Project with York co-principal investigator receives mpox research grant

Doctor with face mask looking through a microscope

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) awarded a $412,000 grant to a research team, which includes Assistant Professor in Mathematics and Statistics Iain Moyles as co-principal investigator, that will analyze the influence of human behaviour in disease dynamics.

Iain Moyles
Iain Moyles (photo by John Ohle)

Titled “Epidemiological modelling of behavioural impact on Mpox mitigation strategies,” and led by Bouchra Nasri, an assistant professor in the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine at the Université de Montréal’s School of Public Health, the project is part of an investment of $6.35M from the Government of Canada to support 13 teams across Canada that will carry out national and global health research projects on mpox and other zoonotic threats.

“Canada is not immune to future transmissions of mpox or other zoonotic diseases which is why investing in research that will strengthen our response is so important. Through this funding, researchers in Canada are taking the lead in understanding transmission, mitigation, and prevention to help Canada and countries around the world be better prepared for future zoonotic threats,” says Jean-Yves Duclos, minister of health.

The goal of Moyles and his collaborator’s project is to build upon limited knowledge around on mpox dynamics and the impact of behavioural changes on the virus and outbreak. Behaviour plays a critical role in how infectious diseases are spread, as well as the willingness of an individual to seek preventative health measures.

Driven by data from scientific literature and near real-time behavioural information from social media on prevailing attitudes towards mpox, the team will look to create a centralised repository of behavioural information in the context of infectious diseases that can provide reliable and updated knowledge for decision-makers and researchers.

The project will place a particular emphasis on the gay, bisexual and other men-who-have-sex-with-men (gbMSM) community, which has been disproportionately impacted by the mpox outbreak.

It will work closely with the gbMSM community, creating a community advisory board that includes experts and members of the gbMSM community in order to develop culturally sensitive and adequate strategies and ensure timely knowledge translation of our results to a broad audience, such as open-access publications and best-practice documentation.

The $412,000 grant from CIHR will fund two years of the project, with the result at the end of that period being translating findings into actionable information.

York University recognizes long-serving staff, faculty

Employee service recognition

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.

