Award ceremony honours new faculty’s research excellence

York’s Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation recently hosted an intimate reception and luncheon to celebrate the research excellence of some of York’s finest new faculty and present them with Petro-Canada Young Innovators Awards.

Above: Stan Shapson (left), York VP research & innovation; award recipients Valeria Tsoukanova, John Eastwood and Xin Gao; Joe Vetrone, general manager, production and research & development, Petro-Canada

"We are honoured that Petro-Canada has had the foresight to provide these kinds of awards to support great research at York," said Stan Shapson, vice-president research & innovation at York University. "Petro-Canada recognizes that talented researchers are important to Canada’s future."

As part of Petro-Canada’s nation-wide initiative to recognize and help support the work of outstanding young faculty researchers at Canadian universities, colleges and major research institutes, the company established the endowed awards at York in the late 1990s. Three faculty members were selected to receive this prestigious award this year.

"We are proud of our relationship with York," says Joe Vetrone, general manager, production and research & development at Petro-Canada. "It is an exciting reminder of the tremendous talent that these impressive researchers have and how they are clearly contributing in significant ways."

Receiving this year’s awards will help to further the research of:

Professor Valeria Tsoukanova, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science & Engineering
Tsoukanova will continue her biotechnology and nanotechnology research into surface contamination of artificial membranes implanted in living tissue. Her focus is on how to keep the membranes clean sinceit is crucial for the effective delivery of whatever drug or device is contained by the membrane. This award will help to subsidize the purchase of a miniature absorption spectrometer for her lab.

Professor Xin Gao, Depart. of Mathematics & Statistics, Faculty of Arts
Gao’s research will potentially be a powerful tool to help health scientists better understand complex genetic interactions, such as why someone who has an inherited a disease-casuing gene may not develop the disease. She is using her award to support one of her graduate student assistants.

Professor John Eastwood, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health
Challenging the conventional wisdom that highly-controlled experiments in the lab are the best route to understanding the workings of the mind and brain, Eastwood proposes that this experimental method must be combined with the study of cognition in real-world situations to truly be effective. The award will help establish a network linking him with other like-minded researchers at a number of Canadian universities. "This award has been really helpful, especially in one critical way," said Eastwood. "It will allow me to coordinate and pool resources and collaborate with other people that are doing similar work."

Also in attendance at the event were Michael Southern, senior adviser, communications at Petro-Canada; Michael Siu, associate vice-president research, science & technology at York; and from the York University Foundation, Susan Mullin, vice-president, development, and Jennifer Clark, associate director of development & chief development officer, research & innovation.