York to address climate impact on vulnerable communities

Climate change ecololgy global warming

A groundbreaking social innovation initiative that aims to drive positive change at the intersection of climate change, housing and poverty reduction will launch at York University’s Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change (EUC), thanks to funding from Gore Mutual Foundation and a partnership with Social Innovation Canada (SI Canada).

The $1-million fund, announced Oct. 12, will support the development of the Climate and Equity Lab at York to better understand the impacts of climate change on vulnerable Canadians in urban environments.

In Canada, climate change is imposing an increasingly disproportionate impact on vulnerable groups, and factors such as poverty significantly impact the likelihood of recovering from extreme weather events.

As part of the project, EUC has appointed Niloofar Mohtat, a full-time postdoctoral Fellow, to work to identify gaps through existing research and assist in developing new research to explore how the effects of climate change may exacerbate inequalities faced by Canada’s most disadvantaged populations. A small team of EUC graduate students will also be engaged in the project, which will include research design, scoping reviews and facilitated discussions with participants in Canada.

“In Canada, low-income communities are at a disproportionate risk of loss and damage due to extreme climate events, such as heat and flooding,” said Mohtat. “Many of them live in old rental buildings with old infrastructure, located in neighbourhoods with limited access to green spaces and services. They spend a high proportion of their income on housing, so they do not have sufficient financial resources to invest in insurance or retrofit their settlements.”

The collaborative project aligns with the University’s Academic Plan and priorities for action, and supports its commitment to build a more just and sustainable future.

This year, Gore Mutual Foundation introduced its $1-million Equity Acceleration Fund to support charitable organizations focusing on the interconnection of poverty, equity and climate change.

“We quickly identified a troubling lack of investment in the understanding of the impact climate change is having on vulnerable groups,” said Gaby Polanco Sorto, vice-president and head of purpose and sustainability at Gore Mutual Insurance Company. “Our partners in the Climate and Equity Lab share the same values, urgency and vision to make our findings public and inspire others to take action alongside us. We are thrilled to embark on this journey together.”

Gore Mutual Foundation will act as the lead sponsor of the Climate and Equity Lab, while SI Canada, a national charitable organization working to address complex challenges and create transformational change, will act as the project lead, responsible for the management of the project’s deliverables and leading the facilitation of the labs. As the academic partner, EUC will provide the research team that will work to mobilize research into climate action.

“The research from the Climate and Equity Lab will serve as a crucial tool to inform policymakers, offering clear innovation and investment opportunities developed in collaboration with the communities most affected by climate change,” said Alice Hovorka, dean of EUC.

After a year of planning, phase one of the Climate and Equity Lab’s multi-year initiative has begun, with stakeholder workshops set to take place in Vancouver, the Waterloo Region and Toronto over the next nine months.

“This collaborative effort marks a significant step toward comprehending the complex connection between climate change and vulnerable groups. In collaboration with these communities, we will work towards creating a more equitable and resilient future for all Canadians,” said Andrea Nemtin, chief executive officer of SI Canada.

EUC Climate Seminar examines populist environmentalism

image shows a forest and stream

The next instalment of York University’s Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change (EUC) 2023-24 Climate Seminar, taking place on Oct. 19 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in 140 Health, Nursing & Environmental Studies Building, features geographer Kai Bosworth speaking about the role of populist environmentalism in contemporary struggles for climate justice.

Kai Bosworth
Kai Bosworth

Bosworth, an assistant professor of international studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, will present a talk titled “Pipeline Populism and the Climate Cycle of Struggles: 2010-2020,” which will describe the rise and demise of left-populist environmentalism as one tendency within the “cycle of struggles” over climate in the 2010s. This tendency, he says, can be found in Upper Midwest pipeline opposition movements, in moves towards mass mobilization such as the People’s Climate March, and in student and youth movements advocating for a Green New Deal.

Bosworth’s book, Pipeline Populism: Grassroots Environmentalism in the 21st Century (University of Minnesota Press, 2022), examines pipeline opposition movements in the central U.S. and the ways they have transformed the politics of climate justice. It argues that while a form of environmental populism challenges the climate movement’s history of elitism, it also remakes hierarchies of race, class and nation to compose its political subjects.

York University’s Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change is bringing climate crisis scholars and activists to the University on a regular basis through its Climate Seminar. All are welcome to attend, either in person or virtually via livestream. Those interested in attending can register at tinyurl.com/4zshzzw5.

Alumni Awards recipients powerful examples of positive change

Audience clapping

For more than two decades, the York U Alumni Awards have been a platform for celebrating alum who embody the principles of York University, have left an indelible mark on their respective fields and have contributed positively to the world.

