CFI funding goes to two leading York researchers

Two York researchers have been awarded more than $400,000 from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) to support their work in vision research and chemistry.

The funding, announced yesterday in Calgary, was awarded under the CFI’s Leader’s Opportunity Fund. A total of $20.5 million in new funds was announced for 103 projects at 33 Canadian universities. The funding is for equipment and infrastructure renovations.

Vision researcher Richard Murray (left) will receive $152,477 to create an innovative laboratory to study perception of three-dimensional (3D) shape at York’s Centre for Vision Research. Murray aims to understand the visual mechanisms that enable people to perceive 3D shapes and to replicate these mechanisms in computer vision systems. His goal is to discover the statistical assumptions that the human visual system makes about surfaces and illumination in 3D scenes in order to perceive 3D shape, and to determine what assumptions would be optimal for artificial visual systems. This research has important applications in fields ranging from neuroscience to automated image interpretation.

Chemistry Prof. Gino Lavoie will receive $255,608 to support his research in organometallic chemistry (the study of compounds composed of both metals and organic molecules) and polymer chemistry. Lavoie is studying how catalysts are used to accelerate chemical or biochemical reactions. Catalysts, which are usually inorganic or organometallic compounds, are essential in the manufacturing of more than 90 percent of chemicals and can lead to lower energy usage, new materials and new chemicals, including drugs. Research in this field addresses global issues such as energy consumption, depletion of fossil fuels, global warming, growing worldwide population and malnutrition in developing countries, as well as deficiencies in some polymers and biomaterials.

Stan Shapson, vice-president research & innovation at York, said government investment in research infrastructure and equipment is essential to sustain globally competitive research programs and to attract and retain the best young researchers and students. “Professors Murray and Lavoie are conducting research that is expected to yield important discoveries for our health and our environment,” said Shapson. “The funding provided by CFI will help them contribute to the creation of new knowledge not only in their own fields but in a number of related fields both in Canada and internationally.”