Employee Service Recognition 2023

25 years of service

  • Helen Abraham, People Partner, HR People Partners
  • Mary-Helen Armour, Associate Professor, Department of Science, Technology & Society, Faculty of Science
  • Lea Bertrand, Liaison & Advising Assistant, Recruitment & Liaison Office, Glendon
  • Gary Brewer, Vice-President, Office of the Vice-President of Finance and Administration
  • Joan Broussard, Director, Research Grants, Office of Research Services
  • Chloë Brushwood Rose, Graduate Program Director, Women’s Studies, Faculty of Graduate Studies
  • Sue Bulof, Director, HR IAM Project, AVP Human Resources
  • Joanie Cameron Pritchett, Director, Centre for Sexual Violence Response, Support & Education
  • Mark J. Cauchi, Associate Professor, Department of Humanities, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Oliver Chan Kong, Manager, Workgroup Technology Services, University Information Technology
  • Monika Chewinski, People Partner, HR People Partners
  • Un-yol Simon Choe, Information System Specialist, Systems Management Services, University Information Technology
  • Marianna Colalillo, Undergraduate Programs Coordinator/Advisor, Student Services & International Relations, Schulich School of Business
  • Cheryl Cowdy, Associate Professor, Department of Humanities, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Hilary Davis, Sessional Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Enza De Bellis, Records & Scheduling Analyst, Academic Scheduling
  • Susan D Driver, Associate Professor, Department of Communication & Media Studies, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Carl Stephan Ehrlich, Professor, Department of History, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Jeffery S Everett, Professor, Accounting Specialization, Schulich School of Business
  • Rene Andre Fournier, Professor, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science
  • Heidi Furcha, Financial Administrative Assistant, Student Services & International Relations, Schulich School of Business
  • Cynthia Goodfellow, Administrative & Events Coordinator, Calumet College
  • Mavis Griffin, Undergraduate Program Administrator, Department of Equity Studies, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Jarek Gryz, Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, Lassonde School of Engineering
  • Celia Haig-Brown, Professor, Faculty of Education
  • Mathew Harper, Director Strategic Enrolment Management, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Gillian Helfield, Sessional Assistant Professor, Department of Cinema & Media Arts, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design
  • Michaela Hynie, Professor, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health
  • Ouma Jaipaul-Gill, Graduate Program Coordinator and Advisor, Office of Student & Academic Services, Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change
  • Sherry A. Johnson, Graduate Program Director, Department of Music, Faculty of Graduate Studies
  • Sivasankaran Kanagasabapathy, Senior Database Administrator, Database Services, University Information Technology
  • Len Karakowsky, Professor, Department of Administrative Studies, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Sam Kim, Senior Systems Administrator, Systems Management Services, University Information Technology
  • Yam K Lau, Associate Professor, Department of Visual Arts, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design
  • Alla Lileeva, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Kevin Lowe, Custodian, Apartment Operations
  • Monika Macieri, Cataloguing Assistant, Bibliographic Services
  • Ilo-Katryn Maimets, Associate Librarian, Teaching and Learning Division, York University Libraries
  • Sarah Maiter, Professor, Department of Social Work, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Aryn Martin, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Hemoutie Betty Narine, Custodian, Custodial Services
  • Poonam Puri, Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School
  • Chris Russel, Chief Information Security Officer, Information Security, University Information Technology
  • Sheila Sinclair, Administrative Assistant, Marketing Specialization, Schulich School of Business
  • Michael Street, Consultant, Business Management and e-Commerce Applications, University Information Technology
  • Thomas Teo, Professor, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health
  • Mark P Thomas, Department Chair, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Linda Thorne, Professor, Accounting Specialization, Schulich School of Business
  • Jeremy Trevett, Associate Professor, Department of History, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Roopa Trilokekar, Associate Professor, Faculty of Education
  • Karen Valihora, Graduate Program Director, Department of English, Faculty of Graduate Studies
  • Thiruchelvam Vallipuram, Senior Cashier/Customer Service Representative, Bookstore, Ancillary Services
  • Mary Verrilli, Director Academic Resourcing & Planning, Office of Provost & Vice-President Academic
  • Karen Warner, Manager Scholarships & Bursaries
  • William Craig Wicken, Professor, Department of History, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies

30 years of service

  • Alexandra J Campbell, Associate Professor, Marketing Specialization, Schulich School of Business
  • Glenda M Charlton, Coordinator, Talent Development, Organizational Learning and People Excellence
  • Yvonne Chiu, Faculty Secretary, Department of Mathematics & Statistics, Faculty of Science
  • Mary Clabassi, Practicum Assistant, Faculty of Education
  • Mary G Condon, Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School
  • Andrea Di Florio-Sgro, Graduate Program Assistant, Design Program, Faculty of Graduate Studies
  • Loris Dotto, Design Area Technician, Department of Design, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design
  • Alfred Ene, Manager, Office of Student Community Relations
  • Sabine Friedrich, Administrative & Facilities Coordinator, Office of the Executive Officer, Schulich School of Business
  • Eric A Hessels, Professor, Department of Physics & Astronomy, Faculty of Science
  • David Daniel Hylton, Security Official, Security Services, Community Safety Department
  • Theresa M Hyun, Professor, Department of Humanities, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Buks van Rensburg, Professor, Department of Mathematics & Statistics, Faculty of Science
  • Roger H Keil, Professor, Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change
  • Shawn Kerwin, Associate Professor, Department of Theatre, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design
  • Joanne E Magee, Associate Professor, Department of Administrative Studies, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Richard Ooi, SEO/AVP Academic Administration & Resourcing, Provost & Vice-President Academic
  • Chandra Persaud, Senior Financial Officer, Vice-President Research & Innovation
  • Josee S Rivest, Department Chair, Department of Psychology, Glendon
  • Charles Saint-Amour, Service Desk Technician, Client Technical Service, University Information Technology
  • Jan Sapp, Professor, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science
  • Jacqueline Selman, Undergraduate Students Coordinator, Department of Social Science, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Tanya Thompson, Supervisor, Parking Administration
  • Peter Timmerman, Associate Professor, Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change

