Researchers Yan and Allison receive congratulations


The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) recently sent certificates of congratulations to various York faculty who have received CFI grants during the past year. VP Research & Innovation Stan Shapson had the happy task of delivering the certificates of congratulations to researchers Robert Allison and Norman Yan. (Shapson is pictured on the left in the photo below, right.)

Norman Yan – The health of Ontario’s inland lakes

Prof. Norman Yan, left, Biology Department, Faculty of Pure & Applied Science, is one of the world’s experts on the impacts of multiple environmental stressors on the animal plankton of inland lakes. Recently known for his research on the spiny water flea that has invaded Ontario lakes and threatened the survival of many native fish, he is now establishing the Field Laboratory for the Assessment of Multiple Ecological Stressors (FLAMES) on zooplankton. The FLAMES lab will look at all the environmental problems in Canada’s soft-water lakes — including pollutants, climatic change and invading species – and their effect on the plankton.

Yan notes that boreal shield lakes are often exposed to acid rain, climate change, excess nutrients and invading species all at the same time, so the traditional approach of dealing with environmental problems one at a time is essentially flawed. His research will be based on ecological changes detected in the world’s best long-term, large-scale data sets on animal plankton and the causes of these patterns. He will be examining the stressors suspected of having the largest impact on biodiversity in the world’s fresh waters. The results will help policy makers manage the impact of multiple environmental stressors, and help the metal mining and energy sectors determine whether the interaction of these stressors are compromising the recovery of inland lakes from historical damage.

The FLAMES lab will be built on the site of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment’s world renowned Dorset Environmental Science Centre in the Muskoka region, providing unparalleled access to many different lakes subjected to a variety of stressors of national and international significance.

Robert Allison – Depth perception and virtual reality

Prof. Robert Allison, right, Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Pure & Applied Science, is one of the few researchers in the field with expertise in psychophysics, coupled with a strong background in computer engineering. He is studying stereoscopic vision and depth perception to improve the visual presentation in advanced virtual reality environments that are used in a variety of applications, from computer-aided design to robotics and teleoperated machinery.

By considering how the brain processes the difference between the images on both eyes to create stereoscopic depth, Allison examines how we reconstruct a three-dimensional perception of the world around us from the two-dimensional images on the retinas.

Allison has been very influential in developing understanding of binocular vision and stereopsis. He was the first to provide a complete description of the basic spatial and temporal properties of the eye-movement response to vertical disparities, and he has provided important insights into the role of vertical disparities in depth perception.

CFI is an independent corporation established by the Government of Canada in 1997, with a goal to strengthen the capability of Canadian universities, colleges, hospitals and other not-for-profit institutions to carry out world-class research and technology development.