Glendon School of Public and International Affairs director earns recognition from NATO

gold star award on a blue background

Glendon College’s new director of the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA), Susan Pond, has been recognized by the NATO Security Force Assistance Centre of Excellence (SFA COE) with the prestigious title of senior Fellow.

The award recognizes the relationship Pond developed with SFA COE in supporting its strategy and related products for the NATO Alliance and Partners.

Susan Pond accepting her award as a NATO SFA COE senior Fellow.
Susan Pond accepting her award as a NATO SFA COE senior Fellow.

Senior Fellow is an honorary title awarded to highly distinguished senior experts who have forged positive connections with the NATO SFA COE and are committed to supporting its activities and projects on a continuing basis. 

The NATO SFA COE is a multinational entity that provides expertise contributing to the development and experimentation of concepts and doctrines, and also conducts education and training activities for instructors, mentors and personnel belonging to other Nations.

The organization states its mission is “to improve effectiveness of the Alliance in promoting stability and reconstruction efforts for conflict and post-conflict scenarios through related lessons learned, education and training analysis, development of concept and doctrine activities” as well as “to provide a unique capability to Alliance, NATO Nations and NATO Partners in the field of SFA.”

The award was presented to Pond by Col. Matteo Luciani, director, and Maj. Ludovica Glorioso, legal advisor from NATO SFA, while on a visit to Glendon College, where they also met with Principal Marco Fiola and Professor Francis Garon, as well as students from Glendon’s Masters in Public and International Affairs (MAPI).  

The presence of Luciani and Glorioso at the Glendon Campus was a follow up to the signature earlier this year of a Letter of Cooperation (LOC) between NATO SFA and Glendon.

“These meetings with NATO SFA COE representatives allowed us to further discuss the role of Glendon’s School of Public and International Affairs, in support of the development of an education hub, as well as a unique summer internship opportunities for MAPI students at the SFA Centre of Excellence in Rome,” said Pond. 

Pond was recently at the offices of the Italian delegation to the United Nations on Oct. 31, where she was given the opportunity to speak about York University and Glendon College, as well as the University’s role in support of ongoing research. Previous to her role as director, Pond served Glendon as a senior Fellow where she taught graduate students and provided expertise on defence and security issues. She also served in several leadership roles at NATO for more than three decades.

The Glendon School of Public and International Affairs is preparing for an exciting year of programming, beginning with the Glendon Global Debate event “Arctic security, are we ready for the future?” on Nov. 29.

Professor to honour Canadian wartime nurses

Remembrance Day wreaths

Andrea McKenzie, associate professor and Chair of the Writing Department in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies at York University, has been asked by the Western Front Association (WFA) to place a wreath in honour of Canadian nurses at the Cenotaph in London, England, in Nov. 11 ceremonies honouring veterans of the First World War.

Andrea McKenzie
Andrea McKenzie

The Cenotaph is a war memorial unveiled in 1920 as the United Kingdom’s national memorial to the dead of Britain and the British Empire of the First World War. In 1946 it was designated to include the fallen from the Second World War. The memorial has become a central location for the annual services organized on Remembrance Sunday – the U.K. equivalent of Canada’s Remembrance Day – where crowds gather to observe two minutes of silence, and wreaths are laid by distinguished representatives to honour the fallen.

The invitation to place a wreath honouring the role of Canadian nurses during the First World War is, in part, a recognition of McKenzie’s ongoing work and expertise around the subject. In the past, McKenzie has provided articles and presentations to the WFA – both in person and virtually – on the sometimes little known or unrecognized role Canadian nurses played in the conflict. It was a 2018 event at the National Army Museum in London that first drew WFA organizer’s attention to McKenzie’s work, and led now to the invitation to place a wreath in this year’s Remembrance Sunday’s ceremony.

Following the ceremony and the laying of her wreath, McKenzie will read a poem to dignitaries at the Guards’ Chapel in Westminster as part of a service to commemorate veterans who served during the First World War, those who were lost in the war and those who mourned them.

