New Faces: Seven new faculty members join the Faculty of Science
There are seven new faculty members joining York University’s Faculty of Science: Conor Douglas, Ozzy Mermut, Iain Moyles, Stephanie Pugliese Domenikos, Andrew Skelton, Nikolaus Troje and Joel Zylberberg.
“Our efforts to promote the Faculty of Science as a locus of research and teaching excellence are bearing fruits,” said EJ Janse van Rensburg, interim dean of the Faculty of Science. “Our departmental search committees did a commendable job in searching for high-quality applications, and as a result we have hired outstanding new researchers and specialists in teaching. I am honoured to welcome them as my colleagues in the Faculty of Science and I look forward to working with them over the next academic year.”
Conor Douglas joins the Department of Science and Technology Studies as an assistant professor. He has been conducting research on the interconnections between society and biomedical sciences and technology for 13 years.
His PhD (sociology) is from the University of York (U.K.), where he participated in a large, multidisciplinary pharmacogenetics study within the British NHS and examined the social construction of patients, their involvement in biomedical research and development, and the impacts that this involvement has on the stabilization of emerging technologies and on the patients themselves. Since then, his work has taken him to UBC twice and to the Netherlands twice (VU University Medical Center Amsterdam and Maastricht University) to study patient and public participation in emerging biotechnologies, science and technological governance, as well as the social processes influencing the translation of these sciences and technologies.
His current research examines societal dynamics relating to expensive drugs for rare diseases. Douglas is passionate about pedagogy and has spent the past three years at Maastricht University, where he honed his instructional craft in the innovative problem-based learning approach that characterizes Maastricht.
Ozzy Mermut joins the Department of Physics and Astronomy as an assistant professor. Her biophysics research focuses on harnessing the power of light to study structural-functional changes in humans in the aging processes and consequently develop individualized countermeasures.
Biophotonics converges optical and life sciences, providing new insights into the mechanisms of pathogenesis, with the aim of developing pre-diagnostic metrics and intelligent phototherapeutic approaches for minimally invasive, real-time interventions. By targeting and tuning desired light-matter interactions, it is possible to study hallmark features of debilitating diseases such as age-related macular degeneration.
Through the knowledge acquired, Mermut’s lab (MiBAR) derives new translational biophysical techniques to deliver powerful biomedical sensor tools, personalized intelligent radiation therapeutics and dosimetry. Her lab is also inspired to create remotely deployable medical devices for global health applications and space life sciences research.
Prior to starting at York, Mermut earned her PhD at McGill University and held postdoctoral fellowships at the University of California Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in multi-photon spectroscopy. Afterwards, she joined the private sector, working for Hyperchip and the National Optics Institute in Quebec City.
Iain Moyles (starting January 2019)
Iain Moyles joins the Department of Mathematics and Statistics as an assistant professor with a research focus in applied and industrial mathematics. Particularly, he is interested in solving problems related to lithium-ion batteries, soil and groundwater ecology, and pattern formation.
Recently, Moyles has been reducing and simplifying electrochemical models in lithium-ion batteries to improve understanding of the key mechanisms and to improve computational efficiency. He is keenly interested in studying problems of significant interest to industry, having attended several industrial problem-solving workshops all over the world.
Moyles completed a PhD (applied mathematics) at the University of British Columbia as an NSERC Vanier Scholar in 2015, with a focus on hybrid asymptotic-numerical techniques for understanding pattern formation mechanisms in biological systems. After his PhD, Moyles became a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Limerick (Ireland), where his main research focused on nutrient transport in soil, as well as the formation of Liesegang rings, which occur in a variety of chemical and geological settings. While at the University of Limerick, Moyles earned several awards, including a New Foundations grant from the Irish Research Council and being named a Charlemont Fellow by the Royal Irish Academy.
Stephanie Pugliese Domenikos
Stephanie Pugliese Domenikos joins the Division of Natural Science in the Department of Science and Technology Studies as an assistant lecturer, with a secondment in the Department of Chemistry.
She completed her PhD (chemistry) in 2017 at the University of Toronto with a focus on providing observational constraints on air pollutants and greenhouse gases in the Greater Toronto Area. Pugliese Domenikos went on to complete a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) with a focus on chemistry and science education. Her postdoctoral research focused on providing experiential and active learning opportunities for undergraduate students. To do so, Pugliese Domenikos was awarded funding to develop a collaboration between UTM and a local high school that allowed first-year chemistry students to design and implement problem-based learning assignments in Grade 12 classrooms. She also ran the first occurrence of flipped classroom lectures in the first-year chemistry course at UTM.
She is interested in continuing to develop opportunities that incorporate active learning in her classes at York University.
Andrew Skelton joins the Department of Mathematics and Statistics as an assistant lecturer. After working as a secondary school teacher for a couple of years, he returned to graduate school to complete his MSc at Brock University in 2011 and PhD at the University of Guelph in 2014. He most recently worked as a full-time instructor, advisor and outreach coordinator at the University of Guelph.
Skelton’s pedagogical interests include effective incorporation of technology in the learning process, student involvement in learning outcomes and the student transition from secondary to university education. He received a pedagogical grant to explore the use of open data in the statistics classroom from senior high school to senior undergraduate levels. He has also supervised undergraduate mathematics students on projects in mathematical biology, cellular automata and traffic modelling.
Skelton is looking forward to joining the Faculty of Science and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and getting involved in the undergraduate Mathematics for Education program.
Nikolaus Troje joins the Department of Biology as a professor and core member of Vision: Science to Applications (VITSA).
Troje received his PhD (biology) from Albert Ludwigs University in Freiburg, Germany, in 1994. Subsequently, he conducted research at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics and later at Ruhr University (Germany). In 2003, he joined Queen's University as a Canada Research Chair in Vision and Behavioural Sciences. He is also the founder and director of the BiomotionLab.
Troje's research focuses on how the brain transforms the incoming flow of sensory data into the reality of objects and events, with specific interests in the perception of other people and space. His methods to represent the nuances of human movement in ways that make it possible to subject them to rigorous psychophysics and quantitative analyses are used today by laboratories around the globe. More recently, Troje has been researching people perception in virtual realities, with a particular interest in understanding how presence in shared space affects social perception.
Troje has received numerous awards for his work, including the Steacie Fellowship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Humboldt Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
Joel Zylberberg (starting January 2019)
Joel Zylberberg joins the Department of Physics and Astronomy as an assistant professor and core member of VISTA.
Zylberberg received his PhD (physics) from the University of California at Berkeley. His early publications were in materials chemistry, nuclear physics and cosmology. Midway through his PhD studies in cosmology, Zylberberg became fascinated by neuroscience questions: namely, what biophysical mechanisms in our brains give rise to the "internal universe" of our experiences? That fascination continues to drive his work, which focuses on the questions of how visual information is interpreted by the brain, and of how the brain learns those interpretations through experience.
Prior to joining York University, Zylberberg was an assistant professor of physiology and biophysics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, where he received the Google Faculty Research Award, Sloan Research Fellowship, and CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar Award for Learning in Machines and Brains.
As part of York's VISTA initiative, Zylberberg anticipates continuing to make advances at the interface of machine learning, neuroscience and biophysics.