This tradition of recognizing the remarkable accomplishments of alum will continue Nov. 15, when this year’s distinguished awardees will be honoured at a ceremony.

Each year, the York University Alumni Awards recognize outstanding alum who have achieved the extraordinary and are working to right the future by creating positive change in their fields. The Awards celebrate the broad York alum community of innovators, activists and researchers and its long-standing commitment to the public good.  

This year’s recipients are Harry S. LaForme (LLB ‘77, LLD ‘08), Fatima Israel (MBA ‘06), Flavien P. Joubert (MES ‘03) and Temo Primrose Gare (BA ‘12).

“This year’s recipients represent the positive contributions York alumni are making around the world,” says Julie Lafford, assistant vice-president, Alumni Engagement. “In addition to their many accomplishments, exceptional leadership, philanthropic support and meaningful engagement with the alumni community, the 2023 award recipients continue to set an example for future generations of students and alumni alike. It will be a pleasure to honour them this fall at the Alumni Awards ceremony.” 

Outstanding Contribution: Harry S. LaForme (LLB ‘77, LLD ‘08) OC, IPC, senior counsel, Olthius Kleer Townshend LL.P 

This award goes to an alum who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of York and its students through exceptional service, commitment and/or philanthropic contributions.

Harry S. LaForme
Harry S. LaForme

Harry S. LaForme is a retired judge who received a bachelor of laws and a doctor of laws from Osgoode Hall Law School. In 1994, he was appointed a judge of the Superior Court of Justice, making him one of three Indigenous judges to be designated to this level of trial court in Canada at the time. He dedicated his career to furthering the rights of Indigenous Peoples, Canada’s 2SLGBTQ2IA+ communities and the rights of all other marginalized groups living in Canada. In 2004, LaForme became the first Indigenous judge to be appointed to an appellate court in Canada with his appointment to the Ontario Court of Appeal. 

During his tenure, LaForme specialized in Indigenous law with a focus on Constitutional and Charter issues and represented Canadian Indigenous interests internationally. In 2018, LaForme retired from the judiciary and currently works as senior counsel with Olthius Kleer Townshend. LaForme has received honorary degrees from various universities and numerous accolades, including the National Aboriginal Achievement Award in Law & Justice and the Order of Canada. He’s also published numerous articles on issues related to Indigenous law and justice and speaks frequently on Indigenous issues, Indigenous law, constitutional law, and civil, equality and human rights.

Outstanding Achievement: Fatima Israel (MBA ‘06), EY Canada chief marketing officer

This award goes to an alum who has achieved distinction in their field and whose integrity and ability inspire alumni, faculty, staff and students.

Fatima Israel
Fatima Israel

Fatima Israel is a marketing officer with a master of business administration degree from the Schulich School of Business who is transforming the industry with her expertise in professional services, telecommunications, technology, health services and fintech. Israel is an advocate for putting people at the heart of transformation to drive innovation, catalyze progress and deliver on purpose. She boldly combines ambitious ideas with insights to build a better working world for her clients and communities. 

Her passion for leadership and advancing the marketing community has earned her awards from the Canadian Marketing Association and the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business. Israel strives to channel this passion to support the next generation as an executive mentor and advisory council member for the American Marketing Association, a mentor for the EY Women’s Athlete Business Network and a regular judge for marketing industry award programs.

Tentanda Via: Flavien P. Jourbert (MES ‘03), minister for agriculture, climate change and environment on the island of Seychelles

This award goes to an alum who has demonstrated innovative, unconventional, and daring leadership and success, reflecting the University’s motto “The way must be tried.”

Flavien P. Jourbert
Flavien P. Jourbert

Flavien P. Joubert currently serves as the minister for agriculture, climate change and environment on the island of Seychelles. Before attaining his master’s degree in environmental studies at York University, Joubert completed his higher national diploma and graduate studies at the Manchester Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom. During his studies, Joubert rediscovered one of the rarest bat species in the country and co-wrote two research papers on the subject. In his role as minister, Joubert has continued to promote research and conservation on bat species.  

Joubert’s career with the Ministry of Environment began in 1996, where he held several key positions, including director general for Wildlife Enforcement and Permits, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Seychelles National Parks Authority and CEO of the Landscape & Waste Management Authority. Internationally, Joubert has represented Seychelles in many fora related to chemicals and waste, and he served as a prominent figure in the Basel and Stockholm Conventions. He also played instrumental roles in initiatives around chemical safety in Seychelles. In 2015, Joubert was recognized by the United Nations Environment Programme for his leadership at the Eighth Conference of the Parties to the Nairobi Convention. In 2020, he was appointed minister for agriculture, climate change and energy.

