Anja Krstic

Anja Krstic

Professor Anja Krstic has been named Chair-elect for the Canadian Society for Industrial & Organizational Psychology, an official section of the Canadian Psychological Association

York U in the news: influence of virtual gaming, political leaders in trouble and more

The growing influence of virtual gaming platforms like Roblox on how we interact online
An op-ed by York University Professor Natalie Coulter was published in the Conversation July 1.

Biden and Trudeau: Two leaders in trouble who are resisting calls to step aside
An op-ed by York University Professor Thomas Klassen was published in the Conversation June 30.

After quietly closing stores, Rooms + Spaces merchandise creeps into Toys ‘R’ Us locations
Schulich School of Business Professor Grant Packard was quoted in the Globe and Mail June 28.

Durham health care program set to bring more family doctors to Ontario
York University was mentioned in InDurham July 2.

Startup Canada announces new board members
York University was mentioned in StartupCan.ca July 3.

See more ways York University is making headlines at News @ York.

York U professors awarded federal grants for air pollution research

Green globe in forest Shutterstock

A pair of York University professors have been awarded a combined total of nearly half a million dollars from the Government of Canada’s New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) for projects related to air pollution, from both scientific and artistic perspectives.

Ali Abdul-Sater, an associate professor in the Faculty of Health, received $250,000, and Mark-David Hosale, an associate professor in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design, received $248,428 from the NFRF’s Exploration Grants, which fund high-risk, high-reward and interdisciplinary research.

Ali Abdul-Sater and Mark-David Hosale
Pictured, left to right: Ali Abdul-Sater and Mark-David Hosale.

Abdul-Sater’s project, “Investigating the effects of emerging chemical mixtures associated with air pollution on immune-related diseases,” will study the potentially worsening effects that new types of pollutants from chemicals in tires and brakes, pesticides and household products are having on inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. The project is in collaboration with Samar Moussa and John Liggio, research scientists at Environment & Climate Change Canada. Abdul-Sater’s co-applicant was York U biologist Gary Sweeney in the Faculty of Science.

Hosale’s project, “SensingChange: Black carbon air pollution detection and critical artworks,” will study airborne black carbon pollution by combining art, science and engineering to create new sensors on wearable devices that can detect the invisible particulate matter. Part of the project will include public art events where people can wear the sensors and learn more about the pollution levels in their area. Hosale’s project is in collaboration with several York researchers, including: Gerd Grau (his co-applicant) and Mark Gordon in the Lassonde School of Engineering; Joel Ong in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design; and Enamul Prince in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.

The York U research projects were among 133 projects from universities across Canada to receive NFRF’s Exploration Grants, announced last month.

For a full list of awardees, visit the Government of Canada website.

President Lenton takes on role as Chair of eminent advocacy council for higher education in Canada

Rhonda Lenton

York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton was announced as the new council Chair for the Council of Ontario Universities (COU). The two-year appointment came into effect on July 1.

As council Chair, Lenton will help advance COU’s mission, which is to collaborate and advocate for the success of students, communities and the province of Ontario. 

“I am delighted to be assuming the role of COU council Chair, where I can continue to advocate for the higher education sector and quality education that is accessible and inclusive for all students studying in Canada,” says Lenton. “Universities have never been more important to produce the talent, research and creative activities needed to enhance the well-being of the communities we serve. I look forward to collaborating with leaders in higher education, government and industry to enhance our collaboration in addressing what is an increasingly volatile and uncertain time.” 

President Lenton has been a strong proponent for the financial sustainability of universities as well as for 21st-century learning and knowledge for the future, including strengthening York’s impact on the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This past year, York was ranked among the world’s top 35 institutions for its impact on the SDGs. A dedicated proponent of community engagement and innovative partnerships, Lenton has championed co-operation both among post-secondary education institutions and across sectors locally and globally to advance the complex challenges the world faces, including climate change, poverty and inequality.  

