Congress 2023 mural reflects community, attendee artistry
By Elaine Smith
Congress 2023 attendees at York University are invited to take part in the creation of a community mural that addresses the conference theme, Reckonings and Re-Imaginings.
Throughout Congress 2023, two local artists and five student artists from Westview Centennial Secondary School in the nearby Jane-Finch neighbourhood will be painting this three-panel mural on the patio of York’s Second Student Centre. They will be on site daily to work on the mural and answer questions about the concept and process. Everyone is welcome to stop by and add some colour to their creation.
“This project was conceived as a way for Congress 2023 to mark a milestone in our commitment to supporting the communities in and around our campus,” said Joel Ong, a professor in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design and member of the Congress 2023 Scholarly Planning Committee. “This amplifies the work of initiatives like the Jane Finch Social Innovation Hub and the York U-TD Community Engagement Centre to provide opportunities for students and faculty to contribute to the relationship-building process between the University and its neighbours.”
Local artists Andre Lopez and Philip Saunders, and the students who are part of a specialized arts and culture group at Westview Centennial, are the main artistic team for the mural. It will depict Canada and the diverse faces that have contributed to our country. Attendees are invited to stop by en route to their meetings to see the mural develop over the week.
“The students involved in this project have vision and creativity, but haven’t had the opportunity to work on a big project before,” said Kayode Brown, who is driving the project. Brown is a graduate student in the Faculty of Education and founder of Just BGraphic, a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to revolutionize arts education by challenging and decolonizing arts as they are currently taught in the educational system. “The group took the words Reckonings and Re-Imaginings and brainstormed about what it meant to them. The mural will draw on the history of different cultures who have contributed to Canada and emphasize those voices.
“The border will be wrapped in Indigenous words and imagery and the inside panels will depict natural features with diverse faces blended into them.”
Brown is working with Ong, and Ana Medeiros, head of the arts at Westview Centennial Secondary School, to bring the mural to fruition. Westview Centennial has just been named an arts school, and Brown sees the mural as “modelling a way to decolonize the arts.”
The artists and student artists will also work with Brown to create a 10-minute podcast that gives addition context. A QR code posted on site will give visitors audio access to their perspectives.
After Congress 2023 comes to a close, the finished mural – approximately 7 metres by 1 metre – will be installed on the ground floor of Ross Hall outside the offices of the Jane Finch Social Innovation Hub (N141) – a campus space where York students from the local community have access to study groups, tutoring, information workshops and trips – all services that help with navigating the academic, social and administrative elements of university life.
It will serve as a perfect reminder of York’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) such as reduced inequality; sustainable cities and communities; and partnerships for the goals.
York University and the Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences will host Congress 2023 from May 27 to June 2. Register here to attend, community passes are available and term dates have been adjusted to align with timelines for this year’s event.
Congress panel explores pathways to equitable and sustainable world
From the climate crisis to the next pandemic, how can individuals work together to solve complex global problems while ensuring the promotion of an equitable and sustainable world? Zeynep Güler Tuck, a producer, journalist, social entrepreneur and York alum will unpack these issues during Congress 2023.
The President’s Office at York University sat down with Güler Tuck to delve into what to expect at this engaging and thought-provoking session on June 1.
President’s Office: At Congress, you will moderate a panel discussion that aims to understand and address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) through the lens of decolonization, equity, diversity and inclusion (DEDI). Why is this topic so timely and important right now?
Güler Tuck: For those who have been working toward these goals with organizations, NGOs, and institutions since the SDGs were introduced by world leaders in January 2016, these goals have either become second nature or have gone through a number of interpretations and iterations over the years. The same goes for DEDI. Especially for those who have been directly impacted by inequitable, colonial practices, policies and systems, this work has been ongoing for quite some time. However, the last decade has brought many more of us face-to-face with the kinds of disasters, pandemics, injustices and crises we might have only seen on CNN. For some, it took a crisis or emergency to happen right in their own backyards to realize the importance of centering our communities and their needs. Taking an intersectional approach to the SDGs with a DEDI lens is top of mind as a result of the social and environmental reckoning of recent years. The intersectional DEDI lens is long overdue, which has put the development goals at risk. It has never been more timely and important to address and take action toward prioritizing DEDI in the advancement of SDGs.
