Canadian thinking that’s out of this world

While Canadian astronaut and York alumnus Steve MacLean (BSc ‘77, PhD ‘83) took a stunning spacewalk last month for a complex construction job at the International Space Station, most of Canada’s innovative space work is done much closer to home – in university labs and research centres, reported The Globe and Mail Dec. 8.

The CSA’s first mission to Mars is planned for 2007, when York University’s meteorological station, MET, will launch on NASA’s Phoenix satellite, said the Globe. “The Phoenix satellite will land on Mars and be involved in making measurements of the meteorology,” says Distinguished Research Professor Gordon Shepherd, director of York’s Centre for Research on Earth and Space Science (CRESS).

York currently has four projects on the go, “which is a pretty high-level of involvement for a Canadian university,” said Prof. Shepherd. One is Argus, a tiny space instrument that measures carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere and will go on a nanosatellite called CanX-2, led by the University of Toronto and scheduled for launch in 2007.

Other projects include the all-Canadian satellite Chinook, which will include the SWIFT instrument, which measures winds in Earth’s stratosphere, and ARGO, which aims to measure temperatures in the stratosphere and water vapour in the troposphere, the Globe said.

York University is looking at another angle related to Mars by testing what happens to instrumentation in Mars-like conditions. “To make something work in space, you have to test it,” said Ben Quine, director of York’s Space Engineering program. The new CRESS space instrumentation lab, designed to reproduce the challenges of space flight, officially opened on Oct. 11.

York University is also the official research host of a project known as Northern Light, which plans to send a small lander to the surface of Mars in 2009. Like staking a claim in North America in the 19th century, “presence is what counts,” said Quine, who is leading the mission.

York’s space research is also focused on miniaturization, since the prohibitive cost of a satellite launch can be eased by using microsatellites attached to rockets that are typically paid for by big commercial customers launching direct broadcast TV satellite systems or communications equipment. the Globe said. “Underneath that spacecraft are a whole host of little spacecraft…that’s where the universities are really getting involved in the space business,” Quine said.

Live & Learn: Seymour Schulich

I live the axiom that 100 years from now, it won’t matter how much money you had, how big a house you lived in or what kind of car you drove. But if you are important in the life of a young person, you might make a difference, wrote York benefactor Seymour Schulich, in Canadian Business magazine Dec. 4. So I make time for young people and try to act as a mentor. If you don’t have a mentor, your odds of success diminish greatly.

I was blessed with a father who was a great mentor. When I was studying for my MBA, I asked him, “How do you manage your business without an MBA?” He told me: “Watch the cash. If it’s going up, things are usually OK, and if it’s going down, there is a problem.”

After being in business for 50 years, there is nothing more astute. There are lots of advantages to being rich, but if you are rich no one has any sympathy for your problems. That can make you lonely. Your ability to connect with people is much broader as you are coming up the ladder. Don’t expect gratitude in this life. It’s nice if you get it, but don’t expect it.

Lower income patients put more trust in cardiologists

A study presented by Sheena Kayaniyil, a graduate student in York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Sciences, shows that those with lower levels of education trust their specialist more than those with higher education, wrote The Medical Post, Nov. 14, in a report on the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress held in Vancouver, Oct. 21 to 25.

This finding differs from previous studies that have either reported that education played no part in patient trust or that those with higher education had higher trust, Kayaniyil said. She also noted that while the lack of difference in patient trust among ethnic groups and gender was somewhat surprising, current literature is contradictory on these issues, said the Post.

Kayaniyil said she hopes the findings will make cardiologists more aware of the barriers that exist in gaining a patient’s trust. “Trust actually has been shown to increase whether patients are going to adhere to the recommendations or whether they’re going to want to see their cardiologist,” she said.

‘Tis the season for pins and needles

Ali Sauer, 32, a PhD student at York University, was watching a movie four years ago when her first migraine hit, wrote the Toronto Star Dec. 10. “My family kind of went nuts. I had so much pain,” she says. “I had no idea what was going on.” She went to the hospital, but, she says, “I actually had to leave because I couldn’t stay under the fluorescent lights and the noise.” Now, when she gets a migraine, “Laying in the dark in complete silence and trying to sleep…is always the best thing.”

Last September, she paid a visit to Brendan Cleary, an acupuncturist who founded the Ontario Migraine Clinic in Georgetown, Ont., wrote the Star. After 33 acupuncture treatments, she now goes as long as a week and a half without any migraines, “which is unbelievable for me,” Sauer says. Another benefit, she adds, is that taking medication also helps. “When I came here, no medication relieved me of a migraine at all.”

Dressed to thrill

Retailers go to the greatest lengths with their window displays at Christmas, compared to other times of the year, reported the Toronto Star Dec. 10. Yuletide displays are more elaborate – they often take double the time to create than other displays – and account for the lion’s share of a store’s annual display budget. Elaborate windows and unveilings are not suitable for all retail environments, warns Alan Middleton, marketing professor at York’s Schulich School of Business. For suburban shopping centres, retailers are wise to skip the extravagance. Instead, a display that allows mall passersby to see inside the store and scan the merchandise works better.

