Attend virtual launch of EUC Prof. Andil Gosine’s new book

FEATURED-image-Book-Launch

Professor Andil Gosine of York University’s Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change (EUC) is hosting a virtual launch for his award-winning new book, Nature’s Wild: Love, Sex and Law in the Caribbean (Duke University Press), on Thursday, Sept. 23 at 4 p.m. via Zoom, in conjunction with the Art Gallery of Ontario exhibition Fragments of Epic Memory.

Andil Gosine "Nature's Wild" North America Book Tour Fall 2021. Toronto, September 23 (international day of publication), 4 p.m., register online at ago.ca/events

In Nature’s Wild, the Trinidad-born scholar-artist contends with his own animality. The story begins in his classroom at an all-boys Catholic high school in Trinidad, when a priest points to a row of boys and demands, “Prove to me that you are not homosexual.” From there, Gosine takes readers on a journey that mixes personal narrative with historical analysis of the ways in which anxieties about humans’ animality have produced various kinds of disciplinary strategies in law and culture. Gosine draws from historical and contemporary visual art representations, dress code regulations and recent legal challenges to the criminalization of sodomy, to argue for the embracing of one’s “wild nature.”

Headshot of York University Professor Andil Gosine
Andil Gosine

Gosine is a professor of environmental arts and justice at York University. He is also the curator of the exhibition Everything Slackens in a Wreck, which will open at the Ford Foundation Gallery in New York next spring. The companion touring exhibition for his book Nature’s Wild will launch its three-year tour in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in January 2022.

Joining Gosine at the launch for a discussion about his new book are Richard Fung, Kamala Kempadoo and Jillian Ollivierre. Fung is a Trinidad-born, Toronto-based video artist, cultural critic and community activist, whose seminal and celebrated works include the films Sea in the Blood, My Mother’s Place and Dal Puri Diaspora. Kempadoo is a professor in the Department of Social Science at York University and director of the Graduate Program in Social and Political Thought. She teaches Caribbean studies, transnational feminisms, sex work studies, Black studies, and critical perspectives in gender and development, and is the author of Sexing the Caribbean. Ollivierre is a doctoral candidate in social anthropology at York University. Her interview essay on Gosine’s artistic practice, “After Indo-Caribbean: Interrogating Interstitial Identities and Diasporic Solidarties in Conversation with Andil Gosine,” is forthcoming in the journal Histoire sociale.

To register for this event, visit bit.ly/3tOqQPm. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email including details about how to join the webinar.

Nature’s Wild: Love, Sex and Law in the Caribbean is available for purchase now at Another Story Bookshop.

Welcome to YFile’s New Faces Feature Issue, part one

classroom-FEATURED

Welcome to YFile’s New Faces Feature Issue 2021, part one. In this special issue, YFile introduces new faculty members joining the York University community and highlights those with new appointments.

The New Faces Feature Issue 2021 will run in two parts: part one on Friday, Sept. 3 and part two on Friday, Sept. 10.

In this issue, YFile welcomes new faculty members in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design; the Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change; Glendon Campus; the Faculty of Health; and the Lassonde School of Engineering.

The School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design brings six new faculty into its ranks

Two new faculty members join the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change

Glendon introduces three new faculty members this fall

Faculty of Health welcomes seven new faculty members

Five new faculty members join the Lassonde School of Engineering

The Sept. 10 issue will include the Faculty of Education; the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies; Osgoode Hall Law School; the Schulich School of Business; and the Faculty of Science.

New Faces was conceived and edited by Ashley Goodfellow Craig, YFile deputy editor; Jenny Pitt-Clark, YFile editor; and Lindsay MacAdam, communications officer

Two new faculty members join the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change

EUC-New-Faces-FEATURED

This story is published in YFile’s New Faces Feature Issue 2021, part one. Every September, YFile introduces and welcomes those joining the York University community, and those with new appointments. Watch for part two on Sept. 10.

The Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change (EUC) welcomes two new faculty members this fall: Muna-Udbi Abdulkadir Ali and Lina Brand Correa.

“The Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change is thrilled to welcome Professors Muna-Udbi Ali and Lina Brand Correa this fall,” said EUC Dean and Professor Alice Hovorka. “Both of these scholars bring with them talents in theoretical innovation and action-oriented research – students will be inspired by their ideas and their actions for shaping a just and sustainable future.”

Muna-Udbi Abdulkadir Ali

Muna-Udbi Abdulkadir Ali
Muna-Udbi Abdulkadir Ali

Muna-Udbi Abdulkadir Ali joined EUC as an assistant professor in 2021. Before that, she worked as an assistant professor at California State University San Marcos and as visiting faculty in sociology at Christopher Newport University. Trained as an interdisciplinary scholar, her primary research interests include diverse fields such as Black studies, critical race studies, postcolonial studies, Black feminist studies, criminology, transnational feminism, queer studies, environmental justice, media studies, public pedagogy and public policy (specifically immigration, refugee, health and welfare policies).