President’s Office: How are you advancing the SDGs in your personal and professional life? What are you hoping to learn from the panel?
Güler Tuck: Professionally, I’ve supported the SDGs through my work in the media and non-profit spaces. With Microsoft News, I collaborated with global news outlets to curate ethical story packages that raised awareness and over $1 million in funds for causes like COVID-19 relief, disaster recovery, racial justice, poverty, climate action, LGBTQ+ representation, and STEM education for girls. When Microsoft laid off MSN’s digital producers in the height of the pandemic due to automation and AI systems, I was one of them. I adapted to the change by starting my own social impact business to support organizations working in the gender equity space.
With non-profits, I have supported the economic advancement of equity-deserving entrepreneurs who run impact-driven startups in North America’s tech and innovation sector.
Personally, when it comes to SDGs and humanitarian aid, I sprung into action when the devastating earthquakes hit Turkiye and Syria in February 2023. While the Turkish community across the world was mourning, we knew we needed to act fast. I mobilized community organizations, private-sector partners, allies, neighbours and the Turkish Consulate in support of relief and recovery efforts. We continue to rely on this support as we fundraise and implement long-term projects that help earthquake survivors, including refugee families to Canada and child amputees.
For this panel, I’m eager to learn from each of the illustrious speakers about the ways organizations, institutions, and individuals have started to reframe the SDGs in the context of DEDI, and perhaps dive deeper into why it has taken this long to bring this intersectional approach to these global issues.
President’s Office: How has your experience as a York U student and now an alum prepared you to take on these challenges in your own way?
Güler Tuck: I didn’t realize until after I graduated that my experience at York had given me more than a higher education. While York taught me about the media landscape in North America, it also taught me a lesson in adapting to changes in the industry. I experienced these changes first-hand when the decline of print media met the mercurial rise of digital media, requiring me to transition from a role as the editor-in-chief of a magazine to the digital producer of an online content platform.
Though, my “a-ha” moment occurred when I realized that my BA in communications and sociology could lead me into purpose-driven work for social good. It was a revelation and came later in my career than I had expected. So, I hope more students in comms and humanities can make the connection sooner because we need all hands on deck.
The transition wasn’t overnight. I knew I wanted to be a storyteller, so I began building narratives in the sales pits of PR firms then devising content strategies in the boardrooms of the private sector. However, it wasn’t until I came head-to-head with challenges and barriers as a woman in tech – and saw many other women facing those same obstacles – that I recognized how storytelling and narrative-building could lead to change in the world. I began mentoring and championing other women in the field, speaking at conferences and volunteering with women in STEM organizations to help amplify their work. One of the highlights of my career was releasing the Gender Equity Roadmap with Women in Tech World in 2018. As the most extensive qualitative data set on the experiences of Canadian women in tech, it was based on research collected from 1,600-plus voices in 30-plus tech communities across Canada with the collaboration of 100-plus community and national partners. In regions like the Yukon, New Brunswick and northern Ontario, partnerships allowed us to cater action plans to advance the women and gender-diverse folks working in these areas.
Now, as I double down on my advocacy and DEDI work in line with the SDGs, I am grateful that I’ve been able to come back to York as a speaker, moderator and a stakeholder in the future of this great institution.
President’s Office: Congress will include thousands of scholars, students and experts in the social sciences and humanities. How will their perspectives, research and knowledge be critical to solving complex societal issues from pandemics and global health and climate change to political conflict and racism?
