Feature Friday with Nicholas Grant

Job title: Research Facilitator

Hometown: Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

How long have you worked at LFS/UBC? 

15 years in LFS: 12 as a Researcher with the Biometeorology and Soil Physics Group, and 3 as Research Facilitator

Let’s talk work…

Describe what you do for LFS: 

As Research Facilitator I work with the Associate Dean, Research, to identify funding and partnership opportunities that support the research activities of our individual faculty members and then work with my colleague Baohua Wang to support our faculty with their grant preparation and submission. I also work in a strategic capacity as a member of the Dean’s Core leadership team to identify novel research spaces where our faculty has the potential to contribute innovative solutions.

You can find out more about the research support that Nick and Baohua provide on this dedicated website: researchsupport.landfood.ubc.ca/

What are you currently working on?

COVID is obviously front and centre as we move into stage 2 of the resumption of research, and I am working as part of the LFS Resumption of Research Committee. I am also co-ordinating our Faculty response to feedback from the Provost’s Office on our President’s Accelerate Excellence Initiative proposal for three new faculty hires focused on societal grand challenges.

What do you enjoy the most about working for LFS? 

My time as a researcher here at UBC, and previously with other research teams at UVic and with the Federal Government, has left me with a very broad foundational experience with the diversity of talented people that make up most productive research teams—from undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, technicians and engineers, and the principal investigators that lead them. I try to bring that experience to the table every time I work with a faculty member on a new proposal so that I can help to make sure the high quality of their scientific ideas is reflected in the quality of their grant submission.

What challenge have you dealt with that you are most proud of? 

I think working with my colleague Karen Lee (Communications) to stickhandle the Faculty’s external review document in 2018 was a major challenge as there were so many moving parts and contributions from teams across the Faculty.

Based on your career so far, what’s one lesson you’d share with your colleagues? 

I’ve found that if you think you’ve had a good idea – whether in research or administration – it pays to do a lot of due diligence because somebody has usually had it already or is doing something very similar… but finding that out early on can spur collaboration and put you on the path to something truly innovative.

Let’s get personal…

How do you like to recharge?

Fingerpicking a Martin guitar while watching a game or movie on TV.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

Time travel.

What was a favourite vacation or trip you’ve taken? 

Iceland 2004 with my wife and some close friends. We arrived in September just as the last tourist headed home for Europe for the beginning of the school year and we had the country and its spectacular wilderness more or less to ourselves. At times we felt like astronauts, which was no accident as we later discovered that NASA’s Apollo program had sent 32 of its astronauts there for training in geology and sample collection.

What was the last book you read?

An amazing bit of Scandinavian Crime Fiction by Arnaldur Indriðason called Strange Shores.

What’s one thing your co-workers don’t know about you?

Hummingbirds. I’m fascinated by them, have two feeders at home and watch them constantly. They just occupy another dimension than the one we live in—the local Anna’s hummingbirds pull 9 g’s at the bottom of their courtship dives (https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2009.0508), which they do right in front of our deck. You haven’t lived until one of them has flown right up to your face out of nowhere and then disappeared, just because it can.

See more Feature Fridays: https://lfs-my-2020.sites.olt.ubc.ca/human-resources/recognize-your-colleagues/

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