Ali’s research explores issues of gender, race, class, criminality, surveillance and citizenship as it manifests for Black refugee communities. Her work has appeared as book chapters from Peter Lang Publishing and Life Rattle Press. She has also published articles in Darkmatter and Reconsidering Development. Outside of academia, Ali is a community worker, curriculum and policy consultant, researcher and anti-oppression educator. She has worked in education and curriculum development in Canada, the United States, Kenya and Somalia.

Lina Brand Correa

Lina Brand Correa
Lina Brand Correa

Lina Brand Correa is EUC’s new faculty member in the field of ecological economics. Her research interests include the impact of energy systems on climate change, energy return on investment, energy (service) requirements for the satisfaction of human needs, the impact of provisioning systems on well-being and the democratic implications of climate action.

She completed her PhD, “Following the ‘golden thread’: Exploring the energy dependency of economies and human well-being,” at the University of Leeds, received an MSc (with distinction) in ecological economics at the University of Edinburgh and a BA in economics from the National University of Colombia, Medellín campus. She has used innovative participatory workshops to analyze the relationship between energy services and human needs in different case study countries, including Colombia, Zambia, Nepal and the U.K.

Conference explores how Hakka perspectives contribute to global change

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok from Pexels
Featured image for York International posts

A conference exploring the ways in which Hakka perspectives and experiences can contribute to addressing world challenges was the topic of the sixth Toronto Hakka Conference, hosted virtually by York University from July 10 and 11.

Co-organized by the Hakka community in Toronto and the York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR), the “One Heart, One World: Healing the Planet Earth” conference brought together a variety of speakers committed to global learning. The conference explored how Hakka perspectives and experiences can contribute to addressing challenges the world is facing today: environmental degradation, racism, social inequality and uneven development.

Students gather online through Zoom
The “One Heart, One World: Healing the Planet Earth” conference brought together a variety of speakers committed to global learning

Driving the conference presentations and panels was the shared understanding that both universities and communities have a collective responsibility to train students, and the young generation more generally, on what it means to live in the challenging world today.

“We were very pleased to get involved and support this community initiative where education is valued and prioritized,” said Abidin Kusno, YCAR director and professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change (EUC). “We have also learned from Toronto Hakka Community how a conference can be a venue for knowledge mobilization as well as keeping a community together.”

Opened by York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton, Vivienne Poy, Joe Li (regional councillor, City of Markham) and Keith Lowe (co-founder of the Toronto Hakka Conference), the conference received congratulatory remarks from York University EUC Dean Alice Hovorka, Associate Dean Lily Cho from York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) and York Faculty of Science Dean Rui Wang. Three York faculty members – Kusno, Professor Janet Landa (LA&PS), and Professor Cary Wu (LA&PS) – were also involved in the conference as presenters or responders.

Sponsored by LA&PS, the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation (VPRI) and YCAR, as well as Hakka institutions and community organizations in Toronto, New York and other cities in the U.S. and the world, the conference lineup included community leaders, educators, entrepreneurs, inventors, professors, scientists, scholars and a high-school student.

The well-attended two-day conference was organized around Hakka approaches to five major topics: the future of science; eco-forms, settlement and sustainable development; technology, business network and social media; genealogy and the future of family; and global education.

Proceedings included three keynote speakers: Joseph Tsang Mang Kin, author, poet and former minister of the Republic of Mauritius, who offered a perspective of why Hakka folk worldwide should take the lead in dealing with the challenging time; Herbert Ho Ping Kong (professor emeritus, University of Toronto), the G. Raymond Chang Distinguished Speaker, discussed the role of medicine healing in the time of change; and Siu Leung Lee, president of the Zheng He society of the Americas, revealed the significant contribution of Chinese circumnavigation in the 15th century for the modern mapping of the world, and what this means to our perspective of the world.

The conference organizers also paid tribute to Young Kwok “Corky” Lee, an activist, community organizer, photographer and journalist; and Teng Teng Chin Kleiner, a broadcaster and advocate of sustainable housing, both who passed way recently.

It concluded with a discussion on how the Hakka (being the most diasporic of Chinese communities) and their cross-cultural experiences can serve educators as a framework for thinking about global education, and how this might in turn contribute to the reorganization of knowledge at the level of the university.

For information about York University’s support for Hakka research initiatives, visit ycar.apps01.yorku.ca/hakka-scholars-network.

EUC Dean Alice Hovorka co-edits new book on animal geographies

FEATURED image Book Launch

"A Research Agenda for Animal Geographies" coverAlice Hovorka, dean and professor in York University’s Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, has co-edited a new book, A Research Agenda for Animal Geographies (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2021), with Sandra McCubbin from the Government of Canada and Lauren Van Patter from Queen’s University. Launched at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers on April 7, the book is set to be published on June 25 and will be available for purchase on the publisher’s website.