35 years of service

  • Isabella C. Bakker, Professor, Department of Politics, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Gayatri Baldeo, Admissions Assessor, Admissions
  • Anthony P Bandiera, Maintenance Repair Person, Undergraduate Housing Operations
  • Sandra Bell, Administrative Assistant, Finance Specialization, Schulich School of Business
  • Rob Bowman, Associate Professor, Department of Music, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design
  • Eduardo Canel, Associate Professor, Department of Social Science, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Sheila L Cavanagh, Professor, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Steve Ronald Chambers, Grounds Keeper, Facilities Services, Grounds & Vehicles
  • Jonathan Charles Edmondson, Professor, Department of History, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Norma Sue Fisher-Stitt, Professor, Department of Dance, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design
  • Gordon L Flett, Canada Research Chair, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health
  • Judith Hawley, Graduate Program Assistant, Department of Social Science, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Lesley J Higgins, Professor, Department of English, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Wanda Hollingshead, Assessor, Transfer Credit
  • Michael R Jenkin, Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, Lassonde School of Engineering
  • Robert A Kenedy, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Gary P Klaassen, Associate Professor, Department of Earth & Space Science & Engineering, Lassonde School of Engineering
  • Libi Lancia, Administrative Assistant, Department of Science, Technology & Society, Faculty of Science
  • Bernard V Lightman, Professor, Department of Humanities, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Irene Ljubicic, Web Developer/Electronic Coordinator, Integration, Design and Identity Services
  • Alan E Madsen, Textbook Buyer, Bookstore
  • Miguel Marques, Assistant Manager Development Services, Identity and Access Management
  • Barry Miller, Senior Policy Advisor, Labour Relations
  • Sharon Moses, Records & Scheduling Analyst, Student Records & Document Management
  • Lynn B Moynihan, Administrative Assistant, Faculty Governance & Petition, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Theodoros Peridis, Director, Strategic Management, Schulich School of Business
  • Peter Pigat, Store Keeper, Maintenance Services
  • B.W. Powe, Associate Professor, Department of English, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Kenneth M Ramlall, Senior System Administrator, Workgroup Technology Services,  University Information Technology
  • Bruce B Ryder, Associate Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School
  • Tom Scott, Associate Librarian, York University Libraries
  • Su-Lan M Tenn, Assistant Dean, Executive MBA Program, Schulich School of Business
  • David Timmins, Senior Security Official – Information Systems & Statistics, Security Services, Community Safety Department
  • Sandra Vite, Manager, Finance & Gift Processing, Advancement Services & Operations
  • Laura Walton, Technology Resource Coordinator, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health
  • Paulette Wilson-Franks, Manager, Faculty Affairs, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Lelia Young, Associate Professor, Department of French Studies, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Lora Zuech, Administrative Assistant, Department of Music, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design

40 years of service

  • Mahmudul Anam, Professor, Department of Economics, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Debbie Best, Student Success & Academic Advisor, Academic Advising Services, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Ellen Bialystok, Professor, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health
  • Donna L Hubbert, Director Parking & Transportation Services, Parking Administration
  • Veronica Jamnik, Associate Professor, Department of Kinesiology & Health Sciences, Faculty of Health
  • Janet A Jones, Professor, Department of Visual Arts, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design
  • Mary O Kandiuk, Senior Librarian, Research & Open Scholarship Division, York University Libraries
  • Georges A Monette, Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics & Statistics, 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

York mathematician receives funding to advance mpox research

mpox virus

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
Woldegebriel Assefa Woldegerima

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 collaborates on international post-pandemic recovery research

A young woman dons a mask to protect against the novel coronavirus FEATURED image for York library story
A young woman dons a mask to protect against the novel coronavirus FEATURED image for York library story

York University Associate Professor Claudia Chaufan will collaborate with a group of interdisciplinary researchers to investigate post-pandemic recovery and best practices for future global emergencies with a grant from the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF).

Claudia Chaufan
Claudia Chaufan

The $500,000 award was announced as part of the Government of Canada’s NFRF’s 2022 Special Calls stream, which aims to support emerging research as needed.

