York U researchers among recipients of new awards from the Canada Foundation for Innovation

York University researchers are among the recipients of a Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) investment of more than $554 million in 117 new infrastructure projects at 61 universities, colleges and research hospitals across Canada. The funding was announced Oct. 16 by Canada’s Minster of Science Kirsty Duncan.

Thilo Womelsdorf. Photo Credit: Martin Lipman/NSERC

A project initiated by Faculty of Science biology Professor Thilo Womelsdorf received $3,106, 516 to establish a Centre for Neuro-Behavioral Monitoring (CNBM). Once established, the centre, which will be based at York University, will undertake research using advanced technologies to explain how brain networks learn and generate natural behaviours in real-world conditions. By understanding how brain processes adjust in real-world conditions, the research will lead to more accurate and earlier diagnostic markers of neurological and neuropsychiatric diseases.

“York University is delighted to receive this funding of more than $3 million dollars from the CFI  ̶  the single largest award that York has received from the CFI,” said Robert Haché, vice-president research & innovation. “The infrastructure for this work will be aligned with a Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) grant that supports the Vision: Science to Applications (VISTA) program. This program supports research across a wide range of applications of vision science, from basic visual function, to computer vision and object recognition, and more.”

The project will use advanced technologies such as wireless brain network recording, telemetric physiological tracking and advanced video analytics of learning, socializing and problem-solving behaviours during free-ranging neuroscience experiments. The three pillars are organized by a data analytics plan that leverages and develops big data mining and management tools for visualization, complex pattern analysis and dimensionality reduction of the unique neuro-behavioural datasets.

Other projects that include York U researchers

Wendy Taylor

York University was also awarded $900,000 from the 2017 CFI IF competition for the project “Upgrades to the ATLAS Detector at the Large Hadron Collider.” This funding is part of a $29-million grant awarded to the various Canadian institutions working on the CERN ATLAS Experiment. York U Faculty of Science experimental particle physics Professor Wendy Taylor is the faculty member on the grant. She will work with the project’s principal investigator, University of Toronto Professor Peter Krieger.

Taylor and Krieger are part of a Canadian group of researchers who are focused on developing custom high-precision particle detectors for the ATLAS experiment at the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC) based in Switzerland. The funds awarded will enable Canadian participation in Phase-II upgrades to the ATLAS detector at the LHC at CERN. The upgrades are needed to allow the detector to operate during the high-luminosity phase of the LHC experimental program.

ATLAS is one of two large general-purpose detectors that record data from proton-proton collisions at the LHC and, along with another experiment, it was responsible for the 2012 discovery of the Higgs boson, leading to the 2013 Nobel Prize awarded to Higgs and Englert. Studies of this new particle will continue, with detailed investigations requiring the large data sample to be collected at the HL-LHC. The other main experimental goal is the discovery of new phenomena, not described by the standard model of particle physics.

The Canadian group proposes to build and test components, modules and detector structures for about 20 per cent of the end-cap ITk strips detector at two production sites, one at the University of Toronto and one at TRIUMF in Vancouver.  Each site will be supported by neighboring universities that will contribute to the module and component testing and quality control and assurance, with Simon Fraser University, UBC, and TRIUMF forming the Vancouver production cluster, and Carleton University, l’Université de Montréal, and York University working with the University of Toronto team. The collaboration also includes a strong industrial partner, Celestica, in Toronto, that successfully produced the first Canadian prototype ITk module in 2015.

Les Jacobs

And finally, York University social science Professor Les Jacobs, who is the academic director of the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice based at Osgoode Hall Law School, will receive $42,000 in funding from a larger award of $2,687,869 to a research group led by McMaster University. The funds will be used to upgrade the Canadian Research Data Centre Network that will transition the CRDCN into high-performance computing. The goal of the project is to liberate data for research and policy development. The CRDCN offers Canadian researchers access to an array of social, economic and health microdata that are collected and administered by Statistics Canada.

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