York appoints new research AVPs

Stan Shapson, vice-president research & innovation, has announced the appointments of Professor Michael Siu as associate vice-president research (science & technology) and Professor David Dewitt as associate vice-president research (social sciences & humanities) for three-year terms, effective July 1, 2005.

 Michael Siu  David Dewitt

“I’m confident that these new appointments will help set in motion the transformation of York into one of Canada’s top research universities,” said Shapson. “York is blessed with many assets that other institutions can only wish for – innovative faculty members, a location in the heart of the Greater Toronto Area and close to 50,000 active students. However, in order for York to take its place as one of Canada’s preeminent research universities, for it to continue to attract and retain the top scholars and students, and for the University to have access to all possible sources of financial support for research, it is crucial that we set forth on a new, strategic path.”

Professors Dewitt and Siu will have a number of distinct objectives within each of their roles to help better serve the distinct research cultures within their disciplinary areas. They will also work closely together to ensure opportunities for greater interdisciplinary research between science, technology and engineering, and the social sciences, humanities, fine arts and professional schools. In addition, they will work with the vice-president research & innovation to intensify the services available for all researchers, track York’s research performance more effectively and enlarge the University’s collaborative role with external stakeholders and communities.

“David and Michael are not only renowned researchers,” said Shapson. “They are fiercely dedicated to research at York, understand fully the challenges that we face, and want to provide the leadership and ideas to move York’s research forward.”

Dewitt, who received his PhD from Stanford University, has been director of York’s Centre for International and Security Studies since 1988, and chairs the vice-president’s Strategic Planning Group for International Studies Research. Dewitt has published extensively on a number of urgent issues facing the world today, including Canadian foreign and defence policies, international security, arms control, conflict management, peacekeeping and the politics of security in Asia and the Middle East. As well, he has chaired a number of national and international academic organizations and been active in a range of track two diplomatic initiatives.

“This is an exciting time for York,” said Dewitt. “I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues across the University – particularly those throughout the social sciences, humanities, fine arts, and professional schools – to ensure that they have full support and every opportunity to build on their own unique research strengths, and every confidence to participate in innovative, collaborative and cross-faculty projects.”

Siu, who has a PhD from Dalhousie, is director of York’s Centre for Research in Mass Spectrometry, holds an Industrial Research Chair funded by NSERC and MDS SCIEX, and is developing new instrumentation and methodologies in mass spectrometry, the premier technology in proteomics. He is collaborating with researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital and the University Health Network to identify protein markers in endometrial cancer. Siu also has extensive collaboration within and outside of York University on proteomics and gas-phase ion chemistry. He is the recipient of numerous distinctions, including, most recently, the Gerhard Herzberg Award from the Spectroscopy Society of Canada. Siu also serves as Senate representative on the York University Board of Governors and sits on the vice-president’s Strategic Planning Group for Health Research.

“Basic research is at the heart of the mission of universities, and is crucial for the future of York,” said Siu. “Taking on this new role will allow me to help guide York’s planning on issues such as ‘big science’, while ensuring that, through our research, York increases its role in creating new knowledge, preparing the next generation of students and postdoctoral fellows, and transferring knowledge that contributes to scientific discovery, social and economic benefits and enhancements in our quality of life.”

The appointments of Dewitt and Siu coincide with the departure of Professor Suzanne MacDonald, whose term as associate vice-president research concludes at the end of June. MacDonald, a psychology professor who is cross-appointed to the Graduate Program in Biology and remained an active researcher and graduate supervisor during her term as AVP, will spend the next 12 months on sabbatical.

Right: Suzanne MacDonald

“I have enjoyed the challenges over the past four years and, in particular, the opportunity that this position has afforded me to work so closely with my colleagues across the University,” said MacDonald. “But I’m really excited about the opportunity to once again devote my full attention to my research and students.”