Overbearing dads fuel perfectionism in daughters, moms influence sons: York-UBC study 

mother and child discipline perfectionism

By Corey Allen, senior manager, research communications

Women are more likely to be perfectionists when raised by an overbearing father whereas men are more likely to exhibit perfectionism when raised by an overbearing mother, according to a joint study from York University and the University of British Columbia (UBC).  

It’s the first study of its kind to investigate how the way mothers and fathers bond with their sons and daughters – and how their cold or controlling behaviour – can act as a potential predictor of perfectionist tendencies in young adults.

Gordon Flett
Gordon Flett

“Our research underscores the influence gender-specific parental behaviours can have in the psychological development of children and their risk of perfectionism as they grow older,” said Gordon Flett, the study’s co-author and a professor of psychology in the Faculty of Health at York University. “Perfectionists experience higher levels of depression, anxiety and suicidal tendencies. The pressure children feel to be perfect is more likely to come from the expectations of one parent, with gender as a key factor.” 

Using psychological questionnaires, the researchers surveyed over 400 men and women undergraduate students at UBC. While their analysis revealed this pattern of perfectionism in father-daughter and mother-son relationships, Flett points out there are always exceptions.  

“Perfectionism runs in the family, but further research is needed to fully understand its origins, how it can be fostered differently in boys and girls based on parental bonding behaviours and the gender dynamics at play in child rearing,” he said.  

The study supports previous research by Flett and his longtime collaborator, UBC’s Paul Hewitt, among others, that theorizes an individual can develop perfectionistic traits to compensate for unmet emotional needs from harsh parenting.  

It’s also the latest research contribution for Flett in a career that has spanned over three decades studying perfectionism. Flett’s expert advice to parents is they should strive for excellence – and never perfection – in their kids.  

“There is a subtle, but tremendous difference,” he explains. “Even successful perfectionists never seemed to be satisfied and always focus on what they could have done better. Striving for excellence means parents can model healthy reactions to mistakes that their child can then mimic or imitate.”   

The study, “Father-daughter and mother-son relationships: Parental bonding behaviours and socially prescribed perfectionism in young adults,” was published earlier this year in the journal Personality and Individual Differences. Flett’s co-authors are Sabrina Ge (first author), Chang Chen, and Hewitt at UBC’s Perfectionism & Psychotherapy Lab.    

Flett and Hewitt recently co-wrote a book, Perfectionism in Childhood and Adolescence: A Developmental Analysis, which considers the issues addressed in this study in more detail. The book was a finalist for the 2023 PROSE Awards.

York U health researcher tackles TB stigma through partnership in India 

Global health

By Corey Allen, senior manager, research communications

As a leading international teaching and research university, a key focus at York is global health research, particularly on pressing issues facing the Global South – developing countries in Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and parts of Asia.  

To conduct this purposeful research abroad, York faculty work with their counterparts in other countries to forge international partnerships, based on an inclusive and decolonizing approach.  

Such work aligns with York’s Global Engagement & Internationalization Strategy, launched earlier this year. The strategy reflects a commitment to Advancing Global Engagement, one of the six priorities for action in the University Academic Plan. 

One country that York has strong engagement with is India, particularly in the field of health-related research. A soon-to-be launched seed fund at York for research internationalization will prioritize many new and existing partners in the country. The University is also a member of the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, a non-profit organization that promotes academic, government and business connections between India and Canada. 

Amrita Daftary
Amrita Daftary

In India and elsewhere, York researchers draw on their expertise in health sciences, health management and health informatics, among other health-related fields, to collaborate on studies about infectious diseases, such as malaria, HIV and tuberculosis (TB), which affects many people living in the Global South. This work explores not only combatting the diseases themselves but also involves researchers working to understand their socio-economic consequences.

One such researcher is Amrita Daftary, an associate professor in the School of Global Health and the School of Health Policy & Management.   

“Global health research requires trust and good will built upon long-standing relations, which York has allowed me to sustain,” she says. “My colleagues and I have many points of connection, not transactional in nature nor tied to a single grant. Through these international collaborations, I am grateful my work can have a global impact.”  