Part of the Elgar Research Agendas educational book series, outlining the future of research in a given area, A Research Agenda for Animal Geographies explores the innovative and thriving field of animal geographies and analyzes how humans think about, place and engage with animals.

Hovorka was invited by Elgar as a leading scholar of human-animal relations (largely through her Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council-funded The Lives of Animals Research Group) to explore her sub-discipline of animal geographies in provocative ways, and to map out its potential directions. In turn, she invited two emerging scholars to join her in visioning and editing this volume.

“It was a wonderful opportunity for us to collectively engage with our scholarly community,” says Hovorka. “The resulting volume is exciting and inspiring, thanks to the contributors who joined us in this endeavour.”

Alice Hovorka with an elephant in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Alice Hovorka with an elephant in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chapters delve into how animals shape human identities and social dynamics, as well as how broader processes influence the circumstances and experiences of animals. The book demonstrates opportunities for animal geographies to engage creatively with diverse movements, including industrial farm workers’ rights, intersectional feminism, the environmental movement, racial equality and decolonization. Critical and timely, contributions from top and emerging scholars suggest that it is time to bring the animals outwards into broader geographical dialogue to address pressing contemporary issues such as climate change.

“My co-editors and I frame A Research Agenda for Animal Geographies as a call-to-action for animal geographers to use their scholarly insights and their activist engagements to address socio-ecological crises, to facilitate positive change, and to ensure allyship with the most vulnerable nonhuman and human animals,” Hovorka explains. “This volume, then, helps readers understand how animals are so wrapped up with human lives, circumstances and structures that we barely see them; our treatment of animals – and indeed our mistreatment of them – is at the root of the grand challenges of our time, be it the climate crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic or anti-Black racism. Ultimately, precarious, unjust and unsustainable human-animal relations lead to compromised health for animals, people and the planet.”

An important read for animal and human geographers, this will be a foundational text for emerging scholars interested in critical perspectives on human-environment relations and societal dynamics. Its grounding in historical evaluation, discussion of scholarly innovation in the field and the opportunities to reflect on the topic in a time of socio-ecological crisis will also be helpful for more established scholars.

International Political Economy and Ecology Summer School explores the transnational political economy of race

Robin D.G. Kelley featured

Every year since 1991, York University has hosted the International Political Economy and Ecology (IPEE) Summer School organized by the Department of Geography, the Department of Political Science and the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change. Professor Leo Panitch of the Department of Politics, who passed away in late 2020, was among the founders of the IPEE Summer School, an event that presents a unique interdisciplinary opportunity for graduate students at York – but also for students and activists across Canada and beyond – to investigate a salient issue within the field of political economy and ecology.

This summer marks the 30th anniversary of the IPEE Summer School at York University, which will feature a dynamic panel of artists and scholars exploring social, political, historical and cultural topics. This year’s guest professor for the seminar titled “Freedom Dreams: Approaching the Transnational Political Economy of Race” is Robin Davis Gibran Kelley, a Distinguished Professor of History and the Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in U.S. History at UCLA. In addition to Kelley, a number of prominent scholars of the global political economy of race will be giving presentations that will be recorded for public viewing, including Himani Bannerji (York), Tony Bogues (Brown University), Glen Coulthard (University of British Columbia), Andrea Davis (York), Vijay Prashad (Tricontinental Institute), Rhoda Reddock (University of the West Indies) and Alissa Trotz (University of Toronto).

On Reparations and Decolonization

Robin Davis Gibran Kelley
Robin Davis Gibran Kelley

On June 29 at 7:30 p.m., Kelley will give a public lecture via Zoom, titled “On Reparations and Decolonization.” Troubled by how the current discourse or “plans” for reparations do not, for the most part, challenge the terms of racial capitalism, Kelley will revisit the question of reparations, which he examined in his book Freedom Dreams two decades ago. Following a brief discussion of the history of reparations movements, he will explore how, as the reparations movement becomes legitimized, its scope may be narrowed to be consistent with neoliberal thinking and capitalism, including the logic of property rights and compensation without radical transformation. As such, reparations discourse may exclude Indigenous dispossession, potentially derailing struggles for decolonization. He will also explore the meaning of decolonization and the larger question of repair: What is required to reverse 500-plus years of history and to make a new world? How may we think of reparations and decolonization as processes complimentary to one another, rather than at odds?

This event is free and all are welcome to attend. To register, visit yorku.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJcvdOmpqzsuHt1PmfHjTFr5SLq2ReJl7DrX.