One to Watch: Temo Primrose Gare (BA ‘12), journalist, television host, executive producer, Fibe TV; founder, Okavango Media

This award goes to an alum who has made a significant impact in their field and/or community within 15 years of a bachelor’s degree or 10 years of a professional/graduate degree.

Temo Primrose Gare
Temo Primrose Gare

Temo Primrose Gare is a journalist, accomplished television host and executive producer with years of experience in the media industry. Gare received a bachelor of arts from York University, where she laid the foundation for her passion for journalism and communication. She later pursued her master of media in journalism and communication at Western University. In 2018, Gare was honoured with the Raveena Aulakh Memorial Award in recognition of her academic achievements and contributions to journalism and communication.

Since completing her studies, Gare has worked at CTV News, BNN Bloomberg and NewsTalk, and produced two television shows for Rogers Communications and Bell Media. Gare currently serves as the host and executive producer of the television show “Our Stories” and is the founder of Okavango Media, her production company that provides a space for her to shape and amplify compelling stories that resonate with audiences on a deeper level.

About the awards

The York U Alumni Awards were inspired by Bruce Bryden, who was an exceptionally committed and influential leader at York University for many years. He was a member of York’s first undergraduate class, was the founding president of the York University Alumni Association (now the York University Alumni Board/YUAB) and was a member of the York University Board of Governors. The York U Alumni Awards recognize and honour his vision, exemplary leadership and extraordinary achievements.

For information about The York U Alumni Awards, visit yorku.ca/alumniandfriends/connect/events/yorku-alumni-awards.

Exceptional scholars earn Dahdaleh Global Health Graduate Scholarships

Global health

Ten scholars will advance York University’s growing global health research community as recipients of the 2023-24 Dahdaleh Global Health Graduate Scholarship.

The program was created to support graduate research and related scholarly and creative activities in line with the three themes of the Dahdaleh Institute: planetary health; global health and humanitarianism; and global health foresighting. The scholarship is granted annually to graduate students who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement in global health research.

This year, the Dahdaleh Institute renews seven exceptional scholars and welcomes three new graduate students from the Faculty of Graduate Studies, the Lassonde School of Engineering and Osgoode Hall Law School.

2023-2024 Dahdaleh graduate scholarship recipients
2023-24 Dahdaleh graduate scholarship recipients

This year’s new recipients are:

Alexandra Scott – The Myth of “Good Enough”: Law, Engineering, and Autonomous Weapons Systems

Scott is a PhD student, Dahdaleh Global Health Graduate Scholar, and Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council doctoral Fellow at the Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. Scott’s work explores the development and deployment of autonomous weapon systems (also known as “killer robots”) under international law and the role that engineers play in both.

“Beyond providing me with the financial means to pursue my PhD studies, my involvement with the Dahdaleh Institute has already allowed me to not only collaborate with and learn from esteemed academics, but become involved with research areas I had long hoped to delve into but could never quite figure out how,” says Scott. “The Dahdaleh Institute has already opened several doors to me and I am thankful to be part of such a welcoming and supportive program.”

Caroline Duncan – Optimizing Water Safety in Cambridge Bay Using Participatory System Dynamics

Duncan is a PhD candidate in civil engineering with a strong focus on optimizing drinking water in the Arctic using participatory approaches to system dynamics modelling. As part of the Lassonde School of Engineering, and under the guidance of Professor Stephanie Gora, her research seeks to understand the complex factors that affect the quality and accessibility of drinking water in the Arctic using an interdisciplinary and participatory approach.

Through her research, Duncan will work closely with the Municipality of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, collaborating with community members, government and non-governmental organization stakeholders involved with drinking water from source to tap. Through this collaboration, a model will be developed to test treatment and policy interventions to optimize drinking water safety.

Eyram Agbe – Digital deprivation: ICT education and social vulnerability in Ghana

Agbe is a master’s student in the Development Studies program. Her research seeks to understand the diverse psychosocial impacts of COVID-19 on basic school teachers in Accra, Ghana, and how these factors affect their ability to support new curriculum implementation as schools have returned to in-person classes. This study seeks to centre the critical role that social vulnerability plays in education, specifically how teachers’ health outcomes are situated within contentions over techno-political visions by stakeholders.