Chaufan, from the Faculty of Health, is a co-principal investigator on an interdisciplinary team of six researchers from across Canada, along with: Claus Rinner, Toronto Metropolitan University (principal investigator); and co-investigators Candice Chow, McMasters University; J. Christian Rangel, University of Ottawa; Elaine Wiersma, Lakehead University; and Wang, Yiwen, University of Toronto. The project is led by Toronto Metropolitan University.

The project’s team consists of researchers from across the globe, including co-applicant Andrea Valente of York’s Faculty of Education, as well as Canadian experts in governance, healthcare, law, media and communications, and international collaborators from Jamaica, Western Europe, Israel, Kenya and Uganda who specialize in behavioural sciences, economics, epidemiology and philosophy.

The research aims to examine the social and economic inequities amplified by COVID-19 on an international scale. Together, the researchers will look at how social cohesion and inclusivity can be strengthened through community engagement in decision-making with respect to future emergencies. They will also explore how governments can improve communication and build trust with communities.

According to the research team, this research contributes to achieving four United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs): UN SDG 3 Good Health and Wellbeing, by assessing to what extent a holistic view of public health informed the pandemic response; UN SDG 10 Reduced Inequalities, by assessing the impact of pandemic responses on social and health equity; UN SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities, by identifying vulnerable communities, even in high-income countries; and UN SDG 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, by examining to what extent the policy development process was transparent and able to ensure inclusivity and accountability.

The team’s research methods will include case studies, critical document analysis, discourse analysis and visualization, as well as oral histories and creative work to investigate operational consideration of the social determinants of health and value-based governance.

The project’s findings will help inform future policy on disaster management.

For more, visit

Creating and celebrating changemakers at EUC

gold and red stars

The Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change (EUC) at York University was formed in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, and began forging its identity during the challenging period of isolation and remote course delivery. The first Changemakers Celebration – slated to be an annual event – ushered in a special joy when the achievements of EUC educators were commemorated in person.

“I wanted to accomplish two things this year,” EUC Dean Alice Hovorka told the assembled students, staff and faculty during the April event. “I wanted us to build community, especially coming out of the pandemic when we find ourselves with new ways of being in the world, and I wanted to document our impact – thus, our Changemakers event.

“As a new Faculty, the first couple of years were spent telling people all about who we are, what we do and what our programs are. Now, I want us to tell stories about what we’re accomplishing and the impact we’re having on the York University community and well beyond.”

The celebration marked the launch of the inaugural EUC Impact Report and lauded student researchers, volunteers and leaders. First up were the recipients of the 2022 Dean’s Changemaker Awards: William Anthony, Justin Chan, Thereza Eric, Samantha Navalta and Kaitlin Pal. These five students were given paid placement opportunities with EUC’s living labs and were required to design and pursue a project that created change.

Dean Alice Hovorka, Kaitlin Pal, Thereza Eric, Justin Chan and William Anthony
Dean Alice Hovorka, Kaitlin Pal, Thereza Eric, Justin Chan and William Anthony

Many other students were recognized for their extra-curricular contributions to EUC during the celebration. Ann Tsirgielis, EUC’s student success advisor, congratulated the Faculty’s peer mentors, including Ryan Raymond Faria-Wong, the program coordinator.

Faria-Wong called his peers “highly dedicated individuals who go above and beyond to offer their knowledge and time to help others. … peer mentors assist in navigating questions and uncertainties and that goes a long way.”

Ann Tsirgielis, Summer Solmes, Kaitlin Pal, Ryan Raymond Faria-Wong, Phuong Tia Nguyen, Maya Olszewska, Sofia Colalillo, Emma Bramante, Catherine Lombardo
Ann Tsirgielis, Summer Solmes, Kaitlin Pal, Ryan Raymond Faria-Wong, Phuong Tia Nguyen, Maya Olszewska, Sofia Colalillo, Emma Bramante, Catherine Lombardo

Summer Solmes, a student leader, spoke about the value of student clubs, whose members were also celebrated.

