AMPD takes over Nuit Blanche

city lights at night

Faculty, students and alumni from York University’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) will champion creativity and positive change at Nuit Blanche Toronto this Saturday, Sept. 23 from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Exploring this year’s Nuit Blanche theme, “Breaking ground,” work by AMPD community members will consider ideas centred around the natural world, change and innovation through installations, exhibitions and performances from a wide range of artistic disciplines – including cinema and media arts, digital media, theatre and visual art. 

The members of AMPD with work at Nuit Blanche are:

Patricio Dávila and Hector Centeno Garcia
As part of the Public Visualization Lab/Studio, Dávila (associate professor, cinema and media arts) and Garcia (assistant professor, cinema and media arts) will present an installation in the neighbourhood of Fort York. The installation, entitled “Atmospheres” will be part of The Bentway‘s exhibition of public artwork that explores the urban natural world framed by the Gardiner’s iconic concrete columns.  

Elham Fatapour
Fatapour (MFA ’21) will produce a video installation in the neighbourhood of Etobicoke. The performance video art, entitled Solitary Stitches, explores an artist’s solitary relationship with the land, using the seemingly domestic art of sewing. 

Marcus Gordon
Gordon, a PhD candidate in digital media, will mount an interactive instillition in downtown Toronto called Urban Arboretum. The installation uses the voices and sounds of participants to grow computer-generated plants. 

Grace Grothaus
Grothaus, a PhD student in digital media, will create a light installation in the neighbourhood of Don Mills, titled Sun Eaters, to show people how trees flow with hidden energy. 

Andria Keen
Keen, an MFA student in visual arts, is presenting an installation titled Reflective Foresight for a Dystopian Utopia for Nuit Blanche Danforth. Keen’s installation speculates what life might be like in 200 years considering factors like population growth, climate change and the evolution of technology. 

Five of the AMPD faculty participating in Nuit Blanche this year: (from left to right) Patricio Dávila, Hector Centeno Garcia, Joel Ong, Marissa Largo and Archer Pechawis
Five of the AMPD faculty participating in Nuit Blanche this year: (from left to right) Patricio Dávila, Hector Centeno Garcia, Joel Ong, Marissa Largo and Archer Pechawis

Marissa Largo
An assistant professor in the Department of Visual Art & Art History, Largo has curated the works of Ephraim Velasco (BFA student, visual arts – studio) at A Space Gallery @ 401 Richmond. A series of digital collages titled The Kakaiba Collection playfully explores Velasco’s diasporic identity through Philippine visual vocabularies and pop culture.  

Joel Ong
Ong, an associate professor in computational arts and the Helen Carswell Chair in Community Engaged Research in the Arts, is hosting an exhibition in Etobicoke titled In Silence. Created with community advocates in the Jane-Finch neighbourhood, the meditative exhibit visualizes the voices and lived experiences of marginalized communities. 

Archer Pechawis
An assistant professor in the Department of Visual Art & Art History and the Department of Theatre and Performance, Pechawis will perform a piece titled Daylight, in downtown Toronto. The musical performance examines the phenomenon of Toronto’s buried rivers and streams.  

AMPD invites community members who want to be celebrated as part of Nuit Blanche Toronto to reach out to through the Faculty’s social media channel on X, formerly known as Twitter: @YorkUAMPD. 

Research asks: do online educational platforms violate privacy expectations?

student on video chat

Yan Shvartzshnaider, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science at York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering, is part of a collaborative project that has received $291,971 in funding from the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to analyze the functionality and information handling of online educational platforms to determine if their practices align with user expectations and privacy regulations.

Yan Shvartzshnaider
Yan Shvartzshnaider

As online educational platforms quickly became the de facto standard alternative to in-person teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic, the urgent transition left many unanswered questions about potential privacy concerns. Through features such as location-based tracking to confirm student attendance and video conferences that can reveal socio-economic indicators in users’ homes, online educational platforms have access to an abundance of highly sensitive information, raising the question: do online educational platforms violate our privacy expectations?

“Everyone has gotten used to this new normal, but no one is asking if these platforms respect established privacy norms,” says Shvartzshnaider. “We want to understand how these educational systems actually work and if they deviate from our privacy expectations.”

In collaboration with researchers from Colgate University, New York University, University of Chicago, University of Illinois and Cornell Tech, this project will involve extensive review of information governance practices put in place by schools to protect students, staff and parents. The research team will also explore the ways in which the pandemic has changed information handling practices, and if these practices contribute to educational values and purposes or violate them.  

Knowledge gained from this work will be used for informative guidance, providing relevant stakeholders with useful tools and methodologies so they can better design online educational platforms that prioritize user safety and privacy.

The SSHRC grant represents a unique achievement for a Lassonde professor, highlighting the diverse applications of engineering research, bringing Lassonde and Canada into the international conversation of online classroom privacy, and providing unique learning opportunities for Lassonde students, allowing them to become a part of interdisciplinary research that blends computer science and information technology with social sciences and humanities.