With the commencement of a new school year, the Dahdaleh Institute is excited to see the continued excellence and remarkable research of all the Dahdaleh Graduate Scholars. Those renewed will be exploring the following research areas:

  • Hillary Birch – More than Access: The urban governance of water quality in Lusaka, Zambia;
  • Michael De Santi – Improving Water Safety in Humanitarian Response with a Novel AI-Enabled Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment Model;
  • Nawang Yanga – Tuberculosis in Tibetan Refugee Settlements in India: Insights into Lived Experiences;
  • Nilanjana Ganguli – Assessing community resilience to the gendered health impacts of climate change in Malawi’s Lake Chilwa Basin;
  • Raphael Aguiar – Urban Political Ecologies of AMR and other interdependent threats;
  • Sukriti Singh – Building a Model of Global Mental Health Governance to Support the Mental Health of Health Professionals; and
  • Yuliya Chorna – Anthropology of global health policy-making and financing of Tuberculosis response.

To learn more about the research projects graduate student scholars are undertaking, visit yorku.ca/dighr/ten-exceptional-scholars-awarded-2023-2024-dahdaleh-global-health-graduate-scholarships.

Welcome to YFile’s 2023 New Faces feature issue

apple on teachers desk

In this special issue, YFile introduces new faculty members joining the York University community and highlights those with new appointments.

This fall, York welcomes new faculty members in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design; the Faculty of Education; the Faculty of Health; the Lassonde School of Engineering; the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies; the Faculty of Science; the Schulich School of Business; and Glendon College.

Liberal Arts & Professional Studies welcomes 34 new faculty members

Faculty of Health professors bring new perspectives on well-being

New Faculty of Science members to further York’s scientific innovation, impact

AMPD professors to shape the future of art

Schulich welcomes four new faculty members

New Lassonde faculty to advance cybersecurity, artificial intelligence

Faculty of Education’s new faces to shape future of teaching, learning

Glendon welcomes faculty member focused on translation studies

Government invests more than $15.5 million in York-led research projects

light bulb in front of colorful background

More than 30 projects led by York University researchers in the social sciences and humanities were awarded a combined total of $15,541,343 in federal funding from Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Grants, Partnership Development Grants and Insight Grants.

The funding, announced on Aug. 29 by the Randy Boissonnault, minister of employment, workforce development and official languages, on behalf of the François-Philippe Champagne, minister of innovation, science and industry, goes towards 33 projects, ranging from research on migrant labour and gender inequality in retirement to heritage design in Canada.

“This week’s funding announcement highlights the council’s faith in the high calibre of our researchers’ work, ranging from Indigenous circumpolar cultural sovereignty, ecological footprint, to renewable greener transition and policy gaps in international mobility, in collaboration with other local and international subject experts,” says Amir Asif, vice-president research and innovation at York. “I thank SHHRC for their support and I commend York’s research community for their ongoing commitment to creating positive change, both locally and globally.”

The new round of grants will support 605 social sciences and humanities research projects across Canada. Learn more about the York-led projects below.

Partnership Grants

SSHRC Partnership Grants support teams of researchers from post-secondary institutions working in new and existing formal partnerships with public, private or not-for-profit organizations. Through collaboration, sharing of intellectual leadership and resources by cash or in-kind contributions, the grants support work for four to seven years to advance research, training and knowledge mobilization in the social sciences and humanities.

Four York-led projects received a combined total of almost $10 million ($9,978,586) in funding.

Peter Victor, Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change
The International Ecological Footprint Learning Lab: Training, research and novel applications

Richard Saunders, Department of Politics, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
African Extractivism and the Green Transition

Leah Vosko, Department of Politics, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
Liberating Migrant Labour?: International Mobility Programs in Settler-Colonial Contexts

Anna Hudson, Department of Visual Art & Art History, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design
Curating Indigenous Circumpolar Cultural Sovereignty: advancing Inuit and Sami homelands, food, art, archives and worldviews

To learn more about the York-led projects, click here.

To view all Partnership Grant recipients, click here.

Partnership Development Grants

Partnership Development Grants support teams of researchers from post-secondary institutions working in a formal partnership with public, private or not-for-profit organizations for one to three years. The grants support research development, existing and new partnerships, knowledge mobilization, and related activities in the social sciences and humanities.

Eight York-led projects received a combined total of more than $1.5 million ($1,514,498) in funding.

