York’s Vision science program receives continued funding through Canada First Research Excellence Fund

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The Vision: Science to Applications program underwent a strenuous mid-term evaluation and received rave reviews for its work and leadership in advancing interdisciplinary vision science research.

Vision: Science to Applications (VISTA), a program that advances the science of vision research and develops novel technologies for people with vision-related health limitations, will receive continued funding through the prestigious Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF). After undertaking a strenuous mid-term evaluation, VISTA was recognized for its role in positioning York University as a world-class destination for interdisciplinary vision science research.

“VISTA is leading the way in the research and development of vision science that will have a positive societal impact on the lives of Canadians,” says Amir Asif, vice-president, research and innovation (VPRI). “Thanks to the collaborative efforts of faculty and staff, the interdisciplinary program continues to advance new knowledge in vision science and translate successful research into novel applications to benefit humanity and a brighter future.”

Amir Asif
Amir Asif

The CFREF review panel and board praised VISTA for the calibre of its interdisciplinary research projects, its capacity to attract high-profile senior researchers and promising junior faculty, its proactive training programs, and for its strong research translation and commercialization outcomes. The program was commended for its commitment for integrating an administrative structure into the fabric of the University’s vision for the future.

The following are some of VISTA’s key accomplishments:

  • Laurie Wilcox, professor of psychology and biology and a core member of VISTA, was elected president of the Vision Sciences Society, the premiere annual international vision science conference.
  • The pan-University focus of VISTA has resulted in innovative, multidisciplinary research across faculties and disciplines.
  • Jeffrey D. Schall was appointed inaugural scientific director of the York Visual Neurophysiology Centre.
  • VISTA support and leadership is contributing to the Neuroscience Facility expansion at the Sherman Health Sciences Centre at the University’s Keele Campus.
  • CFREF funding has also had a major impact on graduate scholarships and fellowships at York: with four master’s, eight doctoral scholarships plus five postdoctoral Fellowships, bringing the total to 110 such awards, which is the largest scholarship and Fellowship program at York University. This expansive support of graduate and postdoctoral expertise has expanded research programs for VISTA faculty and enhanced the University’s international reputation for vision sciences.
  • VISTA continues to deliver on its promise of applied internships for York trainees with 21 undergraduate and graduate Mitacs internships in the last year, including seven new research training awards and two new business strategy internships related to COVID-19.
  • VISTA has added five additional affiliate members, which serves to enhance York University’s international reputation and reach to other institutions.

More about VISTA

In 2016, York University was awarded $33 million over seven years from CFREF, the largest government grant awarded in the institution’s history. CFREF helps Canadian postsecondary institutions excel globally in research areas that create long-term economic advantages for Canada. Institutions are competitively selected based on their ability to translate key strengths into world-leading capabilities. CFREF is a tri-agency initiative of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The CFREF award represents a monumental shift forward in vision science and has led to new applications spanning handheld devices, clinical diagnosis, art exhibits and even outer space.

VISTA, an initiative of the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation, was funded based on its demonstrated existing research capacity and internationally recognized strengths in vision research. Since its inception, VISTA has worked in vision research related areas, spanning five faculties: Lassonde School of Engineering, Faculty of Health, Faculty of Science, School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design, and the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.

VISTA’s mission is to advance vision science through computational and biological research perspectives, and to produce applications that generate positive health, societal, technological and economic impacts for Canada and the world. VISTA combines York’s unique strengths in biological and computational vision and translates cutting-edge research into real-world applications.