Güler Tuck: This is definitely a question that keeps me up at night. However, it starts with showing up. Whether virtually or in person, Congress facilitates a crucial opportunity for us to come together to spark dialogue, share stories, have difficult yet important conversations, and walk away with actionable ideas for the future. When we bring the right people together, the discourse can have a butterfly effect that can impact how we approach a number of critical environmental and social issues. I cannot speak directly to how Congress might help resolve political strife and conflict in our world, but I can speak to the importance of acting fast, as we speed toward 2030, to use opportunities like Congress 2023 to ideate community-first action plans at local, regional and global levels that can serve as roadmaps for governments, private sectors, civil societies and individuals to visualize their next steps.
President’s Office: What action do you hope students and scholars will take from the panel discussion, and from the experience of Congress?
Güler Tuck: Luckily, this is a question that gets me up in the morning. Understanding the full scope of the SDGs as a whole can be a lot for people to wrap their heads around in the context of their everyday lives. It’s not easy to find time to end poverty or fight injustice when you are rushing to get the kids off to school, running a small business, relocating to a new country, finishing your degree or living paycheck to paycheck. Distilling them down to the impact you and I can make in our local communities and neighbourhoods makes them more digestible. Then, once we see that change, we’ll be empowered to take on larger-scale projects. The head of World Wildlife Fund-Canada, Megan Leslie, had the perfect response when I asked her in an interview how we can reverse the damaging effects of the climate crisis. She suggested that simply planting a Black-Eyed Susan flower in your garden or on your balcony can trigger a chain of natural events that could lead to the creation of a micro-habitat for the animals in your neighbourhood. You can also support businesses owned by underrepresented founders, get involved with a neighbourhood fundraiser, or join one of your company’s ERGs. There are many ways to advance these development goals at the local level. It just takes showing up. By attending Congress, either virtually or in person, students and scholars will have taken a crucial first step toward these goals. All they have to do is keep up that momentum.
President’s Ofice: Anything else you wish to add?
Güler Tuck: I’m incredibly privileged to get to host this panel at Congress and want to thank all the incredible people who made it possible. It’s always been an honour to be an active part of the York U community. It all started with the Mid-Career Conversations Series, organized by the amazing team at the York U Alumni Engagement Office.
Finally, as a takeaway for Congress attendees, I encourage you to choose one or two of the development goals to focus your efforts on at the local level this year. We all need to get involved to reach these goals. It’s better if we do it together.
The panel “Understanding the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) through the lens of Decolonization, equity, diversity & Inclusion (DEDI) is taking place on Thursday, June 1, 10 to 11 a.m. and features panelists and experts: President & Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton; Founder and Co-Director of Future Ancestors Larissa Crawford; Deputy Minister & Commissioner of Emergency Management Bernie Derible and York Associate Professor of Biology Sapna Sharma.
Artist-researchers present exhibit on research harassment during Congress
Sarah Hancock, an artist-researcher and undergraduate student at York University’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design (AMPD), is using data to bring awareness to the harassment experienced by scholars when sharing their work in online spaces. Her work is part of an exhibit running through Congress 2023.
When conceiving her artistic vision, Hancock was inspired by a York University Libraries-led co-curricular workshop she attended that was part of a series on data literacy, research computing, digital methods, research skills and media creation.
Taught by librarians Alexandra Wong and Priscilla Carmini, the workshop “Crochet Your Way to Data Fundamentals,” combined maker and data literacies through experiential learning. With crocheting, it brought data to life through the act of data physicalization, aiming to help students explore, understand and communicate data using physical representations while introducing participants to a research creation modality.
The goal was to not only teach students to crochet and create a physical item visualizing temperature data change in Toronto, but to also purposely foster diversity and inclusivity, and build confidence to engage with data. Student participants interacted with local temperature data, reflected, and chose how the use of different yarn colours could best encode the data to communicate data creatively. The workshop offers an introduction to the Maker Literacy programming that will extend to Markham Campus Library’s Data Visualization, Makerspace, Media Creation and Extended Reality (XR) and Gaming spaces.
