NSERC Leaders Network -
Terms of reference


The NSERC Leaders network is a principal external engagement body for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to facilitate dialogue and the sharing of information with Canadian postsecondary institutions. The communication between Leaders and NSERC feeds into the development of NSERC policies, plans and programs, and responds to other issues of importance to the natural sciences and engineering research community in Canada.

NSERC and members of the NSERC Leaders network commit to:

  • operate the network as an open forum for exchange
  • share information in a timely manner
  • engage and consult in a continuous manner
  • respect the diversity of views amongst institutions


The NSERC Leaders network is comprised of representatives from postsecondary institutions in Canada that are eligible to administer NSERC funds for graduate training and research. Leaders are nominated by the president or senior delegate of their institution to represent the parent and affiliate institutions, with the knowledge and authority to gather and exchange information regarding research and research training at the institutional level. Leaders may be selected from all career levels and must possess the appropriate knowledge on matters relating to the natural sciences and engineering research and/or the administration of research and training programs and policies. It is further expected that universities will consider diversity in their appointment of an NSERC Leader.

To support consistency and facilitate knowledge sharing, NSERC Leaders are requested to serve a three-year term. In the case where the appointed Leader is on a leave of absence for a period that exceeds a calendar year, a new Leader should be appointed for the institution by its president. NSERC should be advised as soon as possible of a vacancy of the NSERC Leader position. NSERC will contact the president of the institution to request the nomination of a new Leader or seek confirmation of an acting role. NSERC Leaders may serve for a maximum of 6 consecutive years or two full terms back-to-back.

Role of NSERC Leaders

With the full support of their institution, Leaders serve as a liaison with researchers and students in a broad range of natural sciences and engineering disciplines at their institutions, as well as with non-sciences and engineering departments and faculties for interdisciplinary collaborations. Within their institutions, the role of a NSERC Leader is to serve as a point of contact between NSERC and their respective institution by sharing information on NSERC’s strategic priorities, and policy and program developments.

Leaders are expected to gather information and input from their institution and the wider research and academic community to inform the development of NSERC policies and programs.

The Leaders are called upon to:

  • actively participate in NSERC consultations, working groups and strategic initiatives
  • facilitate interactions and communication with NSERC, from their institution and the research community
  • assist NSERC in gathering and bringing forward information on research and training trends and activities, knowledge mobilization and ideas for collaboration

NSERC Leaders may lead the coordination of responses to consultation calls from NSERC for their institution.

Role of NSERC

NSERC’s office of the Vice-President, Research Grants and Scholarships (VP-RGS), manages the NSERC Leaders network. Members across NSERC’s executive and management teams represent NSERC on specific policy and program issues.

The office of the VP-RGS supports collaborative projects and facilitates ongoing communication with the NSERC Leaders on issues of common interest. As such, it is responsible for collecting and sharing information on programs and policies, as well as data and information on research, research funding and training that may be of interest to the Leaders, their institutions, and the wider research community.

The office of the VP-RGS will also lead the coordination of membership, maintain records, plan meetings, organize working and consultation groups, and liaise with NSERC’s Communications division to manage all communications with the Leaders. The office of the VP-RGS will also liaise regularly with the SSHRC Leaders secretariat to ensure matters of common interest across the two agencies and networks are appropriately coordinated. Regular updates on the NSERC Leaders network are provided to NSERC’s Council through the VP-RGS.

As a federal agency, NSERC ensures that all messages and documents distributed to the Leaders will be transmitted in both official languages.

NSERC Leaders can contact NSERC at NSERCLeadersCRSNG@nserc-crsng.gc.ca.


The NSERC Leaders network meets twice per year: spring and fall. Other meetings and consultations may be scheduled as necessary throughout the year.

Exceptionally, Leaders can appoint a delegate to attend a meeting on their behalf. Delegates should be briefed in advance on the topics to be discussed, and they should hold a position of sufficient authority to be able to represent their institution.

Agendas for meetings are set during consultations with NSERC Leaders, where appropriate.

The Extranet, NSERC’s secure site, will be used to post the summaries of the meetings and may also be used to distribute other content to the NSERC Leaders.

The NSERC Leaders terms of reference and membership shall be reviewed on a periodic basis.

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