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An exterior view of Kerr House in the summer sun, with students sitting on the porch and on the stone wall, talking


Centres and Institutes

Research is central to Trent’s mission. In pursuing this mandate, the University has identified in the Strategic Research Plan a set of principles for research at Trent that includes excellence in research with national and international recognition, diversity of research across scholarly disciplines, an emphasis on interdisciplinary research, and involvement of students in research. Research organizations like Centres and Institutes are essential tools for Trent’s research mission.

Research Centres and Institutions

Archaeological Research Centre

The Archaeological Research Centre (TUARC) was established in May, 2001 by the University Senate. The Centre is dedicated to the investigation and understanding of past cultures through studies of artifacts, analysis of field, laboratory, and archival data, and the education of students and interested community members by courses, publications, and lectures. TUARC is a unique research institute which manages academic and research facilities for professional archaeologists, researchers, graduate students, and volunteers. It sponsors workshops and special courses on archaeology. Research facilities include specialized laboratories for Human osteology, Mesoamerican archaeology, Ontario archaeology, Paleo-DNA studies, South American archaeology, and Zooarchaeology. In addition, a Pre-Columbian Aboriginal Art Resource Room and Library is maintained. TUARC also assists with the publication of the findings of associated scholars, and organizes public lectures on recent archaeological discoveries and advances

Canadian Environmental Modeling Centre

​The Canadian Environmental Modeling Centre (CEMC) was established as part of Environmental and Resource Studies at Trent University in July of 1995, with the appointment of Professor Don Mackay as holder of a jointly funded NSERC - Chemistry Industry Research Chair. In July of 2000, the Research Chair was renewed. The mission of the Centre is to contribute to improved management of chemicals in our environment, locally, regionally, nationally and globally, by acquiring and analyzing appropriate data on chemical properties and developing, validating and disseminating mass balance models, which describe the fate of these chemicals in the environment.

Centre for Health Studies

The objectives of the Centre for Health Studies are to provide a focus for the different types of research conducted at Trent on various aspects of health, to assist researchers in obtaining research funding, to foster greater communication among health researchers within and outside the university, to serve as a link between Trent and other health institutions, to foster better communication to the general public of basic health research and its real-world applications, and to facilitate the training of students (both graduate and undergraduate) for careers and research in health-related fields. The Centre sponsors regular research colloquia and an annual lecture (or series) open to faculty and students, as well to health-care workers and others in the Peterborough community; occasional conferences, on different health-related themes (e.g. promoting healthy aging; issues in Aboriginal health care delivery; psychological wellness and academic success); and workshops that support the continuing needs of health-care professionals.

Centre for Materials Research

The Trent Centre for Materials Research fosters research at Trent leading to an improved understanding of the properties of materials of potential benefit to industry, and the training of highly qualified personnel in these areas. To do this, the Centre brings together Trent faculty with research interests in applied materials research, currently in the departments of Chemistry and Physics. Its goals are to improve communications and cross-fertilization of research among the faculty and their graduate students, develop research collaborations, and expose all of the participants to a broad spectrum of research, both experimental and theoretical, in the materials area. The Centre holds research seminars as part of, and in addition to, the weekly Physics/Chemistry seminar series and the Material Science graduate program.

Centre for the Study of Theory, Culture and Politics

The Centre for the Study of Theory, Culture and Politics encourages research and teaching guided by critical/theoretical orientations that have emerged from contemporary developments in the humanities and social sciences. These orientations test the limits of conventional disciplines and contribute to the study of the complex network of relations that links knowledge, culture and politics. The Centre is concerned to foster substantive projects of research as well as fundamental reflection on conceptual and methodological issues. The Centre aims to integrate teaching and research, and to encourage the work of both emerging and established scholars. It promotes scholarly research and interchange through conferences, symposia, and speakers series as well as through specific research projects and publications. An M.A. Program -- Theory, Culture and Politics -- is an important activity of the Centre.

Frost Centre for Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies

Established in 1982, the Frost Centre is named in honour of Leslie Frost, Premier of Ontario from 1948-1961, and the first Chancellor of Trent University. The Centre assists scholars in the Humanities and Social Sciences to engage in interdisciplinary research on a broad range of thematics related to Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies. The Centre is administered by a Director, an Administrative Secretary and a Board composed of graduate students, deans and faculty representatives from its constituent theme groups. The Board meets regularly to decide matters of policy, to monitor research initiatives, and to oversee the M.A. and Ph.D. programs for which the Frost Centre has direct responsibility. The Frost Centre works closely with Trent's existing interdisciplinary programs in Canadian Studies, Indigenous Studies, Environmental and Resource Studies, Cultural Studies, Comparative Development Studies, Administrative Studies and Gender & Women's Studies, all of which are in turn linked with the conventional Humanities and Social Sciences disciplines. The Frost Centre administers two graduate programs: the M.A. in Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies, and the Ph.D. in Canadian Studies. (Students interested in the Ph.D. in Indigenous Studies are directed to Indigenous Studies Ph.D. Webpage). The Ph.D. in Canadian Studies is offered jointly by the Frost Centre and by the School of Canadian Studies at Carleton University.