“I’m really excited for this project, which will bring together multiple disciplines,” Shvartzshnaider says. “This SSHRC funding will allow us to get lots of students involved in this important and timely project.”

In prospective work, he will explore the use of learning model systems and virtual reality, aiming to elevate the future of online classrooms, while prioritizing safety and privacy. He will also continue to work alongside Lassonde students and international partners, to collaboratively achieve a unified goal of creating safer, more informed spaces for online teaching.

Lassonde researchers pursue sustainable change

Aspire lightbulb idea innovation research

Researchers from the Lassonde School of Engineering at York University are gearing up for new interdisciplinary research projects that address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with support from the Lassonde Innovation Fund (LIF), an initiative that provides faculty members with financial support.

This year’s projects aim to find innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges, including climate change, access to clean drinking water, issues in health diagnostics and more. Nearly 80 per cent of this year’s LIF projects involve interdisciplinary work, 50 per cent are led by women and six per cent address multiple SDGs.

Learn more about this year’s LIF projects below.

Project: “Smart contact lenses (SCL) as promising alternatives to invasive vitreous sample analysis for in-situ eye disease studies” by Razieh Salahandish and Pouya Rezai

Razieh Salahandish
Razieh Salahandish

Salahandish from the Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science at Lassonde is collaborating with Mechanical Engineering Professor and Department Chair Rezai along with Dr. Tina Felfeli, a physician at the University Health Network, on an initiative aimed at fabricating smart contact lens (SCL) systems as a non-invasive tool that can detect and analyze disease-indicating biomarkers in human tears. For clinicians, examining biomarkers is an important part of monitoring eye health that can help improve disease detection and patient outcomes.

Pouya Rezai
Pouya Rezai

The SCL systems will be designed to examine two clinically relevant eye condition biomarkers, vascular endothelial growth factor and tumour necrosis factor-alpha. Typically, these biomarkers are isolated from gel-like tissue in the eye, also known as vitreous fluid, using invasive surgical methods. This LIF project poses a convenient alternative that is less complex for medical professionals and more manageable for patients. It also sets a strong foundation for future investigations in this unexplored field.

Project: “Electric gene sensor for disease diagnostics purposes” by Ebrahim Ghafar-Zadeh

Ebrahim Ghafar-Zadeh
Ebrahim Ghafar-Zadeh

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are considered the gold standard for detecting genes associated with diseases and were widely used throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for diagnostic purposes; however, PCR tests lack portability and cost-effectiveness, so there is a need for more accessible options.

To address this issue, Ghafar-Zadeh, associate professor in Lassonde’s Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, is developing a novel PCR-like mechanism, which offers several advantages for detecting existent and emerging diseases over traditional detection methods. Advantages include low cost, high sensitivity and user friendliness.

With support from the LIF, Ghafar-Zadeh will explore the use of innovative electronic sensors to detect genes associated with different viruses. Substantial preliminary work shows the sensors’ output is significantly affected by the presence of a virus gene, thereby indicating its corresponding disease. Building on this discovery, experiments will be conducted using known genes to develop electronic software and hardware that can prove the presence of a specific virus gene and its respective disease.

Through successful research outcomes, Ghafar-Zadeh aims to secure future funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to support the implementation of this technology in clinical settings.

Project: “Controlling biofilm formation and microbial recontamination in secondary water storage containers with UV light emitting diodes and targeted cleaning procedures” by Stephanie Gora, Ahmed El Dyasti and Syed Imran Ali

Ahmed El Dyasti
Ahmed El Dyasti
Stephanie Gora
Stephanie Gora

Continuous access to clean running water is a privilege that many global communities do not have. In areas such as refugee and internally displaced persons (IDP) settlements, as well as rural and underserved regions in Canada, community members must collect water from public distribution points and store it in secondary containers for future use.

This stored water is highly susceptible to recontamination by various microbial species, including biofilm-forming bacteria, which are microbial colonies that are extremely resistant to destruction.

Syed Imran Ali
Syed Imran Ali

Ultraviolet (UV) light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are a promising, yet underexplored, method that can be used to inactivate microbial colonies in biofilms and prevent their formation. Civil engineering rofessors Gora and El Dyasti have teamed up with Ali, a research Fellow in global health and humanitarianism at York University’s Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research, on a solutions-driven project to improve water quality in underserved communities using UV LEDs and targeted container-cleaning procedures.

With support from the LIF, the research team will design and develop UV LED-equipped storage containers and analyze their ability to disinfect water in containers with biofilms. Experiments will also be performed to examine the potential benefits of combining UV LEDs with targeted container-cleaning procedures.

Successful results from this project may help ensure clean and safe water for refugee and IDP communities, as well as other underserved regions.

