Signature Areas

The signature areas to be endorsed by Deans' Council are: Precision Health, Energy Systems, Research at the Intersections of Gender, Situated Knowledges: Indigenous Peoples and Place, and AI4Society. The Signature Area Development Panel recommended these areas as they clearly met the criteria that were established at the start of the process.

Precision Health

Signature Area: Precision Health

Precision Health is an emerging health-care model that leverages data, new technologies, and the study of factors such as genomics, metabolomics, nutrition and environment, to better understand and address diseases and disabilities. Precision Health also includes the study of population data to deliver approaches to disease prevention, health promotion, rehabilitation, and reduction of health disparities in populations.

The university's Precision Health strength spans discovery, applied, clinical research and is supported by significant infrastructure and assets (omic technologies, biological and computational sciences, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, imaging, clinical trial infrastructure, health outcomes, public health and health policy research, etc). Precision Health will also capitalize on assets and infrastructure across the provincial health sector.

Faculties Engaged: 18

Signature Area Director: Health Sciences Council


Energy Systems

Signature Area: Energy Systems

Energy is more than just fuel―it involves large and complex systems incorporating society and the environment. These energy systems must meet society's expectations of type, quality, quantity, reliability, and accessibility within a diverse cultural framework of urban centers, Indigenous nations, smaller communities, and rural regions. They must operate in an environmentally sustainable manner with appropriate reclamation and management.

The university's energy expertise, capacity and capability involves more than 200 researchers, across 23 departments and ten faculties and make us the hub of a provincial, national―and increasingly international―cluster of companies, government organizations and universities seeking energy-related collaborations.

Faculties Engaged: 10

Signature Area Director: Anne Naeth, Associate Dean (Research and Graduate Studies), ALES

Contact: Anne Naeth

Intersections of Gender

Signature Area: Intersections of Gender

More than 250 researchers across all 18 faculties at the U of A already conduct gender-themed, interdisciplinary, and intersectional research. Their expertise is pivotal to tackling today's most complex challenges: from health care delivery in refugee camps and water security on Indigenous communities to automated transport and institutionalized sexual harassment.

Intersections of Gender recognizes that gender and other aspects of identity and social belonging-race, class, age, religion, indigeneity, language, citizenship etc.-intersect and interweave. Considering gendered intersections is essential for designing successful, impactful, and socially relevant research.

By mobilizing the world-class gender expertise that we have at the university, Intersections of Gender will build new capacity for small and large interdisciplinary research collaborations for both established and emerging researchers. By making gender a strategic priority in teaching and research, Intersections of Gender will help the U of A to meet the new benchmarks that granting agencies are setting for intersectional gender analysis and inclusive excellence.

Faculties Engaged: 18

Signature Area Director: Susanne Luhmann (Director, Intersections of Gender)


Situated Knowledges: Indigenous Peoples and Place


Researchers at the U of A have been formally engaged in Indigenous teaching and research for more than 50 years. Situated Knowledges: Indigenous Peoples and Place (SKIPP) was created to highlight Indigenous scholarship, create a strong community of Indigenous scholars, and allow other scholars to come into that space to learn and connect. Indigenous scholarship is defined as teaching, research, community engagement, research creation, and activities, locally and globally. The formal direction of SKIPP will be established through consultation with Indigenous students, faculty, staff, and researchers in the university community.

Three years (2019-2022) of development are planned for SKIPP, consisting of listening, connecting, and building phases. The listening phase involves a series of listening events intended to gather insights from the university community about the direction of this signature area. The connecting phase will assess ideas from the listening phase and start to connect scholars at the university with the larger community. During the building phase the SKIPP team will establish a strong and clear vision about what the signature area will ultimately be.

Signature Area Co-Leads: Florence Glanfield (Vice-Provost, Indigenous Programming and Research) and Kisha Supernant (Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts - Department of Anthropology)




The world is undergoing nothing short of a data-enabled revolution. Massive data streams are being generated from business applications, Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, and our own devices that mediate our every activity; new computational architectures and software platforms make possible the efficient processing of these large data sets; a new breed of machine learning (ML) and data science (DS) algorithms extract new insights from this data to inform practically all of our decisions and actions and support new business activities; and artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms are driving the increased automation of our industry, infrastructure, and services.

The University of Alberta has gained institutional recognition and prominence as a lead player in Canada’s national AI strategy; Alberta’s knowledge-based ecosystem is flourishing; and AI-related activities are being undertaken across campus by faculty in science, engineering, arts and humanities. The AI4Society Signature Area will provide continuing institutional leadership in this exciting area of research and scholarship, coordinating and designing innovative training programs and representing the institution in new initiatives with public, private, and international partners.

Faculties Engaged: 11

Director: Eleni Stroulia, Professor, Computing Science, Faculty of Science

Associate Director: Geoffrey Rockwell, Professor, Philosophy, Faculty of Arts and Director of the Kule Institute for Advanced Study