York University’s research leaders celebrated on April 15 at special event

Research leaders at York University were recognized at the annual Research Celebration event held April 15 in the Second Student Centre on the Keele Campus. Hosted by York President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton and the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation, the celebration paid tribute to the 2018 research leaders.

The research leaders pose with York University’s President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton (third from the left), Associate Vice-President Research Celia Haig Brown, and Associate Vice-President Research Rebecca Pillai Riddell

This annual event celebrated 70 senior, mid- and early career researchers, along with graduate and undergraduate students and postdoctoral Fellows. Celia Haig-Brown, associate vice-president research, officiated the celebration.

York President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton speaks to researchers at the University’s annual Research Leaders Celebration

The festivities began with the premier screening of a new animated video featuring Haig-Brown’s avatar explaining Towards New Heights – York University’s Strategic Research Plan (2018-2023) and profiling future aspirational areas for York, including the integration of Artificial Intelligence into society and Indigenous futurities. After the engaging video, York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton brought official greetings and congratulations to the researchers. She spoke with pride about the University’s recent success in the Times Higher Education ranking and the importance of the University’s cross-sector research work, which she said was needed to drive solutions to the complex problems facing the world.

Lenton reiterated her administration’s support for researchers and thanked outgoing Vice-President Research & Innovation Robert Haché, who is moving to Laurentian University in Sudbury to become its 11th president and vice-chancellor. She then announced that Dr. Rui Wang, M.D., who is the current deputy provost responsible for planning York University’s permanent presence in the City of Markham, would step in as the interim vice-president of research & innovation, effective May 1.

Carrie Bourassa (Ts’iotaat Kutx Ayanaha s’eek), scientific director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health (IIPH)

Following the President’s remarks, Rebecca Pillai Riddell, associate vice-president research, introduced the event’s keynote speaker, Carrie Bourassa (Ts’iotaat Kutx Ayanaha s’eek), scientific director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health (IIPH). Bourassa spoke about the implications of systemic racism for health problems among Indigenous people and the importance of incorporating respect and a place within research processes for the Indigenous community’s expansive knowledge. She encouraged researchers to shift their focus away from deficit solutions and toward the wide ranging potential that Indigenous knowledge contributes to enriching research.

Following Bourassa’s remarks, those present at the event heard about the accomplishments of the research leaders, which were described as rich and varied. Accomplishments ranged from appointments as Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada to York researchers leading a Partnership Grant award by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, to the promise of VISTA and the innovative research of York’s Canada Research Chairs. The recipients of large-scale grants were recognized and student researchers who presented at the University’s annual Undergraduate Research Fair were present at the celebration. A full list of the researchers celebrated at the event can be found in the event program, which is available at http://research.info.yorku.ca/york-university-research-leaders/.

President’s Research Awards

The recipients of the President’s Research Awards were also announced at the event. The recipients are:

President’s Emerging Research Leadership (PERLA) Award 2019

Christine Till (left) receives her award from York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton

Christine Till, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health, was selected for this award as a reflection of her original research program that studies the neurotoxicity of fluoride exposure. Due to the public health and public policy implications associated with this research, it has received much international, national and local attention. Following a discovery Till made with a graduate student, which found an association between Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and public water fluoridation, she is spearheading a major initiative to examine how early life exposure to fluoride contributes to child health outcomes. In this project, Till is conducting fluoride analysis from urine samples that were collected from almost 2,000 pregnant women across Canada. Till is also participating in a study on fluoride exposure, in Mexico City, led by researchers at the University of Toronto. In addition, she serves as the lead research psychologist for a national project based at Toronto’s SickKids Hospital to determine the metrics of long-term prognoses of patients with pediatric-onset multiple sclerosis. Till’s deep commitment to mentoring students is exemplified by her leadership of a large research team, supervision of clinical psychology students in the York University Psychology Clinic, and supervision and mentoring of numerous post-doctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students, and research assistants.

Marcello Musto, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, was selected for this award as a reflection of his scholarly publications. He is acknowledged globally as one of the key authors who has made very significant contributions to the revival of Marx studies. In particular, he has reconstructed the stages of Marx’s critique of capitalism in light of the new historical-critical edition of his writings. Musto has an impressive publication record, authoring four and editing seven books, in addition to many articles and book chapters, since he moved into the tenure stream four years ago. His works have been published worldwide in more than 20 languages. Musto has also transformed the world of contemporary scholarship on Marx and Marxism by organizing several major events (in seven countries) that brought together more than 300 international scholars. In particular, the “Marx’s Capital after 150 Years: Critique and Alternative to Capitalism” conference, held at York, advanced the University’s international reputation for research excellence. Musto has nurtured the careers of many York and international graduate students by improving their research skills, supporting the construction of their professional networks, encouraging submission of peer-reviewed publications, and promoting participation at academic conferences.

President’s Research Impact (PRIA) Award 2019

Julia Creet

Julia Creet, Department of English, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, was selected for this award as a reflection of her research on digital privacy, data mining, genealogy and memory. Creet explores topics that are relevant and pressing in the context of the expansion of genealogical enterprises, such as Ancestry.com and 23andme.com. This research tackles the big questions emerging from these technological developments and makes a vital contribution to our understanding of the implications. Creet has produced both traditional research outputs, including a forthcoming monograph, called The Genealogical Sublime, and edited essay collections, as well as innovative contributions, such as a workshop on genealogy and genetics, and a documentary film, “Datamining the Deceased: Ancestry and the Business of Family,” licensed by TVO. More than 350,000 viewers have seen this film to date. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, which funded the film’s production, called it “one of the best projects we have funded.” Creet’s research is also informing policy-makers’ understandings about regulating this area of technological development. With research that captures the attention of a wide range of audiences, from scholars to policy-makers to the public, Creet’s work has had a significant impact both inside and outside academia and has contributed to York’s research culture and reputation.

President’s Research Excellence (PREA) Award 2019

Deanne Williams

Deanne Williams, Department of English, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, was selected for this award as a reflection of her outstanding accomplishments in medieval and Shakespeare studies. Williams is the author of several ground-breaking monographs that have had major impact in these fields. Most notable is Shakespeare and the Performance of Girlhood, which explores a topic previously overlooked in Shakespeare studies. Williams’ contributions have been widely recognized: She was elected to the Royal Society of Canada, she received the John C. Charles Polanyi Prize in Literature and the Roland H. Bainton Prize for Best Book in Literature and she has secured research grants from the Killam Research Fellowship and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Williams has been a strong contributor to York’s intellectual life. She has served on a number of committees in the Department of English and on a Senate Committee, supervised PhD dissertations and served on PhD dissertation committees, as well as teaching at the undergraduate level in a creative manner that provides students with experiential learning opportunities.

To learn more about Research & Innovation at York University, follow the @YUResearch Twitter handle, watch the animated video about the new Strategic Research Plan  and see the snapshot infographic.