Project: “Smart vibration suppression system for micromobility in-wheel-motor electric vehicles for urban transportation” by George Zhu

George Zhu
George Zhu

Traffic congestion is not only a nuisance for road users, but it also causes excessive greenhouse gas emissions. Recent advances in electric vehicle (EV) technology have found that microvehicles, which are lightweight and drive at speeds up to 35 miles per hour, are a sustainable and convenient alternative to many traditional modes of transportation.

Specifically, micromobility EVs using in-wheel motors (IWMs) are becoming increasingly popular considering their benefits such as high energy efficiency and roomy passenger space. However, these vehicles are susceptible to unwanted vibration and tire jumping, which compromise driving safety and user comfort.

Through his LIF project, Zhu, from Lassonde’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, will design and develop a novel vibration-control technology for micromobility EVs with IWMs. The project will use a SARIT EV to test a smart suspension system, which includes active and passive vibration suppression and absorption systems. This work aims to develop new vibration-control technology, improve user experience and address deficiencies of micromobility IWM EVs. Zhu, who is a co-founding director of the Manufacturing Technology Entrepreneurship Centre, will also use this work to leverage Lassonde’s ongoing collaboration with Stronach International on the SARIT EV project.

Project: “Multifunctional building envelopes with integrated carbon capture” by Paul O’Brien and Ronald Hanson

Paul O’Brien
Paul O’Brien

Global warming is, in part, caused by the energy consumption and generation needed to support daily life, including the operation of buildings. In fact, the building sector accounts for 30 per cent of global energy consumption.

To help reduce greenhouse gas emission from building operations, mechanical engineering professors O’Brien and Hanson are developing and testing energy-efficient building envelopes using Trombe walls.

Ronald Hanson
Ronald Hanson

Trombe walls are a unique technology that can utilize solar energy to provide buildings with passive heat, thereby reducing heating energy consumption of buildings by up to 30 per cent. Inspired by previously conducted studies, this LIF project will explore the multifunctionality of a modified Trombe wall with water-based thermal energy storage, which demonstrates the potential to provide indoor lighting, heated air, heated water and building-integrated carbon capture.

Researchers verify Einstein’s theory of general relativity

Photo by John Moeses Bauan on Unsplash

Research, led by York University PhD student Nelson Nunes and supervised by Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus and Senior Scholar Nobert Bartel, verified Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity and the Einstein equivalence principle (EEP) by measuring gravitational redshift – a change in the frequency of a lightwave – and the slowing of time over distances as far as the moon, of about 350,000 kilometres.

The EEP is a cornerstone of general relativity and predicts the existence of gravitational redshift. The EEP states that the gravitational mass of an object is equal to inertial mass. For instance, standing on Earth and experiencing weight is equivalent to being accelerated in a spacecraft far away from Earth without the influence of gravity.

“Testing the EEP is thought to be decisive to test gravitational theories, including Einstein’s general relativity,” said Bartel. “Finding inconsistencies could perhaps help with generating new ideas on how to combine gravitational theories with the other pillar of our modern understanding of the physical world, which is quantum theory.”

The international group of astrophysicists involved in the project, which included York Senior Research Associate Michael Bietenholz and scientists from Russia, the Netherlands and Australia, used a highly accurate clock on a spacecraft named RadioAstron, which was launched in 2011 in an elliptical orbit around Earth, to obtain the measurements.

Their measurements – published in the journal Classical and Quantum Gravity – showed that time on Earth flows slower by 0.7 times a billionth of what it is on the spacecraft far away from Earth – which adds up to a 20-millisecond difference in one whole year. Although the difference is miniscule, the change in time verifies the EEP, the overarching focus of the research.

One consequence of the EEP is the changing flow of time in a gravitational field and, closely related, the gravitational redshift. Gravitational redshift has the effect of shifting waves to lower frequencies; with light, this means a shift to red. With respect to time, gravitational redshift should cause time to slow down.

norbert pic resized
Illustration of the York team’s experiment: a radio satellite in very elliptical orbit around Earth extending to the distance of the moon. Clocks showing slowed-down time near Earth in comparison to time far away are indicated. Courtesy of Norbert Bartel

“All clocks are based on oscillators and tick according to how fast they oscillate,” said Nunes. “So the gravitational redshift has fundamental repercussions on the flow of time in a gravitational field. In other words, if we are far away from Earth in space and let our clock fall toward Earth, we should be able to measure the clock ticking slower and slower the more it approaches Earth. In the extreme case, were our clock to fall towards the event horizon of a black hole, a place of no return, we would expect to see time slowing down so much that at some point it would stop altogether.”

Although the team’s results are about 10 times less accurate than previous measurements reported in 2018 by a separate team using European Galileo navigation satellites, their experiment covers a much larger distance. Whereas the 2018 study measured gravitational redshift as far as about 25,000 kilometres from Earth, Nunes’ measurements went as far as 350,000 kilometres from Earth. The York team says the measurements could be improved further and with future similar space missions, could reach 1,000 times higher accuracies.