“Student groups drive change in this Faculty because they are composed of hardworking and passionate individuals,” she said. “Being a member of a student group offers you a chance to grow into the person you will one day become; it is a chance to manifest your future self.”

Rosanna Chowdhury, experiential education coordinator, and Deena Shaffer, director of EUC’s Office of Student and Academic Services, offered praise for the many other engaged students, including participants in the governance process, work-study students, volunteers and student leaders. EUC recognized 50 graduate and 11 undergraduate students earning academic and research awards, including the EUC Research Award (EUCRA), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) awards, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) awards and many more.

The celebration also honoured recipients of the 2022/23 EUC Dean’s Awards.

Ilan Kapoor, Nashwa Khan, Joanne Huy
Ilan Kapoor, Nashwa Khan, Joanne Huy

Professor Ilan Kapoor was the recipient of the Dean’s Teaching Award (faculty) with his nominators praising his exceptional pedagogical abilities: “He brings complex and dense subject matter alive, encourages critical thinking and allows students to be their best.”

Nashwa Khan, received the Dean’s Teaching Award (graduate student) for her pedagogical innovation and student support. She noted: “As a first-generation student and a Muslim woman, I understand the challenges that students from unique, diverse backgrounds often face. I have strived to make my educational practice one that is rooted in equity and care.”

Paul Elliot, Nicki Hemmings & Dean Alice Hovorka
Paul Elliot, Nicki Hemmings and Dean Alice Hovorka

Joanne Huy, an alumni officer and EUC alumna, received the Dean’s Staff Recognition Award for her “unwavering commitment to excellence, creativity, innovation and leadership,” and her pivotal role in building community.

Finally, the Dean’s Impact Leader Award went to Nicki Hemmings, the departing human resources business partner, for her “substantive impact on our souls, hearts, processes, structures and culture,” said Hovorka.

The event concluded with the launch of the EUC Impact Report 2022/23.

“I want everyone to appreciate what EUC is doing to impact the world around us,” said Hovorka. “We’re enhancing the student experience, facilitating research excellence, advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and championing equity and Black inclusion.

“Like this celebration, I really see the report as a representation of all of us putting our best foot forward and working for more justice and sustainability in the world.”

For highlights from the inaugural Changemakers event, see the video below.

Schulich Sustainable Infrastructure Fellowship 2023 applications open now

The Seymour Schulich Buildiing, home of the Schulich School of Business

Recruiting for the fourth year of the Schulich School of Business Sustainable Infrastructure Fellowship Program (SIFP) commenced Tuesday, May 16.

The SIFP is an International Group of Seven (G7) initiative that coincided with the G7 meeting held in Quebec City, Que. in 2018. The fellowship was launched by the Investor Leadership Network (ILN), representing 13 of the world’s largest institutional investors in infrastructure, with support from the Government of Canada. With the Schulich School of Business at York University as academic partner in Toronto, the first three years of the fellowship targeted emerging economies. That focus has now expanded in 2023 to encompass a broader audience.

SIFP 2023 is designed and delivered by the Schulich School of Business to develop a new generation of leaders in infrastructure, globally. This year marks the beginning of SIFP version 2.0, which is open to candidates from the public and private sectors. The fellowship is designed for mid- to senior-level professionals involved in infrastructure who want to better understand the role of private investment capital in addressing sustainable infrastructure needs, as well as the core tenets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). Candidates should ideally be directly involved in the infrastructure sector, within public or private organizations and agencies charged with the development, financing, investing and operation of infrastructure.

The fellowship develops the knowledge and practical skills required to increase the bankability of infrastructure projects by mobilizing sources of private capital to assist in bridging the global infrastructure gap. The curriculum involves lectures, case studies, interactive workshops and assignments delivered by a combination of academic and industry experts in an online format spread over six months.

Ravish Jain, a 2022 Fellow and deputy general manager of IFCI Limited, called the SIFP a “must-attend program for senior professionals who want to acquire a powerful knowledge toolkit to re-energize infrastructure.

“This unique platform provides a holistic shared international learning experience. [SIFP] provides direct access to some of the largest global infrastructure investors and their decision-making processes,” he adds.

