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Frequently Asked Questions

CIFAR understands that the search for knowledge is the defining feature of humanity’s great, unfolding story.

Richard Ivey
Chair of Principal Gifts Campaign

Frequently Asked Questions


1. What does CIFAR do?
2. Where is the Institute based?
3. Do you hire summer students?
4. Is CIFAR a government organization?
5. What is CIFAR’s process to identify new programs?
6. What is the difference between a CIFAR Senior Fellow, Fellow and Associate?
7. How do you find researchers?
8. Can researchers apply to a program?
9. Why do you include international researchers?
10. How do you mentor young researchers?
11. How do early-career researchers apply to be Global Scholars?
12. How is CIFAR research different than that done by universities?
13. How are the programs funded?
14. Who owns the funded research?
15. How can I find out about a program’s accomplishments?
16. How can I contact a CIFAR researcher?
17. How can I donate?



1. What does CIFAR do?
The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research is a virtual institute that identifies and supports multidisciplinary teams of respected Canadian and international researchers to study some of today’s most pressing global challenges. The Institute currently supports twelve research programs and several exploratory workshops in areas as diverse as human health, the environment, politics, economics, energy and IT.

CIFAR selects top researchers who are employed at universities and institutions in Canada and abroad to be part of its research programs. These researchers attend CIFAR-organized meetings a few times each year to share and discuss their research with each other, collaborate on new projects and advance understanding of possible solutions to key global issues.

CIFAR has also established Canada’s only national academy for postdoctoral training. The Global Academy builds Canada’s next generation brain trust by offering international and Canadian early-career researchers unparalleled access to the Institute’s network of thought leaders.

CIFAR fuels innovation by sharing knowledge that accelerates social, economic or technological development. Through outreach, events and publications, CIFAR researchers share their insights with leaders from government, business and industry, international organizations, and practitioners. Technological and social innovations arising from CIFAR’s research support Canada’s leadership at the forefront of the global knowledge economy.

2. Where is the Institute based?
CIFAR’s administrative office is located in Toronto, Canada. Approximately 30 employees support the Institute’s research portfolio through program management, fundraising, marketing and communications, finance and administration.

CIFAR’s President and CEO reports to the Chair of CIFAR’s volunteer board of directors made-up of business, academic and civic leaders from across Canada and the United States.

Close to 400 CIFAR researchers, including program and advisory committee members, work in 103 academic and research institutions (30 Canadian and 73 international) in 16 countries around the world.

3. Do you hire summer students?
At this time, CIFAR is not able to offer employment opportunities for summer students.

4. Is CIFAR a government organization?
CIFAR is an independent, non-profit institute of advanced study that receives funding from the Government of Canada, as well as the governments of Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta. It also receives a significant portion of its support from private-sector organizations, foundations and individual donors.

5. What is CIFAR’s process to identify new programs?
CIFAR invites members of the Canadian academic community to help identify potential important research topics that might benefit from a CIFAR program or workshop. If the Institute decides that the topic deserves deeper investigation, CIFAR exploratory workshops begin with invited researchers.
If these workshops result in a well-defined unexplored research question, effective leadership, a group of outstanding researchers who can begin to collaborate on the question and sufficient institutional funding, CIFAR may request a proposal for a longer-term research effort or program.

6. What is the difference between a CIFAR Senior Fellow, Fellow and Associate?
Senior Fellows are outstanding researchers who have achieved international stature in their field of research.

Fellows are highly promising researchers, generally in their first tenure-track assistant professor faculty appointment.

Associates are researchers with the calibre of a Senior Fellow or Fellow, in a discipline germane to a program’s focus, who strengthen the research program by interacting with core program members on a short-term or occasional basis.

7. How do you find researchers?
Candidates from all institutions are considered. On the advice of each program’s Advisory Committee, existing program members and members of the Canadian research community, CIFAR invites researchers to join a program. CIFAR’s primary goal in seeking new researchers is to strengthen its current research programs and to further its exploratory workshops.

8. Can researchers apply to a program?
There is no application process. However, if researchers believes they, or a colleague, should be considered for membership, they can contact: Sharon Hainey, Programs Department Co-ordinator, Email: or Tel: (416) 971-4881.

9. Why do you include international researchers?
CIFAR believes that creating strong global networks is essential for Canada to compete at an international level.

10. How do you mentor young researchers?

CIFAR fosters the development of the next generation of researchers in Canada and abroad. The Global Academy envelops all of CIFAR’s early-career activities, including our summer and winter schools of advanced study and our elite CIFAR Global Scholars. CIFAR also invests significantly in graduate students and postdoctoral fellows through funding provided to their supervising program members and opportunities to attend regular CIFAR program meetings.

Recent annual summer schools have covered areas related to Quantum Materials, Nanoelectronics, and Neural Computation and Adaptive Perception . The Institute has also co-sponsored additional advanced schools in Quantum Information Science and Neural Computation and Adaptive Perception .

The Global Scholars perhaps comprise CIFAR’s most visible program that develops the next generation of research leaders. This is a prestigious fellowship program attracting some of the world’s best early-career researchers to CIFAR and the Canadian research community. In addition to participating in a CIFAR program, Global Scholars also meet as a peer group once or twice a year to share experiences, research methodologies and other insights that give them the tools to take intellectual risks beyond the boundaries of traditional academic training.


11. How do early-career researchers apply to be Global Scholars?
Available Global Scholar positions in various CIFAR programs are announced every summer and fall, and are advertised on the Institute’s website and social media channels, as well as in leading international journals.

Eligible candidates must apply through the Global Scholar application website. For instructions about the application process, required documents and deadlines, visit CIFAR’s web page on How to Apply.

12. How is CIFAR research different than that done by universities?
CIFAR undertakes research that focuses on unexplored, complex questions that would benefit from bringing together researchers from multiple institutions, disciplines and perspectives. Flexible in structure, the programs are externally peer-reviewed every five years and, if assessed to be at high levels of international scholarship, may be renewed. At the time of renewal, the program focus and membership may be changed. This level of active international assessment and redirection is a key strength of CIFAR’s research model.

13. How are the programs funded?
Funding to researchers is provided as a flexible grant administered by their home institution, though other forms of support are used. This funding provides the researchers with greater resources – usually research time – to participate in the CIFAR research program. Also, CIFAR directly funds the costs that support interaction among members and provides administrative support for CIFAR meetings and other activities that bring CIFAR researchers together.

14. Who owns the funded research?
Ownership of the results of research – the “intellectual property” – is decided by the researchers and their home institutions. CIFAR makes no claim on the intellectual property produced in its research programs.

15. How can I find out about a program’s accomplishments?
Information is provided on CIFAR’s website, in its annual performance reports and Reach magazine, as well as through its social media channels like Facebook and Twitter.

16. How can I contact a CIFAR researcher?
You may contact CIFAR researchers through the information provided at their home institutions.

17. How can I donate?
CIFAR is able to achieve its mission because of the generous support of donors like you. Learn more about ways to give to CIFAR. Questions about donating can be directed to: Jennifer Wlodarczyk, Advancement and Capital Campaign Administrative Co-ordinator , Email: , Tel: (416) 971-4886.
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