction with Community Leadership Resources staff at UWYR.

All of those involved have the same focus on the Social Determinants of Health – the factors that really shape our health and wellbeing. This includes issues related to poverty and economic independence, housing and homelessness, immigration, education, and food security.

Jane has a good working relationship with the university staff at the KMb Knowledge Mobilization Unit where this work has been going on for the past five years. Having worked with them closely on various projects, Jane adds that with York University, United Way will be hosting a series of five Meeting Houses, entitled, “…more than roads, sewers, stores and schools” (which you can read, here) that will offer opportunities for resident conversations in areas of significant future growth in York Region.

“We will be exploring how research/learning opportunities can support these conversations and the subsequent development of social infrastructure in these communities,” explains Jane.

This one year project is funded through a grant from The Canadian Institute for Health Research and will provide an opportunity to expand the impact of research on the development and implementation of effective community health policy as well as the delivery of services.

Meet Karen Follett, KMb Coordinator at The Harris Centre

The following blog story was first published in The Harris Centre’s newsletter The Regional, Fall 2011. It is reposted here with permission.

When I started with the Harris Centre three years ago, I remember being very confused at my first meeting by the onslaught of acronyms and strange terms. KMb, brokering, knowledge transfer, stakeholder, lay summary, Yaffle. Even my title seemed daunting: Knowledge Mobilization Coordinator.

So, how exactly was I supposed to coordinate the movement of knowledge? When you boil it down, my job is to connect the university with the rest of the province.

Thankfully, I soon got the hang of it, becoming fluent in “community engagement” speak and getting to work on bringing Memorial expertise into Newfoundland and Labrador communities.

The thing I love most about my job is it’s never boring. Some days I help a non-profit group enter their research needs into Yaffle, our online research database, and then help find a match for them at the university. Then there are the days I get to travel with researchers to a remote community in a twin otter airplane.

One of the most exciting ways I connect people is by bringing people together face-to-face through workshops and other events. I could open up my own travel agency with the knowledge I’ve gained in planning logistics with the Harris Centre. We bring Memorial faculty, staff and students into different regions and communities of the province to interact with community leaders and decision makers.

It’s amazing what you learn and experience by leaving the university environment and going into a community to talk with residents about their real-world issues.

The thing that keeps me on my toes is problem solving and learning from others on-the-job. For example, I could never have been taught in school the lessons I learned when I had to get a group back to St. John’s (including myself), and were met with weather delays in Nain, Labrador during one of our workshops.

I’m also thankful for the lesson I learned about sharing knowledge: it sometimes comes from unexpected places. I now know that those inside the university community gain as much knowledge and experience from community-university engagement as do those from outside the university.

Please feel free to contact me with your questions or projects at — I’m here to help!


Meet a Mobilizer – Monica Nunes / Faites la connaissance d’un agent de mobilisation – Monica Nunnes

ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche would like to extend a big KMb welcome to one of our newest knowledge brokers – Monica Nunes. Monica is working out of York University’s knowledge mobilization unit and is supporting researchers, young adults and community partners in Ontario and Manitoba.

ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche aimerait souhaiter la plus cordiale des bienvenues à une nouvelle venue parmi les courtiers de connaissances, Monica Nunnes. Monica travaille à partir de l’Unité de mobilisation des connaissances de l’Université York et offre un soutien aux chercheurs, aux jeunes adultes ainsi qu’aux partenaires communautaires de l’Ontario et du Manitoba.

Hello! My name is Monica Nunes and I am the current project coordinator for Mobilizing Minds: Pathways to Young Adult Mental Health, a young adult mental health research project led by young adults, community organizations, researchers, and health professionals. Together we are working to develop resources to assist young adults, and those who support them, in making informed decisions about stress, anxiety and depression. The process of knowledge mobilization – getting the right information to the right people (in our case young adults) in the right format and at the right time to inform decisions – directs our work. And, by having young adults inform and guide all stages of our project, youth engagement anchors how we get that work done.