Cool presents are hot sellers

Whether it’s the latest gadget or the return of a childhood toy some items are so hot this holiday season, that retailers are already scrambling to restock, reported the Toronto Star Dec. 9. Promoting a product extensively but selling it at very few outlets creates “hot items,” according to Ashwin Joshi, professor of marketing in York’s Schulich School of Business. The excitement generated carries the product through the holiday season, often extending into the New Year, he adds.

“My theory has always been what you played with 20 years ago, these are your security blanket,” Joshi says. “Now it’s a whimsy and you can afford it. The memory and the disposable incomes are the drivers for the return of retro cool.” Looking at a target market and what it did 20 years ago is a good way to gauge upcoming “retro cool” trends, he adds.

Homeless get education boost

The city’s homeless are being offered a new lease on life thanks to an educational initiative announced by the Ottawa Mission yesterday, reported The Ottawa Sun Dec. 9. The centre provides a non-traditional learning environment for disadvantaged men and women who wish to participate in the program. Students meet in small groups or one-on-one with their teacher Mike Dearing (BEd ’06), a 27-year-old York University graduate.

Mission’s executive director Diane Morrison says Dearing was selected for his easy-going personality and flexible teaching style. “The curriculum really depends on the student,” explained Dearing. “Some students really enjoy the interactiveness of the software programs, others are more of a hands-on learning style. “It’s whatever works for the student.”

Professor’s book sees Corner Brook as a global city

Glen Norcliffe, geography professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, has released a book discussing how the global nature of Corner Brook’s economy is played out on the local stage, reported The Western Star (Corner Brook, Nfld.) Dec. 9.

A welcoming door, an empathetic ear

Loly and Francisco Rico-Martinez are the founders of the Faithful Companions of Jesus Refugee Centre, formerly known as the FCJ Hamilton House, which opens part of its Oakwood-St. Clair Avenue office and three other properties in the west end as shelters, reported the Toronto Star Dec. 9. It has built partnerships with York University’s Osgsoode Hall Law School and the community services program at George Brown College, which sends student volunteers.

A case where a loss almost as good as a win

Gerard Kennedy lost the Liberal leadership to Stephane Dion last week, but earned the label kingmaker and the status of potential future Liberal leader, wrote the Toronto Star Dec. 9. His convention floor strategy holds several key lessons for those in the business world. Choose the right partner. It’s not easy to locate such a suitable partner. “Finding a good business partner is like finding a good life partner,” says Theo Peridis, strategic management professor at York’s Schulich School of Business.

Canadian experiment part of space mission

It has been a long wait, but a unique Canadian experiment which could help in the planning of future trips to Mars is finally bound for space, reported Canadian Press Dec. 9. The experiment, which involves studying the hand-eye co-ordination of astronauts, is to be carried out during the latest visit to the International Space Station by space shuttle Discovery.

The experiment, called Perceptual-Motor Deficits in Space (PMDIS), takes place in zero gravity during the first 96 hours of the mission. York University’s Barry Fowler, who developed the experiment, wants to find out what causes the reduction in hand-eye co-ordination.

The story ran in a number of newspapers and news Web sites across the country, including the New Brunswick Telegraph-JournalThe Edmonton Journal, Times & Transcript (Moncton), Prince George Citizen, The Calgary Herald, The Ottawa Sun, The Edmonton Journal, the Hamilton Spectator, CTV Online, Chronicle Herald Online and the Canoe Network.

Former York music instructor honoured for her lifelong passion for music

Sylvia Wukasch had no idea she was to be honoured for her lifelong dedication to music, reported Niagara This Week Dec. 8. From the airwaves south of the border of Lutheran radio station KFUO in St. Louis to the halls of Shalom Evergreen Terrace in Grimsby, Sylvia has generously shared her passion and gift for music.

This week, the accomplished organist and pianist was honoured for leading audiences in praise and worship over a career which has spanned 70 years, reported the newspaper. Sylvia began taking piano lessons at the age of 10 in her hometown of St. Louis. She later began studies at Washington University in Clayton, Missouri to get a degree in Music Therapy. In 1967, she and her family accepted the Macedonian Call to move to Toronto. There, Sylvia accepted a position in the Music Department of York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts and once had the privilege to accompany Lois Marshall in concert.

On air

  • James Laxer, professor in York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, spoke about his book, The Acadians: In Search of a Homeland, on CBC Radio (Moncton, NB) Dec. 8.

  • Patrick Monahan, dean of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, joined a panel discussion about the Federal Justice Agenda, on TVOntario’s “The Agenda” program, Dec. 8.

  • Leslie Greenberg, psychologist in York’s Faculty of Health, spoke about his studies on emotional intelligence and therapy for couples on Rogers TV Dec. 10.