Chemist Jon Veinot appointed associate dean research (grants & innovation) in the Faculty of Science

“We are all eager to learn, embrace curiosity, explore creative ideas and make a difference in the world around us.”

Donna McKinnon - 10 May 2023

Get to know Jon Veinot as he joins the Faculty of Science leadership team in the role of associate dean research (grants & innovation).

Get to know Jon Veinot as he joins the Faculty of Science leadership team in the role of associate dean research (grants & innovation).

Jon Veinot has been appointed to the Faculty of Science leadership team in the new role of associate dean, research (grants & innovation) alongside Paul Myers, senior associate dean, research (strategic initiatives) and Lisa Stein, associate dean (mentorship & awards).

In this new role, Veinot will oversee non-major grant funding programs, including (but not limited to) NSERC, AB Innovates and Mitacs and will facilitate research partnerships with industry, government and other external stakeholders. Veinot will also lead science innovation and commercial activities and, overall, work to enhance research capacity within the faculty.

After joining the Department of Chemistry in 2002, Veinot established the Veinot Group to study nanomaterials based upon earth abundant elements like silicon. It is a subject area he is passionate about, calling the nanomaterial system “the gift that keeps on giving, because everytime we think we have everything figured out, we discover something new that draws us back.” 

Among his scholarly activities, including a recent collaboration with chemistry colleague Robin Hamilton on a catalyst that produces hydrogen and potable water, Veinot also serves as an associate editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry journals Nanoscale and Nanoscale Advances.

Learn more about Veinot and his work below.

What excites you most about taking on this new role, particularly as it’s focused on innovation? 

I believe that all of us in the Faculty of Science, the College of Natural and Applied Sciences and at the University of Alberta are entering a pivotal time of rapid growth and expansion as we emerge from the past few years during which our research capacity was limited. We are all eager to learn, embrace curiosity, explore creative ideas and make a difference in the world around us. 

In my role as ADR-GI I am very excited about what I believe are the three pillars of the position — supporting colleagues as they seek out the essential funding necessary to perform the foundational discoveries; learning about and promoting these discoveries within the U of A community and beyond; and as appropriate assisting researchers at all stages of career to mobilize their research outputs so we can increase their visibility and maximize the societal impact of the research and training that happens in the Faculty of Science, CNAS and U of A. Sharing in these types experiences with colleagues, while it comes with ups and downs, is exhilarating and I am thrilled I can be part of this process. 

What are the expectations for this position and what are the challenges, and/or what do you hope to achieve over the next few years?

The expectations for the ADR-GI position, as I envision them, tie directly into "pillars" I mention above. I am tasked with supporting colleagues who are performing cutting edge research in the FoS, assisting with efforts to secure external funding from various sources to support these activities, and encouraging researchers to mobilize their research outputs to maximize societal impact. In doing so, my intention is to work with researchers to increase research funding, and maximize the visibility and impact of FoS research throughout the local industry community. I also hope that my planned engagement will increase the awareness of FoS in the community at large. 

Looking at the challenges, one of the most important things that must be addressed is the isolation that has resulted from the pandemic years. The faculty community needs to engage and learn about the research being done in the faculty and CNAS. Realizing this engagement and community building is a daunting task, but it is essential if we are to come together, find synergies and pursue large initiatives together (my past experiences have shown me it can be fun at the same time). If we can build the research community, increase FoS success in government funding applications and diversify our funding base this will be a huge success. 

Please describe your current research. 

My research team and I focus our efforts on developing methods to prepare nanomaterials derived from non-toxic earth abundant elements like silicon. These materials have very unique size, surface and composition dependent characteristics such as luminescence, light scattering, reactivity and electrical conductivity. All of these characteristics can be exquisitely controlled through an intimate understanding of the material structure. Through our understanding of these systems, together with our local and international collaborators, we deploy our materials in prototype applications like luminescent solar concentrators that can turn plate glass windows into passive energy generators, sensors that can make airport security checks more convenient, battery electrodes that can make our portable electronics and electric vehicles more efficient, biological and medical imaging agents less invasive... the list goes on. We are now looking to explore new related materials with potential impact in areas including quantum electronics and hydrogen production/storage. 

What drew you to this area of research?

I wish I had an inspiring answer to this question. It is actually quite simple and some might argue mundane. I have always been drawn to difficult challenges and my research focus is no exception. I was curious about the many questions that emerged when considering nano-silicon and its unexpected properties. When I was starting my independent research efforts there were explanations for why nano-silicon showed unexpected size dependent photoluminescence (glowing when exposed to ultraviolet light or other energy sources), but there were few methods that provided the materials to support these explanations. We sought to exploit our expertise in nanomaterials synthesis to develop scalable methods for preparing and tailoring silicon nanomaterials so we could shed light (pun intended) on the origin of their properties. We never dreamt of the far reaching applications they could find. I have said many times that this nanomaterial system is ‘the gift that keeps ongiving’. Every time we think we have everything figured out,we discover something new that draws us back. 

What do you do for fun, outside of work?

As is the case for most academics, my research is one of my core passions — even my hobby. Even so, I go out of my way to embrace activities beyond the lab and classroom. I treasure spending time hiking, canoeing and enjoying nature in the mountains and at the family cottage with my wife Leah, our three daughters and extended family. Together, we also love traveling internationally while spending time with our many friends around the world, many of whom are professional colleagues who have grown to be extended "family". Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that when I am away from the laboratory, I love spending time decompressing while playing, walking, and even cuddling with my three favourite labrador retrievers Raven, Hali and Whinnie. 

Faculty of Science members can contact Jon at