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Director, Research Data Strategy

October 10 2017
Industries Education, Training
Categories Information Technology, Management, Consulting, Analyst, Executive, Information technology, Management, Consulting, Actuarial, Statistics, Economy, Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, Processing, Actuarial, Statistics, Economy, Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, Processing
Guelph, ON

Director, Research Data Strategy

Full-time, temporary position (from December 1, 2017 to April 5, 2024)

The development of a new research data and analytics portal – Agri-food Data Canada – will be your mission as a research data strategist in this unique opportunity to drive transformative innovation in agriculture and food, in Canada and the world.

Reporting to the Associate Vice-President, Research Services, you will lead the strategic design, development and management of the University of Guelph's vision for a cross-sectoral online platform for research data and analytics, Agri-food Data Canada, that enables transformative innovation in agriculture and food in Canada and the world. Funded by the University of Guelph's $76.6 million Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) grant, entitled Food from Thought, this position is critical in supporting the achievement of the initiative's goal of increasing our ability to leverage big data for the benefit of sustainable food production and biodiversity.

Food from Thought (FfT) is aimed at catalyzing a new digital agricultural revolution, and will put the University of Guelph at the forefront of global agri-food research institutes. Comprising 10 lead investigators and approximately 40 other faculty members, the FfT team aims to create an innovative agri-food research platform that will draw together stakeholders from the community, government, municipalities, industry, agriculture, and engineering consulting firms, to advance research knowledge, expertise and technology relating to agri-food and big data technologies.

As Director, Research Data Strategy (Agri-food Data Canada), you will be the main architect in developing an integrated, cross-university strategy and platform for big data management to underpin and accelerate Food from Thought research activities. This will include an integrated approach to governance, security, sharing, and curation of big research data generated by University of Guelph and other organizations, and establishing a platform for leading-edge, advanced analytics and modelling. Ultimately, the aim is to enable large-scale research innovation through better coordination and access to internal and external data, computing capacity and expertise, and stronger and better-supported partnerships with government and industry. One of your main deliverables and responsibilities will be leading the design, development and management of a new data and analytics portal entitled Agri-food Data Canada (ADC) with the goal of enabling transformative research and innovation in agri-food.

More specifically, you will:

  • work closely with existing and new University of Guelph data science faculty, principal investigators, and research staff to integrate and strengthen the University's data management and analysis capabilities across Food from Thought research teams and University facilities
  • identify and develop effective partnerships with external partners to establish ADC and extend its scope, usefulness and the University of Guelph's influence on the application of big data for research and innovation in agri-food
  • represent the University of Guelph and the Food from Thought initiative on external committees and organizations focused on coordinating big data management needs and approaches, such as SOSCIP, Compute Ontario and Compute Canada, and related independent research institutes, such as the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence
  • advise senior University leaders, including the Vice President (Research) and College Deans, on investments in computing infrastructure to support food-related big data research needs, while increasing overall capacity in a coordinated and strategic manner.


As the ideal candidate for the role of Director, Research Data Strategy, you will have a PhD in data science, computer science, engineering, mathematics, statistics, or a related field, and six (6) years of strategic data governance or management related experience. You will be expected to have significant experience in a research environment within the private sector, or academia, managing very large datasets and leading development of data governance, security, and utilization strategies across research projects and across disciplines. You will also have experience developing and negotiating partnerships and data sharing and access agreements, ideally combined with educational and research experience in food and/or environmental science. In addition, you will have:

  • Demonstrable information management and quantitative analysis skills, including working knowledge of IT infrastructure, technologies/platforms, and alignment of vendor solutions with strategic priorities. 
  • Deep familiarity with data management, predictive analytics, data visualization, applied statistical analysis and modelling.
  • Experience in integrating, manipulating and analyzing complex, high-volume, multi-dimensional data from varying sources.
  • Familiarity with contemporary big data solutions and statistical analysis packages.
  • A Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree (preferred, but not mandatory).

The University of Guelph ( is one of Canada's leading research-intensive comprehensive institutions, with a record of outstanding scholarship in the arts, humanities, social sciences, life sciences, physical and engineering sciences, agriculture and veterinary sciences. This is your chance to join us in our endeavour to improve life.

To view a detailed posting for the role of Director, Research Data Strategy – Agri-food Data Canada, including application instructions, please go to our website at Applications, quoting Hiring #2017â€'0509, must be sent to: *******@********.ca. Closing date: Monday, November 6, 2017.

All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority. 

At the University of Guelph, fostering a culture of inclusion is an institutional imperative. The University invites and encourages applications from all qualified individuals, including from groups that are traditionally underrepresented in employment, who may contribute to further diversification of our Institution. network