Additionally, the globe-spanning fellowship alumni network offers access to a diverse, international cohort of past participants, each collectively contributing to a communal trove of infrastructure investment expertise. In the first three years alone, the program has graduated 67 Fellows from 22 countries, 40 per cent of whom are women.

“The [SIFP] broadened my view,” says Group Chief Business Development and External Relations Officer Mia Mary Sebastian, of Citadel Pacific Limited. “The exchanges of ideas in our sessions highlighted the importance of the enabling environment for infrastructure and its impact on investment decisions.”

To apply for the 2023 SIFP, visit

For additional information, contact Karen Shlesinger, program director, sustainable infrastructure fellowship program, at

York students earn prestigious titles at debut pan-Canadian Model European Union

York University Department of Politics students at the first official pan-Canadian model EU.

Seven York University students were among the nearly 100 participants from 13 universities across Canada to compete at the first-ever officially sanctioned model European Union (EU) in Ottawa from May 5 to 7.

The two-day policy negotiation simulation invited undergraduate students from across the country with an interest in international and translatlantic relations.

Department of Politics Associate Professor Heather MacRae nominated students from both the Keele and Glendon campuses for the simulation. Travelling with MacRae to Carlton University, which hosted the event, were Karmen Galamb, Lily Tureski, Colin Maitland, Phoung Tran-Vo, David Miranda, Anna Huusko and Juliette Castillo Martinez – many of whom recently completed the Debates in Contemporary European Union Politics (AP/GLBL 4517) senior undergraduate course, or other similar politics courses.

Throughout the simulation, students were tasked with emulating the proceedings of a meeting of the European Council – which convenes four times per year in Belgium with its 27 member states – as it discussed the terms of a proposed EU arctic policy. That arctic policy would outline the approach that the EU would take to matters of economics, defence and international cooperation in the arctic throughout the next decade and onward.

The Debates in Contemporary European Union Politics course is similarly structured to familiarize students with the various proceedings of EU institutions through smaller classroom simulations. This semester, the course challenged students to deliberate the merits of a hypothetical European army. For MacRae and her students, the model EU in Ottawa served as the perfect experiential learning opportunity, providing a testing ground to demonstrate the skills that had been honed through their coursework at York.

“[Contemporary European Union Politics] is designed to help students to better understand the way supranational organizations work and the need for compromise in negotiations,” MacRae says. “Students develop a variety of professional skills – often without really realizing it – such as public speaking, collaboration, networking, consensus building and active listening, while also building research skills and knowledge about the European Union, its institutions and some of the major issues facing the EU and Europe more broadly.”

Speaking to the efficacy of the Department of Politics’ curricula, each of the seven York students performed throughout the event, with Huusko and Galamb – who comprised Team Finland – earning the title of “most likely to work in the EU,” one of only six titles bestowed to competitors throughout the simulation.

Students, professors and EU delegates mix and mingle at the pan-Canadian model EU reception.
Students, professors and EU delegates mix and mingle at the pan-Canadian model EU reception.

“I’m very pleased with my decision to attend the conference and if another opportunity arose I would gladly attend again,” says Huusko. “The whole weekend was well organized and everything went according to plan. The opening ceremony was so inspiring and, throughout the event in general, the opportunities for networking were invaluable.”

“My favourite part of the conference was definitely the networking aspect. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people, both students and professionals, who I’ve learned a lot from,” Galamb adds.

Serving as breaks in the simulated negotiations, several receptions and communal meals gave participants the chance to mingle with their peers, as well as meet with their real-world EU delegate counterparts and other European ambassadors in attendance. Opening remarks were delivered by Ambassador of the European Union in Canada Melita Gabric, while representatives from the German, Greek and Slovenian embassies offered encouragement and guidance to the students and professors.

“It was fantastic to see so many like-minded students working together to solve intricate policy challenges,” says Maitland. “The levels of professionalism on display were profound and the experience was something I’ll never forget. I would definitely participate in this challenge all over again if the chance arises.“

“For me, it was a fabulous experience to see our students putting their skills to use outside the classroom setting. Seeing students confidently engaging in in-depth conversations with diplomats about the country’s position on various current events is extremely rewarding for me as an educator,” MacRae adds.