Patrick Alcedo

Patrick Alcedo
Patrick Alcedo

A Will To Dream, a film by Patrick Alcedo, Chair and professor in the Department of Dance, won Best Documentary Film or Video from the International Council for Traditions of Music & Dance

Tour highlights Markham Campus construction updates

Markham Mayor Frank Scarpetti and York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton at the Markham Campus construction site

On Sept. 12, a hard hat tour provided an opportunity for York University and Markham community leaders to interact with the spaces within the Markham Campus building and begin to envision the many ways in which students, faculty, community members and industry partners will be able to use them.

President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton, and Markham Campus Interim Deputy Provost Dan Palermo were joined by Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti, members of the local council and senior city staff for a hard hat tour of the Markham Campus to explore the latest updates to the site.

With several of the floors nearing completion, and the 10-storey building now fully enclosed, the campus site continues to be a hive of activity. Work is taking place outside to prepare the site for all of the hard- and soft-surface landscaping, while inside the building construction crews continue to make progress to ensure the building is ready to open to the inaugural cohort of students in September 2024.

“This building is a fitting representation of the new programs York University is excited to launch here in Fall 2024,” says Palermo. “It’s incredible to see the progress being made, and to share that with the council and Mayor Scarpitti – key enablers to this campus’ inception – made it a truly memorable experience. I believe our students, in particular, will be thrilled with the building and happy to call it their new home, which is truly designed with them in mind.”

Lenton and Palermo provided a sneak peek inside the building for Markham community leaders as it nears its completion, in recognition of how Markham City Council, under the leadership of Scarpitti, have been core supporters of the campus. The campus would not have been possible without their generous donation of land on which the building is situated.

Here is a photo gallery of the latest updates highlighted by the tour.


Mark Terry

Mark Terry

On Sept. 23, Professor Mark Terry will speak at the United Nations’ annual International Youth Conference on the subject of youth climate activism

CIHR awards professor $1M grant

two people running

York University Faculty of Health Professor David Hood received a more than $1-million grant over five years from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to study the role of exercise, sex and age on muscle decline by delving into the role of lysosomes in clearing out bad mitochondria from muscles.

David Hood
David Hood

It’s not about a rare illness; it’s about something that impacts all of us. “After cancer and heart disease, musculoskeletal illnesses are one of the biggest burdens on society,” says Hood, a Canada Research Chair and professor in the School of Kinesiology & Health Science and a pioneer in the study of exercise physiology and mitochondria in Canada. “What’s going on with the lysosomes? Why aren’t they degrading mitochondria the way they should, and can exercise improve lysosomes? We will be studying whether or not the removal of bad mitochondria can be improved by regular exercise, whether there is a biological sex difference between males and females in the removal of mitochondria and whether it’s affected by age.”

Hood, founder of the Muscle Health Research Centre at York, has been studying the synthesis of mitochondria and musculature for decades. More recently, he has taken an interest in the role of lysosomes – the “Pac-Man” organelles responsible for clearing out cellular materials when they no longer function as they should – in the removal process of worn-out mitochondria.

Mitochondria are responsible for producing the energy required to power cells, and like all cellular structures, break down over time and need to be replaced. Previous research shows a lack of removal causes a buildup of free radicals. A lack of energy production is one reason for muscle decline in aging, and exercise helps with the removal of old mitochondria, but he says the role of lysosomes is poorly understood and the research is in its infancy.

To build on this nascent body of evidence, Hood and graduate students from York will look at lysosomes and contracting muscles cells under a microscope, conduct animal studies and look at human tissue via a collaboration with research partners at the University of Florida.

Hood says mouse model studies show that females have more mitochondria in muscle tissue than males, and previous research at York also discovered that they have more lysosomes. Now, he will look at whether the same would be true in humans.

Mitochondrial research has been exploding in recent years, due to its key role in the aging process in general, and while there is much interest in developing a pill that would help along with the mitochondrial renewal process – Hood himself has done studies looking at the role of the antioxidant resveratrol found in red wine, and found it did indeed help mitochondrial function in conjunction with exercise – Hood is not a “magic pill” advocate.

“There’s no doubt that there is a ton of excitement around mitochondria in the research world – more than any other organelle, really – and there is great interest in finding the pharmaceuticals or nutraceuticals that can combine with exercise to make mitochondria work better,” says Hood. “With age and inactivity, the more mitochondria deteriorate, and the less likely people are to exercise. This leads to a further decline in mitochondrial function – a feed forward mechanism; however, the inverse is also true – training our body produces more mitochondria and gives us the energy for further exercise, helping to stave off chronic disease. As someone with a lifelong interest in athletics, as someone who teaches exercise physiology to 600 students per year, I’ve got to try to promote exercise, and the mechanisms of its health benefits, as best I can.”