Anna Agathangelou, Department of Politics, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
Building an International Partnership to Research and Address Reparative Justice in Post-Conflict Situations: Canada, Africa and Europe

Thi Viet Nga Dao, Department of Social Science, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
Slow violence and water (in)justice: Feminist political ecologies of intergenerational struggles in the Mekong region

Anne MacLennan, Department of Communication & Media Studies, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
Interrogating Canadian Identities/ L’identités canadiennes – une interrogation (ICI)

Jan Hadlaw, Department of Design, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design
The xDX Project: Documenting, Linking, and Interpreting Canada’s Design Heritage

Christopher Kyriakides, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
Refuge, Racisms, and Resistances: A Co-Created Analysis of the Experiences of Syrian and Ethiopian Refugees in Canada

To learn more about this project, click here.

Abigail Shabtay, Department of Humanities, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
Strengthening Participatory Drama-Based Research in Institutional, Community, and Educational Contexts

Susan Winton, Faculty of Education
The Public Education Exchange

Debra Pepler, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health
Walking the Prevention Pathway for Indigenous Communities’ Journey of Change

To view all Partnership Development Grant recipients, click here.

Insight Grants

Insight Grants are awarded to emerging and established scholars in the social sciences and humanities to work on research projects of two to five years.

21 York-led projects received a combined total of more than $4 million ($4,048,259) in funding.

Tasso Adamopoulos, Department of Economics, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
Inequality and Productivity in Developing Countries

Kee-hong Bae, Department of Finance, Schulich School of Business
Incentive-focused corporate culture

Anh Nguyen, School of Administrative Studies, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
Labour force aging and business vibrancy: Evidence and solutions for businesses and workers in Canada and around the world

Thanujeni (Jeni) Pathman, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health
How accurate is memory for time across childhood and adolescence? Theoretical and practical implications for forensic settings

Alexandra Rutherford, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health
Intersecting difference: Gender, race and sexuality in 20th century U.S. psychology

Robert Savage, Faculty of Education
Tackling two of the most important unresolved tasks in reading intervention

Marlis Schweitzer, Department of Theatre, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design
Decoding the Lecture on Heads: Performing Objects and Satire on the 18th-Century Stage

Simon Adam, School of Nursing, Faculty of Health
Entangled identities: Exploring neurodiversity through social media expression

Kean Birch, Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change
Digital Data Value Paradox: An Empirical Investigation of Personal Data Valuation

Antony Chum, School of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Health
Social and policy determinants of self harm across gender identities in Canada

Julia M. Creet, Department of English, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
Digital Afterlives

Robert Cribbie, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health
Extensions of Negligible Effect Statistical Testing

Ganaele Langlois, Department of Communication & Media Studies, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
The Art of Necessity: Making Sustainable and Just Worlds through Local Textiles

Brenda Longfellow, Department of Cinema & Media Arts, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design
Abolition Feminism: Collaborating Across Communities

Kinnon MacKinnon, School of Social Work, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
Detransition: Examining pathways and care needs

Jonathan Nitzan, Department of Politics, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
The capital-as-power fractal: toward a general theory of the capitalist mode of power

Yuval Deutsch, Schulich School of Business
Social capital, corporate social responsibility and corporate irresponsibility

Caitlin Fisher, Department of Cinema & Media Studies, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design
Mobilizing the arts for global health: a virtual museum of antimicrobial resistance

Kamila Kolpashnikova, Department of Design, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design
Gender Inequality in Retirement: Understanding Social Organization in Domestic Tasks

Palma Paciocco, Osgoode Hall Law School
The Gatekeeper and The Timekeeper: Regulating Expert Evidence and Trial Delay in Criminal Courts

Yan Shvartzshnaider, Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, Lassonde School of Engineering
Virtual Classrooms Privacy

To view all Insight Grant recipients, click here.

CFI funding supports professors developing sustainable future

hands holding a globe

A new engineering facility to develop innovative nanomaterials at York University is part of the latest round of research infrastructure projects to receive support from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF), announced by the federal government earlier this week.

Reza Rizvi, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the Lassonde School of Engineering, will oversee the facility alongside co-principal investigators Stephanie Gora, an assistant professor of civil engineering, and Marina Freire-Gormaly, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering.

The JELF investment, totalling $138,585, will enable the York engineers to utilize cutting-edge scientific techniques and conduct the precise analysis needed to develop innovative nanomaterials that address energy and environmental challenges, like climate change, clean energy generation and storage, e-waste, and water treatment and monitoring. The project is titled “Infrastructure for Innovative Nanomaterials for Energy and Environment.”

“I am grateful for CFI’s investment in our applied research to create a more sustainable future for Canada and the world,” said Rizvi, who specializes in the scalable manufacturing of advanced materials. “Nanomaterials have a critical role to play in technological solutions that will help protect our planet.”

