Black-led Research Network Initiative

The Black-led Research Network Initiative (BRNI) aims to build capacity for Black researchers and enhance Black research excellence at the University of Alberta.


This support extends to all stages of research, from grant applications, research ethics, and grant project management, to assistance in fostering collaborative and multidisciplinary community-driven research projects. The BRNI will collaborate with established and emerging scholars, facilitating experiential mentorship that will work to deepen the breadth of upcoming researcher readiness, expertise and sustainability.

Beyond the University of Alberta, the BRNI also intends to take a global approach to research, connecting with scholars and research opportunities within Africa and Small Island Developing States to promote Black academic excellence wherever it occurs. By investing in diverse talent, the BRNI hopes to create a research ecosystem that highlights researchers from historically underrepresented communities, helping to develop and retain exceptional researchers.

The BRNI seeks to build out an expansive, long term strategy to support scholars and research production in the Black community. By bringing together a network of researchers, the BRNI will be able to facilitate deeper academic relationships, foster mentorship for early career researchers, leverage researchers' existing access to funding opportunities and create a platform that highlights, values and sustains Black-led research.

As a first step, the BRNI has gathered initial researchers to support the ideation of the network who bring demonstrable value to both the strategic development and the research funding acquiring ability of the network. The current (initial) committee members are as follows:

Committee Support Team:

BRNI Need-to-know

This section is intended to keep you posted on important stories, events and initiatives that relate to BRNI's work.

  • U of A launches “Forward with Purpose”, a strategic plan for research and innovation, motivating the creation of BRNI.
  • BRNI Visioning Workshop "What We Heard" report available now -  in English HERE et en français ICI.

Stay Up to Date

Interested in staying up to date on BRNI news and events? Click the button below!


Accomplishments to DatE

BRNI Visioning Workshop
On October 13, 2023, the Black Research Network Initiative (BRNI) invited Black researchers at the University of Alberta to engage in a Visioning Session for the Initiative. Participants took part in a disruptive innovation and human-centred workshop designed to empower them to lend their authentic voices to the development of BRNI and its activities. To learn more about the input shared at this workshop, please read the ‘What We Heard’ report, available in English HERE et en français ICI
Partnership for Research with African Newcomers 
Partnership for Research with African Newcomers (PRAN), is a multidisciplinary, cross-sectoral  research partnership dedicated to optimizing Sub-Saharan African immigrant and refugee (SSAI) settlement and integration. Led by Professor Philomina Okeke-Ihejirika, Faculty of Arts and co-funded through a $2.5 million SSHRC partnership grant and $1.7 million in matching contributions from PRAN partners, PRAN partners are co-conducting innovative research and co-building capacity to amplify SSAIs resilience and ability to thrive in Canada. Placing a strong emphasis on community engagement and knowledge mobilization, PRAN team members collaborate with academics, non-government organizations, post-secondary vocational institutions, private financial partners, and government organizations. PRAN’s research into SSAI resilience and settlement experiences are guided by the concept of Ubuntu– “I am because we are” and include a comprehensive cross sectional survey, a mixed methods longitudinal study, community institutional scans, and various partner driven research activities.  To learn more about PRAN’s research and community engagement efforts, please click here.
Better Than the Cure

Stemming from the Partnership for Research with African Newcomers research partnership, Better Than the Cure: Preventing Intimate Partner Violence, is an 11-episode podcast series featuring discussions on Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) from the lens of gender relations, engaging men, mental health, financial literacy, religion, and more. Through PRAN partnership with the Africa Centre's Enhancing Gender Equity program and funded by Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE), the podcast was developed as an intervention and prevention tool to increase education on and decrease rates of IPV in communities of African descent. For more resources on IPV, please visit PRAN’s Project Tools page.

Cell-based Tissue Engineering Innovation
The Adesida Lab, led by Professor Adetola Adesida (Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry), works to discover and develop autologous cell-based tissue engineering strategies to repair cartilage and meniscus defects. The laboratory’s current focus is to investigate the interplay between mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) from bone marrow (BMSCs) or adipose (ADSCs) sources, and mature cartilage cells (chondrocytes) and meniscus cells for cartilage and meniscus tissue formation. Supported by over $1.9 million in funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Adesida Lab projects are at the interface of basic and applied research fostering the expertise and collaborative efforts of chemists, biologists, clinicians, bio-engineers and material scientists.
School Leadership at the Intersection of Gender

Dr. Samira ElAtia’s SSHRC funded partnership research project, housed in the University of Alberta's Campus Saint-Jean, and in collaboration with the Alberta's Teachers Association (ATA) and the College of Alberta School Superintendent (CASS), explores the complex dynamics of educational leadership within Alberta's K-12 education system, focusing on age, gender identity, and the impact of maternity/parental and family leaves on women's career progression. 

The objectives of the project are 1) to establish baseline data regarding the participation of women in educational leadership; 2) to investigate the current lived experiences of women in educational leadership and the effects of various leaves and caregiving responsibilities on the entrance, progression and exit from leadership roles; 3) to co-create with our partners, policies and systematic administrative procedures that will remove the barriers for career progression for women in educational leadership; and 4) to generate a data acquisition model that will guide decision-making and allow stakeholders in Alberta to continue to document the gains of women in leadership.

Practical recommendations from this project include a reevaluation of maternity/ parental/family leaves policies in schools, aligning them with principles of equitable career progression and a call for robust Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) training for recruiters and all levels of leadership roles. To learn more about the objectives of this project and view updates about the research please click here.
Common Ground
Common Ground is a research initiative based out of the University of Alberta’s Department of Political Science and led by Professor Jared Wesley that studies the state of political culture across western Canada, combining conventional surveys with community-based focus groups, school-based youth engagement, public opinion surveys, and coffeehouse conversations. The initiative’s community-based focus groups bring Albertans across the province together to study the extent to which Albertans agree on a common set of political principles and values. This research and social innovation initiative has secured more than $500,000 to build its capacity and support the work. To get involved, please fill out this focus group interest form.
Black-led Work-Integrated Training and Student Experience
Conceived, developed, and led at the University of Alberta, the Experiential Learning in Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship (ELITE) Program for Black Youth is a unique program designed to create opportunities for Black Youth to access paid experiential (hands-on and observed) learning and work-integrated training in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, business, and psychology. With wrap around activities in entrepreneurship design and wellness and coaching, BRNI research experts and scholars, such as Professor André McDonald, Professor Sophie Yohani, Professor Sedami Gnidehou, Professor Adetola Adesida, and Professor James Kariuki, have delivered a laudable and sustainable career creation and advancement program for Black youth through an academic, industry, government, and community partnership platform. Within three years since inception of the ELITE Program for Black Youth, it secured more than $3 million in cash funding to support youth and trained nearly 200 youth in jobs in Alberta and Ontario.

If you would like to speak to the BRNI team or learn more about the initiative, please contact us at