“The support from CIHR for Dr. David Hood’s important research on the role of mitochondria in muscle decline will advance our understanding of how we can mitigate muscle decline to help us age better and healthier,” said Dr. David Peters, dean of York’s Faculty of Health. “The CIHR funding for his work and for that of his York colleagues in areas ranging from self-harm behaviours to the regulation of gene expression, is a recognition of the outstanding calibre of York’s research in health and how that research will benefit society.”

Watch a video of David Hood explaining his research here:

Learn more at News @ York.

Announcing the winners of the 2022 President’s Staff Recognition Awards


La version française suit la version anglaise. 

Every year, the York University Staff Recognition Awards are an occasion for the University to come together with President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton and honour community members who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to the school’s success and actively advanced our vision, mission and core values.

Rhonda Lenton
Rhonda Lenton

“At York University, our community is our greatest asset,” said Lenton. “These awards acknowledge staff, many of whom work behind the scenes advancing our vision to provide a broad sociodemographic of students with access to a high-quality, research-intensive education, elevating our performance and enhancing our reputation. Whether supporting the development of new programs, our students and their learning experience, our research activities or campus operations to create a safe, inclusive, connected and welcoming environment, each and every one of you exemplify the spirit of excellence and engagement that defines our institution.

“I want to extend my heartfelt congratulations to all the exceptional individuals and teams who have won or been nominated for these prestigious awards, which this year includes the inaugural Excellence in Decolonization, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (DEDI) Award,” she continued.

“Your professionalism, innovation, and dedication have made a tangible mark on York University and will continue to shape a brighter future for us all, and I am thrilled to have this opportunity to celebrate all your remarkable contributions.”

The winners of this year’s Staff Recognition Awards will be honoured at an event at a later date.

This year’s recipients and nominees are:

Deborah Hobson York Citizenship Award

This award recognizes employees who have demonstrated a high level of service to students and who promote York’s spirit in terms of creativity, innovation and redefining the possible in service to the University community.

Deborah Hobson York Citizenship Award Winner: Rosanna Chowdhury
Rosanna Chowdhury (top row, far left); nominators/colleagues; and Priyanka Debnath, chief of staff, Office of the President

Winner: Rosanna Chowdhury, experiential education co-ordinator

The other staff members nominated for this award are:  

  • Jillian Oinonen, coordinator of system development
  • Kayla Lascasas, manager, Student Engagement and Recruitment

Decolonization, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (DEDI) Award

This annual award recognizes the passion, dedication and campus engagement by a team or individual staff member to decolonization, equity, diversity and inclusion at York. The award acknowledges ongoing work or outstanding accomplishments in practice, events, policy, programs, or other activities that foster equitable, sustainable and measurable change on campus, with an intersectional social justice lens, especially for equity-deserving groups (e.g. women, visible/racialized minorities, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities and 2SLGBTQIA+).

Decolonization, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (DEDI) Award Winner: CHREI Education Team
Centre for Human Rights, Equity & Inclusion (CHREI) Education Team: Christine Sinclair (top row, far left), Carolina Ruiz (top row, centre), Lisa Brown (absent, on leave); nominators/colleagues; and Priyanka Debnath, chief of staff, Office of the President

Winner: Centre for Human Rights, Equity & Inclusion (CHREI) Education Team

  • Lisa Brown, strategy and engagement specialist – Black Inclusion (on leave)
  • Carolina Ruiz, senior advisor, DEDI, Education and Communications
  • Christine Sinclair, senior advisor, DEDI, Education and Communications

The other staff members and teams nominated for this award are: 

  • Diane Hector, director, Finance and Budgets Partnerships
  • Michelle Hughes, recruitment and communications coordinator (deceased)
  • Orlene Ellis, graduate program assistant
  • Library Accessibility Services

Gary Brewer Award

This award is presented annually to a non-academic employee of York University who has shown tremendous promise for assuming a leadership role at the University, is known for their innovative and meaningful contributions to the effectiveness of their unit and has significantly contributed to the University’s commitment to excellence. The award recognizes and encourages early-career professionals who have demonstrated significant promise of leadership in their career. 

Gary Brewer Award: Winner Tom Osborne
Tom Osborne (top row, centre); nominators/colleagues; and Priyanka Debnath, chief of staff, Office of the President

Winner: Tom Osborne, assistant director, Academic Scheduling

The other staff members nominated for this award are: 

  • René Saint-André, senior security official, Campus Relations
  • Nicholas Punsammy, training coordinator and administrative floater

Phyllis Clark Campus Service Award

This award is presented annually to a non-academic employee of York University who has made exemplary contributions to the operations of either of York’s campuses in terms of efficiency, cleanliness, safety, security and/or other campus or plant services.   

Phyllis Clark Campus Service Award Winner: Violet Cosby
Violet Cosby (front row, right); nominators/colleagues; and Priyanka Debnath, chief of staff, Office of the President

Winner: Violet Cosby, custodian

The other staff members nominated for this award are: 

  • Diane O’Grady, security official

The President’s Leadership Award

The President’s Leadership Award recognizes contributions that go beyond the published requirements of a position and performance levels that foster a high level of professionalism and usually extend beyond an individual department into the University community at large.

