CFI awards funding to five York University projects

Five York University researchers have received a total of $566,757 in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) to support their research projects.

Carol Bucking, assistant professor in the Department of Biology in the Faculty of Science, will receive $125,000 for a Centre for Integrative Laboratory and Field Physiology. The centre will provide a more complete picture of the role of digestion in fish in shaping the physiology of the whole organism. This will enable researchers to better predict the effects of stressors, both natural and man-made, on different species of fish. Developing a clearer understanding of how organisms balance and maintain homeostasis, especially during digestion, will help researchers to better understand what fish require to survive and how they adapt to change, critical knowledge in light of global climate change.

Peter Backx, professor in the Department of Biology in the Faculty of Science, will receive $199,529 for a Centre for Cardiovascular Assessment. Deaths due to cardiovascular disease have been reduced by more than 20 per cent in the past 20 years, but cardiovascular disease and heart failure remain the number one killer in Canada and most of the world. York University experts in cardiac physiology and electrophysiology will create a leading edge centre designed to measure the beneficial effects of exercise on cardiovascular health and disease, to understand how and why exercise provides these benefits, and to utilize this information to develop strategies to treat and prevent heart disease.

Heather Edgell, assistant professor in the School of Kinesiology & Health Science in the Faculty of Health, will receive $100,000 to develop a Women’s Cardiovascular Health Lab at York. Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in Canadian women and cost the Canadian government over $20 billion per year. Compared to men, women have a higher risk of fainting from orthostatic hypotension or postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. Similarly, women have a greater risk for developing heart failure with preserved ejection fraction characterized by a decrease in left ventricular compliance, leading to increased pressure in the left ventricle of the heart. The proposed infrastructure and equipment will help to improve the standard of care and quality of life in women suffering from cardiovascular disease.

Douglas Van Nort, assistant professor in the Digital Media Program and the Department of Theatre in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD), will receive $68,250 for a Distributed Digital Performance Laboratory (D2PL), a space dedicated to the exploration of collective creation in digitally mediated performances. The D2PL laboratory is designed to provide impact and benefit to Canadians through enhancing their experience of performative cultural events, while the resulting technologies will facilitate new experiences of immersive, networked exchanges that can be extended to areas such as distance learning, next-generation performing arts and gaming, and new forms of situated interactions with digital content in public space.

Graham Wakefield, assistant professor in the Digital Media Program and the Department of Visual Art & Art History in AMPD, will receive $73,978 for a Laboratory for Generative Responsive Realities. The program leverages the self-modifying capacity of computational media to create artificial worlds whose rules can be rewritten while participants interact within them, supporting unprecedented levels of human-machine interaction and intensified aesthetic experience through meaningful engagement using the whole body. It will provide training and software resources to computationally literate artists and “creative coders” and build partnerships with Canada’s most innovative entertainment, arts and cultural industries, cementing Canada’s leadership in a vital new wave of media generation.

Ed Holder, minister of state (science and technology), made the announcement Wednesday at the University of Moncton. In all, $30 million will support 33 research institutions across Canada through the CFI’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund, which is designed to help universities attract and retain the very best researchers by ensuring they have access to cutting edge equipment and facilities.

“These five projects exemplify the wide range of outstanding research at York University,” said Robert Haché, vice-president research & innovation. “CFI’s investments will support projects that will promote human health, increase our understanding of how organisms adapt, and encourage innovation in arts and culture.”