Seven York University researchers receive Early Researcher Award

Seven researchers from York University have each received funds through the Ontario government’s Early Researcher Awards (ERA) program. The researchers are Rebecca Bassett-Gunter, Hany Farag, Ryan Hili, Caroline Shenaz Hossein, Amy Muise, Jean-Paul Paluzzi and Christopher Perry. The Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science’s Early Researcher Awards program provides funding to new researchers working at publicly funded Ontario research institutions to build a research team.

The $140,000 represents the contribution from the Ontario Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science for the ERA award – $100k for the researcher and $40,000 in overhead to the institution. The ERA award is matched by a $50,000 contribution from the institution. Hence the researcher has a total of $150,000 available.

“York is delighted to see these individuals receive an Early Researcher Award: Rebecca Bassett-Gunter, Amy Muise and Christopher Perry from the Faculty of Health; Ryan Hili and Jean-Paul Paluzzi from the Faculty of Science; Hany Farag from the Lassonde School of Engineering; and Caroline Shenaz Hossein from the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies,” said Vice-President Research & Innovation Robert Haché.

“The funding provided by Ontario’s Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science will help to assist early career researchers in realizing their full potential,” he added.

Rebecca Bassett-Gunter

Physical activity is a powerful tool to foster health, inclusion and well-being for children with disabilities while combating stigma, transforming community attitudes and empowering individuals. Parent support can facilitate physical activity among children with disabilities. One strategy to enhance parent support is the use of persuasive messages. Rebecca Bassett-Gunter’s program of research, in the School of Kinesiology and Health Science, examines the development of optimal physical activity promotion messages targeting parents of children with disabilities. Increased physical activity among children with disabilities via enhanced parent support can ultimately lead to reduced health care costs through improved physical, mental and social health among Ontarians with disabilities.

Hany Farag

Renewable energy resources, electric vehicles and renewable gas are identified as key solutions to help meet Ontario’s aggressive targets of greenhouse gas emissions reduction. Yet, the deployment of low-carbon technologies is creating a paradigm shift in the way energy is produced, traded, distributed and utilized. Research led by Hany Farag, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, aims to provide timely, cost-effective and innovative solutions to integrate power, transit and gas into a unified low-carbon system using energy storage and smart grid technologies. This research will help to ensure cleaner, sustainable and affordable delivery of energy for customers in Ontario.

Ryan Hili

Ryan Hili’s research in the Department of Chemistry is focused on developing a platform to rapidly generate artificial antibodies to address a deficit of diagnostic tools in biomedical research. This will be achieved by developing a system capable of evolving chemically modified nucleic acid polymers that can recognize and bind proteins and other biomolecules implicated in human disease. Products generated from this research will have immediate impact on health care in Ontario, all the while providing an excellent training ground for new scientists in chemical biology.

Caroline Hossein

Caroline Shenaz Hossein

Caroline Shenaz Hossein’s research project, in the Department of Social Science, examines the role of the social economy – comprised of community organizations as well as socially-conscious small businesses that support societal well-being – among African Canadians in the GTA, London and Oshawa. The project documents how racialized people, especially women, are excluded from economic development programs and how people cope with and resist business exclusion by relying on local social economies such as social enterprises, self-help groups, coops and nonprofits. Empirical evidence derived through community-based research will be mobilized to influence policy discussions about how the province can more equitably support social innovation that benefits racialized minorities, and to also develop new narratives that demonstrate the economic ingenuity of racialized Canadians.

Maintaining high sexual desire for a partner over time can have profound implications for romantic relationship satisfaction, which is a key contributor to overall health and well-being. But for many couples keeping the sexual spark alive over time is challenging. Amy Muise’s research, in the Department of Psychology, tests the idea that couples who engage in self-expanding activities will maintain higher sexual desire and relationship satisfaction over time. This is important given that long lasting, happy relationships are key contributors to overall health and well-being, and that lowering the divorce rate helps to reduce financial instability and negative health and psychological consequences for Canadian families.

Jean-Paul Paluzzi

Jean-Paul Paluzzi

Jean-Paul Paluzzi’s research, in the Department of Biology, studies the biology of disease vectors, including ticks and mosquitoes.  Specifically, it examines neuroendocrine systems, which are central in regulating the fundamental biology of these organisms. This will benefit the comparative endocrinology community since many hormone systems are found in other animals, including humans. This research is both innovative and timely since it will accelerate development of novel compounds and strategies aimed at reducing the prevalence of disease-vectors, which is of significant concern in Ontario due to increased risk of tick- and mosquito-borne diseases.

Christopher Perry

Thousands of people in Ontario with Duchenne muscular dystrophy suffer from muscle wasting and weakness and are confined to a wheelchair by their teenage years. Many die of respiratory failure in their 30s or 40s. Emerging evidence demonstrates that this disease is associated with impaired energy production, specifically within ‘mitochondria’ – the ‘powerhouses’ of cells. Christopher Perry’s research, in the School of Kinesiology and Health Science, shows that these structures also release excessive amounts of toxic reactive oxygen species during energy production. Through multiple pharmaceutical industry partnerships, a variety of innovative ‘mitochondrial-targeted therapeutics’ will be tested as novel approaches to preserve skeletal muscle and respiratory muscle function in this debilitating disease.

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