Hofstetter, Ms. Mary E.

2011 Winner: Outstanding Contribution To The Alberta Science And Technology Community

Champion Leads The Banff Centre To Become A Global Science And Technology Hub

Mary Hofstetter has been a champion for establishing The Banff Centre as a pre-eminent research centre, reflecting Alberta’s strategy of becoming a global knowledge leader.

She has been a proponent of research activity at The Banff Centre, and within the system of colleges and technical institutes in Alberta (AACTI) since her appointment as President and CEO of The Banff Centre in 2001.

Fostering Collaboration

She was instrumental in locating the Pacific Institute of Mathematical Sciences to The Banff Centre. Established in 2002, the Banff International Research Station (BIRS) for Mathematical Innovation and Discovery, has brought together teams of leading mathematicians from around the globe to research, discuss and lecture. For Ms. Hofstetter, who has been involved in arts and culture in post-secondary institutions throughout her career, BIRS reinforces her belief that artists and scientists are linked by their creativity.

“The Banff Centre is uniquely positioned to build bridges between the arts and sciences and encourage creative foment,” she says. To assist that creative exchange Ms. Hofstetter implemented cross-disciplinary events and social opportunities for artists and scientists to mingle.

Under the leadership of Ms. Hofstetter, The Banff Centre secured significant funding from the province of Alberta, NSERC, the National Science Foundation (USA) and the Government of Mexico, allowing BIRS to establish itself among the top two facilities for mathematics research in the world. This also has a positive impact on the academic landscape in Alberta.

Going Global

BIRS is moving into a building dedicated to the program, which will allow lectures, debates and dialogues to be live-streamed globally, taking the program and The Banff Centre to institutions around the world.

“This allows our outreach to be exponentially increased,” Ms. Hofstetter says.

In 2002 several Western Canadian universities in Alberta and British Columbia, joined with The Banff Centre to collaborate on the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), establishing a consortium for high-performance grid computing, known as Westgrid. This facility linked the computing capacity of the seven sites. At The Banff Centre, it resulted in the first connection to CANARIE, Canada’s advanced research and education network, and to establishing two labs for high performance computing specifically related to the arts and culture focus of The Banff Centre.

Continued Growth

Ms. Hofstetter served on the board of directors of iCORE, an Alberta organization committed to building capacity among information and communications technology researchers. Under her leadership, The Banff Centre hosted the annual iCORE conference, which has expanded to include research and administrative teams from across the Alberta Innovates system.

As well, Ms. Hofstetter established a separate Office of Research at The Banff Centre. As a result, a number of the Arts and Culture programs at the Banff Centre are now aligned with research activities and interests. For example, the Science Communications program, now in its fifth year, brings science communicators to The Banff Centre for intensive training to improve communications about science.

“What we’ve done at The Banff Centre is to bring disparate groups together to foster innovation and inspire creativity,” Ms. Hofstetter explains. “We have become a catalyst for inquiry and creativity, and we’ve enriched the cultural, social and economic wellbeing of the province and the country.”