Professor Laurence Harris, director of York’s Centre for Vision Research, has been awarded the 2013 Faculty Teaching Award for his substantial, significant and sustained excellence, as well as his commitment to and enthusiasm for teaching.
This award is given annually to a member of York’s Faculty of Graduate Studies who has displayed excellence in teaching, particularly in the multifaceted aspects of teaching at the graduate level.
“Winning the FGS graduate teaching award is very significant for me. It is a validation of my involvement in graduate studies, since I came to York over 20 years ago. I have always seen training the next generation of scientists as a very important and central part of our jobs as professors,” says Harris.
“Training is not just ‘education’ but inspiration – bringing out the passion for delving into the unknown that potentially exists inside every graduate student, and guiding and nurturing it.” But, as Harris notes, “It hardly feels like training.”
Faculty of Health Dean Harvey Skinner says, “I am delighted by the wonderful news that Laurence will receive this award in recognition of his outstanding teaching and scholarly leadership.”
The award takes into consideration the winning professor’s scholarly, professional and teaching development, as well as initiatives in the graduate program and curriculum development.
Harris is a professor in the Department of Psychology, as well as the director of the Multisensory Integration Laboratory at York. The lab investigates how information from visual, auditory, vestibular, proprioceptive and tactile senses is combined by the brain to create the perception of body and space.
“Research is done by team work, and working and coordinating research teams is as beneficial for me as it is for the trainees. I learn as much from the students as they learn from me. In many ways, they guide the research that happens in my Multisensory Integration Laboratory,” says Harris. “Research is an interactive process and cannot be done working in isolation. It is the interaction that this award acknowledges and I accept it on behalf of all the students I have had the pleasure of working with over the past couple of decades.”
Applications of Harris’s research include the design of virtual environments and improving perception in situations where sensory information is impoverished, such as in the unusual environments of underwater or in space, but also in ageing or in clinical conditions, including partial blindness or Parkinson’s disease. He recently ran an experiment on the International Space Station looking at astronauts’ perception of orientation.
In providing this award, the Faculty of Graduate Studies celebrates, compliments and congratulates its members on their superior qualities and for their advancement of academic excellence and quality in graduate studies at York University.