Daftary’s research focuses on the social determinants of tuberculosis, primarily in South Africa. But Daftary grew up in India, a country with nearly 25 per cent of the world’s TB burden, where she witnessed first-hand the stigma and isolation faced by people living with TB.  

“Tuberculosis is fully preventable and curable, but it’s rampant in forgotten populations,” says Daftary, who is also the founder of the Social Science & Health Innovation for Tuberculosis Centre, a virtual network of scholars who work to address the global TB epidemic. “Bringing attention to this neglected illness has always been a focus of my work, which is why my research partnerships in India are incredibly meaningful to me.”  

Daftary has lived outside of India for more than two decades, but over the past several years, she has travelled to her home country to work in partnership with the Foundation of Medical Research (FMR), a national research organization affiliated with Mumbai University.  

It is here where Daftary has been involved with several TB studies run by FMR, acting as an adviser on qualitative research methods and providing her expertise as a social scientist to improve clinical care for TB.  

In one study, Daftary conducted a knowledge-building workshop with former patients, or TB survivors, to better understand decision-making when confronted with symptoms related to TB, such as coughing up blood, fever and weight loss, among others. The workshop helped highlight patient priorities in the clinical treatment of TB.  

Using insights from the workshop discussion, Daftary co-authored an article alongside other experts, including FMR’s current director Nerges Mistry, and TB survivors themselves. Published in the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, “Person-centred care in TB” advocates for a more holistic and human approach in health-care systems.

Amrita Daftary and Nerges Mistry in India
Amrita Daftary (third from left) and Nerges Mistry (fourth from left) in India.

Daftary’s work in India also considers structural barriers, like gender inequality, that can impact how women with TB access health care and encounter various forms of stigma. She’s done some of this work by supervising Tahiya Mahbub, a postdoctoral Fellow at York, who was based in Mumbai.  

With approval from FMR’s ethics committee, and collaborations with the Médecins sans Frontières’ Mumbai chapter, Daftary and Mahbub used photovoice – a unique research method that involves study participants photographing themselves and their experiences – to explore how women with drug-resistant TB dealt with stigma, and how photovoice helped mitigate it. 

The findings, detailed in “‘One by One, TB Took Everything Away From Me’: A Photovoice Exploration of Stigma in Women with Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis in Mumbai,” shed light on their painful lived experiences encountering stigma, ranging from a loss of self, status and mobility to abuse and distress, and feelings of shame and hopelessness. More positively, the method was found to be useful in building a collective resiliency among the study participants.   

The study helped inform patient counselling sessions and identified the participants’ needs for their families to be included in counselling, as well as a desire for improved communications skills among nurses and doctors who monitored them long term.   

“Patients can often feel like they are robots or told they can’t leave their house or go near anyone,” says Daftary. “There’s a real demoralizing approach to care. We need to listen to people who’ve lived through it to tell us how we can do better.”  

Daftary last visited India in late 2022 for her work. She hopes to continue her ongoing collaborations with FMR and others in India as new opportunities emerge, having now established such strong relationships in the country. She’s particularly interested in pursuing student and faculty exchanges in the future.  

“My work with FMR and my collaborators in India is beyond any one project,” she says. “I hope that we can continue to collaborate on our shared goals to address TB, to engage with communities affected by the disease, and to strengthen knowledge exchange and quality research together.”  

The Foundation for Media Research’s connections to York also include their work on a research project funded by AI4PEP, a York program that supports various health-care projects in 16 countries in the Global South. Led by Jude Kong, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Science, FMR’s project is called “Wastewater-based Surveillance for Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) for Early Warning and Engendering Stakeholder Response Through Artificial Intelligence.” One of FMR’s trustees, Nadir Godrej, also serves as a member on York’s India Advisory Council. For more information on this project, visit yorku.ca/science/2023/09/12/york-u-program-helps-fund-16-global-south-health-care-hubs-to-combat-infectious-diseases

Collaborative research projects exploring international justice, creative tech earn grants 

Ideas grant research innovation partnerships

By Corey Allen, senior manager, research communications

Two researchers in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies are among the latest recipients of the Partnership Engage Grant awarded by the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada.  