The broad success of the event is also an achievement for MacRae on a personal level, considering that in years prior she had taken her students to EU-sponsored events in the U.S., and was instrumental in rallying support a similar, official event to come to Canada.

“In the past I have taken students to model EUs in the U.S., but this year we were able to arrange a Canada-specific event,” she says. “It will hopefully be the first of many.”

Lassonde professor receives grants to prepare for Mars exploration

NASA exploration vehicles on the surface of Mars

Isaac Smith, assistant professor in the Earth and Space Science and Engineering Department and Canada Research Chair in Planetary Science, was recently awarded two research grants from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to support a better understanding of Mars’ environments to enable exploration missions and potential habitation.

Isaac Smith
Isaac Smith

The funded research projects support a focus on ice, a critical resource for supporting future human missions to Mars by serving as a source of drinking water or rocket fuel. Martian regions that are abundant in icy deposits will become primary targets for future landing and exploration zones.

“I feel honoured to be the recipient of these awards. Earning one CSA grant is feels great, but two is something unique,” says Smith, a faculty member in York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering.

One of Smith’s projects, which received $299,121 in funding, focuses on demonstrating predicting the feasibility and performance of a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) for detecting near-surface ice on Mars. Conducting airborne and ground-based fieldwork in Yukon, a region comparable to the environment on Mars, Smith’s project will establish useful information about the SAR’s ability to positively identify ice deposits in the subsurface, while his research team characterizes the depth, distribution and purity of detected ice. This work will help ensure the validity and best interpretations of data collected on Earth, with the goal of confidently extending these practices to data collected on Mars.

Knowledge gained from this project will directly support a large-scale robotic space mission led by NASA, the International Mars Ice Mapper, which focuses on developing a radar to help quantify specific characteristics of ice in exploratory Martian regions, supporting future planning of the first human missions to Mars. Smith’s research is specifically designed to mimic the equipment and activities that will be used for the International Mars Mapper mission to help determine the best practices for NASA’s radar and ensure confidence when analyzing collected information.

The other project, which received $148,251 in funding from the CSA sees Smith, as well as graduate students Chimira Andres and Ivan Mishev (both PhD candidates), analyze data to investigate two different Martian regions with deposits that indicate presences of water: Phlegra Montes, known for icy deposits, permafrost and glaciers; and Valles Marineris, a large canyon with sedimentary deposits on the rim that indicate ancient flowing water.

As a co-investigator on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), a NASA-led mission that aims to search for the existence of water on Mars, Smith has access to data and resources that allow his students to investigate these regions and advance understanding of past and current climatic states on Mars. Analyzing Phlegra Montes is particularly important, as it is one of the best options for future human exploration and habitation on Mars. This project will also directly target objectives from the MRO mission including the study of Early Mars: Environmental Transitions and Habitability, and Amazonian Ices, Volcanism and Climate.

Surface of Mars
Ius Chasma, the largest region of Valles Marineris. Evidence of past water is seen in the rocks, including layered sediments close to the rim of the Chasma

Both projects aim to advance current knowledge of Martian environments, contributing to a pool of research that will progress NASA’s goal of sending humans to the Martian surface by the mid-2030s.

Student awarded prestigious nursing award

Award stock image banner from pexels

The Council of Ontario University Programs in Nursing (COUPN) awarded Leo Macawile the Excellence in Professional Nursing Practice at the Undergraduate Level Award. He is the first York University student to receive the honour.

The award – which recognizes academic success, kind and compassionate care, and positive leadership attributes – is the latest milestone in Macawile’s notable career. In May 2022, Macawile received the York University Deschamps Compassionate Nursing Prize for demonstrating talent in his field through kindness and compassion shown toward patients. Earlier this year, he received two Calumet and Stong College awards, the Olga Cirak Alumni Bursary Award and The Virginia Rock Award, for his exceptional academic ability and outstanding commitment to the school community.

Leo Macawile
Leo Macawile

Macawile has also distinguished himself as the current president of the Nursing Student Association of YorkU (NSAY), a role which he has used to promote the art and science of nursing, but also awareness around those within the field from the Asian diaspora.