Using this data visualization skill, a team of researchers has collected stories from graduate students, known as “storytellers,” on their experiences facing harassment due to their research. The team and resulting exhibit, both titled “Bearing Witness: Hate, Harassment and Online Public Scholarship,” are led by Alex Borkowski and Marion Grant, both PhD candidates in the Department of Communication and Culture in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, supported by Associate Professor Natalie Coulter, director, Institute for Research on Digital Literacies. The project will be displayed as part of a larger exhibit during Congress 2023.
The exhibit invites three artist-researchers to interpret the interviews and create artistic pieces that allow viewers to experience first-hand research harassment. It is part of an ongoing effort by the Bearing Witness team to establish a research community focused on addressing scholar harassment by providing a safe space for students to voice their experiences, and to highlight the need for institutional change and support.
“My installation is meant to be a space of confrontation. I wanted to highlight the ambiguity of the media’s usefulness in our society,” says Hancock.
She explains that she views data physicalization as a bridge between data and comprehension.
“The first reason I decided to use data physicalization is that I wanted a relevant medium and an art form that could highlight their identity as a researcher, yet humanize their work,” says Hancock.
Wong and Carmini led a consultation with Hancock to discover and understand the existing data for online researcher harassment. Although the topic is under-researched, the Libraries were able to support Hancock in finding an academic survey with data the artist could isolate to compare the victimization of researchers with a monthly online presence versus researchers without a monthly online presence.
“I settled on this data because it demonstrates how removing one’s online presence is not a solution, it promotes erasure and demonstrates that online harassment is independent of the researcher’s online usage,” says Hancock.
Leveraging the expertise of Wong and Carmini, Hancock chose to create her data physicalization as two stacks of cease-and-desist letters to represent the victimization of researchers with and without an online presence. Blending mediums, Hancock crafted a physical “online troll” with a QR code linking to a video simulating the threat of online harassment.
“We are really excited that a small spark of inspiration from our data physicalization workshop could snowball into an ongoing discussion on data and research skills, and finally to being part of an exhibit bringing light to an important topic like researcher harassment,” says Wong. “It really shows the potential of creative teaching pedagogies and the strengths of the Libraries’ support throughout the research lifecycle. Through our participatory workshop, we were able engage Sarah to see data in a new light, which led her to her art exhibit project where we could help her to continue to build her research skills; it was very rewarding to assist Sarah’s learning to critically read academic articles, understand how to read complex statistical analyses to retrieve the data she desired, and then to transform that data into a physicalization.”
Borkowski says the current guidance when encountering harassment online is insufficient.
“Researchers are told to respond to harassment by making themselves smaller, like to use a pseudonym, or to not share on Twitter, which is very detrimental, because so much about being a graduate student is about building a public profile and building a network. It also has the result of limiting what research is allowed to take place, which perspectives are silenced, and which are permitted to be shared. We’re really trying to highlight the stakes of the issue, not only for individuals, but for academia more broadly,” says Borkowski.
The Bearing Witness exhibit will be on display from May 27 to June 2 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily in the Special Projects Gallery in the main lobby of the Joan and Martin Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts at York University (86 Fine Arts Rd., North York).
More information for this project, exhibit and related Congress panels can be found here.
York University releases new strategic research plan
York University’s strategic research plan, Knowledge for the Future: From Creation and Discovery to Application, has now been finalized and is publicly available for download.
The plan was officially approved by the Senate on May 25 after a series of open forums, public consultations and faculty presentations that first began in September 2022, and engaging with over 1,500 York community members.
“As an international leader in purposeful research, York University is a modern and progressive institution ranked among the top universities in the world for its impact on advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” said President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton. “York’s reputation for excellence in research and related creative activities is rooted in interdisciplinary and intersectional approaches focused on driving positive change. Our faculty work with local and international partners building cross-sector networks that enhance our efforts to build equitable, inclusive, and sustainable communities. The new research plan lays out York’s strategy for intensifying our scholarly activities over the next five years continuing to propel the University forward as one of the most influential universities in Canada and beyond.”
