York vision researcher receives $790,891 for research infrastructure

Professor Laurence Harris, director of York University’s Centre for Vision Research, has been awarded $790,891 in funding by the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) Leading Edge & New Initiatives Fund to support the Full-Field Perceptual Environment (F2PE) project. The funding will be used to build a suite of state-of-the-art display systems to investigate peripheral vision: our wide visual field ranging up to 110 degrees on each side.

headshot of Laurence HarrisLaurence Harris

Peripheral vision, beyond the central area traditionally considered in vision research, plays a critical role including controlling posture, determining orientation and guiding locomotion and driving; yet the role of this enormous visual area in these functions is largely unknown. Diseases and other factors associated with aging (even wearing glasses) can impact peripheral vision with poorly understood effects. As principal Investigator, Harris, professor in York’s Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health, will lead the F2PE project, which aims to investigate this under-explored aspect of vision.

“I am delighted that the Canada Foundation for Innovation has recognized the work of Professor Laurence Harris and his colleagues through this award,” said Robert Haché, York’s vice-president research & innovation. “CFI’s investment in state-of-the-art infrastructure helps support innovative research programs underway at the University.”

Understanding the role of the whole visual field will contribute to the health of Canadians and to the safety and effectiveness of workers in challenging environments. Findings from the project will inform the development of health technologies to ensure that appropriate information is available in the peripheral field to aid balance and movement, and will support the development of digital media displays such as large-screen cinemas and virtual reality environments that will provide more realistic simulations for use in training and serious gaming.

The F2PE project builds upon the extremely successful 1999 CFI investment at the Centre for Vision Research at York University, received by Harris and his colleagues. CFI’s continued recognition through this award is testament to the long-term success of that investment.

York’s projects were part of a $215-million investment in CFI’s Leading Edge Fund & New Initiatives Fund, which provides Canadian researchers with the necessary tools to carry out a range of frontier research. The funding supports 75 projects at 34 Canadian research institutions.

James Moore, minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages and Member of Parliament for Port Moody-Westood-Port Coquitlam, made the announcement while visiting Simon Fraser University yesterday.

A complete list of CFI recipients is available on the CFI website.

The Canada Foundation for Innovation gives researchers the tools they need to think big and innovate. By investing in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment in Canada’s universities, colleges, research hospitals and non-profit research institutions, the CFI is helping to attract and retain the world’s top talent, to train the next generation of researchers, to support private-sector innovation and to create high-quality jobs that strengthen the economy and improve the quality of life for all Canadians. For more information, visit innovation.ca.