Annie Bunting, a professor of law and society, and Farshid Shams, an associate professor of strategy and organization studies, have each received nearly $25,000 in support of collaborative research projects conducted with a non-academic partner

Farshid Shams
Farshid Shams
Annie Bunting
Annie Bunting

Bunting’s project, “Transitional Gender Justice in North East Nigeria,” partners with the Explore Humanitarian Aid Initiative. The not-for-profit organization was established in response to the humanitarian crisis brought on by the Boko Haram, a militant extremist group that took over the Borno State region in 2009. Since then, thousands of women and girls have endured sexual assault and abuse at the hands of the insurgents.  

The collaborative work will investigate the barriers faced by survivors of conflict-related sexual violence to obtain legal justice and reparations for crimes committed against them. The project’s findings will help develop policies, support services and programs that centre the needs of survivors. In addition, the project will help the Explore Humanitarian Aid Initiative build capacity in research design, data analysis and report writing, which can be used to enhance their future work in promoting gender equality.   

“Research can help ensure the voices of vulnerable and marginalized groups are heard and taken into account in transitional justice policy and program development,” said Bunting.  

Shams’ project, “The matter of creativity in the high-tech sector: exploring the creativity-productivity paradox in managers’ and employees’ everyday work,” partners with a leading company in the medical technology sector.    

The joint project will explore how Canadian tech companies leverage staff creativity for organizational success, with the partnering company as a case study. The project will advance the understanding of how managers can tap into the creative potential of their staff while simultaneously guiding them to adhere to standardized procedures that may restrict creativity. The project will also consider the tensions between creativity and conformity from the employees’ perspective and assess how resources like office space, virtual tools and templates impact creativity.  

“We expect our project’s results to help improve organizational work practices for our partner, but also be of use in the future for other tech sector employers looking to drive innovation in their company and culture,” said Shams.  

York researchers receive federal funding for knowledge mobilization projects 

Lightbulb with orbs over an open book

By Corey Allen, senior manager, research communications

Four York University researchers are among the latest recipients of Connection Grants from the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). 

Richard Saunders, Johanne Jean-Pierre and Yvonne Su from the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, and S. Nombuso Dlamini from the Faculty of Education, were awarded the funding for various knowledge mobilization activities related to their different research projects.  

The grants fund activities like research events, workshops and community outreach, and are intended to spark new connections between academic and non-academic partners, and collaboration between the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. 

Saunders’ project, “Resource Nationalism and African Mining Policy Innovation: Mobilizing New Research and Engaging Key Stakeholders,” received $49,991. Saunders and his team will organize several outreach activities, including policy workshops on mining reform in Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, an international research conference at York, and a policy seminar in Ottawa for government officials, African diplomats and non-governmental organizations. Saunders, along with undergraduate and graduate students, will also produce policy briefs on mining sector reforms for distribution across multiple African and Canadian platforms. 

Jean-Pierre’s project, “Symposium: Designing a flourishing future and researching with Black communities in Canada,” received $13,934. The grant supports a conference to be held at York on Nov. 20, bringing together French- and English-speaking Black interdisciplinary scholars to discuss how to conduct research with Black Canadian communities ethically and effectively. Findings from the conference will be shared in a research brief and two open-access, peer-reviewed articles to improve research methods for social scientists and health scholars who engage with Black and other historically excluded populations.   

Su’s project, “Stories of Change: Listening to Global South Perspectives on Climate-Induced Migration,” received $49,945. The SSHRC funding will support a 10-episode educational podcast that will highlight Su and her colleagues’ research, while also focusing on the voices and stories of marginalized people and groups most impacted by climate change – displaced people and migrants, Indigenous communities and grassroots organizations in the Global South. Launch events for the podcast will also be held in Toronto, Nairobi and Berlin.  

Dlamini’s project, “Exploring Connections between Black Youth Civic Participation & Identity,” received $40,636. The project, which also includes York’s Godfred Boateng and Tannaz Zargarian from the University of Fraser Valley, will involve a workshop and two webinars on the access and management of data on the contributions of Black people to Canada. The events will highlight existing and new Canadian research on Black youth civic participation and bring together scholars, youth and community service workers. A hands-on “DIY toolkit” on data access, collection, analysis and management will also be developed for students and service worker participants.  

The four York researchers were among the 64 awardees across the country to receive the latest round of Connection Grants from the SSHRC totalling $1,910,441.  