In addition to taking on this new role as Chair, Lenton continues to advance the post-secondary sector through her roles on Universities Canada’s Internationalization Committee, the Association of Commonwealth Universities’ Executive, the Canada India Business Council Advisory Board, the Loran Scholars Board, the Business and Higher Education Roundtable Board, and the Conference Board of Canada.  

Lenton joined York University in 2002 as dean of the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies. She then served as York’s inaugural vice-provost academic from 2009 to 2012, and then as the University’s vice-president academic and provost from 2012 until April 2017.  As president, she continues to advance York’s vision and priorities, raising the University’s presence and profile as a leader in post-secondary education.  

Carol Hansell encourages graduands to lean into their passions

Carol Hansell

By Lindsay MacAdam, communications officer, YFile

Carol Hansell, an internationally recognized expert in corporate governance who has been a key influencer on the development of public policy for more than three decades, was awarded an honorary degree from York University during a June 21 convocation ceremony for the Schulich School of Business. A graduate of both Schulich and Osgoode Hall Law School, she is no stranger to York U.

Hansell began by telling graduands how she became a leader in her field. After deciding against a career in academia, she began working as a deal lawyer, helping clients with mergers, acquisitions, financing, buyouts and more. What helped her excel in this role, she believed, was her passion for research, writing and teaching – skills she honed through her education – and she was intentional about pursuing projects within the legal world that played to those academic strengths.

Pictured, from left to right: Provost and Vice-President Academic Lisa Philipps, Carol Hansell, Chancellor Kathleen Taylor.

Early in her career, she said, a publisher saw something she had written about corporate governance – which had not yet become its own field – and approached her about turning it into a book. It took her six years and a lot of research, but it resulted in her gaining expertise in what soon became a topic of global interest, and enabling her to contribute to public policy and start her own firm.

“My point for you is I didn’t follow my passion,” Hansell said. “If I had done that, I would have become a history professor. Instead, I became a corporate lawyer – it was interesting and, frankly, the compensation was better. I leaned into my passions and was able to build a career that was satisfying for me at every level.”

Hansell highlighted a tendency among some professionals to develop strong attachments to the organizations they work for. She encouraged graduands to maintain a balanced perspective and not take business decisions personally. Instead, they should pay attention to the character of decision makers and seek out organizations with values that align with their own. “Like any other relationship you have in life,” she said, “you will be most satisfied by interacting with organizations whose values you share.”

It wouldn’t have been a business school convocation without some lessons in finance. First, Hansell reminded graduands that money is not the only important factor when settling on a career path. “Money undoubtedly unlocks a lot of possibilities in life,” she said, “but having pride and purpose in what you are doing seems to me to be a minimum requirement.”

Another consideration, she said, should be ethics. “Don’t let yourself get swept up into a logic or pattern of conduct that justifies something you know isn’t right. It sticks with you. You can’t wash it off,” she warned. “And the money won’t save you when your reputation is tainted.”

With an anecdote from her own life about her husband leaving his financially lucrative career to take a short-term dream job in politics, she suggested graduands avoid taking on more debt than they need to. Having personal finances in order and living within one’s means, she explained, can provide the freedom to pursue meaningful life experiences that might not otherwise be possible.

Hansell closed her speech by telling the future business leaders how excited she was for them and all that lies ahead in their lives. “You are going to experience change, progress and developments that we can’t even begin to imagine at this moment,” she said.

York U in the news: bee health, gig work regulations and more

Bees need a balanced diet from various plants for optimal health
York University Professor Sandra Rehan was quoted on earth.com June 26.

Bees need pollen from a variety of plants to stay healthy, study finds
York University Professor Sandra Rehan was quoted in EcoWatch June 26.

Can new regulations make gig work a viable job?
Osgoode Hall Law School Professor Valerio De Stefano was quoted in CityNews Ottawa June 27.

Will the new $5 landfill user fee increase illegal dumping in Sudbury? Probably not, says one expert
York University researcher Calvin Lakhan was quoted in CBC News June 28.

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover faces a particularly prickly power puzzle
An op-ed by York University researcher Alex Innanen was published in SciTechDaily June 27.