I am happy to be part of the Mobilizing Minds team, filling in for Jenn McPhee who is busy being a mom (again!). Although I am a relatively new member to this project, I feel very fortunate to be a part of the Mobilizing Minds team. Anyone who has interacted with this team has met a group of dedicated, passionate and hardworking people who have accomplished much in the few years of the project’s existence.

However, one aspect of my involvement with Mobilizing Minds that is quite inspiring for me is how I am regularly being connected to a broader societal movement that is emerging across sectors in Canada. Specifically, the movement that I am referring to encompasses the burgeoning involvement of individuals and communities in activities that understand and respond to mental health in new, progressive and ultimately more just ways.

Indeed, recent actions by diverse groups ranging from governments to high school students to corporations are driving positive social change in the area of mental health. By initiating awareness campaigns, drafting policy frameworks, developing community programs, and forming unique partnerships many are creating opportunities to promote better mental health.  And, as Mobilizing Minds conducts research to produce tools to help young adults make decisions around their mental health, I am also able to count myself a participant of this positive movement.

Certainly, there is still work to be done in the areas of mental health & addictions. Many young adults still face barriers to support stemming from stigma and health system gaps. However, the momentum that individuals and communities are spurring to promote this new ‘mental health movement’ holds robust promise for improvements. These possibilities inspire me.

And speaking of inspiration, outside of work, other things that inspire me include: spending time with my Vóvó and Vôvô (Portuguese for Grandma and Grandpa), biking through Toronto, and ice cream.

Faites la connaissance d’un agent de mobilisation/Meet a Mobilizer- Luc Dancause

Récemment engagé par le Service des partenariats et du soutien à l’innovation de l’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) pour agir comme agent de mobilisation des connaissances, il y a longtemps que Luc Dancause attendait cette occasion… mais sans vraiment le savoir..

Recently hired by the Service des partenariat et du soutien à l’innovation at University of Quebec in Montreal to serve as a knowledge mobilizer, Luc Dancause had been waiting for this opportunity for a long time… unconsciously…

Luc Dancause (RéseauImpactRecherche – UQAM)

Mon parcours académique témoigne d’une quête pour un emploi qui n’existait pas ! J’ai d’abord étudié en Histoire pour satisfaire ma soif de connaissances qui allait dans toutes les directions. J’ai ensuite réalisé une maîtrise en Sociologie pour mieux comprendre l’interaction entre les individus. Enfin, j’ai complété un doctorat en Études urbaines qui m’a permis de constater la pertinence de faire interagir différentes disciplines. Que faire avec ce parcours, comment dire, diversifié? Ce n’est que tout récemment que je me suis finalement rendu compte que ces études m’orientaient vers la mobilisation des connaissances.

Le Réseau québécois en innovation sociale (RQIS) m’a permis d’aborder pleinement le champ de la mobilisation des connaissances. J’ai alors pu développer mes compétences en la matière en plus d’entrer en contact avec des gens des plus intéressants. Cela m’a finalement mené à travailler au Service des partenariats et du soutien à l’innovation de l’UQAM. J’y occupe, depuis septembre dernier, un poste d’agent de recherche et de planification co-responsable de la mobilisation des connaissances et de la mise en place de l’équipe local du Réseau Impact Recherche aux côtés de mon collègue Jérôme Elissalde (Service de la Recherche et de la Création).

Et dans mon autre vie, qu’est-ce que je fais? Les voyages occupent une place importante, ils m’ont ouvert aux autres cultures et m’ont appris à m’adapter. Aussi, mon goût du plein air me permet d’aérer cette tête bien pleine de connaissances en mouvement! Finalement, je voue au baseball un intérêt (le mot est faible, diraient certains…), ce sport incompris qui n’est pas donné à tous de comprendre… Si vous demandez, je vous expliquerai.