The President’s Leadership Award Winner: Jodi Tavares
Jodi Tavares (top row, centre); nominators/colleagues; and Priyanka Debnath, chief of staff, Office of the President

Winner: Jodi Tavares, executive director, Strategy and Administration

The other staff members nominated for this award are: 

  • Prashanna Kantharasa, security supervisor
  • Debbi Collett, academic resource coordinator
  • Amy Gaukel, senior executive officer, Vice-President Equity, People and Culture
  • Liz McMahan, director, Congress 2023
  • Paul A. Elo, manager, Information Technology
  • Catherine Salole, executive director, Markham Student Services
  • Janet Newton, research agreements manager

Ronald Kent Medal

The medal recognizes the contributions of employees who promote and strengthen collegiality, values and goals of York University.

Ronald Kent Medal Winner: Patricia Cassan
Patricia Cassan (second row, left, centre); nominators/colleagues; and Priyanka Debnath, chief of staff, Office of the President

Winner: Patricia Cassan, administrative coordinator

The other staff members nominated for this award are: 

  • Diana Caradonna, corporate relations specialist
  • Khanh Le, administrative coordinator

Harriet Lewis Team Award for Service Excellence

This award recognizes a team’s excellence in service and support to students, faculty, course directors, staff, and/or other service users and its promotion of the York spirit in terms of imagination, creativity, innovation and redefining the possible in service to York’s community (internal or external).

Harriet Lewis Team Award for Service Excellence Winner: Knowledge Mobilization Unit
Knowledge Mobilization Unit: Michael Johnny (top row, far left), David Phipps (top row, left), Connie Tang (absent), Krista Jensen (absent); nominators/colleagues; and Priyanka Debnath, chief of staff, Office of the President

Winner: The Knowledge Mobilization Unit

  • David Phipps, assistant vice-president, Research Strategy and Impact
  • Michael Johnny, manager, Knowledge Mobilization
  • Krista Jensen, senior knowledge mobilization specialist
  • Connie Tang, director, strategy and business development, Research Impact Canada

The other teams nominated for this award are: 

  • Administrative team for the Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics
  • University Information Technology eReports Replacement Implementation team
  • The University Information Technology (UIT) administration team
  • Economics Student Support and Success team
  • The Office of Research Ethics (ORE)

President’s Voice of York Award

The Voice of York Award is given to an individual who is a first line-of-contact person at York University. The most important voice of York is the one who makes the first contact with a visitor or a community member. Compassion and professionalism, particularly in handling difficult or sensitive situations, is essential to our work at York University.

President’s Voice of York Award Winner: Jlenya Sarra-De Meo
Jlenya Sarra-De Meo (top row, left, centre); nominators/colleagues; and Priyanka Debnath, chief of staff, Office of the President

Winner: Jlenya Sarra-DeMeo, graduate program administrator

The other staff members nominated for this award are: 

  • Irina Mikhailyuk, graduate funding and finance analyst

Annonce des lauréats et lauréates des Prix de reconnaissance du personnel de soutien 2022 de la présidente

Rhonda Lenton
Rhonda Lenton

Chaque année, les prix annuels de reconnaissance du personnel de l’Université York sont l’occasion de nous joindre à la présidente et vice-chancelière Rhonda Lenton pour honorer les membres de la communauté qui ont fait preuve d’un engagement exceptionnel en faveur de la réussite de l’Université et qui ont activement fait progresser notre vision, notre mission et nos valeurs fondamentales.

« La communauté de l’Université York est son plus grand atout, a déclaré Mme Lenton. Ces prix récompensent le personnel, dont plusieurs travaillent dans l’ombre pour faire progresser notre vision, qui est d’offrir à un large éventail d’étudiantes et étudiants l’accès à un enseignement de haute qualité axé sur la recherche, d’élever nos performances et d’améliorer notre réputation. Qu’il s’agisse de soutenir le développement de nouveaux programmes, notre communauté étudiante et son expérience d’apprentissage, nos activités de recherche ou les opérations du campus pour créer un environnement sécuritaire, inclusif, connecté et accueillant, chacun et chacune d’entre vous illustre l’esprit d’excellence et d’engagement qui définit notre institution.

Je tiens à féliciter chaleureusement toutes les personnes et équipes exceptionnelles qui ont remporté ou ont été nommées pour ces prix prestigieux, qui comprennent cette année le premier Prix d’excellence en matière de décolonisation, d’équité, de diversité et d’inclusion (DEDI).

Votre professionnalisme, votre sens de l’innovation et votre dévouement ont laissé une marque tangible sur l’Université York et continueront à façonner un avenir meilleur pour nous tous. Je suis ravie d’avoir l’occasion de souligner vos remarquables contributions. »

Les lauréats et lauréates des prix de reconnaissance du personnel de cette année seront honorés lors d’un événement qui aura lieu à une date ultérieure.