McKenzie’s ongoing work has also included numerous publications and lectures about Canadian nurses’ experiences during the First World War in Canada and Europe. She is also the author and editor of War-Torn Exchanges: The Lives and Letters of Nursing Sisters Laura Holland and Mildred Forbes (UBC Press, 2016), a book of letters written by Canadian nurses during the First World War.

New book explores Toronto’s Bloor Viaduct bridge history

Black woman reading book

Paul McLaughlin, an award-winning writer and course director at York University’s Writing Department, has released The Suicide Magnet: Inside the Battle to Erect a Safety Barrier on Toronto’s Bloor Viaduct, which details the history of the barrier and the citizen volunteers who advocated for its existence.

Paul McLaughlin
Paul McLaughlin

From 1918 to 1997, Toronto’s Prince Edward Viaduct (more commonly referred to as the Bloor Viaduct) was once considered the second most used suicide bridge in North America. During that time frame nearly 500 individuals used it to end their lives.

McLaughlin’s new book recounts the story of how a group of volunteers led by two citizens – Al Birney and Michael McCamus ­– underwent a six-year journey to advocate to help those with mental health challenges, and push Toronto’s City Hall to fund and construct a suicide barrier on the bridge.

The Suicide Magnet is the latest achievement for McLaughlin in an award-winning career that has spanned more than four decades of writing and teaching. He is the author of several books, numerous magazine articles, several plays, and has also worked as a broadcaster and producer at CBC Radio. He has been teaching writing – currently third- and fourth-year courses in the Professional Writing Program – at York University since 2006. His most recent book, published in 2022, was an extension of his teaching called Asking the Best Questions: A comprehensive interviewing handbook for journalists, podcasters, bloggers, vloggers, influencers, and anyone who asks questions under pressure.

For more information about The Suicide Magnet, or to secure a copy of McLaughlin’s new book, visit Dundurn Press.

PhD candidate receives fellowship to bring Indigenous lens to STEM

woman engineer STEM

Andrew McConnell, a PhD candidate at York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering, has been awarded an Indigenous and Black Engineering and Technology (IBET) Fellowship to transform the future of technical science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education for Indigenous students.

The IBET program, which works in partnership with more than a dozen higher education institutions across Canada, was created to help reduce systemic barriers that exist for Indigenous and Black scholars pursuing doctoral degrees in STEM by providing financial support and academic mentorship. As part of the IBET program, Lassonde aims to increase representation in STEM, while uplifting decolonization, equity, diversity and inclusion.

andrew mcdonnell
Andrew McConnell

McConnell is the first Indigenous student to receive the IBET Fellowship at Lassonde and is grateful for the four-year, $30,000-per-year financial support provided. “For the first time in my life, I have the freedom to solely focus on my passion instead of working multiple jobs to help pay for schooling,” he says.

With that passion, his intentions are to pursue the overcoming of challenges faced by the Indigenous community in STEM fields. “We need to start talking about the barriers that lead Indigenous people away from professional career paths like engineering; we need to build a system that truly supports us,” says McConnell.

He will do so by drawing on experiences, which includes working at the York Region District School Board in various roles such as teacher and department head for technological education, as well as teaching advisor, co-ordinator and board lead for First Nations, Métis and Inuit education.

“Working as a consultant for Indigenous education, I built a sense of community and belonging, but I also noticed the ways the education system was not serving Indigenous people,” he says. “The barriers start as early as kindergarten. Young students who are great at fixing things and love to tinker are moved into trades, as if they are not good enough to be scientists or engineers. This makes us limited in what we can contribute to the needs of our communities and causes us to be reliant on non-Indigenous people. I want to uplift Indigenous ways of problem solving to introduce students to technical subjects in STEM, encourage them to ask questions and build a practical foundation for their natural engineering minds.”

