Sentinel North

Harnessing the power of light for the benefit of human health, the environment, and sustainable development in the North


An unprecedented transdisciplinary strategy


In 2015, Université Laval received a $98 million grant from the federal government’s Canada First Research Excellence Fund, the largest research grant in its history. The Fund helps Canadian universities compete with the best in the world and implement large-scale, transformational and forward-thinking institutional strategies. Among other strengths, Sentinel North distinguished itself with its focus on transdisciplinary research.

With Sentinel North, Université Laval draws on over a half-century of northern research to develop innovative tools in optics-photonics and improve our understanding of the northern environment and its impact on human beings and their health.

Sentinel North provides for the establishment of an international scientific panel, new international research chairs, joint international research units, and the recruitment of world-renowned professors. Université Laval will also develop a transsectoral doctoral program at the crossroads of environmental studies, life sciences, and optics-photonics as well as a scholarship program and graduate internships. The strategy also involves international schools, a centre for instrument design, and a knowledge mobilization plan.

Based on four broad themes, Sentinel North’s ambitious research program is at the core of these numerous initiatives and will encourage the development of research teams and joint projects focusing on discovery, transdisciplinarity, innovation, collaboration, national and international partnerships, and technology transfer. Sentinel North will help us monitor and prepare for changes in northern environments using state-of-the-art technologies and intervention strategies in the pursuit of sustainable health and development (see Conceptual diagram).


Research Themes


Complex systems: structure, function and interrelationships in the North


Light as a driver, environment, and information carrier in natural environments and human health


Microbiomes: sentinels of the northern environment and human health


First call for proposals


Launched on 30 March, Sentinel North's first call for proposals reached its objective to mobilise Université Laval's research community and its collaborators. A total of 46 letters of intent (LoIs) involving over 275 Université Laval researchers from 42 departments and schools from 13 faculties were submitted before the 1 June deadline. The total demand over 3.5 years was for over $55M (for an available budget of $15M).

The analysis of the LoIs was conducted by the international Scientific review committee (SRC) according to the evaluation process, selection criteria and priorities listed in the Call for proposals taking into account the available budget for the competition.

The Steering Committee approved the recommendations of the SRC to invite 21 of the 46 teams to participate in the submission of 3 concerted Thematic Project proposals. These 21 teams involve 135 Université Laval researchers from 9 faculties, 31 departments and schools, and 23 research centres. The submission deadline for Thematic Project proposals is 21 December 2016. Following the evaluation of the proposals by the SRC, the 3 final Thematic Projects will be launched in early February 2017.


Second directed call for proposals


Following the analysis of projects submitted and recommended as part of the First call for proposals, the SRC and the Steering Committee estimated that some key elements of the research programs remain to be filled. A directed call for proposals will be issued in the coming months to fill these needs, especially with regards to data analysis, prognostic modelling, knowledge transfer, decision making, mitigation and sustainable development (see Conceptual Design)


Other programs


Many Sentinel North programs will be launched in the coming months with regards to training (scholarships, internships, PhD schools) and the establishment of new research chairs.


Important dates


24 March 2016
See article Sous le signe de la transdisciplinarité

12 September 2016
Results from the selection of Letters of intent 

6 October 2016
Invitation to submit Thematic Project proposals

21 December 2016
Deadline to submit Thematic Project proposals

January 2017
Evaluation of Thematic Project proposals and final recommendations

1 February 2017
Launch of Thematic Projects


Canada First Research Excellence Fund


Sentinel North is made possible thanks in part to funding from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund.
Carte Pavillon J.-A.-DeSève

Sentinel North

Pavillon J.-A.-DeSève
1025, avenue des Sciences-Humaines, room 1114
Université Laval
Québec (Québec) G1V 0A6

Phone number:418 656-3090


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