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Research Office moves to new space, increases services and support

Seven new team members have joined the Research Office since 2020. Left to Right: Vanessa Bayaraa, Lisa Ledoux, Lauren Bosc, Julia Ryckman (Office of the General Counsel), Ada Chukwudozie, Kerenza Plohman, and Eric Bouchard.

The University of Winnipeg’s Research Office has expanded its team and moved into a new space in Richardson College for the Environment and Science Complex.

Our larger staff compliment can better meet the changing needs of our research community by providing advice and supporting diverse research programs from humanities and social sciences to health and science

Dr. Jaime Cidro

The move puts the team at the centre of one of the most innovative, collaborative spaces on campus.

“While much of the University’s scientific research takes place in this building, it is also so much more than a science complex. It is a collaborative space that houses many distinct units working together to make a lasting impact on our community,” said Dr. Jino Distasio who leads the Research Office as Vice-President of Research and Innovation alongside Dr. Jaime Cidro, who was appointed Associate-Vice President, Research and Innovation in early 2021. 

The Research Office has come a long way since Distasio began leading the department in 2013, with steady growth in tri-council funding (CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC), Canada Research Chair funding, Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) funding, and external partnerships, such as Research Manitoba, Mitacs and others.

As an example of this growth, Distasio points to the fact that three UWinnipeg researchers (Dr. Julie Nagam, Dr. Mavis Reimer, and Dr. Shauna MacKinnon) are Principal Investigators on Partnership Grants (PGs).

“A SSHRC Partnership Grant represents one of the highest academic awards for research, and for a small university like ours to have three PGs is really significant,” he said.

Another example of the research and innovation taking place at UWinnipeg can be found in the recently opened Aabijijiwan New Media Lab and Kishaadigeh Collaborative Research Centre, also located within the Richardson College.

“It is really exciting to see where this steady and continuous growth is taking us. It has more than surpassed my expectations,” said Distasio.

Distasio and Cidro share a vision of not only increasing research funding, but ensuring the University’s research community is fully supported in their work. When they saw research funding double from over $6 million in 2015 to over $14.5 million in 2021, they knew they needed to pull together a strong team to support that growth.

Growing team provides integral research support

Since the beginning of 2021, the Research Office has welcomed Lauren Bosc, Eric Bouchard, Ada Chukwudozie, Lisa Ledoux, and Kerenza Plohman to the department, as well as Julia Ryckman from the Office of General Council. These new team members work alongside Vanessa Bayaraa, who joined in 2020, Lara Arnason, who started in 2019, and Bea Spearing, who has been supporting research initiatives in her role as executive assistant since 2000.

“As UWinnipeg continues to intensify research activities, it is important that the Research Office responds to the needs of faculty, students, and staff, as well as the external funders, industry, and community partners,” said Cidro. “Our larger staff compliment can better meet the changing needs of our research community by providing advice and supporting diverse research programs from humanities and social sciences to health and science.”

Meet the team

Lara Arnason (Program Officer, Research and Development) joined the Research Office in 2019 and holds a PhD in Chinese Studies from The University of Edinburgh, UK. She has 15 years of experience supporting research in all disciplines and at all stages of the research lifecycle, from pre-award research development to post-award compliance and negotiation of research contracts. 

Vanessa Bayaraa (Program Officer, Research Implementation) joined the Research Office in 2020 and held a Bachelor’s Degree in Science. Previously, she worked as a Senior Research Coordinator for six years in health research and as a Taxpayer Request Re-assessor for three years in Canada Revenue Agency.

Lauren Bosc (Program Officer, Research Partnerships) joined the Research Office in 2021, but has been a staff person at The University of Winnipeg since she completed her MA in Cultural Studies in 2014. Her academic background is very interdisciplinary, focusing on the area of Fat Studies and its intersections with Women’s and Gender studies and Cultural Studies.

Eric Bouchard (Program Officer, Research Accounts and Initiatives) joined the Research Office in 2021. With a MSc in Molecular Biology and training in program management and research safety, Eric has more than 10 years of experience in research and research support in the basic sciences.

Ada Chukwudozie (Research and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Coordinator) joined the Research Office in 2021 and has been a part-time research and teaching assistant at The University of Winnipeg since she began her Masters in Development Practice in 2019. Her academic background is interdisciplinary, focusing on law, human rights, and Indigenous development practice.

Lisa Ledoux joined the Research Office in 2021 and has been working at The University of Winnipeg since the spring of 2020. Lisa has a BA in Anthropology and International Studies with a Concentration in Development, specifically for non-profit and community-based organizations, and a master’s degree in public policy.

Kerenza Plohman (Canada Research Chair Coordinator) joined the Research Office in 2021 and holds a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in Law.  She has 15 years of experience as a Project Manager in health research.  She has worked on diverse multi-stakeholder research projects at the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and the University of Manitoba. 

Julia Ryckman (Legal Counsel Research) joined the Office of the General Counsel in 2021. She holds a BA (Hons) in English from The University of Winnipeg and juris doctor from the University of Manitoba. She received her call to the Bar in Manitoba in 2017 and worked in private practice for five years at Pitblado LLP, focusing on intellectual property law, employment and human rights law, First Nations’ governance disputes, administrative law (including representing First Nations before the Specific Claims Tribunal) and civil litigation.

Bea Spearing (Executive Assistant) joined the Research Office in 2000. Prior to that, she was in the Dean of Arts and Science office for 13 years.  She is a former graduate of Red River Community College and has extensive years of administrative background and experience working with the university community and senior administration.


These changes increase the capacity of the Research Office to support a wide variety of innovative, collaborative, interdisciplinary research projects. Stop by their new office space, or head to the Research Office website, to learn more about the team and how they help faculty and students access resources and funding to grow their research.

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