Visualizing Freedom Dreams

John Akomfrah
John Akomfrah

On July 8 at noon, join Kelley, whose book Freedom Dreams explores the Black radical imagination, in conversation via Zoom with Ghanaian British filmmaker and artist John Akomfrah, creator of Vertigo Sea – a stunning meditation on the whaling industry, the slave trade and the current migrant crisis – and Canadian multidisciplinary artist Bushra Junaid, whose piece Two Pretty Girls… brings to life the entanglements between Newfoundland and the legacies of plantation.

Bushra Junaid
Bushra Junaid

In a public dialogue titled “Visualizing Freedom Dreams,” moderated by Julie Crooks, head of the department of Arts of Global Africa and the Diaspora at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), they will explore what it means to visualize freedom dreams, placing their own contemporary work in dialogue with historical images contained in the Montgomery Collection of Caribbean Photographs recently acquired by the AGO.

This free event is produced in partnership with the AGO and the Montgomery Collection. All are welcome to attend. To register, visit ago.ca/events/art-spotlight-visualizing-freedom-dreams.

For more information about the IPEE Summer School, visit political-science.gradstudies.yorku.ca/ipee-summer-school.

Grounded Project launches with film premiere and panel discussion, June 10

Migrant worker

More Than Migrants movie posterJoin York University’s Las Nubes Project on June 10 at 6 p.m. to celebrate the launch of the Grounded Project, a new pan-University and international research collaboration, with the virtual film premiere of More than Migrants.

The film screening will be followed by a panel discussion on the social determinants of health of migrant workers, chaired by York Professor Mathieu Poirier, the film’s academic lead, with guest panellists Susana Caxaj (Western University), Douglas Barraza (Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica and Universidad Técnica Nacional de Costa Rica) and York  Professor Felipe Montoya, director of the film.

This free event is open to the public. Attendees should RSVP online at go.yorku.ca/groundedproject.

More than Migrants follows the lived experience of nine people striving to make a new life for themselves and their families in Costa Rica. The stories, told in their own words, reveal the strength and resilience needed to overcome the challenges of building a new home with dignity and well-being. The documentary offers viewers a deeper understanding of the lives of migrants and the complex issues they face.

This film was made by the Las Nubes Project in the Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change (EUC) and the Faculty of Health (FoH) at York University, in collaboration with the Universidad Técnica Nacional de Costa Rica and York Libraries, and with the financial support of EUC, FoH, York International and York Libraries.

The Grounded Project is a series of short documentaries filmed in rural Costa Rica on issues around environmental sustainability, biodiversity conservation, health and human well-being, with the idea of revealing structural elements that constrain the pursuit of social and ecological well-being as well as the opportunities that these grounded experiences offer for alternative ways of living. For more information about the Grounded Project, visit lasnubes.euc.yorku.ca/grounded-project.

Non-traditional theses becoming new tradition for Faculty of Graduate Studies

FEATURED image Research theses
FEATURED image Research theses

Syrus Marcus Ware
Syrus Marcus Ware

Twenty 12-foot by five-foot graphite portraits of disabled arts activists in Canada form part of the dissertation that recently earned Syrus Marcus Ware his PhD from York University.

Accompanying the portraits are an exegesis of scholarly articles about critical race theory and reflections on disabled arts in Canada. His work is titled Irresistible Revolution, something he believes disabled artists are creating through their work.

Ware’s non-traditional approach to his dissertation is becoming more common across Canada. A 2018 report by the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies promoted rethinking the dissertation, and the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) at York has picked up the baton and run with it, creating its own task force to explore ways of easing the way for different approaches.

“We want to minimize any obstacles in their [students’] paths and consider how best to ensure that the research infrastructure is in place to support them,” said FGS Associate Dean, Academic, Mark Hayward. “There has been an implied preference for text on pages for historical reasons, but that may not be the appropriate means for allowing the strength of a scholar’s work to be captured.”

Illustrations from Syrus Marcus Ware PhD dissertation
Images from Syrus Marcus Ware’s PhD thesis. From left, portraits of Thandi Young, Josh Vettivelu and Queen Tite. Image courtesy of Syrus Marcus Ware

Charlotte Henay, a recent PhD graduate in humanities, now an assistant professor in Women’s and Gender Studies at Brock University, is eager to see such flexibility become ubiquitous, infusing all of York’s graduate programs.

“Research is an inquiry-based process and should be open to form and format,” Henay said. “You may not know what form the work will take until you engage with it. That needs to show up in practice, as opposed to faculty members having predetermined expectations – and support of different approaches should begin early in the PhD process.”

Charlotte Henay
Charlotte Henay

Henay’s own dissertation is titled All of My Peoples’ Bones Are Here: Talking to the Dead as Poesis for Afro-Indigenous Futurities, and it comprises poetics, the ready-made avant-garde and hypertext in an interdisciplinary process Henay calls mash-up methodology. Her research encompasses co-creation and reciprocity and also employs memorying, the “active process of talking and relating to the dead as a way of reimagining reality.”

