York University appoints a new associate vice-president research

Vice-President Research & Innovation Robert Haché, announces the appointment of Faculty of Health Professor Rebecca Pillai Riddell as Associate Vice-President Research (AVP), effective Dec. 1.

“I look forward to welcoming Professor Pillai Riddell to VPRI and to working with her as she undertakes this critical leadership role,” said Haché. “I would also like to thank the members of the AVP Search Advisory Committee for their contributions to this important process.”

Rebecca Pillai Riddell

In her new role, Pillai Riddell will help facilitate the promotion of strategic research development at York and lead the development of research policy that bridges the needs of researchers and the institution. She will work with Haché and the other AVP (Professor Celia Haig-Brown) to enhance the services available for all researchers, help continue to track and build York’s research performance, provide leadership for York’s organized research units, and enlarge the University’s collaborative role with external stakeholders and communities.

Pillai Riddell has established the first norms for the development of acute pain behaviours in healthy infants, within the context of primary caregivers, through her Opportunities to Understand Childhood Hurt (OUCH) Lab at York. Internationally, the OUCH cohort is known to be the largest and most in-depth longitudinal study on healthy infants and caregivers during vaccination to date. Last year, she was honoured with the 2016 York University’s Presidential Emerging Research Leadership Award for her research accomplishments and was named the inaugural York Research Chair in Pain and Mental Health in 2015.

Pillai Riddell has contributed to more than 100 peer-reviewed publications and invited contributions. A passionate research teacher, she has been primary supervisor of 13 doctoral and postdoctoral scholars and 37 Honours Thesis students. All six of her current students have held Canada Graduate Scholarships, including her most recent doctoral graduate who was selected as York University’s 2017 Governor General’s Gold Medal recipient.

Pillai Riddell is a co-principal investigator on a multi-million dollar Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Strategic Training Initiative in Health Research program entitled “Pain in Child Health” and her current research program has also been supported by all three federal research councils  [CIHR, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)], alongside a Canada Foundation for Innovation grant.

In addition to this teaching and research activity, Pillai Riddell has also held several leadership positions across the University and beyond. This includes serving as Senate’s APPRC chair, committee chair for York University’s Canada Research Chair Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan and, as a lead, on two national practice groups building clinical practice guidelines for both infant vaccination pain and painful procedures for hospitalized infants, one of which was recently adapted by the World Health Organization.

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