The facility will be housed in a shared lab space at Lassonde and will feature: a confocal Raman microscope (a Bruker Senterra II), a laser-based device that allows for microscopic examination; and an infrared spectrometer (Bruker Alpha II), an instrument used to measure light absorbed by a material sample. The facility will also be used to train highly-qualified personnel, including graduate students and postdoctoral Fellows.

“Every day, researchers dedicate their knowledge and skills to addressing issues that are important to Canadians, including improving the environment, health care and access to education. They contribute to a better future for all Canadians,” said Roseann O’Reilly Runte, president and CEO of CFI. “At the Canada Foundation for Innovation, we are proud to support their efforts with well-designed labs and necessary equipment placed in the communities and environments where they will be the most effectively employed.”

The nanotechnologies developed by Rizvi, Gora, Freire-Gormaly and their teams will advance several United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including: good health and well-being (SDG 3); clean water and sanitation (SDG 6); affordable and clean energy (SDG 7); industry, innovation and infrastructure (SDG 9); responsible consumption and production (SDG 12); and climate action (SDG 13).

Other JELF-funded projects at York

Three other York researchers also received funding: Shooka Karimpour, an assistant professor of civil engineering at Lassonde, for “Infrastructure for High-Definition Microplatic Detection (HD-MPD) and Identity Analysis” ($126,254); and Adeyemi Oludapo Olusola and Joshua Thienpoint, assistant professors in the Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change, for “Landscapes in Transition: Environmental Sensitivities Due to Climate Change” ($198,161).

The York-led projects are among 396 research infrastructure projects to receive more than $113 million at 56 universities across Canada.

The CFI funding is part of a wave of recent investments made by the Government of Canada, supporting 4,700 researchers and research projects with more than $960 million in grants, scholarships and programs. “Through this funding, the Government of Canada is investing in the next generation of researchers and inspiring them to continue to think outside the box and tackle the challenges of today and tomorrow,” said François-Philippe Champagne, minister of innovation, science and industry.

For the full CFI announcement, visit innovation.ca/news/jelf-august-2023.

Students awarded Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships

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

The Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, presented by the Government of Canada, aims to support first-rate doctoral students studying social sciences and humanities, natural sciences and engineering, and health. This year, seven York University students have been named Vanier Scholars, earning them $50,000 annually for up to three years to support their research projects.

Candidates are evaluated based on three equally weighted selection criteria: academic excellence, research potential and leadership. This year’s scholars have proposed innovative solutions to challenging problems through their projects, each of which spurs positive change in their community, both locally and globally.

Marissa Magneson (Cree-Métis, citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario), Faculty of Education

Marissa Magneson
Marissa Magneson

Magneson’s application was ranked second out of 200 at the national competition for Vanier Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council files. Her proposed research contributes to the ongoing discourse of decolonial and artistic pedagogy, research-creation and Indigenous beadwork practices by challenging the ways education can look both inside and outside of the classroom.

Her project specifically seeks to uncover how beading supports Indigenous students in reclaiming culture, strengthening identity, fostering community, healing intergenerational traumas and developing a sense of belonging, while also contributing to Indigenous pedagogy through creative storytelling and supporting reconciliation.

“Beadwork as pedagogy actively responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, suggesting that beading not only strengthens identity but also fosters healing and reconciliation,” shares Magneson.

Greg Procknow, critical disability studies

Greg Procknow
Greg Procknow

Procknow’s doctoral research illuminates the experiential claims of inpatients found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder (NCRMD) to explore whether education leads to decarceration and to re-evaluate education as a non-psychiatric method for recovery.

His research will document the educative experiences of inpatients granted day-release privileges to pursue post-secondary education on campus to uncover what factors have facilitated or inhibited their inclusion in educational spaces, how education has advanced their recovery plans and how these inpatients perceive education’s role in qualifying them for an absolute or conditional discharge.

“This research is vital to learning how pedagogy impacts rates of decarceration, supports the reintegration of NCRMD into the community, reduces recidivism and rehospitalizations, and nurtures recovery,” opines Procknow.

Cole Swanson, environmental studies

Cole Swanson
Cole Swanson

Swanson’s PhD study will use material-based art to explore the dynamic ecology of a bird colony with a stigmatized reputation, the double-crested cormorants (Nannopterum auritum). Working against dangerous imaginaries on cormorants fuelled by religious, settler-colonial, and extractivist histories and politics, Swanson will examine life in the colony to illuminate the entanglements between avian, human and more-than-human worlds.