“I knew my work was going to be a creative product, and remained committed to this throughout,” Henay said.

A tradition of support for non-traditional theses is what attracted Ware, an artist, scholar and assistant professor at McMaster University, to York’s Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change (EUC) as the home for his graduate studies.

“I knew EUC had attracted artists in the past and would offer me an opportunity to do arts-based work,” Ware said.

Being receptive to non-traditional theses is increasingly important, said Kean Birch, associate professor and graduate program director for the Science & Technology Studies program, because only 40 per cent of graduate students go into academia, so their dissertations need not be geared toward that end.

“There are alternate ways of doing and presenting research that help graduate students get jobs and pursue careers outside of academia,” Birch said. “There is lots of opportunity to do theses with more practical applications that will be useful in non-academic careers.”

Another reason is that, as singer Bob Dylan would say, “The times, they are a-changin’.”

Kean Birch
Kean Birch

“There is more of an opportunity to do different things, partly due to technology, partly due to society,” Birch said. “For example, graduate students may create graphic novels or fictional narratives based on their research.”

Hayward agreed, noting, “As an institution, we want to support innovation. We need to value different kinds of experience and expertise that can go into a dissertation.

“Expanding how we think about dissertations across the University fits well with the already established structures of graduate education. That a committee of faculty members, rather than just an individual, provides support to a student, is a way of ensuring that multiple voices contribute advice to a student as they develop their research. If we recognize the value of a diversity of perspectives in the development of a project, we should equally value the full diversity of outcomes that might arise as part of research.

“Programs at the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) have been doing this for a long time,” he added, “so I hope, in the coming years, the University can expand dialogue in this area, building on that experience. For instance, we need to consider how we’ll support non-traditional work in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields and how non-traditional work might affect PhD examinations.”

Once a dissertation is prepared in a non-traditional format, preservation and long-term storage also becomes an issue. York Libraries preserves a copy and has an agreement with Library and Archives Canada to retain a copy, too. Text-based dissertations in PDF format take up much less storage space than artwork or film, for example, said Anna St. Onge, director of digital scholarship infrastructure for York Libraries.

“We’ll be having conversations about preservation, because some of these products are so complex,” she said, “but we at York want to celebrate and foster non-traditional approaches, encourage innovation and have bold topics.

“There is already so much great work being done by AMPD; as an institution, we’re trying to keep up with scholars’ creativity.”

For graduating students who hope to parlay their dissertations into performances, exhibitions or book contracts, subject to clearance by FGS, St. Onge and her colleagues can store the work under embargo so that it is preserved but not public for a period of time.

“When dissertations are stored in York Space, students don’t realize how public it becomes,” she said. “Their work immediately shows up in Google searches. It makes the audience global.”

Hayward and FGS are determined to reduce obstacles students may encounter when submitting final projects at the master’s and PhD levels that involve multiple forms of media.

“We want to move away from a place where students are afraid to ask about producing non-traditional work because they fear the University’s answer will be ‘no’ to a place where we can have conversations about what the possibilities are.”

By Elaine Smith, special contributing writer, Innovatus

York University celebrates its researchers

Research Leaders FEATURED image 2021
Research Leaders FEATURED image 2021

One of the most anticipated events of the academic year, the York Research Awards Celebration, took place May 11. While the event was held virtually due to ongoing pandemic restrictions, the format still offered a wonderful opportunity for researchers to pay tribute to their colleagues and applaud the recipients of the 2021 President’s Research Awards.

This annual celebration was cancelled in 2020 due to the emerging crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. One year later, mass vaccinations are hinting that there will be an end of the pandemic. Organizers decided to proceed with the celebration, which was offered over Zoom and co-hosted by the Office of the President and the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation.

Welcome remarks were delivered by President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton and Vice-President Research and Innovation Amir Asif. Lenton presented each of the 2020 President’s Research Awards. The 2021 award recipients were announced by Asif. The celebration also included a series of videos, which featured all of the 140 recipients from 2019 and 2020. Faculty of Health Professor Rebecca Pillai-Riddell, associate vice-president research, MCed the celebration.

The recipients of the 2020 President’s Research Awards are:

Christopher Perry
Christopher Perry

Christopher Perry, School of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Health, was selected for the President’s Emerging Research Leadership Award (PERLA) in Cluster 1: Engineering, Science, Technology, Health and Biomedicine, as a reflection of his outstanding leadership in and contribution to the fields of exercise physiology, metabolism and skeletal muscle health.

Since 2012, when he came to York University, Perry has contributed significantly to the success of the University, both internally and externally. He established the only human muscle biopsy lab at York, where he investigates the basic cellular mechanisms of muscle fitness and applies these discoveries toward developing novel therapies to treat muscle weakness disorders.

