Message from Marc Nantel: Introducing the Research Opportunity Fund


Hi to the entire NC community,

Niagara College (NC) is committed to the professional development and innovative/trailblazing spirit of its employees and has therefore committed resources to support research initiated by College employees, in line with the College’s Strategic Plan priorities.

The Research & Innovation (R&I) division of Niagara College has been running a pilot for the Research Opportunity Fund (ROF), with an intention to go live with a full launch this April 1, 2024. By funding projects, NC will directly support research and scholarly activity of its employees through the ROF, under a program administered by R&I, existing as a stream of the Dream Big Fund.

The ROF will provide financial support to NC employees – faculty, support, and administrative – who wish to pursue research activities that support the interests of the NC community. The support provided through the ROF will build organizational capacity, contribute to the excellence of the College, and promote employee professional development. 

Carol Phillips, Dean, Community Services, Justice and Fitness Studies, is leading one of the four pilot projects in the ROF, focusing on an Age-Friendly Niagara. This research project examines how Niagara College’s programming can respond to the learning, lifestyle, and career development needs and desires of the 50+ demographic in the Niagara region. The insights gained from this study will contribute to the enrichment of Niagara College’s offerings, fostering a more inclusive and responsive educational environment for these individuals.

“The ROF has provided me with a means to seek to answer a question that has been on my mind for a number of years and supports NC’s designation as a member of the Age-Friendly University (AFU) Global Network. Working with students to engage them in meaningful and applied research is especially rewarding for me,” noted Carol.

“Students have embraced this project as an exciting learning and professional development opportunity, so it’s really a win-win-win for NC as an organization, for students, and for our broader community.”

Another pilot project still underway is run by Sebastian Jacob, Professor in the School of Environment & Horticulture. He’s focusing on a Canadian-wide survey of Hop Latent Viroid in dried cannabis flower. Hop Latent Viroid is a devastating disease in the cannabis industry that quickly spread to a third of cannabis cultivation plant material across the country since its first appearance in 2020. Performing a thorough Canada-wide survey of this disease provides an excellent opportunity for faculty and students to engage in partner collaborations with cannabis laboratories, the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) research committee, and with Zamir Punja, PhD, the leading Canadian cannabis pathologist researcher, whose generosity in exchanging information with NC faculty for course purposes is extremely valuable and ongoing.

“The ROF is a unique opportunity to address innovation challenges in your field. If you want to provide rich learning experiences and research jobs for your students, grow your own professional skills, and get to work with local companies, then I would encourage you to apply. The process is so simple,” said Sebastian.

NC also recognizes that a welcoming and inclusive culture is strengthened by a diversity of perspectives and talents that allow students and employees to thrive. Throughout this process, we are therefore committed to ensuring an equitable, diverse, and inclusive learning, work, and research environment.

At this time, employees from the College are invited to consider participating on the ROF Review Committee. Chaired by the Vice-President – Research, Innovation & Strategic Enterprises, the Review Committee is comprised of staff from divisions across the College, totalling 8 to 10 individuals.

Duties of the committee include independently reviewing ROF Full Applications, within 10 business days of receipt. Intake will be ongoing, with an expectation of reviewing a handful of projects each year. Further information on the whole program is available on the website, which includes several links and more information, including Program Guides and Templates.

This call for volunteers opened on March 13 and closes April 5. Please send your interest via email to Marc Nantel.

Should you wish to know more in the meantime, please reach out to Carolyn Mullin, Director – Strategic Partnerships, Research & Innovation, or David DiPietro, Manager, Business Development, R&I.


Thank you,

Marc Nantel, PhD
Vice-President – Research, Innovation & Strategic Enterprises