2012 Finalist: Outstanding Contribution To The Alberta Science And Technology Community
Dean Sees Future And Builds It
For the past decade Dr. Gregory Taylor led the University of Alberta’s science faculty, during which time, he distinguished himself as a driving force behind the construction of one of the top interdisciplinary academic science facilities in Canada. He retired from that role in 2012.
“I took on the role of Dean because I saw a wonderful opportunity that looked like it could be a lot of fun and worthy of my time and effort,” Dr. Taylor says.
A big believer in having fun, Dr. Taylor also can’t resist taking on enormous challenges. Like building the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science (CCIS).
“Two challenges served as my inspiration,” he says. “We were seeing increased demand for our BSc degree at the university and we didn’t have the capacity to take on more students. It was a challenge that had to be addressed and I thought I could make a difference.”
Dr. Taylor was also strongly motivated by the concept of an inter-disciplinary science centre that would better integrate the university’s resources, foster development of innovative skills and attract critical talents and international participation. Dr. Taylor promoted the idea of creating more capacity for teaching students, and combining this with investment in an interdisciplinary research, creating a centre that is unique in Canada.
The result is CCIS, a gold-standard teaching and research facility that provides space for more students and researchers, including 2,200 new lecture theatre seats, 648 lab seats and 230 computing lab seats, and research space for 1,100 faculty and staff. Five research groups share the facility — nanostructures and new materials, integrated earth and landscape management, chemical biology and proteomics, planetary dynamics, and resource geosciences — all of which contribute to research, innovation and discovery. The building’s transparent design uses large amounts of glass inside the building, so students can literally see science happening around them all the time.
Bringing People Together
This investment means that the Faculty of Science at the University of Alberta is now able to attract the best and the brightest for research and study. Already more world-class researchers are seeking out opportunities to study and work there.
“We built the building for this — to bring people together across traditional boundaries to foster discovery,” Dr. Taylor says. “It’s a spectacular indoor environment, where people can be productive; it allows them to take advantage of intellectual capital in an environment where they can enjoy spending time.”
Dr. Taylor is also responsible for championing the introduction of new programs aimed at undergraduates. Among them is the 2012 President’s Achievement Award winner, Science 100. The full-year course explores the concepts and foundations of seven scientific disciplines in an integrated manner.
Dr. Taylor reflects on his accomplishments as Dean.
“Deans see the world differently than students, staff and faculty,” he says. “We interpret what we see through the lens of what it means for the institution and possibilities for its future. We then need to engage people and empower them so we have the ability to do bigger things; you can’t do it by yourself.”