The plan was developed with the help of an advisory committee made up of members from across the University. It showcases the depth and breadth of research at York and will be utilized beginning this year through to 2028.
“The strategic research plan offers a comprehensive and clear vision for York to grow its global impact and excel in its high standing as a research-intensive university,” said Vice-President Research and Innovation Amir Asif. “York stands ready to further its expertise and leadership in such fields as artificial intelligence, digital cultures, global health, Indigenous futurities, sustainability and more.”
The plan identifies six areas of existing research strengths, in addition to six areas of opportunity for the University to prioritize.
The six research areas of strength include:
Advancing Fundamental, Discovery and Theoretical Research and Scholarship
Illuminating Cultures and Cultivating Creativity
Building Healthy Lives, Communities and Reimagining Futures
Reaching New Horizons in Science, Technology and Society
Pursuing Justice, Equity and Sustainability: From Urban Dynamics to Global Challenges
Elevating Entrepreneurship Through Socially Responsible Innovation
The strategic research plan brings the York community together around a shared vision and is used as a tool by senior administration and the University Secretariat to make decisions about the institution’s research investments, infrastructure and services. The plan supports the University Academic Plan (2020-2025), which outlines York’s overall strategic objectives.
“I want to thank the advisory committee for their work and their passion, as well as to the entire York community who helped to develop and contribute to this plan alongside us,” said Asif. “I am confident that this community of changemakers can take this strategic research plan and bring it to life.”
Bonnie Devine public lecture honours National Indigenous History Month
York University alum Bonnie Devine (MFA 99’) will be on campus June 12 to present her work titled ”Writing Home” at the Helliwell Centre at Osgoode Hall Law School.
Responding to questions about how to begin a conversation with the land, Devine will present a personal journey of walking, listening, looking and making. Through this work, Devine invites viewers to join her on the journey and encourages them to think about their own relationship with the land and the importance of acknowledging Indigenous histories and perspectives.
Devine is a prominent Anishinaabe artist, painter, curator, writer and educator who lives and works in Toronto, Ont. She is a multidisciplinary artist whose works include sculpture, painting, video, performances, drawing and site-specific interventions. Her work is influenced by storytelling and narratives of treaty, land, environment and history of the Anishinaabeg. Devine is an emerita associate professor at the Ontario College of Art and Design University, founding Chair of the school’s Indigenous Visual Cultural Program and recipient of a Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts in 2021.
All York community members are invited to attend this in-person event as part of National Indigenous History Month. To secure a spot, complete the RSVP form.
York University recognizes long-serving staff, faculty
York University recognized the contributions of its employees who have worked at the University for 25 years or more during an Employee Service Recognition event on May 16.
Interim Vice-President, Equity, People & Culture, Alice Pitt, presented long-serving employees with 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50 years of service with a commemorative gift during the reception, which was held on the second floor of the Second Student Centre.
The event was emceed by Mary Catherine Masciangelo, assistant vice-president, Human Resources and CHRO, and included a presentation by student musician Thales Hunter.
York University annually recognizes and celebrates faculty and staff who will have achieved by the end of each calendar year continuous service milestones in five year increments, beginning at five years of service.
See photos from the event, and a full list of recipients, below.
25 years of service
Helen Abraham, People Partner, HR People Partners
Mary-Helen Armour, Associate Professor, Department of Science, Technology & Society, Faculty of Science
Karen L Swartz, Associate Director, Student Accessibility Services
Man Wah Wong, Professor, Department of Mathematics & Statistics, Faculty of Science
45 years of service
Jennifer Y Drysdale, Coordinator Community and Legal Aid Services Programme,
Benjamin Geva, Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School
Dezso Horvath, Professor, Schulich School of Business
Alice Propper, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
50 years of service
Fred Lazar, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
Paul E Lovejoy, Professor, Department of History, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
Join us at Congress 2023: May 27 to June 2
York University is set to host the 92nd annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences together with the Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences from May 27 to June 2. The University will host close to 9,000 attendees and hundreds of scholarly presentations, panels and live performances at Congress 2023.