See more ways York University is making headlines at News @ York.

Duygu Biricik Gulseren

Duygu Biricik Gulseren

Professor Duygu Biricik Gulseren recently received an Outstanding Early Career Researcher Award for her significant contributions to the science of industrial and organizational psychology

York University announces new cohort of York Research Chairs

Lightbulb with orbs over an open book

Ten York University researchers have been named new York Research Chairs (YRCs), an internal program that supports outstanding faculty members as they produce research and excel in their wide-ranging areas of study, including cognitive neuroscience, gender justice and molecular ecology, among others.  

“The York Research Chairs program enables the University to celebrate and champion our exceptional research community as they pursue discovery, invention and innovation at the highest level in their respective fields, from using artificial intelligence to track and capture space debris to leveraging extended reality technologies for theatre and performance, and so much more,” said President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton. “I extend a warm congratulations to the new Chairholders whose leading expertise, bolstered by this program, holds the potential to create significant impacts both in Canada and globally.”  

This year’s YRCs are the 11th cohort to be appointed – as of July 1 – since the program was first launched by the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation (VPRI) in 2015.

“The new YRC appointments demonstrate the University’s continued commitment to research excellence and scholarship in all its forms, supporting the intensification and application of new knowledge for the benefit of our local and global communities,” said Amir Asif, vice-president research and innovation. “The YRC program also aligns with the University’s Strategic Research Plan, ‘Knowledge for the Future: From Creation and Discovery to Application,’ which aims to enhance York’s research strengths and accelerate the growth of our global impact.”

Five of the 10 new Chairs are funded by VPRI, while the other five are funded by Connected Minds: Neural and Machine Systems for a Healthy, Just Society – a major, $318-million, York-led research initiative focused on socially responsible technologies.

The YRC program is designed to offer a similar level of support as the federal government’s Canada Research Chairs program, which funds the work of world-class researchers and their teams at institutions across the country.

The YRC program consists of two tiers, both with five-year terms. Tier 1 is open to established research leaders at the rank of full professor. Tier 2 is aimed at emerging research leaders within 15 years of their first academic appointment.

The new group of York Research Chairs. Top row, from left to right: Annie Bunting, Pina D’Agostino, George Zhu, Rabiat Akande and Erez Freud. Bottom row, from left to right: Jack Jiang, Sandra Rehan, Laura Levin, Kevin Lande and Amy Muise.

Below are the new Chairholders and their respective fields of study.

Tier 1 York Research Chairs

York Research Chair in International Gender Justice and Peacebuilding

Annie Bunting, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
A professor of law and society, Bunting’s research as a YRC will examine the intersection of gender violence and international justice in conflict zones in Africa, with a particular focus on affected youth, sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeepers, and issues that involve and centre survivors’ experiences.

York Research Chair in Intellectual Property, Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technologies

Pina D’Agostino, Osgoode Hall Law School
As a YRC, D’Agostino, an associate professor of law and director of Connected Minds, will explore the role of intellectual property law in society’s increased adoption of emerging technologies, like artificial intelligence (AI), and the potential benefits and harms of a technology-driven society.

York Research Chair in Space Robotics and Artificial Intelligence

George Zhu, Lassonde School of Engineering
Zhu, a professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Space Engineering Design Laboratory, aims to develop swarm robotics technology through his YRC program. This technology involves a group of robots working together to autonomously clean up space debris in Earth orbits, which can negatively affect space exploration and satellite safety.

Tier 2 York Research Chairs

York Research Chair in Law and the Histories of Empire

Rabiat Akande, Osgoode Hall Law School
Akande, an assistant professor of law, will conduct research that examines how 19th- and 20th-century colonial powers governed racial and religious difference and explores the living legacies of that history. Her YRC program seeks to advance the understanding of the law’s role in European imperialism.

York Research Chair in Visual Cognitive Neuroscience

Erez Freud, Faculty of Health
Through the YRC program, Freud, an associate professor of psychology, will investigate the developmental brain processes that enable tasks such as hand movement and grasping in children. His research will examine how these processes might differ in children with autism, providing new insights into brain specialization.