“Through socially-engaged art practice, the apparent divides between our species will be broken down, stoking empathy and a community-based investment in the well-being and protection of these ancient creatures and their colony constituents with whom we share our lands and resources,” says Swanson. 

The project will culminate in a multisensory art exhibition composed of photo, video and sound recorded from the colony, which will be shared with a diverse public for analysis useful in both scientific and social contexts.

Areej Alshammiry, sociology

Areej Alshammiry
Areej Alshammiry

Alshammiry’s project explores the practice of “double punishment,” where non-citizens or foreign-born individuals in Canada are criminalized and rendered deportable. The research particularly focuses on double punishment’s impact on those who are unremovable because they are stateless but inadmissible on the grounds of criminality.

“Driven by the politics of the War on Terror, these processes lead to increasing cases of statelessness by decisions like citizenship stripping of foreign-born persons or deprivation of citizenship to those without one,” states Alshammiry. “However, such measures often target already marginalized communities and are often arbitrary, as they are driven by racial, ethnic, religious and national discrimination.”

This innovative project undertakes the important work of revealing the lived experiences of stateless individuals and can positively contribute to policy frameworks on statelessness and abolition.

Jordan Krywonos, physics and astronomy

Jordan Krywonos
Jordan Krywonos

The PhD study proposed by Krywonos considers gravitational waves, which are ripples propagating across the fabric of our universe. As the gravitational waves travel, they carry information about their source, providing an avenue to study previously inaccessible sources such as an orbiting pair of primordial black holes that are proposed to compose a portion of dark matter. Thus, this groundbreaking research on gravitational waves could help illuminate the nature of dark matter.

“Given that the identity of dark matter is among the most important outstanding questions in cosmology, discovering primordial black holes would revolutionize our understanding of the universe, and provide a new means of probing its origin,” reveals Krywonos.

Austin Martins-Robalino, civil engineering

Austin Martins-Robalino
Austin Martins-Robalino

Martins-Robalino’s project investigates how new and emerging materials can be used in place of traditional materials when constructing shear walls, which are a key influence on how structures perform when subjected to loading from wind or seismic events. Martins-Robalino proposes that replacing traditional reinforcing steel rebar with a smart material like superelastic shape memory alloys and concrete with engineered cementitious composites could provide insight into making more damage-resilient and sustainable structures that recentre themselves after loading.

“Such resilient infrastructure would inherently improve the sustainability of structures, reducing the equivalent carbon emissions over their service life,” says Martins-Robalino.

This cutting-edge project can help with progress towards safer and more sustainable construction and communities in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Anna Waisman, clinical psychology

Anna Waisman
Anna Waisman

Waisman’s proposed research seeks to provide a novel, easily accessible approach to treating chronic post-surgical pain (CPSP). A study conducted at York University and the Toronto General Hospital, published in the journal Pain, with Waisman as the lead author, found that patients who recall a greater number of event-specific, pain-related autobiographical memories before surgery are significantly less likely to develop CPSP up to one year later.

Building on these findings, Waisman’s PhD project will develop a remotely-delivered intervention that will train individuals to be more specific in the retrieval of their memories after surgery, with the aim of preventing chronic post-surgical pain.

“This work addresses a significant public health need. By creating a brief and easily accessible intervention, our plan is to deliver effective pain management to virtually anyone with a computer,” shares Waisman.

EUC’s Sustainable Campus Tour shows York’s Keele Campus through a new lens

York University's Keele Campus from above

York University has long been known as a leader in sustainability, earning recognition as one of Canada’s Top 100 Greenest Employers for the past 11 years and being named among the world’s top 40 universities for advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by the 2023 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings.

For community members who are interested in learning more about how the University is leading the way in sustainable practices, York’s Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change (EUC) is offering a new, sustainability-focused tour of the Keele Campus following a pandemic-related hiatus. Below are some of the tour’s highlights.

Native Plant Garden

On the north side of the Health, Nursing and Environmental Studies (HNES) Building, find a beautiful, multifunctional garden that serves as a treasured habitat for wild animals and pollinators alike. Curious community members who don’t mind getting their hands dirty are welcome to volunteer their time to help maintain the garden.

Sky Studio Collective’s collaborative murals

Launched last November, “For the Birds” is an art project created by EUC students and teachers. Best viewed from the outer north side of the HNES Building, this project was part of a larger initiative by professors Gail FraserTraci Warkentin and Lisa Myers, who imagined ways that different classes could connect to help address an area of deep concern: migratory bird deaths resulting from reflective windows on campus.