This year’s theme, Reckonings and Re-Imaginings, invites attendees to place Black and Indigenous knowledges, cultures and voices at the centre of critical discussions to reckon with the past and re-imagine a future that embraces decoloniality, anti-racism, justice, sustainability and equity. York’s commitment to action on these issues and to advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals reflects our commitment to creating positive change in higher education and scholarship.
We encourage you to come to campus during the week and participate in the open-access activities and performances that are part of Congress 2023 programming. Here is some of what you can see and access for free at the Keele Campus during the week:
A ‘Re-Imaginings’ Social Tent in the middle of the Commons for community members to gather and enjoy a bite to eat or a beverage together.
Live Swag Stage performances at four locations on campus, including in front of Vari Hall, the Vanier basketball court and outside of Accolade East and the Dahdaleh Building.
Encounter augmented reality experiences that explore new perspectives on social presence and the power of collective self-organization in public spaces. Use your phone to access the experience at any Info Kiosk.
The Art of Scott Libraryself-guided tour where visitors scan a QR code and learn about acclaimed artists, including Michael Hayden’s “York Electric Murals” and Hugh LeRoy’s “Rainbow Piece.”
The Longhousepoem, shaped like a Haudenosaunee longhouse that honours the Oneida core values of a good mind, a good heart, and a strong fire in the Accolade East CIBC Lobby.
Look for the SARIT Test Track in front of Vari Hall on May 30 and June 1, where Congress participants will be test driving these electric vehicles during the week. You can also help build the Congress Community Mural outside the Second Student Centre during the week and contribute to this artwork that will live on campus after Congress.
Community passes are available to those interested in attending these and other York Programming activities organized for Congress and are free to Black and Indigenous community members. We look forward to seeing you there and as a reminder, term dates have been adjusted to align with the timelines for this year’s event.
Lisa Philipps Provost and Vice-President Academic
Amir Asif Vice-President, Research and Innovation
Congress 2023 attendees get a taste of the arts at York
By Elaine Smith
York University is known for its vibrant, diverse arts programs and the Arts@Congress Showcase, happening on May 27 at 3 p.m. at the Sandra Faire and Ivan Fecan Theatre in Accolade East, brings to Congress 2023 a sampling of this creativity.
“The arts are one of our strengths at York,” says Joel Ong, director of Sensorium: Centre for Digital Art and Technology and a member of the Congress 2023 scholarly planning committee. “This program will be a celebration of the arts and culture at York and a culmination of the Year of the Arts program that has been ongoing at AMPD. “Congress 2023 Director Liz McMahan, Academic Convenor Andrea Davis and the performance facilities team at AMPD led by Jacquie Lazar and I have been working hard to put forth a rich and diverse program that builds on the variety of such performances we’ve had over the year.”
The performances scheduled for the afternoon draw on the conference theme Reckonings and Re-imaginings. The roster includes the Gospel Ensemble directed by music faculty Corey Butler; a video piece, Black Ballerina, by dance Professor Syreeta Hector; and three dance pieces choreographed by York students and external guests led by dance Professors Tracey Norman and Patrick Alcedo at AMPD. In addition, the Showcase will feature students from Downsview Secondary School performing a winning entry from a spoken word competition organized by Davis.
Ancestor 73 is a dance choreographed and performed by alumnus Rayn Cook-Thomas (Gwagwadaxla) from the Kwakwaka’wakw nation in coastal British Columbia. It honours the 73 remaining southern resident orcas living near his home.
Cook-Thomas noted that orcas are important spiritual leaders for him and his nation because they carry ancestral knowledge. His dance piece attempts to show the strength, beauty and spirituality of these mammals as they face the impact humans have had on their ocean home and the detrimental effects colonialism has had for the planet.
