Four York faculty receive Canada Research Chairs

The federal government has awarded York University four Canada Research Chairs (CRCs) to advance the study of study of digital culture, the history of French-English translation, corporate governance and particle physics.

Sherry Simon, professor of translation at Glendon, received a Tier 1 award of $200,000 a year for seven years, to study the history of translation in both Canada and India. Receiving Tier 2 awards of $100,000 a year for five years were Caitlin Fisher, professor in the Department of Film & Video, Faculty of Fine Arts, Wendy Taylor, professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy in the Faculty of Science & Engineering, and Peer Zumbansen, professor at Osgoode Hall Law School. They were among the 194 recipients of a total of $194 million in funding announced Friday in Vancouver, and complement York’s existing 26 Chairs.

“The creation of these four Chairs builds on York’s renowned research strength in areas like physics, culture, and international studies,” said Stan Shapson, York vice-president research & innovation. “The federal government’s investments into university research are crucial to sustaining York’s globally competitive research programs and to attracting the world’s best researchers and students.”

The announcement was made by Prime Minister Paul Martin and David Emerson, minister of industry and minister responsible for the Canada Research Chairs program. “We’re proud that the funding announced today will support research by Canada’s leading scholarly and scientific minds,” said Martin. “From health care, to the environment, to building stronger communities, the work of these Canada Research Chairs will have a direct impact on the lives of Canadians and help position Canada as a world leader in the 21st century economy.”

“In the new economy, our most important resource is people,” Emerson said . “This is why the Canada Research Chairs program is so vital to Canada’s future. These researchers not only create world-class knowledge that is being put to use right now, across all sectors of society, but they are also helping train the next generation of researchers and knowledge workers.”

simonSherry Simon

Translation is an integral part of Canadian cultural and political life. Canada’s unique identity as a bilingual country would probably not exist without institutionalized translation. Yet, there is little public awareness of the many practices of translation that contribute to our cultural life. Canada has a rich history of translation, from Native and immigrant languages, in areas such as theatre, literature and the media, yet the issues and debates which nourish these activities are not adequately recognized. Inequalities between languages and resistances to translation are also part of that history.

As Canada Research Chair in Translation and Cultural History, Simon will study translation as a field of complex interactions, reflecting the entanglements and interdependencies of our history. She will examine the impact of translation on Canadian social and cultural history, examining such issues as the translation of non-standard languages (like joual), and the use of translation by emergent cultural and ideological groups.

While Simon’s primary research focus will be translation in Canada, she will also examine multiculturalism and translation in India which provides an important point of comparison. Simon will study translation in the context of linguistically divided cities, particularly Montreal and 19th century Calcutta, and as an expression of social activism. This comparison is grounded in the idea that translation has functions and effects which are specific to multilingual contexts. She will also examine concepts of translation which have emerged in these two countries, where translation has emerged as an active area of inquiry and experimentation.

As Canada Research Chair in Translation and Cultural History, Simon will provide innovative leadership and expertise to York University’s Translation Studies program, housed at York’s bilingual Glendon campus.

fisherCaitlin Fisher

Digital technology is transforming the way Canadians relate to all aspects of language – the way we read, write and communicate with one another. Digital technology has also transformed narrative and storytelling in traditional poetry, cinema and fiction. As a result, there is a pressing need for research that asks what it means to read and write in the digital cultural age.

Internationally recognized for her research and creative contributions in the emerging field of digital culture, Fisher will devote part of her time as Canada Research Chair to investigating the future of narrative, interactive storytelling and interactive cinema in augmented reality environments.

Augmented reality (AR), an emerging and vital area of vrtual reality research, involves the development of technologies for merging real and virtual images, exploring the kinds of experiences made possible in these computer-enhanced environments and studying the effects. In AR environments, virtual images are laid over real ones to create an “augmented” display.

Fisher and her colleagues at York will collaborate with Professor Jay Bolter of the Georgia Institute of Technology and his team, who are developing new and cost-effective technologies for enabling AR experiences. This collaboration will eventually lead to the establishment of an Augmented Reality Lab at York which will be dedicated to the exploration of potential uses of AR, while positioning York as a pioneer in the field.

Fisher will also research the potential of digital archives and their relationship to storytelling. The “Art of Archiving” project will provide insights into how digital archiving can have an impact on digital research techniques and cultural transmission. This project will improve cultural dissemination and provide better models for e-learning. Fisher is training the next generation of researchers and practitioners through innovative courses in hypermedia theory and practice.

zumbansenPeer Zumbansen

Globalization is characterized by the growing pressures on the welfare state by decentralized law-making procedures, changing notions of government and issues of democratic accountability. In this context, large corporations assume an increasingly important role in addressing the rights and interests of workers and consumers, as well as sustainable development in integrated markets.

As Canada Research Chair in Transnational and Comparative Law of Corporate Governance, Zumbansen will explore the impact of globalization on national economies by examining the changing nature of capitalism in globally integrated markets.

Widely published in both German and English, Zumbansen will focus on businesses and networks at all levels. His assessment of business activities in different political and market contexts will produce valuable insights into the organizational challenges faced by governments in regulating business conduct. This is key as governments attempt to balance society’s interests with the ability of companies to self-regulate.

His research will explore broader questions concerning political sovereignty and the changing relationship between the state and the market. Particular attention will be paid to the European Union, Canada and the United States.

Zumbansen, who is the co-founder and co-editor in chief of the German Law Journal is expected to enrich York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School interdisciplinary approach to legal studies by drawing upon his research on comparative corporate governance and public-law transformations in the face of transnational and global realities.

taylorWendy Taylor

For thousands of years, humans have wondered what the world is made of and how it behaves. Particle physicists have established that the universe is composed of fundamental particles called quarks and leptons which interact with one another through four fundamental forces – the strong force, the weak force, electromagnetism and gravity. However, this simplified view of the natural world is incomplete. Particle physicists continue to search for new forms of matter, new forces of interaction, and a complete understanding of physical laws.

As Canada Research Chair in Experimental Particle Physics, Taylor will continue her research on the “b” quark. The mass and life span of the “b” quark (the second heaviest quark) make it an excellent tool for probing the subatomic interactions between matter and forces.

Taylor is conducting this research as a member of the international DZero collaboration, which is engaged in the collection and study of proton-antiproton collision data at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Chicago (Fermilab). In addition to her studies of the “b” quark, Dr. Taylor will apply her expertise in data collection electronics to the DZero detection upgrade project. Her inquiry promises important contributions to the advancement of the understanding of the laws of nature at their most fundamental level.

In the long term, she will contribute to the existing York University effort on the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (particle accelerator), scheduled to begin operation in 2007 at the CERN Laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. Taylor’s contributions will ensure York continues to be at the forefront of scientific discovery in this important field both nationally and internationally.

For more information the Canada Research Chairs Program and a complete list of recipients visit the CRC Web site.