Frontier Leadership and Research Excellence

Increasingly, major grant opportunities (CREATE, CFREF, Discovery Frontiers, CERC, NCEs, CFI) require mobilizing teams of interdisciplinary researchers under short timelines.

For the Faculty of Science to position itself successfully for these opportunities, it’s critical to incubate cross-disciplinary teams now. The Frontier Leadership and Research Excellence (FLARE) initiative is designed to help identify, build and seed-fund research clusters to take advantage of these major interdisciplinary funding opportunities.

The Process


UBC Science invites proposals from teams of researchers for the UBC Science Frontier Leadership and Research Excellence initiative. Successful teams will document exciting new big research ideas and bring together excellent interdisciplinary researchers. Proposals will be evaluated by a committee of Science faculty that will look at the quality of the team, the research area, and the strategic fit within the Faculty of Science and UBC.

FLARE teams must have at least six members, be led by a researcher whose main appointment is with the Faculty, and include at least three researchers from Science. The team must be interdisciplinary and include members from more than one department.


The top five teams will be invited to present their team, research and vision in a format similar to a Pecha Kucha or Ignite talk—five minutes, 20 slides per speaker on a timer. These presentations will be followed by time for networking with other researchers, and where appropriate, relevant industrial contacts from the region.

FLARE Seed Funding

Following FLARE symposia, top teams will receive seed funding to support networking meetings, grant facilitation, starting joint initiatives (e.g. undergraduate research students), and creating a web site. In addition to seed funding, mentoring and other support will be available to aid the development of clusters.

2017 FLARE Symposia

Four top teams will present their research proposal and vision in the 2017 UBC Science FLARE competition.


Mark MacLachlan
Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies

Submit Your Proposal

2017 FLARE Symposia

Pathways Toward Sustainable Food Systems

  • February 3 at 12:00 – 1:00
  • MSL 102

The global food system faces challenges—including continued undernourishment and increased food demands. This FLARE symposium will outline how an interdisciplinary research team could help improve assessment of the ecological and social ramifications of existing and emerging technologies, and develop related public engagement strategies.

Team Lead: Navin Ramankutty (IRES)

Environmental Genetics Innovation Commons

  • February 16 at 12:30 – 1:30
  • CHEM D200

Western Canada is immensely rich in microbial diversity—an economic resource that has the potential to transform outmoded extractive paradigms into sustainable industries. FLARE ENGEN would develop a community of practice innovating scalable processes for bioconversion at the interface of microbial ecology, biological engineering and big data.

Team Lead: Steve Hallam (Microbiology and Immunology)

Catalysis for Advanced Materials Manufacturing

  • March 2 at 12:30 – 1:30
  • CHEM D200

Advanced manufacturing matters profoundly to Canada, employing 1.7 million workers and generating billions in revenue. Manufacturing, in turn, relies on catalysis in order to make chemicals and products. This FLARE proposal will help to build on UBC’s strengths in this area and to establish UBC as an internationally-recognized catalysis research centre.

Team Leads: Laurel Schafer and Jennifer Love (Chemistry)

Climate Impacts Research Cluster

  • March 14 at 12:30 – 1:30
  • SCRF 100

This FLARE symposium will present a proposal to identify, assess and predict the environmental impacts of a changing climate, particularly those relevant to western and northern Canada. CIRC would help fund a multi-disciplinary centre, facilitate joint projects, and co-ordinate a long-term vision for climate impacts research in the region.

Team Leads: Christian Schoof and Stephanie Waterman (EOAS)