Lauréats et lauréates et personnes mises en nomination pour les Prix de reconnaissance du personnel de cette année :

Prix Deborah Hobson du civisme de York

 Ce prix honore les employés qui ont fourni à la population étudiante un service d’excellence, qui promeuvent l’esprit de York sur le plan de la créativité, de l’innovation et qui redéfinissent ce qui est possible en ce qui a trait au service à la communauté universitaire.

Lauréate : Rosanna Chowdhury, coordonnatrice du programme d’éducation expérientielle

Autres membres du personnel mis en nomination pour ce prix :  

  • Jillian Oinonen, coordonnatrice du développement des systèmes
  • Kayla Lascasas, responsable de l’engagement et du recrutement des étudiants

Prix d’excellence en matière de décolonisation, d’équité, de diversité et d’inclusion (DEDI)

Ce prix annuel récompense la passion, le dévouement et l’engagement sur le campus d’une équipe ou d’un membre du personnel en faveur de la décolonisation, de l’équité, de la diversité et de l’inclusion à York. Ce prix récompense les réalisations exceptionnelles dans le cadre de pratiques, d’événements, de politiques, de programmes ou d’autres activités qui favorisent un changement équitable, durable et mesurable sur le campus, dans une optique de justice sociale intersectionnelle, en particulier pour les groupes en quête d’équité tels que les femmes, les minorités visibles/racialisées, les peuples autochtones, les personnes en situation de handicap et les personnes 2ELGBTQIA+.

Lauréate : L’équipe éducative du CHREI

  • Lisa Brown, spécialiste de la stratégie et de l’engagement, inclusion des personnes noires (en congé)
  • Carolina Ruiz, conseillère principale, DEDI, éducation et communication
  • Christine Sinclair, conseillère principale, DEDI, éducation et communication

Autres membres du personnel mis en nomination pour ce prix : 

  • Diane Hector, directrice des partenariats financiers et budgétaires
  • Michelle Hughes, coordonnatrice du recrutement et de la communication (décédée)
  • Orlene Ellis, assistante du programme d’études supérieures
  • Services en accessibilité des bibliothèques

Prix Gary Brewer

 Ce prix est décerné chaque année à un employé ou une employée non académique de l’Université York qui a fait preuve d’un grand potentiel de leadership à l’Université, qui a contribué de façon innovante et positive à l’efficacité de son unité et qui a collaboré de manière importante à l’engagement de l’Université en matière d’excellence. Le prix honore et encourage des professionnels aux débuts de carrière prometteurs sur le plan du leadership. 

Lauréat : Tom Osborne, directeur adjoint, planification académique

Autres membres du personnel mis en nomination pour ce prix : 

  • René Saint-André, responsable principal de la sécurité, relations avec les campus
  • Nicholas Punsammy, coordonnateur de la formation et agent administratif suppléant

Prix Phyllis Clark du service sur les campus

Ce prix est décerné chaque année à un(e) employé(e) non académique de l’Université York qui a contribué de façon exemplaire au fonctionnement de l’un ou l’autre des campus de York sur le plan de l’efficience, de la propreté, de la sécurité, ou d’autres services relatifs aux campus ou aux installations.      

Lauréate : Violet Cosby, concierge

Autres membres du personnel mis en nomination pour ce prix : 

  • Diane O’Grady, responsable de la sécurité

Le prix du leadership de la Présidente

Le Prix du leadership de la Présidente récompense les contributions excédant les exigences officielles d’un poste et les niveaux de performance favorisant un niveau élevé de professionnalisme et rayonnant en général, au-delà d’un département donné, sur l’ensemble de la communauté universitaire.

Lauréate : Jodi Tavares, directrice générale, stratégie et administration

Autres membres du personnel mis en nomination pour ce prix : 

  • Prashanna Kantharasa, superviseur de la sécurité
  • Debbi Collett, coordonnatrice des ressources académiques
  • Amy Gaukel, directrice générale, VP-EPC
  • Liz McMahan, directrice, Congrès 2023
  • Paul A. Elo, directeur, technologie de l’information
  • Catherine Salole, directrice générale, services aux étudiants de Markham
  • Janet Newton, gestionnaire des accords de recherche

Médaille Ronald Kent

Cette médaille récompense les contributions des employés qui promeuvent et renforcent la collégialité, les valeurs et les objectifs de l’Université York.

Lauréate : Patricia Cassan, coordonnatrice administrative

Autres membres du personnel mis en nomination pour ce prix : 

  • Diana Caradonna, spécialiste des relations avec les entreprises
  • Khanh Le, coordinateur administratif

Prix de l’équipe Harriet Lewis pour l’excellence du service

Ce prix honore l’excellence d’une équipe en matière de service et de soutien à la communauté étudiante, au corps enseignant, aux directeurs de cours, au personnel et à tous les utilisateurs de services, et la promotion de l’esprit de York sur le plan de l’imagination, de la créativité, de l’innovation et d’une redéfinition des possibles sur le plan des services déployés pour la communauté de York (internes ou externes).