York Research Chair in Software Engineering for Foundation Model-powered Systems

Jack Jiang, Lassonde School of Engineering
Jiang, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, will use his YRC position to develop advanced engineering tools and processes aimed at facilitating the construction and enhancing the quality and trustworthiness of various generative AI systems like ChatGPT and Copilot.

York Research Chair in Molecular Ecology and Behavioural Genetics

Sandra Rehan, Faculty of Science
Rehan, a professor of biology, researches the evolution of bees and their role in biodiversity. As a YRC, Rehan will employ advanced DNA technology to investigate bee behaviour and genetics. 

York Research Chair in Art, Technology and Global Activism

Laura Levin, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design
An associate professor of theatre and performance studies, Levin’s YRC program explores the artistic use of emerging technologies, like extended reality and AI, to address growing political polarization and misinformation and to develop imaginative methods for bridging political divides.

York Research Chair in Philosophy of Representation

Kevin Lande, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
An assistant professor of philosophy, Lande’s research as a YRC explores how the mind works, arguing that humans’ creative ability to combine simple ideas to create more complex ones extends beyond thought and language.

York Research Chair in Relationships and Sexuality

Amy Muise, Faculty of Health
An associate professor of psychology, Muise’s research as a YRC tests high-quality listening and leverages interdependence in romantic relationships to combat sexism and reduce harmful gender-based attitudes.

Jason Harrow inspires graduands to embrace their creativity

Jason Harrow hon doc speech

By Lindsay MacAdam, communications officer, YFile

Canadian music industry icon Jason “Kardinal Offishall” Harrow accepted his honorary degree from York University at the June 20 convocation ceremony by reciting spoken word poetry – infused with his signature hip-hop lyricism – to graduands of the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies and the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design.

The former York University student, born to Jamaican immigrant parents and hailing from Scarborough, Ont., spoke of his decision to hit pause on his post-secondary studies to follow his creative passion. “I left the halls of this institution in pursuit of my dreams and never thought that I would be welcomed back in this manner,” he said of the full-circle moment.

Pictured, from left to right: Chancellor Kathleen Taylor, Jason Harrow, President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton.

Harrow repeatedly touched on the difficulties of being an artist in a world built around money, where professional success is often defined by one’s financial worth. “They say art is when you listen to the universe and magic is when the universe listens to you,” he said. “Either way, being a successful magician is not based on how much money you can accrue.”

Through a series of artful rhymes, Harrow urged graduands to shift their mindset around education, career and finances – to avoid looking at their university degree as a means to get rich; to avoid choosing their career path based on what will pay them back the fastest; and to think about the difference between making an impact and making money. “You didn’t spend all this time here at this beautiful institution,” Harrow said, “to enter into the workforce looking for restitution.”

Indeed, it wasn’t financial gain Harrow was after when he decided to risk it all to chase his creative calling. It was the prospect of living his truth, and it led him to the fulfilling career he has today, working in artist development and creative direction at record labels and continuing to make music and collaborate with other artists, some of whom he namechecked during his moment at the mic – Busta Rhymes, Jay-Z, Run-DMC, Rihanna, LL Cool J, Lil Wayne, Kanye West and Will Smith, among others.

Harrow then asked rhetorically, “Which one do you want – passion or purpose, freedom or finance?” before sharing one lesson his professional journey has taught him. “When you move with passion and living your purpose,” he said, “you will achieve a sense of freedom and it won’t be by chance.”

The honorary degree recipient ended his speech by emphasizing to graduands the critical importance of remembering their purpose and holding onto their creative spirit as they embark on their careers, despite the inevitable pressures to do otherwise.

“Be proud of your degrees and all the hard work that it took to get here. These words are just a starter pistol – the beginning of a race to get clear,” Harrow said. “Once your spirit gains clarity, you will know you have arrived. It has been said that a creative adult is the child who survived.”