New partnership empowers businesses through applied research 

partnership collaboration agreement business

By Corey Allen, senior manager, research communications

York University is partnering with Seneca Polytechnic and the Ontario Centre of Innovation (OCI) to boost the number of applied research opportunities for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Greater Toronto Area and York Region, fostering greater connections between academics and industry.

Jennifer MacLean
Jennifer MacLean

“Through innovative collaborations with our research faculty and students, companies and non-profits gain access to expertise and a talent pool that can generate impactful solutions to their organizational challenges,” said Jennifer MacLean, assistant vice-president innovation and research partnerships at York University. “We look forward to working with our partners to drive further positive change and economic growth across sectors and industries.”  

By engaging in applied research, SMEs will be able to strengthen their research and development capabilities, access the expertise of applied researchers at both institutions, and leverage collaborations to grow their business, improve performance or gain a competitive advantage.  

“Innovation knows no boundaries, and this collaborative partnership exemplifies our shared commitment to fuelling the growth and innovation potential of small- and medium-sized enterprises in Ontario,” said Claudia Krywiak, OCI president and CEO.  

OCI is a non-profit organization that brings industry, academic institutions and government together for collective investments in research and technology development that will benefit the people of Ontario.  

The new partnership establishes a new OCI position for a business development and commercialization manager, tasked with promoting the benefits of applied research to Ontario businesses and helping to enhance the province’s innovation ecosystem.  

“Seneca is excited to work with York University and the Ontario Centre of Innovation to enhance applied research capacity within the innovation ecosystem of the Greater Toronto Area,” said Ben Rogers, dean, Seneca Applied Research. “This partnership will open up new possibilities for our students and faculty as they help local enterprises solve their challenges and grow their operations.” 

For more about the partnership, click here: New Partnership to Connect GTA Businesses with Applied Research Opportunities, Fueling Innovation and Growth – Ontario Centre of Innovation (oc-innovation.ca).  

Welcome to the May 2023 issue of ‘ASPIRE’

Header banner for ASPIRE

ASPIRE is a special edition of YFile publishing on select Fridays during the academic year. It showcases research and innovation at York University. ASPIRE offers compelling and accessible stories about the world-leading and policy-relevant work of changemakers in all Faculties and professional schools across York and encompasses both discovery and applied research.

In this issue:

Meet York University’s latest commercialization Fellows
Four budding researchers completed York University’s Commercialization Fellowship program, which enables them to develop their academic research into a commercially viable product.

York receives $300K from provincial agency to advance research commercialization
The new funding will enhance intellectual property and commercialization services for York researchers and their partners, particularly for increasing research outputs related to artificial intelligence, automotive and medical technology.

New Frontiers in Research Fund awards $2.4M to York University researchers
Seven projects led by York University researchers were awarded a combined $2.4 million from the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) in two of its funding streams: Exploration and Special Calls.

New organized research unit focused on water issues rides wave of early success, impact
OneWATER, a new organized research unit (ORU) at York University, is in its infancy but is already driving positive change.  

Meet York University’s latest commercialization Fellows

man using tablet with graphic image of lightbulb

Four budding researchers completed York University’s Commercialization Fellowship program – now in its second year – at the end of April.  

The Commercialization Fellowship program is funded by the innovation arm of the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation at York. The program runs from January to April and provides graduate students and postdoctoral Fellows support and assistance to develop their academic research into a commercially viable product.   

The Fellows receive $7,500 as stipend, with a quarter of the funds earmarked for research activities like prototype testing, proof of concept projects, or validation studies. They also participate in workshops and seminars that focus on various topics related to commercialization, including design thinking, intellectual property, licensing, and partnerships. Additionally, Fellows work at and receive advice on patent searching, industry outreach, and pitching.  

“The fellowship provides a valuable opportunity to support and train the next generation of innovators and supports them on their entrepreneurial journey,” said Suraj Shah, associate director, commercialization and strategic partnerships.  

Aspire spoke with the four Fellows about the fellowship program and their products.