In 2016, he was elected to serve as a director, academic, for the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, Canada’s major authority in exercise science and prescription. This society focuses on integrating state-of-the-art research into best practice. It comprises professionals interested and involved in the scientific study of exercise physiology, exercise biochemistry, fitness and health.

Perry was the recipient of the 2017 Faculty of Health Research Award (early career). He has also received multiple internal and external awards, including funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Ontario Research Fund, the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada, the James H. Cummings Foundation, the Rare Disease Foundation and industry funding.

Theodore J. Noseworthy
Theodore J. Noseworthy

Theodore Noseworthy, Schulich School of Business, was chosen for the President’s Emerging Research Leadership Award (PERLA) in Cluster 2: Social Science, Art & Design, Humanities, Business, Law and Education Cluster), for his extraordinary leadership and contribution to the fields of marketing and consumer studies. As the Canada Research Chair in Entrepreneurial Innovation and the Public Good, he develops insights that inform business and policy-makers about the benefits of effectively communicated innovation and the potential costs to susceptible consumers and society. He examines how marketers can better communicate product and service innovations to maximize adoption and awareness. This work focuses on new product design and innovation, as well as product categorization, category ambiguity and visual processing.

In 2012, Noseworthy was appointed scientific director of the NOESIS Innovation, Design & Consumption Laboratory, a world-class behavioural lab at Schulich, to extend his primary research programs. The NOESIS lab is intended to foster innovative research into consumption, consumer behaviour and design. Noseworthy has developed this lab with the specific goal of conducting high-quality research, training skilled personnel and facilitating knowledge mobilization. Broadly speaking, Noseworthy’s research program is designed to help combat Canada’s innovation deficit by helping the private sector transfer knowledge into commercialized products and services to grow the economy.

Debra Pepler
Debra Pepler

Debra Pepler, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health, was selected for the President’s Research Impact Award (PRIA) for her innovative contributions to psychology and mental health in the areas of bullying, aggression and violence, especially among marginalized children, youth and families.

In recognition of these contributions, Pepler was named an Officer of the Order of Canada by the Governor General. She is the only psychologist recognized by the Canadian Psychological Association for distinguished contributions to both psychology as a science and public or community service.

Pepler received a Network of Centres of Excellence grant to establish PREVNet – Promoting Relationships & Eliminating Violence Network, funded from 2006-19. She built this interdisciplinary network with her former PhD student Wendy Craig (Queen’s University), with over 120 researchers, 150 graduate students and 62 national organizations. PREVNet’s researchers and partners co-created over 150 resources for bullying prevention and healthy relationships. PREVNet was the culmination of Pepler’s decades of research linking science with practice and public policy for children’s healthy development and healthy relationships.

Pepler’s research embedded in clinical and community settings has real impact on the lives of children, youth and families. She has a strong publication record, having written or co-edited 10 books and more than 200 journal articles, chapters, and reports. In 2007, Pepler was recognized as a Distinguished Research Professor by York for her groundbreaking research.

York University Distinguished Research Professor Eric Hessels receives the 2020 CAP Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Physics. Photo by Paola Scattolon
Eric Hessels (image: Paola Scattolon)

Eric Hessels, Department of Physics & Astronomy, Faculty of Science, was chosen to receive the President’s Research Excellence Award (PREA) in the Engineering, Science, Technology, Health and Biomedicine Cluster, for his exceptional contribution to atomic, molecular and optical physics.

Hessels, York Research Chair in Atomic Physics and a York University Distinguished Research Professor, has led numerous research projects that have far-reaching consequences for the understanding of the laws of physics. He is leading a collaboration whose goal it is to use ultraprecise measurements of the electron to study one of the fundamental unresolved questions of physics.

In 2019, Hessels led a study published in the esteemed journal Science, which found a new measurement for the size of the proton at just under one trillionth of a millimetre. The study confirmed the 2010 finding that the proton is smaller than previously believed. The year before, Hessels led a team that achieved the most precise measurement of the fine structure of helium ever recorded. His researchers had been working on this for eight years.

Hessels is now leading a collaboration (EDMcubed) that is attempting to measure the shape of the electron – or, more specifically, whether its charge is evenly distributed. This measurement will try to shed light on one of the fundamental mysteries of physics: why the universe is made entirely of matter (electrons, protons etc.) and, unexpectedly, has no antimatter (anti-electrons, antiprotons etc.).

The recipients of the 2021 President’s Research Excellence Awards are:

Pouya Rezai
Pouya Rezai

Pouya Rezai, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Lassonde School of Engineering, was selected as the recipient of the President’s Emerging Research Leadership Award (PERLA) in Cluster 1: Engineering, Science, Technology, Health and Biomedicine.

The award demonstrates the complexity and relevance of Rezai’s research in utilizing science and engineering concepts built on the fundamentals of fluid mechanics, material engineering, electronics and microbiology to tackle pressing global challenges in both the health and safety sector, and in the field of bioengineering. His impact on his discipline is demonstrated by his receipt of funding as a principal investigator that spans Tri-Council, industry and provincial sources.