Ah oui, vous pouvez aussi me suivre sur Twitter! @eldancos


Meet a Mobilizer – Andrey Luzhetskyy

My name is Andrey Luzhetskyy. I am a fourth year York University student pursuing an Honours Double Major in Political Science and Economics. I had the pleasure to join the Knowledge Mobilization Unit at York in the spring of 2010. My good friend Andrei Sedoff has been with the KMb Unit for over two years but I never really understood what it was he did and what KMb was all about. It is only after the opportunity to join the team presented itself and I was exposed to the work knowledge mobilizers do, that I immediately became intrigued. It takes a while for friends and family to understand the concept of knowledge mobilization but the idea is actually quite intuitive. Everyone can agree that we want policy makers to make sound and informed decisions. Only in this way can we address social issues in a meaningful way and achieve socially optimal outcomes. I am proud to be a part of the team that facilitates this process. My work as a Data and Communications Assistant consists of drafting KMb in Action stories, posting blogs, updating event calendars, and creating presentations, just to name a few. Although, I do not personally deal with research, I do embed into my work the principles of knowledge mobilization. When drafting any content for our numerous social media outlets, I take it upon myself to present information in a clear and concise manner so that it is readable and accessible to diverse audiences. This is what makes the KMb Unit so pivotal; usually researchers do not possess the skill set necessary for knowledge mobilization or they just lack interest in it altogether. This is where knowledge mobilizers step in.

I see my work at the KMb Unit as more than just an opportunity to advance a good cause, I see it as a learning experience as well. Besides the many transferable skills that I am gaining, I have learned the importance of collaboration and partnership building. I do not yet know my exact career path, but I am confident that I will continue to apply these central tenets of knowledge mobilization to any employment.

In my spare time, I enjoy reading, watching various documentary films, and traveling. I am passionate about physical fitness and in recent months I resumed learning to play piano. I especially enjoy snowboarding in the winter months and camping in the summer. Close friends and family are very important to me and I take every opportunity to spend as much time with them as possible.

Memorial is missing a mobilizer

The last time we ran into David Yetman he was Manager of Knowledge Mobilization for the Harris Centre which provides KMb services to Memorial and its local communities.  We blogged about him last October as Memorial and York demonstrated KMb leadership at SSHRC’s KIS/Clusters meeting.  David and the Harris Centre are known nationally for yaffle which has also graced this blog. Yaffle is a tool that has profiles and projects of Memorial faculty and local community and seeks to broker relationships between the two… kind of like Lava Life for research (thank you Kathleen Bloom).

Now David has moved to Toronto to become the Director, Programs and Knowledge Transfer for the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. CIFAR “incubates ideas that revolutionize the international research community and change the lives of people all over the world. Through its research programs, CIFAR provides leading scholars with the time, direction, freedom and inspiration to pursue fundamental questions concerning society, technology, and the very nature of humanity and the universe.” Watch their video here.  Last year CIFAR started thinking about developing a KMb strategy and recruited David Yetman to be the inaugural Director for this strategy.

While exploring their second home town, David and his wife Corina met with ResearchImpact York’s David Phipps (the other David from the KIS/Cluster meeting) took them out for brunch.  Their visit included the Jersey Boys, The Leafs, the Royal York, St. Lawrence Market and a whole lot of Toronto.

Q. What do you like most about Toronto?
Corina (quoted with permission): “I loves a lots a shoppin'”
David: the entertainment, the quality of shows and sports

Q. What’s the one thing you wish you knew about Toronto
Corina: where the safest places in Toronto are (Corina grew up in a Newfoundland town of 250 people)
David: where are the good neighbourhoods (to live, to visit)

Q. What concerns you most about this change in your life?
Corina: missing David
David: understanding the new culture (of CIFAR); leaving an established track record (at Memorial)

Q. What looking forward to most about this change in your life?
Corina: visiting Toronto and doing some traveling
David: professionally this is a tremendous opportunity to work with some of the brightest minds in the world; personally there is access to so much of great quality in Toronto

In David’s absence, The Harris Centre and Memorial continue to be a valued part of ResearchImpact and we welcome Jennifer Adams Warburton (Operations Manager at The Harris Centre) to the national network of ResearchImpact knowledge brokers.  Jennifer, welcome to ResearchImpact.  David, welcome to Toronto.  And CIFAR… let’s talk about ResearchImpact.