Kajanan Kanathipan
Kajanan Kanathipan

Kajanan Kanathipan, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Project title: Modular single-stage step-up photovoltaic (PV) converter with integrated power balancing feature 

Kanathipan’s doctoral research focuses on the development of new extraction techniques for renewable energy, particularly solar power. Solar energy can be tricky to harness for power due to varying atmospheric conditions, like cloud cover.  

Kanathipan is determined to find a way to circumvent this issue and build a device that not only streamlines the conversion process, but can maximize power extraction under all operating conditions. 

Solar energy starts with sunlight, which is made up of photons. Photovoltaic (PV) panels convert the sunlight into electrical currents. This is then converted to electricity that supplies power for machines, homes and buildings to run on. It’s a two-step process involving different converters. 

Kanathipan’s idea would reduce the power conversion to a single step, using the same converter. This converter would also be able to better balance and store power from the PV panels to not stress or drain one converter more than the others.  

The invention would allow the entire conversion system to safely operate under different weather conditions. This would reduce equipment costs and produce a greater amount of energy for PV plants.  

“We are looking to design and control photovoltaic conversion well enough that it provides an innovative solution in the solar technology industry,” says Kanathipan, who works out of the Advanced Power Electronics Laboratory for Sustainable Energy Research (PELSER) and is supervised by John Lam, associate professor at the Lassonde School of Engineering.  

Kanathipan says the fellowship program has provided education and training not found in the lab, like the workshops on how to protect your intellectual property, build business partnerships, or how to determine a potential customer.   

Right now, Kanathipan is working on a scaled down prototype, a key component of his dissertation.   

Kanathipan is a PhD student in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the Lassonde School of Engineering.

Stephanie Cheung
Stephanie Cheung

Stephanie Cheung, Faculty of Education
Project title: VoteBetter 

Cheung created the VoteBetter app, a SaaS (software as a service) product, which aims to drive civic engagement in student politics. The application operates as a virtual election space for post-secondary student constituents, candidates and incumbents, and provides a central source for locating, contributing to and comparing campaign priorities. Users can view candidates’ profiles, submit questions, and view, rank and comment on crowd-sourced campus issues. Once the election is over, the app tracks the campaign promises of elected representatives and serves as a community forum.  

Under the supervision of Natalia Balyasnikova, assistant professor in the Faculty of Education, Cheung’s master’s research examines contemporary trends in political participation on diverse campuses in the Greater Toronto Area and explores how undergraduate student election voter engagement and turnout might be improved. The idea for the app was inspired by her research and Cheung’s own experience in student politics, in addition to a former role as a public servant with the provincial government.  

“VoteBetter can be used as a tool for students to deepen dialogue and focus more on the substantive issues their communities face than surface-level politics,” Cheung says. “Student groups can wield hefty budgets and their constituents deserve well-informed leaders who understand pertinent issues and are equipped to pursue sustainable change.”  

Cheung says the fellowship program has offered structure and guidance as she works through her research and development phase. She says she is interested in the commercialization of her master’s research not for profit, but to extend the impact of her academic work.   

“I am often asking myself how research can live off the page,” she says. “And I’m interested in my work facilitating opportunities for co-constructing knowledge and bridging theory to practice.”  

Currently, Cheung’s VoteBetter app is being validated with end users.  

Cheung is a part-time master’s student in the Faculty of Education and full-time staff at York where she works as manager, student success and stakeholder engagement at Calumet and Stong Colleges in the Faculty of Health.

Mehran Sepah Mansoor
Mehran Sepah Mansoor

Mehran Sepah Mansoor, Mechanical Engineering
Project title: A method of fabricating one-dimensional photonic crystal optical filters  

Mansoor works out of York University’s Advanced Materials for Sustainable Energy Technologies Laboratory. His research at the AM-SET Lab has led to him inventing a novel fabrication method for a photonic crystal optical filter, which can transmit sunlight over a broad range of wavelengths.  

Mansoor, under the supervision of AM-SET Lab’s founder Paul G. O’Brian at the Lassonde School of Engineering, believes the invention could have several applications, but it could be particularly useful to improve thermal energy storage systems, particularly those that store solar thermal energy.   

Thermal energy storage involves preventing losses via heat conduction, convection, and radiation. Mansoor’s photonic crystal filter more effectively controls solar radiation and thermal losses simultaneously and can transmit sunlight to be absorbed and converted to heat in a thermal storage medium.  

