Calgary leads the way on helping the homeless, says York researcher

Stephen Gaetz, a leading researcher of the homeless based in York University’s Faculty of Education, said Calgary is leading the way in working toward eradicating homelessness, wrote the Calgary Herald Sept. 1.

“Calgary, in Canada, is really a leader around how to mobilize research so it has an impact on policy and practice,” said Gaetz, associate dean of education and a former Calgarian. “It’s always exciting to come here.”

Gaetz, who specializes in the study of street youth, said he is unaware of another Canadian city that has implemented a 10-year plan which is based on established American models.

What makes the Calgary plan so unique, he said, is the collaborative work done between academic researchers and front line workers. “We need to be strategic, this is where Calgary is really a leader,” said Gaetz. “The fact you do have a 10-year plan shows strategic thinking as a solution as opposed to the development of community services in an ad hoc, fragmented way. All of those services could be excellent, but as a whole, if it’s not a strategic, integrated system it probably won’t be as effective.”

New bee discovered by York biologist

A new species of bee has been discovered and identified in downtown Toronto by a York University researcher, known to some as the “bee guru”, wrote the Toronto Star Sept. 1.

Jason Gibbs, a 30-year-old biologist, has identified 19 new species of sweat bees across Canada, creating a buzz in the biology world.

In total his work identifies and describes 84 species of sweat bees – named for their attraction to perspiration – that have been previously neglected and poorly studied by biologists. The thesis has been published in a single issue of Zootaxa on Tuesday.

Gibbs found the Toronto sweat bee while he was heading to his laboratory at York University. He was walking from home to College St., heading to the subway and something caught his eye. “I occasionally collected bees off flowers by the sidewalk,” he explained. “And one of the ones I collected was this one.”

After studying the bee under the microscope and doing DNA testing, Gibbs was able to determine the bee he had found in downtown Toronto was a new species that previously had not been identified. “I got out of my chair and did a little dance,” Gibbs recalled. He named the new species Lasioglossum Ephialtum.

It looks subtly different from other sweat bees, but the big differences are in its DNA code, Gibbs said.

The son of a beekeeper, Gibbs has had a lifelong affection for bees. “Bees are beautiful,” he said in an interview with the Star.

“They’re fascinating. The bees I study, you can pick them up with your fingers and they wouldn’t sting you.”

This new species of sweat bee is also fairly common in Eastern Canada and the United States. It’s a very social bee and is very common in your garden, pollinating fruits and vegetables in your backyard, Gibbs said. “Be happy it’s there,” he said. “It’s harmless.”

Gibbs also identified another sweat bee known as the cuckoo sweat bee, which like the cuckoo bird doesn’t build a nest or collect food. This sweat bee is believed to invade the nest of other sweat bees and lay its eggs on the pollen and nectar collected by its host.

Now Gibbs, the winner of a doctoral dissertation prize at York University, is off to Cornell University to continue his study of bees. And when he goes he’ll be packing not only his doctoral thesis and bee samples, but also honey from his dad’s beehives. “I eat honey every day of my life,” he says.

  • A researcher has discovered a new bee species in Toronto. Jason Gibbs, 30, discovered the unique bee while walking into a lab at York University, wrote the National Post and the Ottawa Citizen Sept. 1. He says the bee – which he dubbed Lasioglossum Ephialtum (Greek for nightmare) – belongs to a larger family of bees called sweat bees. Named for their habit of lapping up sweat from overheated humans, sweat bees are smaller than a typical honey bee or bumblebee.

Gathering emphasizes the importance of concussion diagnosis and prevention

Dahna Sanderson stepped up to a podium on Tuesday night at York University to deliver a message no parent should have to give – and one few would be able to, under the circumstances, wrote The Globe and Mail Sept. 1.

Composed and eloquent, Sanderson spoke at length about her son, York student Donald Sanderson, the Whitby Dunlops player who died in January 2009, after suffering head injuries in a senior league hockey fight.

Among the event’s other speakers was former NHLer Alyn McCauley, who battled concussions throughout his career and is now a pro scout with the Los Angeles Kings, and York University Professor Alison Macpherson, an epidemiologist in York’s Faculty of Health.

Macpherson’s speech, in particular, hit on some eye-opening statistics. She presented detailed sports-related emergency room statistics for children five to 19 in Ontario, revealing that hockey was by far the most common cause for concussion-related hospital visits.

Macpherson also pointed to data that showed introducing bodychecking at younger ages resulted in far more concussions…. She said the goal behind presenting the data was not to stop parents from enrolling their kids in hockey. “I think we have to put it in perspective – I would not have done my job well if people go away from my talk scared to play hockey,” Macpherson said. “I think we have to encourage kids to play hockey, I think it’s a great sport and it teaches them so much. I think what we need to do as a hockey community is say ‘what can we do collectively to make our sport safer?’”

  • Global TV in Toronto also reported on the symposium held at York’s Keele campus.

Football is all relative

Delroy Clarke and Andre Clarke find themselves at different levels of their football development, but are both trying to tackle the game’s mental side, wrote the Toronto Sun Sept. 1.

For Andre Clarke, a budding name who will help anchor York University’s defence, it’s adding mental toughness to an athletic build that is pro-ready.

Delroy’s namesake at York isn’t quite ready to play at the pro level, but he has all the physical tools. Delroy and Andre look remarkably alike, keep in contact and shared a moment in Winnipeg earlier this season when the Blue Bombers played host to the Argos.

Before he transferred to York, Andre Clarke played at the University of Manitoba and visited his former college home as the ground-breaking for the Blue Bombers’ new football stadium was initiated.

Andre Clarke is on the radar of virtually every CFL team’s scouting list as he enters his fourth year of university eligibility.

On air

  • Fred Fletcher, professor emeritus in communications studies & political science in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, spoke about the effectiveness of election campaign signs on CBC Radio North (Sudbury) Aug. 31.