York sets its sights on neuroscience

Medicine has long been the brand upon the brain in the field of neuroscience. But a new diploma program at Toronto’s York University aims to change that, wrote Metro (Toronto) May 12.

“People are realizing (neuroscience) impacts a lot of other areas of society besides medicine. It does have other impacts,” said Doug Crawford, coordinator of York’s two-year intensive Neuroscience Graduate Diploma Program. “(In) education, for example, neuroscience is telling us a lot about how the brain learns. (In) computer science, the brain is a fantastic computer and there’s a lot for us to learn about applying that knowledge to making more sophisticated learning machines.”

The diploma program admits applicants who have already been accepted into a master’s or PhD program in psychology, kinesiology & health sciences or biology. To gain entry, prospective students must submit their transcript, resumé and a one-page written summary of interest, as well as find a York faculty supervisor willing to oversee their research. “We want to make sure their research is in line with our program – that it is neuroscience-related,” said Crawford. “Clinically, it could be anything from autism to Alzheimer’s, and in terms of basic research, it could be anything from vision to what’s going on inside cells in the brain.”

Matching the wide research base is the variety of working world opportunities that exist after graduation, said graduate student David Cappadocia. “There are people in the program that want to get into forensics research for the RCMP, there’s someone like myself who’s looking more at a professorial research-type career, and there are some people that want to go to medical school.”

The 22-year-old program rookie said the diploma will give him a broader neuroscience background, allowing him to apply for more jobs in academia because he’ll be qualified to teach more courses. “One thing that happens in science in general is you get really specialized in one little niche related to your research. A program like this really helps add breadth to your knowledge base, which can help you down the road.”

Communications prof offers lectures – and laughs – online

In Toronto, Dalton Kehoe, communications studies professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, was the first academic in North America to use Mediasite Live streaming technology in his classes, wrote The Toronto Sun May 11. He has used technology to improve his lectures.

He initially welcomed, for example, an opportunity to record his lectures in a professional studio but changed his tune when he learned students found them boring and too long. He agreed: they lacked the dynamic of video lectures that had been recorded in his classroom.

Kehoe did some additional surveying about the attention span of his students and learned that he was losing them about halfway through his lectures. His solution: to break 50-minute lectures into 25-minute chunks followed by a “laugh break” featuring short YouTube videos. “I put up something that I think is funny and not rude,” he says. “It works well. Three minutes of laughter and they’re yours for the next half hour.”

He believes video lectures give time-starved students a valuable option. “They can come to a lecture or watch me on cable. About 40 per cent do attend live lectures, but the vast majority needs flexibility because they work.” Through the “blended-learning” model, students can submit papers online but must attend one-hour weekly tutorials and write exams on campus.

Creature comforts bolster learning at Schulich

First-time visitors to the Executive Learning Centre at York University’s Schulich School of Business in Toronto are forgiven if they think they’ve mistakenly wandered into an upscale hotel, wrote the National Post May 12 in a special report on executive education. After all, providing top-notch hospitality, superb food service and fine amenities is the intended mission of Schulich’s gleaming 13-storey residential facility, situated at York University in the northwest corner of Toronto.

Alan Middleton, executive director of executive programs at the Schulich Executive Education Centre, notes that having a comfortable, on-campus residence isn’t simply about “pampering” well-heeled students.

Rather, for those enrolled in Schulich’s executive courses – as well as visiting professors and conference participants – providing a certain level of creature comforts on campus goes a long way toward bolstering the learning process. “People enrolled in our programs don’t slack around,” Middleton says. “They’re here to learn and they’re here to work. And when small things go wrong – cold coffee, mediocre food, uncomfortable chairs – this can really upset participants.”

Middleton notes the top factors when it comes to students choosing an elite business school such as Schulich is the reputation of the school, followed closely by the reputation of the programs and, of course, the faculty. However, the “tipping point” when it comes to students choosing one institution over another can sometimes boil down to the living arrangements and the on-campus infrastructure, such as the quality of the food service and recreational facilities.

Scott Lannan, general manager of the Executive Learning Centre and a hotel industry veteran, says other notable attributes of the 60-room residence include the level of cleanliness (the residence is, in fact, pristine) and even the architecture, which places a strong emphasis on natural light. Indeed, expansive windows allowing sunlight to flood the interior can be found throughout the premises. “For the people who come here, education is their first priority, of course,” Lannan says. “But we want to enhance the learning experience by making sure they have a fantastic stay, excellent food and beverage and great hospitality. What we’re trying to do here is be a support mechanism to help them learn.”  

