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Applied data science research and policy expert reappointed Ontario Tech University's Vice-President, Research and Innovation

Dr. Les Jacobs, Vice-President, Research and Innovation, Ontario Tech University
Dr. Les Jacobs, Vice-President, Research and Innovation, Ontario Tech University

Ontario Tech University announces the reappointment of Dr. Les Jacobs as Vice-President, Research and Innovation for a second term. His new five-year term will begin on Monday, July 1, 2024.

Dr. Jacobs joined Ontario Tech in 2019. Under his leadership, the university’s research portfolio has grown to exceed $26 million in annual funding, while its capacity has expanded rapidly through a multitude of new industry partnerships that include designation as the International Atomic Energy Agency’s first Canadian Collaborating Centre.

The university’s entrepreneurship and startup ecosystem for students and faculty has expanded ten-fold. Key research metrics such as industry collaborations, journal publications and corporate research income have increased between 200 and 500 per cent. Ontario Tech has also gained high praise in several influential national and global research rankings, including being named Canada’s 2023 Research University of the Year (Undergraduate) by Research Infosource.

For a research-intensive university, these results are meaningful and emphasize the DNA of Ontario Tech’s foundational vision. Being a research-intensive university results in more practical solutions that improve human lives and the planet’s ecosystems, and rich post-doctoral, graduate and undergraduate student experiences with Ontario Tech’s world-leading scholars.

Dr. Jacobs is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the highest honour for a Canadian academic researcher, appointed in 2017 in recognition of being one of the world’s leading experts on innovative large-scale projects on human rights, equality and access to justice involving data science. Prior to joining Ontario Tech, he held the Tier 1 York Research Chair in Human Rights and Access to Justice, and served as Director of the Institute for Social Research at York University.

He has served on many public-sector research advisory boards, and undertaken applied data science research and policy analysis for several organizations. In 2017, he served as Principal Consultant for the Cabinet Office to develop the race data-collection framework for the Government of Ontario and the Broader Public Sector, which was embedded in the provincial Anti-Racism Act, 2017. He served a similar role for the Province of Nova Scotia in 2023 for the implementation of its new legislation, Dismantling Racism and Hate Act. In 2018, he led survey research for the Independent Street Checks Review in Ontario and the review of the Ontario Public Service’s Respectful Workplace Policy. He currently serves as the Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency Collaborating Centre, and on the Board of Directors of the University Network of Excellence for Nuclear Engineering.


“During his time with Ontario Tech University, Dr. Les Jacobs has advanced the university’s research and innovation capacity through his proven leadership, and by co-ordinating the many areas of research strength within the university. His commitment to the university’s ‘tech with a conscience’ ethos has advanced Ontario Tech’s reputation and role in the pursuit of socially responsible research and discovery. We look forward to continued excellence under his leadership as the university’s researchers continue to champion a better future for the planet and humankind.”
- Dr. Steven Murphy, President and Vice-Chancellor, Ontario Tech University

“I am proud of the tremendous strides Ontario Tech University has made in research intensity and industry partnerships over its first 20 years. We’ve emerged as a powerful voice in Canada’s research sector, through our differentiated research approach that is industry-responsive, results-driven, and guided by our commitment to address technology’s social and ethical implications. I look forward to leading Ontario Tech’s research efforts as we develop new tech breakthroughs that respond to societal challenges and shape a bright future.”
- Dr. Les Jacobs, Vice-President, Research and Innovation, Ontario Tech University