SFU appoints new VP, research

SFU will welcome Joy Johnson as its new VP, research this fall. Current VP, research, Mario Pinto will finish his second five-year term this August, whereafter Johnson will step into the role.

Currently, Johnson is the scientific director for the Institute of Gender and Health at the Canadian Institutes of Health and Research; she is also a professor in the School of Nursing at UBC. Her tenure as SFU’s fifth VP, research begins Sept. 1, 2014.

In a media release, President Andrew Petter said, “We are incredibly fortunate to have Dr. Johnson joining SFU as our next vice-president, research.” In that same release, Pinto added that he was “delighted” to have Johnson succeed him and that her extensive and varied experience “bodes well for the future of research at SFU.”

Johnson will be moving away from working primarily in the field of health to what she called a, “broader mandate.” She said, “Taking on the position of vice-president, research I’m going to be concerned about developing research capacity in all areas of research.”

She expressed her excitement about the change and explained the allure of a position at SFU. One factor she mentioned was the vision of SFU as an engaged university, and she looks forward to the opportunity to engage with the community across three campuses.

For Johnson, the prospect of a younger university also appeals to her: “[With] younger, comprehensive universities like Simon Fraser, there’s a lot of creativity that can take place, a spirit of adventure.”

Though excited to begin her new position, Johnson acknowledges that it will come with its own challenges. She stated, “I think it’s always a bit of a mistake to come in with too many plans when you’re taking up a role like this.” She made it clear that her first priority is to become thoroughly familiar with the university and what its research capacities are.

She continued, “I really want to get to know the researchers at Simon Fraser, get to know what the challenges are for researchers, and then start to look at ways we can strengthen research capacity at SFU. Before I can move forward on any of that, I really need to stop and learn about the institution in more detail.”

The next obstacle she alluded to is one that she said affects researchers all over Canada. “Many researchers are concerned that there’s not enough funding for research,” she said. “It’s going to be a challenge to try and find ways to help the excellent researchers at SFU make sure that they have the resources that they need to keep their research going, and to help grow the research at SFU.”

In anticipation of next fall when she will officially take up her position, Johnson says she will be setting up various meetings over the next month with the current VP, research, as well as President Petter, in order to prepare herself for this exciting new challenge.