His research has resulted in 47 journal papers, seven book chapters, two issued and two submitted United States patents and 50 conference papers. His achievements were recognized by the prestigious Early Researcher Award from the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation & Trade in 2019 as well as the I. W. Smith Award from the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering in 2021.

Rezai joined York University in 2013 and initiated a graduate program in Mechanical Engineering at Lassonde in 2015 while serving as the graduate program director since 2015. His work has earned four competitive best paper conference awards, the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada Visiting Fellowship in 2012, and multiple awards obtained by his students in the past five years. His work has also been recognized in 2017 and 2018 by the Early Researcher Lassonde Innovation Award and the Early Researcher Lassonde Innovation Fund. He provides leadership in his innovative research program and his mentorship and supervision. He has built international connections and his engagement has raised York University’s research profile.

Rebecca Bassett-Gunter
Rebecca Bassett-Gunter

Rebecca Bassett-Gunter, School of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Health, is the recipient of the President’s Emerging Research Leadership Award (PERLA) in Cluster 2: Social Sciences, Art & Design, Humanities, Business, Law and Education. The award illustrates her leadership in the field of research on the promotion of physical activity among children with disabilities.

Bassett-Gunter has developed an interdisciplinary program of research that has made contributions to the fields of behaviour change psychology, physical activity promotion, health communication and knowledge translation.

Since joining York in 2013, she has published 42 papers in leading journals, and she has shared her research at numerous conferences throughout Canada and internationally. In 2018, she earned the prestigious Early Researcher Award from the Ontario Ministry of Research & Innovation.

Bassett-Gunter has secured significant external research funding in competitive, peer-reviewed grants as both a principal investigator and co-investigator from major granting agencies, including the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Her mentorship impact is evidenced by the success of her students, many of whom have had their research published in leading journals and have secured Tri-Council and other funding. Bassett-Gunter provides leadership in her innovative research programs and in her mentorship and supervision. She has built international connections and her engagement has raised the research profile of York University.

Carl James
Carl E. James

Carl E. James, the Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community and Diaspora, Faculty of Education, was selected as the recipient of the President’s Research Impact Award (PRIA). James is the senior advisor on equity and representation in the Office of the Vice-President of Equity, People & Culture.

James is a leading Canadian scholar and researcher in the areas of equity and inclusivity in education, community development, immigration policies and settlement, and critical ethnography. In relentlessly documenting and addressing inequities related to Black and other marginalized groups, James has become internationally renowned for tackling and naming issues of racial inequity, and forging evidence-based policies and actions through innovative participatory research.

His track record clearly speaks to his strong success in designing and carrying out funded programs of research, including ministry, Tri-Council, corporate, school board, foundation, and community-based grants and contracts. He successfully engages his graduate students, involving them in writing and presentations, as co-authors of scholarly work and as active partners in knowledge mobilization activities.

In 2008, he founded the York Centre for Education & Communities, which he directed until 2018. James’ impressive scholarly output includes over 20 authored and co-authored, edited and co-edited books; over 130 book chapters and articles in refereed journals; reports, reviews and educational resources; and hundreds of presentations and workshops. With research that reaches a wide range of audiences, from scholars to policy-makers to the public, and that has undoubtedly enhanced York’s research reputation, James is most deserving of the 2021 PRIA.

Jennifer Hyndman
Jennifer Hyndman

Jennifer Hyndman, Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change, was selected as the recipient of the President’s Research Excellence Award (PREA). The award is in recognition of her outstanding accomplishments and leadership as an internationally recognized scholar of human displacement, humanitarian response, feminist geopolitics and refugee subjectivity.

In January 2021, she was appointed associate vice-president research in the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation. Hyndman has been an exceptional leader in building research programs at York University and in training the next generation of scholars. From 2013 to 2019, she served as director of York’s Centre for Refugee Studies, expanding its mandate and strongly supporting faculty to compete successfully for funds to facilitate innovative research and publish in top peer-reviewed journals and books.

Hyndman is a prolific scholar whose list of publications – in peer-reviewed journals and with esteemed book publishers – is extensive. Most recently, she co-authored, with York Professor Emerita Wenona Giles, Refugees in Extended Exile: Living on the Edge (Routledge, 2017). She has two monographs, Managing Displacement: Refugees and the Politics of Humanitarianism (Minnesota University Press, 2000) and Dual Disasters: Humanitarian Aid after the 2004 Tsunami (Kumarian Press, 2011), plus a co-edited volume with Giles, Sites of Violence: Gender and Conflict Zones (University of California Press, 2004). She has conducted community-based research, applied work for the United Nations and governments, and is one of York’s most highly cited scholars in the social sciences and humanities.