AMPD alumna and choreographer Blythe Russell is presenting Respair at the Showcase, an original, contemporary dance duet that she created in a 2022 collaboration with fellow alumni Cook-Thomas and Phoebe Rose Harrington.
“I’m so excited to be sharing this piece at Congress,” Russell said. “In creating this new piece, we sought to understand what was driving these two bodies to come together. We discovered a human perspective that produced beauty in the form of a more tender, vulnerable magnetism between two people. Respair is about accepting the challenges that make us who we are and bringing them forward with us in a hopeful way.”
Ong says the Showcase is also a reminder that there are many different forms of expression and exploration and that the creative arts play an integral role in work done in the humanities and social sciences.
York University and the Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences will host Congress 2023 from May 27 to June 2. Register here to attend. Community passes are available and term dates have been adjusted to align with timelines for this year’s event.
York mathematician receives funding to advance mpox research
A York University mathematician has received nearly half a million dollars from the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) to better predict and assess future outbreaks of mpox and other zoonotic threats (infectious diseases that jump from animals to humans).
Woldegebriel Assefa Woldegerima, an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics in the Faculty of Science, will use epidemiological and geospatial models including mathematical and artificial intelligence-based models to study epidemiology, transmission dynamics and immunology and intervention strategies to forecast the effectiveness of prevention and control strategies for mpox and other zoonotic diseases in Canada and around the world.
“We are not safe from emerging or re-emerging diseases including animal-to-human spillovers,” said Woldegerima. “Our research will provide valuable insights for preventive public health strategies and help governments be better prepared to manage and respond to an epidemic or pandemic threat in the future.”
Mpox, more commonly known as monkeypox, is a virus spread through close contact including sexual interactions and is typically found in parts of central and western Africa. The 2022 outbreak was reported in early May that year. A total of 87,479 cases, including 140 deaths, have been confirmed in 111 countries as of May 2023, according to the World Health Organization.
Woldegerima and his research team will conduct risk-map assessments, geospatial analysis and machine learning to identify hotspots for potential outbreaks around the world. In addition, their research will use biobehavioural data and results of a survey by the Centre for Disease Control that involved men who have sex with men – a population considered at higher risk for infection – to examine control measures, risk factors and the impact mpox has had on sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections.
These various data sources will allow the researchers to extend their mathematical models for the first time to account for how the virus has disproportionately affected people living with HIV, who make up almost half of the global cases, and to better understand how HIV stigma and discrimination may impede public health interventions.
The work will provide new training opportunities for postdoctoral researchers and undergraduate students in the Faculty of Science and builds on York University’s expertise in the mathematical modelling of infectious diseases. York is among the top institutions in Canada for publications on COVID-19 modelling.
Woldegerima’s team for the CIHR research project includes Professors Jianhong Wu, James Orbinski, Sarah Flicker, Ali Asgary, Jude Kong, Nicola L. Bragazzi and Nickolas Ogden. The project is supported by two Organized Research Units at York, Y-EMERGE and Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research, which will provide in-kind support in the form of office space and administrative support.
Woldegerima’s project, “Modelling, predicting and risk assessment of mpox and other (re)emerging zoonotic threats to inform decision-making and public health actions,” received $480,000.
York community invited to Pride 2023 Opening Ceremony on June 7
Join the Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion (CHREI) in collaboration with the Office of Institutional Events and Student Community & Leadership Development for the York University Pride 2023 Opening Ceremony on Wednesday, June 7 from 12:30 to 2 p.m. at the Vari Hall Rotunda.
The ceremony will feature opening remarks followed by the unfurling of the Pride flag. Attendees can enjoy free treats, snap a selfie with York’s mascot Yeo and learn about 2SLGBTQIA+ resources and services available at York. Engage in the conversation on social media using #YUPride and share what a campus free of homophobia and transphobia looks like, feels like and sounds like to you.