Supervised by Professor Melanie Baljko in the Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, McConnell will apply his extensive educational and professional background in English, education, digital media and technology to explore, develop and inform new approaches to Indigenous education in STEM. McConnell is also enrolled in the school’s Digital Media program, which operates jointly with York’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design, allowing learners to do specialized hybrid research, uniquely combining computational science and artistic practices.

In addition to his research, McConnell will extend his expertise to York’s Waaban Indigenous Teacher Education program. Through teachings from Indigenous elders, educators and community leaders, the program aims to prepare the next generation of teachers, who will address the needs of First Nation, Métis and Inuit students, families and communities – putting Indigenous futures in Indigenous hands.

Glendon student earns National Youth of the Year award

gold and red stars

A third-year psychology student at York University’s Glendon College has earned the 2023 National Youth of the Year award from BGC Canada, the country’s largest child- and youth-serving charitable and community services organization. The award is presented in partnership with Hyundai Canada.

Sebastian Cifuente is BGC Canada’s 2023 National Youth of the Year (CNW Group/BGC Canada)
Sebastian Cifuentes is BGC Canada’s 2023 National Youth of the Year (CNW Group/BGC Canada).

Sebastian Cifuentes was selected for his outstanding leadership, service and achievements within his community at BGC West Scarborough. As a natural-born leader within his club, Cifuentes says he wants to use his voice to amplify those in his community that need to be heard. He plans to share his experiences as a child of immigrant parents to help others understand the value of making opportunities, resources and programs accessible to families.

Youth of the Year is BGC Canada’s national initiative, now in its third year, that acknowledges and honours exceptional young individuals. It strives to inspire young people to serve as active role models and advocates for youth across the country.

“Sebastian is an incredible volunteer and contributor to BGC West Scarborough and to his community. I am extremely proud of him and all of our participants in the Youth of the Year program,” says Owen Charters, president and chief executive officer of BGC Canada. “As BGC ambassadors, they are working to define the next generation of young people through their compassion, dedication and drive. They have already made a strong impact on their local communities and clubs, and I can’t wait to see what they do next as they continue to grow and thrive.”

As an aspiring educator, Cifuentes is also the founder of the Homework Help Program at BGC West Scarborough – a one-to-one after-school academic support program for children within schools around the community. He was moved to start this program after his own experiences, and realizing many youth in his community had difficulty finding support for their homework, living in homes where English is not the first language. Cifuentes continues to advocate for education as the key to unlocking someone’s full potential.

“Everyone has the power to be a leader, but not everyone recognizes it. BGC Canada has given me the opportunity to thrive and own who I am,” said Cifuentes. “My biggest passion is to work with the community and to help kids learn. It is my goal to become a teacher and work with youth full time.”

Youth of the Year winners receive prize packs, laptops and post-secondary scholarships, as well as media and leadership training to prepare them for the next two years as official BGC ambassadors.

The home club of each Youth of the Year recipient will also receive a grant to further support their youth engagement and leadership work. Learn more about Youth of the Year at

CIHR names York researcher for prestigious award

Audience clapping

Hyekyoung (Cindy) Sung, a former postdoctoral Fellow and current research project manager at York University’s Sweeney Lab, received the CIHR Research Excellence, Diversity, and Independence Early Career Transition Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). She is the first York community member to receive the award.

cindy sung
Hyekyoung (Cindy) Sung

Sung earned her doctor of philosophy in biology in 2017 at York University, followed by a York Outstanding Postdoctoral Fellowship later that year. In 2019, she earned CIHR postdoctoral Fellowship. Her research has been focused on the examination of skeletal muscle cells, insulin resistance, oxidative stress and more. Additionally, she has been involved in numerous research papers, including three published in 2023 so far.

The Early Career Transition Award that Sung received is part of the CIHR’s efforts to nurture a more equitable, diverse and inclusive health research ecosystem. The award was launched in December 2022 to provide mentorship and early-career support to specific under-represented groups of researchers.