In order to celebrate Asian Heritage Month in 2022, Macawile recruited Asian nursing students and professors to showcase, through video, how Canadians of Asian heritage have contributed to nursing.

This past November, Macawile also initiated Filipino Nurses Recognition Month, Canada’s first and largest student-led initiative to recognize the challenges and structural racism that Filipino nurses and nursing students face, which contribute to the underrepresentation of Filipinos in academic and leadership roles. Over 100 diverse students, nurses and professors across Canada engaged in a month-long event of seminars.

Among additional efforts to support nursing students and ensure their success, Macawile also started a program called Walk with Prof. which connects nursing students with faculty outside the classroom in a fun, interactive, collaborative and educational manner that provided mentorship as students asked for advice and guidance.

In its reasoning for honouring Macawile with an award, COUPN wrote, “He collaborates well with others, establishing a sense of connectedness, resourcefulness, purpose and academic culture among his peers. Leo is a strong advocate for others and the overall future of the nursing profession and takes every opportunity to participate in events that celebrate nursing, leadership and community.”

Two projects receive Lassonde 2023 EDI Seed Funding

Two Female Students Building Machine In Science Robotics Or Engineering Class

With up to $20,000 in support, the Lassonde School of Engineering’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Seed Funding supports the development of original initiatives that promote EDI culture, encouraging students, faculty and staff to embrace creativity and find ways to make the School a more diverse and inclusive space.

“We are thrilled to announce the winners of the EDI Seed Funding grant competition, whose innovative projects showcase a strong commitment to promoting equity, diversity and inclusion in engineering and STEM-related fields,” says Reza Rizvi, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and Chair of the EDI sub-committee at Lassonde.

The first project, Getting on with Tech, is led by Jean-Jacques Rosseau, research associate, and Michael Jenkin, professor of electrical engineering and computer science. The pilot initiative will establish a community learning program that promotes public understanding of computer science. It aims to provide equitable access to a technical education, targeting adult learners from communities that are underrepresented in STEAM – that is, science, tech, engineering, arts and math – disciplines including women, recent immigrants, Black and Indigenous communities.

For that audience, the project’s goal is to close the knowledge gap about computers and build confidence to solve problems of interest using digital technology. Program participants will also be encouraged to become self-directed and pursue formal and informal learning opportunities in STEAM. The curriculum includes concepts and methods to develop literacy in web publishing, artificial intelligence and data science and visualization.

Getting on with Tech will use the Keele campus for its activities, promoting a welcoming and inclusive environment for local community members, and involve collaboration with Lisa Cole, director of programming of Lassonde’s k2i academy and Itah Sadu, managing director of Blackhurst Cultural Centre.

The second funded project, Integrating EDI components into MECH curriculum, is led by Cuiying Jian, assistant professor in mechanical engineering. The original initiative aims to address the low coverage of EDI principles in engineering education.

In order to do so, Lassonde’s funding will support the identification and creation of engineering-related EDI materials, including multimedia resources, guest lectures, workshops and more. The project’s co-developers are Siu Ning Leung, associate professor and undergraduate program director for mechanical engineering, and Alidad Amirfazli, mechanical engineering professor and department Chair, as well as the Lassonde Educational Innovation Studio (LEIS), who will help ensure materials align with engineering program standards, while collaboratively working with individual course instructors to integrate materials into course syllabuses and assess program design. Integrating these materials in the curriculum will immerse students in an environment combining EDI principles with engineering practices, to shape future leaders in the workforce.

“By supporting these projects, we are taking a significant step towards creating a more diverse and inclusive community at Lassonde and beyond. These projects represent original and actionable approaches, and we look forward to the positive impact they will have,” says Rizvi.

Previous funding recipients developed successful projects ranging from EDI training programs to educational workshops while focusing on empowering marginalized communities, providing inclusive educational opportunities and promoting positive change.

Learn more about Lassonde’s EDI Seed Funding initiative and apply for the next round of funding by visiting the information page on the Lassonde website. You can also check out the winners of the first round of EDI Seed Funding from 2022.