Our Work

Science & Technology

U of A's research in the natural and physical sciences, engineering, human and animal behavioral sciences, mathematics, and information sciences is making discoveries about our world, and creating new ways to improve our world and our living. Our core and cross-disciplinary discoveries and innovations in these areas are driving advances in health, energy, the environment, education, and food production.  Key faculties: the Faculty of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Sciences, the Faculty of Engineering, the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and the Faculty of Science. Affiliated Institutes:  National Institute for Nanotechnology, Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences (PIMS), TR Labs, TRIUMF- Canada's National Laboratory for Particle and Nuclear Physics, Edmonton Waste Management Centre of Excellence (EWMCE) and Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI) and Bamfield Marine Science Centre.

Sustaining Plant Systems

The earth “breathes” through its plants, forests and healthy plant biosystems. The U of A has a cross disciplinary depth and breadth in the study of plant physiology, structure, genetics, growth and adaptation processes. They turn these discoveries into innovations and best practices for monitoring how plants and trees respond to environmental and human-caused stresses, for developing new species that are more resilient. The same understanding and insights drives new biotechnologies and yield medicinal agents and new plant by-products.

Developing New Drugs

U of A research is revolutionizing drug design and testing through integrated work in pharmaceutical sciences, chemical biology, medical oncology, and nanoscience. For example, projects to design new cancer drugs use advanced computing to visualize molecular interaction, while our Drug Development and Innovation Centre works with pharmaceutical companies to develop market-ready therapeutic products. Our premier clinical trials centre supports researchers and pharmaceutical companies in all aspects of phase 1-IV clinical trials.

Understanding Space & The Universe

What is the origin and structure of the universe or of black holes, stars, and galaxies formed billions of years ago? Our cosmologists and astrophysicists continue to make distinguished contributions to these seemingly unanswerable questions. And our space scientists and engineers work with space agencies in Canada and around the world on projects ranging from collecting solar activity data to predict impact on satellite operations, to the behavior of materials in microgravity.

Thinking Humans, Thinking Machines

Unraveling the nature of our own intelligence seems as impossible as unraveling the origin of the universe. But U of A research is advancing our knowledge about mental processes and brain function through behavioral and neuroscience studies.  Other researchers are advancing machine intelligence, with special focus on machine learning, computer games, image analysis, data mining and other approaches to support intelligent systems.

Advancing Information Communication

U of A research in information theory and technologies is innovating how we manage the explosion of data and also extract useable information from it.  With networks of environmental sensors and networks of biomedical sensors, we can instantaneously sense, measure, and integrate more information about our world.  These advances support the visions such as ‘smart grids’ that will more efficiently distribute electricity and ‘smart condos’ will monitor the safety of the elderly in their homes.

Innovating Structures & Processes

The earth provides rich raw materials and U of A continues to innovate ways of using those materials in ways are safe and sustainable. The university’s capacity in a cold region and permafrost engineering is creating innovations in infrastructure, pipelines, and mines in the Arctic, while in risk management for environmental engineering and natural hazards, research is identifying safe construction principles and the requirements for new materials. The U of A has exceptional capacity in advanced work on complex chemical reactions for industrial processes, particularly for bitumen and heavy oil recovery, and tailings management.

Developing Methods Of Discovery

The foundation of discovery is measuring, observing, and drawing conclusions, and developing that foundation is a science itself. In areas such as biostatistics, psychometrics, sampling and survey, and qualitative methodologies, U of A researchers develop and apply data collection and analysis techniques for understanding phenomena in nature, in social systems, and in economic and financial systems.

Revealing The Foundations Of Matter

Quarks, leptons, and bosons. Subatomic forces and interactions. Quantum gravity. The university has a history of distinguished contributions to theoretical and experimental advances in our understanding of the fundamental building blocks of matter. Today’s U of A physicists are currently designing and running experiments at SNOLAB, a remarkable facility that enables the detection of subatomic particles created by events in our universe that occurred billions of years and billions of miles away. Other U of A physicists are part of international teams at CERN, where they lead the experimental design of instrumentation that contributed to verifying the existence of the Higgs Boson in 2012.

Revealing The Earth’s Past

Through painstaking excavations in remote areas and the most sophisticated facilities for analyzing chemical elements in rocks, fossils, and other materials, U of A scientists are unravelling the evolution of the earth and its species. There is special focus on mineral deposits of kimberlites and diamonds, and ore and petroleum migration...and of course, dinosaurs! Our world-leading paleobiologists continue to make theory-shattering discoveries about dinosaurs, through field work in Alberta, China, and even the Antarctic.

Unlocking The Molecules Of Life

Proteins are essential to many essential biochemical reactions and metabolism. Carbohydrates interact with proteins in ways that allow viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms to attack our cells. The U of A has extensive cross discipline activities in proteomics, chemical and cell biology, metabolomics, biochemistry and analytic methods that are leading to new therapeutics for human and animal health through innovations in computational sciences and bioinformatics and nanoscience. The promise of personalized medicine relies on these fundamental sciences aimed at unraveling the complexities of cellular processes.

Moving atoms, making materials

Working at the nano-level, U of A researchers create new catalysts, construction materials, superconductors, and biomaterials, by synthesizing new molecules that will enable sustainable energy and electronic components,  fuel and solar cells, and next-generation quantum computers. The university’s innovations  occur through highly integrated programs in areas such as condensed matter physics, surface science engineering, inorganic chemistry, nanoscience, and organic chemistry. Through our NINT partnership, the university’s work integrates the push from fundamental science discoveries with the needs of industry innovation.

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