Sentinel North

Harnessing the power of light for the benefit of human health, the environment, and sustainable development in the North


An unprecedented transdisciplinary strategy


In 2015, Université Laval received a $98 million grant from the federal government’s Canada First Research Excellence Fund, the largest research grant in its history. The Fund helps Canadian universities compete with the best in the world and implement large-scale, transformational and forward-thinking institutional strategies. Among other strengths, Sentinel North distinguished itself with its focus on transdisciplinary research.

With Sentinel North, Université Laval draws on over a half-century of northern research to develop innovative tools in optics-photonics and improve our understanding of the northern environment and its impact on human beings and their health.

Sentinel North provides for the establishment of an international scientific panel, new international research chairs, joint international research units, and the recruitment of world-renowned professors. Université Laval will also develop a transsectoral doctoral program at the crossroads of environmental studies, life sciences, and optics-photonics as well as a scholarship program and graduate internships. The strategy also involves international schools, a centre for instrument design, and a knowledge mobilization plan.

Based on four broad themes, Sentinel North’s ambitious research program is at the core of these numerous initiatives and will encourage the development of research teams and joint projects focusing on discovery, transdisciplinarity, innovation, collaboration, national and international partnerships, and technology transfer. Sentinel North will help us monitor and prepare for changes in northern environments using state-of-the-art technologies and intervention strategies in the pursuit of sustainable health and development (see Conceptual diagram).


Research Themes


Complex systems: structure, function and interrelationships in the North


Light as a driver, environment, and information carrier in natural environments and human health


Microbiomes: sentinels of the northern environment and human health


Technological innovations: monitoring and sustainable development of the changing North


Call for proposals


Launched on 30 March, Sentinel North's first call for proposals reached its objective to mobilise Université Laval's research community and its collaborators. A total of 46 letters of intent (LoIs) involving over 275 Université Laval researchers from 42 departments and schools from 13 faculties were submitted before the 1 June deadline.  As announced, this high demand will lead to a highly competitive selection process.

Evaluation of LOIs will take place over the next weeks and results will be shared before early September. For each of the four research themes, successful teams at the LoI stage will be invited to coordinate and join forces in order to submit a single joint Thematic proposal before early November. The launch of Thematic projects is planned for early December.

The total budget available for this first call for proposals is approximately $15 million.




01 June
Submission deadline
for the Letters of Intent


Results from the selection of Letters of intent and invitation to submit  Thematic Project proposals


Canada First Research Excellence Fund


Sentinel North is made possible thanks in part to funding from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund.
Carte Photo du pavillon

Sentinel North

Vice-rectorat à la recherche et à la création
Pavillon des sciences de l'éducation
2320, rue des Bibliothèques, bureau 1434
Université Laval
Québec (Québec) G1V 0A6

Phone number:418 656-5233


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