  • The Schulich School of Business at York University looks at supply chain management and logistics as being more than moving product between suppliers and retailers, wrote the National Post May 12 in its executive education report. “Supply chain management and logistics is really about how to raise capital, how to lower expenses using [fewer] assets and how to make the perfect order leading to customer satisfaction,” says Mark Thomas, program director at the school’s Centre of Excellence in Supply Chain and Logistics Management. It’s a perspective Thomas teaches in Schulich’s Executive Education Centre.

“For a long time, warehousing and logistics was put under sales and general administration, often under the finance or sales group,” says Thomas. “But it’s become its own entity now and people appreciate its importance.”

Schulich’s executive program in supply chain and logistics management is a one-week residential course made up of nine modules that examine how to think strategically about supply management, finance and performance metrics, and harnessing supply chain information technology and real world examples are drawn from the practices of companies such as Canadian Tire and Xerox.

Pregnancy jokes send a negative message to women, says York prof

Some worry that poking fun of a proud pregnant woman will discourage expectant moms from revelling in the extra attention they deserve, wrote The Globe and Mail May 12.

Women only get that kind of limelight while pregnant, so by all means let them enjoy it, says Andrea O’Reilly, founder and director of the Association for Research on Mothering at York University. Teasing mothers who bask in the glory of pregnancy tends to send a negative message, she says. “I’m sure there are some quirks and people who take it too far…but to make it into a stereotype or caricature thing bothers me,” she says. “Then any type of woman will say, ‘Oh God, I don’t want to be that’.”

May Friedman, a York University researcher on feminism in the mommy blogosphere, says it’s often the not-so-pregnant public that focuses on the woman’s impending motherhood. These women are left with little room to discuss other things, leading them to “give up” and succumb to the motherly attention. “I remember when I was pregnant and one of my friends said, ‘How am I ever going to call you for advice about guys when your kid is going to have their first tooth?’ And I was like, ‘But that’s boring. How interesting is it that my kid has its first tooth?’” she says. “Women are subjected to so much negative attention in the world, but if there is a source of positive attention, I can see why some women would want to capitalize on that, frankly.”

York student spoke with Ignatieff aide to end Gardiner protest

Hearing that thousands of protesters had taken to Toronto streets, Sachin Aggarwal, deputy chief of staff to Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, Kunal Parmar and other Ignatieff staff monitored the situation, wrote the Toronto Star May 12 in a story about how the protest was ended.

When the protest leaders lost control of the crowd on Sunday night and demonstrators unexpectedly surged onto the Gardiner Expressway, the situation turned explosive. About 11:30pm, Aggarwal’s worried assistants put him in touch by telephone with Siva Vimal, a York University student who often speaks for the demonstrators.

“What is it that you want?” Aggarwal asked, and was told the Tamils sought action on sanctions against the Sri Lankan government. In response, Aggarwal read out Ignatieff’s public statement on April 21. Vimal expressed appreciation of Ignatieff’s stance but wanted to know if the Liberals would do more.

For muscles, either ‘use it or lose it’

New research by York University kinesiologists is advancing our understanding of why our muscles shrink when we don’t use them, wrote the Hamilton Spectator May 12. Doctoral student Michael O’Leary found that a week of total muscular disuse – such as experienced after a serious injury – can cause 24 per cent muscle loss. “It really is a case of ‘use it or lose it’,” he said.

Multicultural law firm celebrates 50 years

A Cooksville multilingual general practice law firm has served several generations of the area’s Polish- and English-speaking communities. Now, Malicki & Malicki is celebrating its 50th year of service, wrote The Mississauga News May 11.

“We speak a number of languages in the office,” said Marek Malicki (LLB ’71), son of the firm’s founder, the late Stefan Malicki (BARR ’59). Malicki is a lawyer and deputy small claims court judge. “Because of the diversity of Mississauga, a lot of clients prefer speaking to a lawyer or professional in a language they feel comfortable in,” he said of what makes the firm successful.

His father, Stefan, was a judge in Poland before the outbreak of the Second World War. He and his wife, Fela, and two children, Marek and Krzysztof, came to Canada in 1952.

In Canada, he took on several jobs and then, while working to support his family, Stefan entered Osgoode Hall Law School and set up his own practice in 1959. After Marek graduated from Osgoode, he joined his father’s firm in 1973 and the practice became Malicki & Malicki.

On air

  • Paul Delaney, professor of astronomy & physics in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about the latest space shuttle flight on CTV Newsnet May 11.
  • Bernie Wolf, economics professor in the Schulich School of Business, spoke about the Chinese auto industry on the Chinese service of Voice of America May 7.