It does so through a two-phase program that runs over the course of five to seven years. The first phase is mentored and includes a $20,000-per-year research allowance, a $70,000-per-year stipend, as well as mentorship and career development. The second phase includes at least $240,000 per year in research allowance, plus salary support and faculty mentorship.

Available to postdoctoral researchers, clinicians and research associates, the award uses a cohort-building approach to support winners’ transitions to successful, independent research careers in Canada and address the impact of racism and gender inequality on early-career researchers.

The Sweeney Lab researches cardiometabolic disease, how these diseases develop, and novel treatments and therapies, with a collaborative network of research groups across Canada as well as in Hong Kong, Thailand, South Korea, the U.S. and the U.K.

Student wins inaugural Faculty of Science award

3d golden star golden with lighting effect on black background. Template luxury premium award design. Vector illustration

Department of Mathematics & Statistics student Yibin Zheng is the inaugural recipient of the Global Engagement Funding Award (GEFA), created by the Faculty of Science to support York University science students who want to study or participate in academic activities abroad as part of their degree.

Yibin Zheng
Yibin Zheng

Zheng received the award in recognition of ongoing academic excellence and a profound commitment to expanding his research knowledge and skills across borders. Most recently, he demonstrated those qualities this summer by taking part in the Faculty of Science’s experiential education program, which led him to participate in a research internship in the Department of Applied Mathematics at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, where he was responsible for using the Bayesian statistics theory to work with R, a programming language, and help solve statistical problems.

GEFA is part of the Faculty of Science’s efforts to support a wide variety of global experiences and perspectives for science students, notably eligible degree-seeking undergraduate students (domestic or international), by facilitating international academic experiences.

The award was spearheaded by the Office of International Collaborations & Partnerships within the Faculty and – recognizing the financial barriers that may deter students from engaging in enriching opportunities – is designed to extend financial aid to ambitious students like Zheng, enabling them to immerse themselves in global scientific communities and endeavours.

Schulich’s Master of Marketing program earns top spot in Canada

Seymour Schulich Building

The QS World University Rankings has ranked the Master of Marketing program at York University’s Schulich School of Business No. 1 in Canada and 10th overall in North America.        

To compile its 2024 ranking, QS surveyed 131 master of marketing programs in 26 countries around the world using a number of criteria, including employability, thought leadership, class and faculty diversity, value for money and alumni outcomes.

Schulich’s Master of Marketing program ranked 10th in the world in the category of Alumni Outcomes – the extent to which the school’s graduates have gone on to pursue highly successful careers.

“We’re very pleased to have been ranked the No. 1 master of marketing program in Canada and one of the top programs in North America,” said Schulich Dean Detlev Zwick. “Today’s ranking results are a reflection of our world-class faculty, the high quality of our students and program, and the success of our graduates.”  

For more information about the 2024 QS master of marketing ranking, visit QS World University Rankings: Business Master’s 2024 – QS.

Grad students invited to apply for global health scholarship program

Earth at night was holding in human hands. Earth day. Energy saving concept, Elements of this image furnished by NASA

The Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research at York University is accepting applications for the 2024 Dahdaleh Global Health Graduate Scholarship program.

The Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research is committed to achieving equity, excellence and effectiveness in global health research in the following three core themes: planetary health, global health and humanitarianism, and global health foresighting. Applications are welcome from incoming and continuing domestic and international graduate students who would like to contribute to York University’s rapidly growing global health research community.

The awarded amount for each individual student will range from $5,000 to $25,000 based on the availability of funds and both the strength and needs of applicants. In addition to the monetary award, recipients will have access to Dahdaleh Institute resources, including collegial workspaces and the opportunity to present and lead seminars with members of the institute’s research community.

The Dahdaleh Institute has supported many global health researchers and their critical research projects through this scholarship program. To learn more about the eligibility criteria and application process, visit the scholarships page.

To apply, submit an application here.

The application deadline is Friday, Jan. 12, 2024 at 11:59 p.m.

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.