Indigenous Environmental Institute

The Indigenous Environmental Institute aligns with the first four principles in Trent University’s Strategic Mandate Agreement, 1. Prepare students to make significant contributions to an increasingly complex world by providing them with a distinctive liberal arts, science or professionally focused education, which is enhanced by global perspectives, experiential learning and interdisciplinary approaches to personal and professional development; 2. Encourage and celebrate excellence and innovation in teaching, learning, research and student development; 3. Remain at the forefront of Indigenous education and scholarship; 4.Develop strong partnerships and collaborations with external communities, professions, and other institutions, as well as within our Colleges, departments, and programs.  Indigenous Environmental Research Centre was declared one of three focal areas for the 2018 Bata Research & Innovation Cluster re-invigoration and large scale renovation.  The essential need for restoration, both cultural and ecological, is largely addressed in the Indigenous Environmental Institute’s mandate of Indigenous principles of relationship, respect, reciprocity, and responsibility. National commitments to Truth and Reconciliation stress the importance of these elements using education to cultivate mutual understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Institute of Integrative Conservation Biology 

Conservation Biology is, by nature, a broad discipline involving the study of the Earth’s organisms and natural systems, usually in response to threats imposed by various stressors primarily of anthropogenic origin. To date, the biological and applied management aspects of conservation biology have been well established within the field and have focused largely on population or species preservation and ecosystem biodiversity. More recently, there have been efforts to more fully integrate the physical, social, and implementable components of conservation biology, to provide a more holistic perspective on the Earth’s organisms and landscapes, and their respective threats. It seems reasonable that this broadened approach ultimately will improve the long-term success and societal relevance of conservation biology. Accordingly, the mission of the IICB is to: promote and facilitate interdisciplinary research, collaboration, and graduate teaching and training in conservation biology and related fields, to influence research and policy decisions at the regional, national and international level.

Institute for Watershed Science

The Institute for Watershed Science (IWS) is a unique interdisciplinary and inter-institutional alliance for integrated science, facility sharing, expert consultation, management services, training and technology transfer on watershed ecosystem management, health, protection and rehabilitation. The need for collaboration among researchers from various institutions has always been apparent, even more so now in the face of government reductions and restructuring. By directing scientific efforts at keys issues, networking with partners, standardizing methodologies and sharing information and facilities, efficiency can be maximized and mutual goals met. The IWS leads and encourages the development of integrated scientific analysis and understanding of ecological processes within watersheds. Our goal is to transfer this knowledge and provide a focus for further collaboration, and integration by partners, sponsors and clients.

James McLean Oliver Ecological Centre

Trent University is known for excellence in environmental research. Recently Trent received a gift that will allow for expansion in that area. In October, 1998, Marjorie Oliver generously donated a 270 acre waterfront property on Pigeon Lake to Trent University. This property was named the James McLean Oliver Ecological Centre. The Centre is being developed as a residential field station for teaching, and for long-term ecological research. We anticipate that the Centre will be the location for many research studies over the years. It will be developed carefully so that some areas are set aside for long-term research. In these areas, experiments and observatories will be set up for studies of change and response over periods of 5, 10, 25, and 50 years. This presents a unique opportunity as researchers so often have great difficulties finding sites for even 3- to 5-year studies. We will also provide quarters for graduates and professors to stay while doing their research. A couple of research projects have already begun, including one project studying air pollution and global warming effects on various aspects of the Kawartha Lakes, and a second project looking at timing and triggers for the commencement of plant growth and flowering of the spring flora.

Natural Resources DNA Profiling and Forensic Centre

The Centre (NRDPFC) represents a partnership between Trent University and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR ) and the current facilities in the DNA Building were opened in 2006 as a result of funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the Ontario Innovation Trust (OIT).The facility includes the Wildlife DNA Forensic Laboratory that provides services for a number of national and international agencies. 
The Centre supports projects of graduate students, OMNR and other government research programs, research programs for industry, and research of faculty from Trent and other universities.

The Centre for the Critical Study of Global Power and Politics 

The Centre for the Critical Study of Global Power and Politics brings together scholars from Trent University and external members who share a conviction that social scientists have a special responsibility to question popular assumptions and dominant ideologies about globalization in their scholarly work. This research is particularly critical of the ideas and actions of those who run the most powerful institutions in the new global order - from international financial institutions and multinational corporations to states and international organizations.  The Centre encourages the active participation of students.

Trent Biomaterials Research Program 

Subject areas of focus include Materials Science, Organic and Organo-metallic modification of natural lipids, Physics and Chemistry of Biomaterials, Physics of Crystallization and Phase Change. 
Research in the Trent Biomaterials Research Program is focussed on the utilization of vegetable oils (soybean, canola, flax, corn, jatropha, palm, etc.) for the synthesis of functional polymers (for use as intelligent coatings, biomedical delivery systems and other specialized polymers), lubricants, greases and waxes, nano-matrices for the delivery of bioactive compounds and fertilizers, and crystallized networks of lipids for use as healthy food materials. 
Activities centre on organic modification, assembly of materials at various hierarchies such as the molecular, supra-molecular and crystalline nanostructures, and structural organization at the microstructural length range, and the investigation of the relationships between the various hierarchies of structure and final macroscopic physico-chemical functionality of the materials. The materials studied are specifically designed so that their fate and functionality from cradle to cradle can be predicted and determined.