Students from the Community Arts for Social Change course (ENVS 2122) designed murals for the windows, which were installed by students from various Faculties. Read the full YFile story about the project.

Maloca Community Garden

The Maloca Community Garden, on the outskirts of campus, features about 2,000 square feet devoted to both individual and communal plots for growing vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers using the principles of organic agriculture. The space is intended for all members of the University community to enjoy by growing their own food, hosting outdoor events or providing a unique setting for sustainable teaching.

Workshops and volunteer opportunities are also available, and no gardening experience is necessary. For more information, visit the Maloca Community Garden website.

Regenesis York

Regenesis, an environmental community organization with chapters in many Greater Toronto Area universities, opened a unique borrowing centre on York’s Keele Campus in January 2017. The centre, located in the HNES Building, operates like a library, allowing community members to borrow items such as tools, games, camping equipment, sports equipment and more.

Sustainable buildings

York boasts many examples of forward-thinking architecture, including five green roofs, the use of photovoltaic solar panels, the collection of rainwater and five buildings recognized with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, including the LEED Gold certified Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence and Schulich School of Business Rob and Cheryl McEwen Graduate Study & Research Building.

Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence
Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence

Public transit

One of the top priorities of York’s Transportation Services department has been to continuously work to improve public transit options to York and reduce the numbers of commuters using single-occupant vehicles. York has encouraged this shift through a number of alternative transportation initiatives: shuttle bus service between campuses; three bicycle repair stations; a green fleet program that includes electric golf carts, bikes, hybrid and electric vehicles; and the recent connection of the Keele Campus to the Toronto Transit Commission’s subway system in 2017 with two state-of-the-art stations on campus.

Electric vehicle (EV) charging stations

In partnership with Natural Resource Canada and FLO, York’s Keele Campus is now equipped with 18 EV charging stations, located in many of the parking lots across campus. For more details about where to find them, visit the Parking Services website.

Green spaces

A major standout out during the EUC Sustainable Campus Tour is the abundance of beautiful green spaces available to enjoy on York’s Keele Campus. From Stong Pond and Harry W. Arthurs Common to all the charming nooks and crannies along the Campus Walk, the benefits of being located outside of Toronto’s core couldn’t be any more apparent than during a mid-summer campus stroll.

For more information about the EUC Sustainable Campus Tour or to book one for yourself or a group, contact Brittany Giglio, EUC recruitment and liaison officer, at bgiglio@yorku.ca.

York professor takes a fresh look at climate change mitigation

image shows a forest and stream

York University Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change Professor Ellie Perkins co-authored a new paper in the Journal of Global Environmental Change investigating the role of quality of governance, social capital and equality as preconditions for enacting climate policies.

Ellie Perkins
Ellie Perkins

Climate change mitigation is typically assessed through the lens of technologies and policies; however, the paper “Designing a virtuous cycle: Quality of governance, effective climate change mitigation, and just outcomes support each other” investigates the role of governance and social capital in the creation of effective climate policies.

The researchers reveal that the quality of governance underpins social capital, interpersonal trust, equality and effective climate change mitigation policies. Conversely, socioeconomic inequalities were found to reduce trust and political engagement, and thus compromise the overarching goal of climate change mitigation. 

“My ongoing research and teaching on climate justice at all scales, from local to global, relate closely to the participatory, equity-oriented focus of this new paper,” says Perkins.

The team of researchers involved, including Felix Creutzig, a professor of sustainability economics at the Technical University of Berlin, used international data, estimates of social trust and other empirical evidence to demonstrate the correlations among social trust, good governance and effective climate change mitigation.

Perkins worked with some of the co-authors of this paper previously, on the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 6th Assessment Report, which was published last year and documented the close interrelationship evident in peer-reviewed literature between socioeconomic, equity-focused policies and successful climate policies.

“We traced several paths that help to explain this link, mostly involving social trust in fair governance, which is necessary for people to support and advance the extensive socioeconomic and political transformations involved in the energy transition beyond fossil fuels,” says Perkins.

“International colleagues bring diverse perspectives and insights on the central climate justice challenge,” she explains. “The high-emitters most responsible for climate chaos are those least likely to suffer its impacts.”

In addition, a “lack of social capital and impartiality is a major barrier to climate change mitigation in many countries,” the paper states. “As climate change mitigation is a global public good that can only be achieved together, this is troublesome news.”

The researchers are hopeful that their findings will help lead to positive change in future climate mitigation practices, with social systems as a core focus of policies and assessments, and international efforts to increase the quality of governance globally. Non-policy streams of climate action, such as renewable energy, should also be considered as a powerful tool.