Ten researchers earn York Research Chair appointments

Ten emerging and established researchers across the University will join the York Research Chairs (YRC) program, York University’s internal counterpart to the national Canada Research Chairs (CRC) program, which recognizes outstanding researchers.

The newly appointed YRCs belong to the fifth cohort of researchers to be appointed since the establishment of the program in 2015. The program is designed to build, support and intensify the world-renowned research underway at York University.

Rhonda L. Lenton

“Our newest York Research Chairs not only have innovative perspectives on scholarship and research, but they are also valued leaders and mentors in their fields at York and beyond,” said President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton. “York is proud to support the excellence of our researchers through initiatives such as the YRC program, an important part of our institutional commitment to cultivate an engaged research environment that facilitates research growth and development and champions research, scholarship and creative activities of the highest quality and societal impact.”

The YRC program is aimed at building research recognition and capacity, with excellence in research, scholarship and associated creative activity serving as selection criteria. Standards, expectations and supports for YRCs are at the same level as for the CRC program.

This program is designed to recognize excellence that is already in existence at York, and to support the programs of the University’s most active researchers.

Robert Haché

“The YRC program mirrors the federal CRC program, to broaden and deepen the impact of research chairs at York in building and intensifying world-renowned research across the institution. These new YRCs are undertaking visionary work that has local, national and international impact,” said Vice-President Research and Innovation Robert Haché.

Tier I YRCs are open to established research leaders at the rank of full professor. Tier II YRCs are aimed at emerging research leaders within 15 years of their first academic appointment. Both have five-year terms that are renewable in the context of open competition, based on peer review and the continuing availability of resources.

Four of this year’s YRCs are supported through York’s VISTA Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) program.

Tier I York Research Chairs

James Elder

James Elder

James Elder
York Research Chair in Human and Computer Vision
Elder is a member of the Centre for Vision Research and a professor in the Departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Psychology at York University, and is appointed as a joint Lassonde School of Engineering/Faculty of Health Tier I Chair. His research interests include the development of novel and useful computer vision algorithms and machine vision systems through a better understanding of visual processing in biological systems. 

Lesley Jacobs

Lesley Jacobs

Lesley Jacobs
York Research Chair in Human Rights and Access to Justice
Jacobs is professor and director of the Institute for Social Research at York University where he teaches political science and law and society in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, as well as in the graduate program in law at Osgoode Hall Law School and the graduate program in socio-legal studies. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2017 for his contributions in Canada and abroad to human rights and access to justice. Appointed as a Tier I Chair, he will focus his research on establishing an innovative Access to Justice Research Lab, which will serve as an incubator for the most impactful primary empirical research on access to justice in Canada.

York U researcher Lauren Sergio

Lauren Sergio

Lauren Sergio
York Research Chair in Brain Health and Skilled Performance
Sergio is a professor in the Faculty of Health’s School of Kinesiology and Health Science. She is appointed as a Tier I Chair. Her research investigates the effects of age, sex, neurological disease, head injury and experience (elite versus non-elite athletes) on the brain’s control of complex movement. Sergio works with a wide range of adult populations, including NHL draft prospects and Alzheimer’s disease patients, using behavioural and brain imaging techniques. She is a member of the Centre for Vision Research, a research affiliate at Southlake Regional Health Centre and a member of the York Lions Sport Medicine Team.

Richard Wildes

Richard Wildes

Richard Wildes
York Research Chair in Computational Vision
Wildes is associate director of the Vision: Science to Applications (VISTA) project, a member of the Centre for Vision Research and an associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science of the Lassonde School of Engineering. He is appointed as a Tier I Chair. He is the recipient of a Sarnoff Corporation Technical Achievement Award, the IEEE D.G. Fink Prize Paper Award for his Proceedings of the IEEE publication “Iris Recognition: An Emerging Biometric Technology.” He has twice been invited to present lectures to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. His research interests include computer vision, video understanding, machine vision applications and artificial intelligence.

Dan Zhang

Dan Zhang

Dan Zhang
York Research Chair in Advanced Robotics and Mechatronics
Zhang is a professor and Kaneff Research Chair in Advanced Robotics and Mechatronics in the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the Lassonde School of Engineering. He is appointed as a Tier I Chair. From 2004 to 2015, Zhang was an assistant/associate professor/full professor and Canada Research Chair in Advanced Robotics and Automation, and was a founding Chair of the Department of Automotive, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering with the Faculty of Engineering & Applied Science at University of Ontario Institute of Technology. Zhang’s research interests include robotics and mechatronics, high performance parallel robotic machine development, micro/nano manipulation and MEMS devices, and rehabilitation robots and rescue robots.

Huaiping Zhu

Huaiping Zhu

Huaiping Zhu
York Research Chair in Applied Mathematics
Zhu is a professor of mathematics in the Faculty of Science and director of the Laboratory of Mathematical Parallel Systems (LAMPS) at York University. Appointed as a Tier I Chair, he has research interests that include dynamical systems and differential equations; bifurcation theory and applications; Hilbert’s sixteenth problem; mathematical ecology and epidemiology; climate change modelling and impact studies; and developing mathematical models, theories, methodologies and tools for the prevention and control of vector-borne diseases.

Tier II York Research Chairs

Jacob Beck

Jacob Beck

Jacob Beck
York Research Chair in Philosophy of Visual Perception
Beck is an associate professor of philosophy in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, and is also a member of the Cognitive Science Program, the Centre for Vision Research and the Vision: Science to Applications (VISTA) program. Appointed as a Tier II Chair, he has research interests that include the study of mental representation and consciousness from an empirically informed philosophical perspective. Most of his current research centres on three issues: the format of mental representation, the perception–cognition boundary, and how consciousness and representation interrelate.

Dayna Scott

Dayna Scott

Dayna Nadine Scott
York Research Chair in Environmental Law and Justice in the Green Economy
Scott joined the Faculty at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School in 2006. She is cross-appointed to York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies. Appointed as a Tier II Chair, she has a teaching focus on environmental law and justice, risk regulation and international environmental governance. She is a co-director of Osgoode’s Environmental Justice and Sustainability Clinic, with research interests that focus on contestation over extraction, the distribution of pollution burdens affecting marginalized communities and vulnerable populations, and the justice dimensions of the transition to a greener economy.

Jonathan Weiss

Jonathan Weiss

Jonathan Weiss
York Research Chair in Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disability
Weiss is a clinical psychologist and associate professor in the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health. Appointed as a Tier II Chair, he has research foci on the prevention and treatment of mental health problems in people with autism and/or intellectual disabilities across the lifespan. Weiss also holds the CIHR Chair in Autism Spectrum Disorders Treatment and Care Research. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Dual Diagnosis Program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and was a research fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto.

Derek Wilson

Derek Wilson

Derek Wilson
York Research Chair in Molecular Mechanisms of Disease
Wilson is an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, at York University. He holds the position of director of the Centre for Research in Mass Spectrometry (CRMS). Appointed as a Tier II Chair, he specializes in developing novel mass-spectrometry methods to investigate biomedical problems at a molecular level. He has a Krembil Foundation-funded project that focuses on the causes of Alzheimer’s, a neurodegenerative disease affecting an estimated 44 million patients worldwide, and with a global disease burden of more than $600 billion. His program is highly collaborative with industry for the accelerated development of anti-neurodegenerative drugs.

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