Lauréate : L’unité de mobilisation des connaissances

  • David Phipps, VPA, Stratégie et impact de la recherche
  • Michael Johnny, gestionnaire, KM
  • Krista Jensen, spécialiste principale de la mobilisation des connaissances
  • Connie Tang, directrice de la stratégie et du développement commercial, Réseau Impact Recherche Canada

Autres équipes mises en nomination pour ce prix : 

  • Équipe administrative du département des langues, des littératures et de la linguistique
  • Équipe de mise en œuvre du remplacement des rapports électroniques, technologies de l’information de l’Université
  • L’équipe d’administration, technologies de l’information de l’université (TIU)
  • Équipe chargée du soutien et de la réussite des étudiants en économie
  • Bureau d’éthique de la recherche (ORE)

Prix Voix de York de la Présidente

Le Prix Voix de York est attribué à une personne-ressource de première ligne à l’Université York. La voix la plus importante à York est en effet celle qui établit le premier contact avec un visiteur ou un membre de la communauté. La compassion et le professionnalisme, particulièrement dans la gestion de situations difficiles ou délicates, sont essentiels pour notre travail.

Lauréate : Jlenya Sarra-DeMeo, administratrice du programme d’études supérieures

Autres membres du personnel mis en nomination pour ce prix : 

  • Irina Mikhailyuk, analyste, financement des études supérieures et finances

Researchers explore maternal care of wild bees

bee on pink flower

Two York University researchers have published a paper in the journal Communications Biology that examined the early and late life stages of small, developing carpenter bees in the presence and absence of maternal care.

Titled “The effects of maternal care on the developmental transcriptome and metatranscriptome of a wild bee,” the paper’s lead author was the Department of Biology’s Katherine Chau, a Mitacs Elevate and Weston Family Foundation Microbiome Initiative postdoctoral Fellow, and senior author was Sandra Rehan, a professor in York’s Faculty of Science.

The research considered how despite most wild bees being solitary, one tiny species of carpenter bees fastidiously cares for and raises their offspring, an act that translates into huge benefits to the developing bee’s microbiome, development and health.

Not unlike the positive affect human mothers can have on their offspring, the maternal care of these carpenter bees (Ceratina calcarata) staves off an overabundance of harmful fungi, bacteria, viruses and parasites in the earliest stage of development.

Without maternal care, the pathogen load of these developing bees ballooned, which can impact their microbiome, a critical component of bee health, as well as their development, immune system and gene expression. This can lead, for example, to changes in brain and eye development, and even behaviour. The biggest single fungus found was Aspergillus, known to induce stonebrood disease in honey bees, which mummifies the offspring. In later stages, the lack of care can lead to a reduced microbiome, increasing susceptibility to diseases and poor overall health.

The researchers looked at four overall developmental stages in the life of these carpenter bees, starting with the larvae stage both in the presence and absence of maternal care.

“There are fitness effects resulting from these fungal infections,” says Rehan. “We are documenting the shifts in development, the shifts in disease loads, and it is a big deal because in wild bees there is a lot less known about their disease loads. We are highlighting all of these factors for the first time.”

The developmental changes sparked by which genes were expressed or suppressed, upregulated or downregulated, along with disease loads, depending on the presence or lack of maternal care, created knock-on effects on the microbiome and bee health. These single mothers build one nest a year in the pith of dead plant stems, where they give birth and tend to their offspring from spring to as late as fall. Anything that prevents the mother from caring for her young increases risks of nest predation and parasitism, including excessive pruning of spring and fall stems, and can have huge consequences on their young.

“We found really striking shifts in the earliest stages, which was surprising, as we did not expect that stage to be the most significantly changed,” says Chau. “Looking at gene expression of these bees, you can see how the slightest dysregulation early in development cascades through their whole formation. It is all interconnected and shows how vital maternal care is in early childhood development.”

This study provides metatranscriptomic insights on the impact of maternal care on developing offspring and a foundational framework for tracking the development of the microbiome. “It is a complex paper that provides layers of data and shows the power of genomics as a tool,” says Rehan. “It allows us to document the interactions between host and environment. I think that is the power of this approach and the new technologies and techniques that we are developing.”

She also hopes it will give people more insight into the hidden life of bees and their vast differences, but also similarities. “Often people see bees as a monolith, but when you understand the complexity of bees and that there are wild bees and managed bees, people are more likely to care about bee diversity,” says Rehan.

Additional authors on the paper are Mariam Shamekh, a former honours thesis student and a Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Undergrad Student Research Award recipient, and Jesse Huisken, a PhD candidate and an NSERC postgraduate scholarship recipient.

Learn more at News @ York.