IBBME’s faculty considers the future at first-ever retreat

image of session white board

The future of the Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering (IBBME) was the agenda for its first-ever faculty retreat. As over fifty cross and core faculty emerged from the final session at the Evergreen Brickworks on Wednesday, June 12, the dynamic discussions arising from the day’s eight workshop sessions were very much on everyone’s minds…as was the question of how to translate so many great ideas into positive change.

“This was a great opportunity for our faculty to get together, talk about the challenges and opportunities that IBBME is facing, and perhaps even more importantly, learn more about each other” said IBBME Director and Professor Christopher Yip. “We’re so busy and tied up with other things that we often don’t get a chance to simply sit down and catch up with all the neat projects and initiatives underway in IBBME” he added.

image of Christopher Yip at Faculty retreat

“Mostly we identified challenges,” related Associate Professor Kevin Truong during the post-retreat reception. In particular, challenges related to funding, space and facilities, and how to best raise IBBME’s profile resonated with the participants.

“One thing that kept coming up,” stated Professor Tom Chau, “is the Institute’s diversity and heterogeneity. If we can capitalize on that, we’ll do really well.”

Cross-appointed Professor Bernhard Ganss related that one of the topics dominating discussion was whether the Institute should update its research themes, making it more attractive to attracting donors, applicants, and research collaborations.

How the community conducts research was also considered: Should specific biomedical problems be identified and solved in a “top down” organizational approach to research? Or should projects grow more organically?

But it was the second plenary session, featuring talks by Professors Penney Gilbert, Tom Chau, Graham Wright, and Cari Whyne on their research programs, that had the faculty buzzing.

“I had no idea about the breadth of research being conducted at the Institute,” said Ganss, echoing the comments of several other researchers. Suggestions were brought forward of holding short research talks, or finding other ways to let IBBME – and other potential collaborators – know more about the remarkable research being conducted at IBBME.

Sharing research platforms across the staff would give rise to additional benefits in IBBME’s multidisciplinary environment. “I have trouble finding committee members,” said Chau as an example, “and knowing what people are working on would really help. We could also collaborate more on research projects.”

A future off-site event is being considered for the community next year.