Wu upholds York researchers’ Beautiful Minds

Gillian Wu, dean of York’s Faculty of Pure & Applied Science, has pointed out major omissions in a Toronto Life feature about great researchers in Toronto, which the magazine carried in its November issue under the cover title “Beautiful Minds”. Her letter appears in the January issue, which is now on the stands. “It was refreshing to read your article paying tribute to our ‘City of Scientists’,” said Wu. “But I was deeply disappointed that only the University of Toronto and Mount Sinai were identified as places where great research is carried out in this city. Of the 18 scientists profiled, nine were associated with U of T, two with Mount Sinai, and the others were given no research affiliation. By choosing mainly U of T-associated scientists, you neglected some of the best science from other local institutions.

“One of the scientists in your article, Jianhong Wu, is at York University’s Mathematics Department,” Wu continued, “though this wasn’t mentioned. In fact, York University has many scientists who were overlooked but are recognized internationally for their leadership. Atomic physicist Eric Hessels is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards recognizing his outstanding scientific contributions, including the Francis Pipkin Award of the American Physical Society, marking the first time the award has gone to a non-American scientist. Hessels and his colleagues generated ‘anti-hydrogen’ (antimatter has long been the Holy Grail of physicists and the stuff that transports science fiction addicts).

“York’s space researchers, including Diane Michelangeli and Peter Taylor, are part of the Phoenix Project – NASA’s US$320-million mission to land on Mars,” Wu added. “Dawn Bazely‘s work on how ecosystems are affected by such biological disturbances as habitat fragmentation, fire and high populations of deer and moose is crucial for maintaining our environment and clearly important in the context of the Kyoto Accord.

“Next time, I urge you to dig a little deeper and get a more complete picture of the story of research in our city.”

York prof comments on drunk-driving law

Professor Alan Young of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School said the charge of dangerous driving causing death acts as a “fall-back” provision for prosecutors aiming to convict on the charge of impaired operation causing death, which he added is more difficult to prove. Young was commenting in the Toronto Star Dec. 17, on drunk-driving charges laid against former Toronto Maple Leafs captain Rob Ramage. Ramage lost control of a car Dec. 15, in an accident that claimed the life of his passenger Keith Magnuson, and has subsequently been charged with impaired operation of a vehicle causing death, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. An additional charge of dangerous driving causing death was laid Dec. 16. “The state will not only have to prove impairment but will have to prove that the impairment is causally related to the tragedy,” Young said. Although the maximum sentence for impaired driving causing death is life and the maximum for driving dangerously causing death is about 14 years, he cautioned that the maximums often have little bearing on the actual sentence. “These types of cases, especially for the first offenders, can attract reformatory time under two years,” he said.

Hollywood’s gay characters hard to find

The 1970 film, The Boys in the Band, has been called a turning point in queer cinema because it’s one of the first to focus on openly gay characters – but it has also been slammed for reverting to a homophobic view of gays as bitchy and self-loathing, said an article in The Vancouver Sun Dec. 17. The man who directed the film, William Friedkin, was attacked by gay rights groups in 1980 for Cruising, a thriller that cast Al Pacino as a undercover cop hunting for a killer in a seedy, underground gay culture in New York. “A lot of gay people who lived ordinary, common, everyday lives were upset that this was the way they were being represented,” said Robin Wood, a course director in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts.

On air

  • Professor Michael Mandel, who teaches international criminal law at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, appeared as part of a panel discussion on CBC Radio’s “The Current” on Dec. 16, discussing the trial of Saddam Hussein. An interview with Mandel about the impact Saddam’s capture is having on the world was aired the same day on OMNI News (South Asian Editon) on OMNI.2 and on OMNI.1’s Studio Aperto (Italian).