Disaster response workshops attract researchers from across Canada

An interdisciplinary team of researchers led by Jimmy Huang, professor of information technology, launched its 2016 summer series of collaborative training and research activities to prepare professors, post-doctoral fellows and graduate students in managing large-scale emergencies.

Jimmy Huang
Jimmy Huang

ADERSIM – Computational Approaches in Advanced Disaster Emergency and Rapid Response Simulations – is supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and its Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) Program.

More than 25 participants from six universities across Canada attended the inaugural workshop on June 10 to learn about and present on several ongoing projects within the program. Presentations included real-time awareness in support of rapid disaster response, public health readiness during infectious disease outbreaks and neutralizing improvised explosive devices.

“York University recognizes that knowledge has a greater value when it is mobilized and shared with the community and partner organizations that work together to promote research and training opportunities,” said Huang, ADERSIM’s principal investigator. He is based out of York’s School of Information Technology in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies.

“The ADERSIM CREATE program, funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, will train 78 postdoctoral fellows and graduate students of the next generation of highly qualified Canadians with excellent interdisciplinary, theoretical and professional skills in information searching, data mining, knowledge management, modeling and simulations to meet Canada’s current and future demands in emergency management and the public safety industry,” said Professor Celia Haig-Brown, associate vice-president Research. “York has great strengths in interdisciplinary and collaborative research programs and it is wonderful to see them in action through various research projects, including ADERSIM.”

The program includes 11 researchers from York University, University of Calgary, McMaster University, University of Montreal, Ryerson University and the University of Western Ontario, plus 27 other academic collaborators and 18 industrial partners.

Geng Tan, chemical engineer and Member of Parliament for Don Valley North, Toronto, gave opening remarks on the essential nature of disaster and emergency planning. Industry partner Stephen Chan, founder and CEO of Dapasoft Inc., also attended the inaugural event and gave participants business advice and examples of how he monetized technological ideas.

CREATE ADERSIM, under Huang’s leadership, has received $1.65 million over six years to improve Canada’s abilities in public safety and emergency management.

“Although it is still in its first year, research performed in the program has already been published in top-tier journals and prestigious international conferences, such as ACM Transactions on Information Systems, the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST), IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering, BMC Medical Genomics, ACM SIGIR 2016 and ACL 2016,” said Huang. “We are thrilled about the opportunity to provide a world-class training environment in the fields of emergency and disaster management and response planning. The program supports industry-academic collaborations and helps strengthen the mentoring and training environment for students and postdoctoral trainees.”