Trent Centre for Aging & Society

The Trent Centre for Aging and Society draws on Trent's reputation in interdisciplinary excellence to promote research and awareness about aging and old age. The Centre's mandate is to mobilize a critically-informed academic and public dialogue that advocates for the diversity of the aging experience, challenges ageist policies and practices, and develops expertise for understanding and planning for Canada's aging futures. The Centre brings together Trent faculty, visiting scholars, students and community members with an interest in aging, and it supports innovative research, education and community engagement that is responsive to the challenges and opportunities facing older people and aging communities in Peterborough, across Canada and internationally.

Water Quality Centre

The Water Quality Centre is located on the Trent University campus in Peterborough, Ontario. The Centre houses many state-of-the-science analytical instruments for determining trace quantities of substances found in natural aquatic environments including rivers, streams and drinking water. The equipment is used primarily in the detection of trace pollutants, but finds application in a wide range of research areas including biochemistry and synthetic organic chemistry, gas-phase ion chemistry, ecology, limnology, and geochemistry. The facility provides research support to university scientists from across Canada. Consultation and analytical support services are available to any interested user. The mission of the Centre is to develop analytical techniques in response to the needs of individuals, governments and industry in all areas of water quality assurance.

Research Groups

Trent University recognizes that a number of more informal research organizations also exist. These Research Groups are recognized by the Office of Research and Innovation and consist of a number of investigators informally organized, with shared research objectives, and possibly, shared facilities and funds.They may be expected to form, grow, and dissolve on a relatively short time scale, although, in some cases, they can also be stable for a relatively long time period.

The following are Trent's Recognized Research Groups:

African Studies Research Group

The African Studies Research Group was re-established in 2019 to provide students and scholars alike with an organization dedicated to highlighting and fostering research around the African continent. Trent has had a long and close relationship with excellence in research around Africa ranging from economic histories to archaeological digs to music and literature alike. The Group will offer interested researchers a home to share ideas, discuss their work, and develop new and exciting approaches to studying such a rich and diverse continent. It is also a place to share our passion for the continent and how we engage with it. The Group is made up of scholars from a number of departments and faculties at Trent, reflecting our commitment to both the continent and to interdisciplinary approaches. Africa is the birthplace of the human species. It has also been the focal point for crucial developments in human history, and is a fundamental player in major global developments and resource markets. Much of the world’s population has been affected by the legacies of both the trans-Saharan and trans-Atlantic slave trades along with the Indian Ocean trade, and central to any study of these trades is the fact that from them arose the first true global market economy. Enslaved Africans brought the music and stories of the continent to the Americas, to the Middle East, and as far as Southeast Asia in some cases. As a result, African culture, African music and African resistance has been a major theme in most global cultures’ development. Today, the many African nations are key producers of raw materials, rare minerals necessary to miniaturize electronics, and a new diaspora of students, migrants, and entrepreneurs who bring African culture and perspectives to the world. The Group reflects this wide scope and the variety of ways to study and share research.


EditionsTrent is an established group of scholars working with external collaborators and partners drawn together as part of the Editing Modernism in Canada (EMiC) initiative.The Department of English Literature and its associated Masters program (Public Texts) are home to the very active EditionsTrent Research Group producing scholarly editions of major Canadian writers. Over the years, Trent University’s English Department has hosted three major print and/or digital “collected works” projects focused on the works of A.M. Klein, E.J. Pratt, and P.K. Page, as well as the digital edition of the expansive diaries of Robertson Davies.

Communicating Conservation Science Research Group

The Communicating Conservation Science Research Group mission is to improve our ability to translate conservation science to the public and policy-makers. At the heart of the Group’s activities will be the craft of compelling storytelling. Policy and documents, facts and figures, charts and data; these will always be part of the conversation. In conservation science, peer-reviewed knowledge remains the foundation of understanding. But as the starting point for broad understanding and conservation action, mere data fails to connect with non-specialists. Storytelling does. Narratives, images, and conversations have emotional and memorable qualities that link science to non-scientists. Storytelling frames people’s perspectives about the world, and when we re-frame the way we communicate environmental issues, we change the way the public views the environment. Storytelling moves people from inertia to engagement.

Molecules, Cells, and Systems Research Group

The Molecules, Cells and Systems Research Group brings together researchers from the Departments of Biology, Psychology, Chemistry, and Forensics Science, who will work together to answer key questions related to our understanding of the biological determinants of life. All organisms, whether unicellular (e.g., bacteria) or multicellular (e.g., humans), require fundamental building blocks (i.e., molecules) that allow them to survive and flourish. These building blocks facilitate the formation of a cell, which can then associate with other cells to form a multicellular organism. Through evolution, multicellular organisms have become more specialized facilitating the formation of complex multicellular structures found in our most evolved species (e.g., tissues and organs in humans). The survival of all species on this planet requires a thorough understanding of the mechanisms underlying each stage of this biological hierarchy.