To view the program for the 2020 Research Awards Celebration, click here. To view the program for the 2021 Research Awards Celebration, click here.

To learn more about Research & Innovation at York: follow us at @YUResearch; watch the new animated video, which profiles current research strengths and areas of opportunity, such as artificial intelligence and Indigenous futurities; and see the snapshot infographic, a glimpse of the year’s successes.

New student-driven initiative offers a hub for students to take action on the SDGs

glass planet in a forest with sunshine – Usa map

A new student-driven initiative launched by York University’s Sustainability Office is helping students of all disciplines learn about the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and take action to help achieve them – both on and off-campus. The SDGs are a cornerstone of Building a Better Future, the University Academic Plan 2020-2025.

The SDG Student Hub was launched in fall 2020 as part of the partnership between York and the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) to bring world-class initiatives in sustainable development to its communities. The SDSN works with universities and other knowledge centers to help them activate sustainable development initiatives through knowledge mobilization; problem-solve partnerships with governments, business and civil society; and encourage local social entrepreneurship.

Althea Reyes
Althea Reyes

“The SDG Student Hub is a semi-physical, semi-virtual space in which university students can learn about, engage with, and take action on the SDGs,” says SDG Coordinator Althea Reyes, who spearheaded the SDG Student Hub initiative at York. “Students can meet fellow students who share a passion for the Sustainable Development Goals and interact to share ideas, collaborate on solutions, and meet professionals working in sustainability.”

Students can join the SDG Hub to network with other students at York University and other SDSN-member universities, learn critical skills and earn credits towards the SDG Students Program Certificate, a non-credit certificate jointly developed by SDSN Youth, the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens and the SDG Academy. “The certificate is not only a designation of a student’s engagement in the SDGs at the local level, but also a way of developing a deeper understanding of how the SDGs apply to their specific career pathway,” says Reyes.

To earn the certificate, students must fulfill requirements in three components focusing on learning about, engaging with and taking action on the SDGs.

“We plan two types of events to help students achieve the certificate: ‘Education,’ which helps students achieve the engagement component of the certificate, and ‘Solutions,’ which helps students achieve the action component,” explains Reyes. “These events provide students with not only a space to learn more about the SDGs, but also the opportunity to network with an array of professionals and speakers.”

Reyes, a third-year undergraduate student in International Development Studies who is also completing a Professional Certificate in Emergency Management, leads a team of eight other student officers at the Hub. During the Hub’s inaugural year, the team has organized seven events that raise awareness and promote student engagement with the SDGs. The “Ready for 2030? SDG Seminar Series” hosted a series of bi-monthly seminars exploring the challenges and opportunities to achieve the chosen ‘SDG of the Month,’ focusing on how the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact. Seminars so far have centered on “Inequalities and Sustainable Recoveries” (SDG 10) and “The Future of Food Systems” (SDG 2), which featured guest speaker Roderick J. MacRae, a national food policy expert and professor at York’s Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change (EUC).

Another successful initiative was the Climate Solutions Lab Workshop held this spring, an interactive design thinking-based workshop where participants proposed ambitious climate solutions for the City of Toronto. The event featured a keynote address by Mark Terry, EUC contract faculty, award-winning documentary filmmaker, and lead of the Youth Climate Report. Participation in the workshop counted towards the ‘action’ component of the SDG Students Program Certificate.

In recognition of Earth Day, the Hub hosted a virtual Open House on April 22 that celebrated the first year’s successes, shared exciting plans for next year, and offered information on how students can get involved.

Student members of York’s Hub are also encouraged to network and collaborate with peers at other SDG Student Hubs across Canada and the world. From April 23-25, student members have the opportunity to attend the first-ever Global Virtual Summit hosted by SDSN Youth, where attendees will develop leadership skills and gain insight into social entrepreneurship. Students will also bring their sustainability ideas to the forefront and learn how to scale their projects. York students from the SDG Student Hub, alongside team members at the University of Waterloo, will make up one of only 16 project teams chosen to present at the prestigious summit.

Beyond engaging students on the SDGs, involvement in the Hub offers an invaluable opportunity for students to develop critical skills that help prepare them for their future careers.

“This initiative gave me the opportunity to develop a range of professional skills, including my interpersonal, communication, organization and overall leadership skills,” says Reyes.

She notes that the community and camaraderie she has found while working with her team at the SDG Student Hub has been the highlight of her experience and says that she is looking forward to continuing her involvement next year as a senior SDG coordinator.

“Overall, I am most looking forward to working with some of my officers again next year; I couldn’t ask for a better team to work with,” she says.

The SDG Student Hub, in collaboration with the Office of Sustainability and the Carbon Free Cooperative, is hosting a Student SDG Design Jam on Saturday, May 1, 2021 from 11 to 2 p.m. Students can sign up here.

By Ariel Visconti, YFile communications officer