The filter can also reflect radiative heat from the medium, which has longer wavelengths than sunlight, minimizing heat losses. The stored energy can then act as a power source later when sunlight is no longer available.  

“The innovation is the way the materials in the photonic crystal filters have been fabricated and the treatment applied to them to achieve the optical properties needed to refract or bend light in a desired manner, as well as the way we have been able to stack all of the materials together,” said Mansoor. “Our method eliminates unwanted energy absorption in the photonic crystal while improving the energy transmission of the filter.”  

Mansoor cites the program’s design thinking workshop as a highlight of his time as a Fellow. He says the fellowship also provided him a greater understanding of how to patent technology. This invention marks his first patent.  

So far, Mansoor has completed simulations of the invention and has some preliminary results. He is in the early stages of creating a prototype.  

Mansoor is a second-year master’s student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Lassonde School of Engineering.

Abbas Panahi
Abbas Panahi

Abbas Panahi, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Project title: A novel portable platform based on field-effect transistor integrated with microfluidics for biosensing applications 

Panahi’s academic work studying biosensors – a device to detect and target molecules – grew stronger after a PhD internship at Mitacs. Now in his fourth year as a PhD student and under the supervision of Professor Ebrahim Ghafar-Zadeh at the Lassonde School of Engineering, Panahi has invented a new biosensing platform that can detect disease.  

The platform uses sensor technology that can be used on a portable device, like a smartphone, to analyze the specific concentration of RNA or any biomarker in a saliva sample.   

“This technology has huge potential for medical application,” Panahi says. “The device could be used in hospitals for non-expert users to run clinical tests and help detect viruses quickly and easily.”  

The portable sensor was developed entirely at York University’s Biologically Inspired Sensors and Actuators (BioSA) Laboratory – from the testing and modelling, to all the engineering – by a team of students and research associates under the direction, guidance and conceptualization of Ghafar-Zadeh. The development process involved a variety of tasks, including in-house testing, modelling and engineering design. 

For Panahi, the fellowship program gave him a complete education for what it takes to start a science-based venture. He says the fellowship allowed him to fully consider every aspect of the commercialization process and develop a strong business model. He also says the program’s teachings on how to match the technology with market needs was invaluable.  

Currently, Panahi is working on technology market matching, and readying the device to undergo clinical tests in the next year.   

Panahi is a fourth-year PhD student in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the Lassonde School of Engineering.  

York receives $300K from provincial agency to advance research commercialization

Commercialization efforts for York University research have received a $300,000 boost in funding from Intellectual Property Ontario (IPON). 

The new funding will support the Office of the Vice-President Research and Innovation and the IP Innovation Clinic at York University to enhance its intellectual property and commercialization services to York researchers and their partners, particularly for increasing research outputs related to artificial intelligence, automotive and medical technology.

Jennifer MacLean
Jennifer MacLean

“With IPON’s financial backing, we will be able to streamline and develop a full-service IP and commercialization pathway for our faculty, students and our partners, and strengthen York’s pursuit of licensing and research partnership opportunities,” said Jennifer MacLean, assistant vice-president of innovation and research partnerships. “Our goal is to triple the number of disclosures and double the number of patents filed by York students and faculty per year, while supporting licensing and partnerships that move York’s great ideas forward.”  

The fund will help create two new staff positions – an assistant director for the IP Innovation Clinic and a business development and commercialization manager for OVPRI – and increase business and commercialization impact for IP holders in Ontario.   

“This investment is just one example of how IPON is supporting our province’s postsecondary institutions and innovators, by providing them with the funding, tools, knowledge and connections they need to harness the value of their IP,” said Jill Dunlop, minister of colleges and universities. “Initiatives like this are helping our province’s innovators benefit from IPON’s expertise and ensuring the economic and commercial benefits of home-grown innovation remain right here in Ontario.” 

Commercialization of research outputs can mean bringing a new product or service to the market. An invention by a researcher can solve a problem faced by consumers or businesses or help make life easier or more efficient. Commercialization can also extend the positive reach and impact University research has on society by driving revenue growth through sustained market opportunities. 

