This series is aimed at getting to know exceptional UBC staff and faculty who are doing anything but the typical day to day. Discover the stories of these UBC Vancouver and Okanagan individuals, who contribute to making UBC an inspiring place to be.
Dr. Keith Culver is the Director of the Survive and Thrive Applied Research Initiative (STAR), based at UBC’s Okanagan Campus. STAR connects organizations with UBC researchers and international partners to create solutions to human performance challenges, disaster scenarios and business growth. Researchers and staff at UBC STAR cultivate collaboration by improving human lives and advancing economic development and job creation in Western Canada.
Keith began his career as a legal theorist, concerned with questions about the nature of legal obligation and the role of legal institutions as means to conflict resolution. His interest in law as a tool for social problem solving in environment, technology and security, led him to a number of interdisciplinary adventures. Before coming to UBC in 2011, he held the International Chair in Eco-Innovation at the UniverSud Paris consortium of universities.
K: We are in the very early days of the Internet of things, and integration of artificial intelligence into a world where cyberspace and the physical world overlap. I think we’re going to see very rapid developments in simulation technologies in association with sensor technologies. This will enable us to respond earlier than ever before to signs of incipient disaster, and we’ll be able to respond on the back of rapidly composed and compared scenarios.
Among a certain group of researchers, this has the status of fact and the rest is just detail. From my perspective as a legal theorist, I see a complex road ahead as we try to develop reliable technologies governed by the right standards while introducing it in the right way to those who will use these technologies.
The best way to get university-developed knowledge into practice will be through partnership with users, from beginning to end of our research and development processes. What I think will be surprising is the extent to which users of these technologies will be non-traditional, for example, the rise of crowd-sourcing of surveillance, simulation and adaptive response to disaster.
As Keith puts it, STAR “translates research results into practice.” As the director, his duty is to reflect on STAR’s structure and continue to forge new connections between the university and the broader community. He believes that the creation of this new kind of research initiative within the university is an opportunity to make professional contributions that achieve immediate practical impacts and improve human lives.
This notion leads STAR into exciting new territory. From the Okanagan all the way to London, England, it’s clear STAR’s efforts have begun to flourish across the globe.