York University gains two new and one renewed Canada Research Chair appointments

Research York University
Research York University

Two new Canada Research Chairs (CRCs) and one renewed CRC from York University were announced on Nov. 13 by the Government of Canada. The appointments include:

  • Professor Steven Connor, Faculty of Science – Tier 2 CRC in Neurophysiology;
  • Professor Isaac Smith, Lassonde School of Engineering – Tier 2 CRC in Planetary Science; and
  • Professor Georg Zoidl, Faculty of Science – Tier 1 CRC in Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience (renewed).

“The CRC program supports some of the most important and exciting research currently being undertaken at York University,” said Robert Haché, vice-president research and innovation at York. “I congratulate Professors Connor, Smith and Zoidl on this major accomplishment.”

The federal announcement included a new investment of $210 million over the next five years, through Budget 2018, that will add 285 new Chairs. The Government of Canada is also investing more than $156 million for 187 new and renewed Canada Research Chairs at 49 institutions across Canada, from the most recent competition.

“We are delighted to hear about the Government of Canada’s investment in the CRC program and the appointment of Professor Isaac Smith as Tier 2 Chair in Planetary Science. Lassonde is committed to producing research full of passion and diverse perspective, and Isaac’s dedication to and accomplishments within the field of planetary science exemplify both,” said Jane Goodyer, dean, Lassonde School of Engineering.

“I’m very happy that two members of the Faculty of Science are being recognized for their research excellence and contributions in the area of biology through the CRC program,” said Faculty of Science Interim Dean Esaias Janse van Rensburg. “I’d like to congratulate Steven Connor on receiving a new CRC and Georg Zoidl for the successful renewal of his CRC. They both do tremendously important and interesting work.”

The new Canada Research Chairs

Steven Connor, Biology Department, Faculty of Science, Tier 2 CRC in Neurophysiology, studies specialized zones of communication between brain cells known as synapses, and the fundamental properties of synapses as mutations in genes that code for proteins involved in synapse organization that are heavily implicated in neurodevelopmental diseases such as autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). ASDs are neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by impaired social and communication skills, as well as stereotyped patterns of behaviour.

Isaac Smith, Lassonde School of Engineering, Tier 2 CRC in Planetary Science, is a planetary scientist who concentrates on atmospheric, surface and subsurface processes on Mars, especially related to ice. He came to York from the Planetary Science Institute, where he joined as a postdoctoral researcher in 2016 and was promoted to research scientist in 2017. He completed his PhD at the University of Texas at Austin in 2013 and afterwards received a Fulbright Fellowship to work at Le Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique at Sorbonne University in Paris.

The renewed Canada Research Chair

Georg Zoidl, Tier 1 CRC in Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, is a professor in the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health, and Department of Biology, Faculty of Science. His research examines the functions of nerve cells in the brain and the visual system as a means to understanding overall brain activity in health and disease. In this process, he explores the molecular and cellular machinery enabling communication processes in the brain that contribute to vision, learning and memory, and disease-causing conditions.

To read the CRC announcement, visit the website.