York University announces 14 York Research Chair appointments

Vari Hall

Fourteen researchers across the University will join the York Research Chairs (YRC) program, York University’s internal counterpart to the national Canada Research Chairs (CRC) program, which recognizes outstanding researchers. Four of these appointments are renewals.

These YRCs belong to the eighth cohort of researchers to be appointed since the establishment of the program in 2015. These YRCs’ terms start July 1 and run through to June 30, 2026.

Rhonda L. Lenton
Rhonda L. Lenton

“The York Research Chairs program is an important component of institutional supports for research, both basic and applied, reflecting our commitment to address complex global issues and drive positive change in our local and global communities,” said President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton. “This year’s YRCs have made remarkable contributions in their respective fields and furthered our understanding of subjects ranging from visuomotor neuroscience, to racial justice, to reproductive health. I want to congratulate all of our new and renewed YRCs and thank them for their continued dedication to research excellence.”

The YRC program seeks to build research recognition and capacity, with excellence in research, scholarship and associated creative activity serving as selection criteria.

Amir Asif
Amir Asif

“This program mirrors the federal CRC program to broaden and deepen the impact of research chairs at York in building and intensifying world-renowned research across the institution. These new YRCs are undertaking visionary work that has local, national and international impact,” said Vice-President Research & Innovation Amir Asif.

Tier I YRCs are open to established research leaders at the rank of full professor. Tier II YRCs are aimed at emerging research leaders within 15 years of their first academic appointment.

Tier I York Research Chairs

Nantel Bergeron
York Research Chair in Applied Algebra

Nantel Bergeron, Faculty of Science, had his York Research Chair in Applied Algebra renewed. He is one of the pioneers in the development of the theory of combinatorial Hopf algebras. In this field, researchers can understand and solve complex enumeration problems from other areas of science, such as computer science and mathematics. His research helps to further insights into the super-symmetry of nature.

Doug Crawford
York Research Chair in Visuomotor Neuroscience

Doug Crawford, Faculty of Health, is a Distinguished Research Professor in Neuroscience and the Scientific Director of the Vision: Science to Applications (VISTA) program. For the past 26 years, his groundbreaking work at the York Centre for Vision Research has focused on the control of visual gaze in 3D space, eye-hand coordination and spatial memory during eye movements.

Lorne Foster
York Research Chair in Black Canadian Studies and Human Rights

Lorne Foster, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, is the Director of the Institute for Social Research and the Director of the Diversity & Human Rights Certificate, the first academic-industry human rights training partnership. His trailblazing work on public policy formation and scholarship on the human rights approach to inclusive organizational change ranks among the best in its field. This work has consistently helped to open doors to new scholarly explorations.

Kerry Kawakami
York Research Chair in Equity and Diversity

Kerry Kawakami, Faculty of Health, is Principal Investigator of the Social Cognition Lab, which investigates a variety of social categorization processes using diverse methodologies. Her pioneering work on implicit biases provides insight into how we perceive people from different social groups, how we react to intergroup bias, and strategies to reduce prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination.

Chun Peng
York Research Chair in Women’s Reproductive Health

Chun Peng, Faculty of Science, had her York Research Chair in Women’s Reproductive Health renewed. Peng’s long-term goal for her research program is to understand the regulation of female reproduction and the mechanisms underlying the development of ovarian cancer and preeclampsia. Her research will enhance the overall understanding of female reproductive health and may lead to the development of novel biomarkers for preeclampsia and therapeutics for ovarian cancer.

Jennifer Steeves
York Research Chair in Non-Invasive Visual Brain Stimulation

Jennifer Steeves, Faculty of Health, undertakes research that examines how the brain adapts to changes in sensory input with the loss of one eye or to direct brain damage. She uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to reverse engineer the brain. This is a VISTA York Research Chair, as Steeves is a core member of the Vision: Science to Applications (VISTA) program. 

Tier II York Research Chairs

Lyndsay Hayhurst
York Research Chair in Sport, Gender and Development and Digital Participatory Research

Lyndsay Hayhurst, Faculty of Health, researches sport, gender and development (SGD) – or the use of sport to support gender-related development goals, policies and practice. Her current SSHRC- and CFI-funded research explores how key stakeholders experience SGD initiatives focused on girls and women in Canada, Uganda and Nicaragua using digital participatory research strategies. Her goal is to re-envision new, community-oriented and socially just approaches to SGD initiatives.

Sean Hillier
York Research Chair in Indigenous Health Policy and One Health

Sean Hillier, Faculty of Health, is a Mi’kmaw scholar and a special adviser to the Dean on Indigenous Resurgence. His collaborative research program spans the topics of aging, living with HIV and other infectious diseases, and antimicrobial resistance, all with a concerted focus on policy affecting health care access for Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Hillier has been successful in receiving funding from each of the three federal granting agencies, with more than 10 external grants.

Ozzy Mermut
York Research Chair in Vision Biophotonics

Ozzy Mermut, Faculty of Science, is a biophysicist harnessing the power of light to study human aging. Her group develops diagnostics and therapeutic biophotonics technologies to address age-related degenerative diseases. These techniques translate to accelerated aging studies in the environment of space, to understand long-term health consequences in space. This is a VISTA York Research Chair; Mermut is a core member of the Vision: Science to Applications (VISTA) program.

Carmela Murdocca
York Research Chair in Reparative and Racial Justice

Carmela Murdocca, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, examines racialization, criminalization and social histories of racial and colonial violence. Her work is concerned with the social and legal politics of repair, redress and reparations. She has been a Fulbright Scholar and Visiting Fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Culture at the School of Law and the Center for Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University.

Lisa Myers
York Research Chair in Indigenous Art and Curatorial Practice

Lisa Myers, Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, is a curator and artist with a keen interest in interdisciplinary collaboration. Her research focuses on contemporary Indigenous art considering the varied values and functions of elements, such as medicine plants and language, sound, and knowledge. Through many media and materials, including socially engaged art approaches, her art practice examines place, underrepresented histories/present/futures, and collective forms of knowledge exchange.

Shayna Rosenbaum
York Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory

Shayna Rosenbaum, Faculty of Health and core member of the Vision: Science to Applications (VISTA) program, had her York Research Chair in the Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory renewed. An elected member of the College of the Royal Society of Canada, she has shown how different forms of memory are represented in the brain. She seeks to develop strategies to help healthy older adults and patients overcome memory loss.

Ping Wang
York Research Chair in AI Empowered Next Generation Communication Networks

Ping Wang, Lassonde School of Engineering, researches wireless communications and networking. She has led research in radio resource allocation, network design, performance analysis and optimization for heterogeneous wireless networks. Her scholarly works have been widely disseminated through top-ranked IEEE journals and conferences. She intends to develop innovative techniques for next-generation wireless communications networks in supporting the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

Amro Zayed
York Research Chair in Genomics

Amro Zayed, Faculty of Science, had his York Research Chair in Genomics renewed. Zayed’s research group sequences the genomes of thousands of bees to identify mutations that influence their economically and ecologically relevant traits. His program aims to improve the health of Canadian honey bees, which will increase the sustainability and security of Canada’s food supply.