Pina D'Agostino with an AI robot
Pina D’Agostino with an AI robot

“The IPON funds will be invaluable to help scale the many successes of the IP Innovation Clinic working with Ontario’s startups,” said Pina D’Agostino, associate professor at Osgoode Hall Law School and the founder of the IP Innovation Clinic. “With these resources we can serve many more clients who do not have money to pay for expensive legal fees. We are also able to train many more law students to be IP and business savvy to protect key assets in the disruptive tech economy.” 

York is among 10 universities and colleges in Ontario to receive funding as part of the provincial agency’s pilot project to strengthen Ontario’s knowledge economy.   

For the official announcement from IPON, click here: Intellectual Property Ontario investing $2 million to support innovation and commercialization at postsecondary schools — Intellectual Property Ontario (ip-ontario.ca).  

New organized research unit focused on water issues rides wave of early success, impact

Water droplets

By Corey Allen, senior manager, research communications

OneWATER, a new organized research unit (ORU) at York University, is in its infancy but is already driving positive change.  

Launched last fall, OneWATER sent delegates to the United Nations in New York within its first few months of operating, where its members headlined a panel at the UN Water Conference. During the conference, OneWater announced its researchers will play a key role in the delivery of the Water Academy – a collaborative education program between York, several other academic institutions and UNITAR (United Nations Institute for Training and Research).

Sylvie Morin
Sylvie Morin

“OneWATER was created to bring together water experts from all over campus as well as partners and communities and go beyond what we can accomplish as lone researchers,” says director Sylvie Morin, professor in the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science. “We didn’t anticipate this much momentum.”  

OneWATER is an acronym that details the combined expertise of its members – W for water management, A for artificial intelligence, T for technologies, E for education and sustainability and R for resource recovery and reuse.  

Initially proposed as an ORU by Satinder Brar, professor and James and Joanne Love Chair in Environmental Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering, Lassonde School of Engineering, OneWATER brings together York University’s experts on water-related issues in multiple disciplines across several Faculties and units.  

From civil engineering to water governance to environmental justice and more, OneWATER is the central hub at York for leading water-related experts to unite, conduct interdisciplinary research and generate knowledge on pressing issues, like water security, flooding and sanitation. This work has the potential to significantly inform and influence public policy.  

For Morin, OneWATER creates a platform for York researchers to tackle bigger questions that would otherwise be unable to be fully explored within a single department or Faculty.  

“We have something very special here,” she says. “As a collective, OneWATER can conduct higher-level, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research at York, take a significant leading role in Canada and compete for more significant grants. As an ORU, we are also better positioned to work on larger-scale projects with international collaborators.”  

This summer, Morin will begin work on her first project under OneWATER.  

Morin, along with Stephanie Gora, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, and Yeuhyn Kim, a PhD candidate co-supervised by Morin and Gora, will develop new materials for sustainable wastewater treatment focusing on pesticides and pharmaceuticals.  

Welcome to the December issue of ‘ASPIRE’

Header banner for ASPIRE

“ASPIRE” is a special edition of YFile publishing on select Fridays during the academic year. It showcases research and innovation at York University. “ASPIRE” offers compelling and accessible stories about the world-leading and policy-relevant work of changemakers in all Faculties and professional schools across York and encompasses both discovery and applied research. “ASPIRE” replaces the previous special issue “Brainstorm.”

In this issue

The engine behind human gut microbiome analysis and data science
As his career unfolds, biostatistician Kevin McGregor is becoming very familiar with the human gut microbiome. His work is particularly relevant given the human biome is a community of microorganisms that inhabit our bodies and appears to be linked to numerous health concerns, both physical and mental.

Black scholars form new interdisciplinary research cluster
A group of professors affiliated in various ways with York University’s African Studies Program join forces to create a unique, interdisciplinary research cluster focusing on adaptive knowledge, response, recovery and resilience in transnational Black communities.

Career change bears fruit for artist/curator
If School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design Assistant Professor Marissa Largo needs confirmation that becoming an academic was a wise career move, she can simply look at the two awards she won in November at the 2022 Galeries Ontario/Ontario Galleries Awards gala.

Cinema studies professor practises what he preaches
School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design Assistant Professor Moussa Djigo believes that if he is going to teach production, he should understand the DNA of filmmaking.