York entrepreneurs recognized by award, prime minister

BEA Demo Day image BANNER

York University alumni Yemi Ifegbuyi (BA ’10) and Zainab Williams (BA ’07) are among the top three Black entrepreneurs named the winners of a startup pitch competition hosted by the Black Entrepreneurship Alliance (BEA) founded by the Black Creek Community Health Centre in partnership with York University’s YSpace.

The competition, the inaugural BEA Investment Bootcamp Demo Day, is the final assignment of a four-month program run in partnership with YSpace for early-stage and capital-ready, Black-led startups.

The Investment Bootcamp program is aimed at supporting Black-led tech startups with training, mentorship and fundraising insights to secure early capital. With a community-driven approach, the program offers curated content and resources to support entrepreneurs through educational workshops, one-on-one coaching and peer founder circles, which provides a safe and open space for founders to connect and receive support.

The nine startup finalists in the BEA Investment Bootcamp program
The nine startup finalists in the BEA Investment Bootcamp program.

Applicants to the competition were narrowed down from the 17 Black entrepreneurs who participated in the program to nine finalists who pitched their businesses to a live audience at an event on Feb. 1 celebrating Black excellence.

The Demo Day event, which also marked the start of Black History Month, was attended by a number of government officials, including Filomena Tassi, the minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. Judy Sgro, member of Parliament for Humber River – Black Creek, was also in attendance and was impressed by the entrepreneurs. “Witnessing the dedication and leadership of these young entrepreneurs has not only inspired me, but it reaffirms my belief in the incredible potential of our community’s future leaders,” she says.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with first place winner Yemi Ifegbuyi
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who met finalists at a special event before the awards were announced, with first-place winner Yemi Ifegbuyi.

First-place winner Ifegbuyi will receive $5,000 toward his business, Cozii Technologies, an artificial intelligence-driven property management platform tailored to multi-unit landlords. Ifegbuyi immigrated from Nigeria about 15 years ago and received his degree in international development and urban studies at York as well as a master’s degree in entrepreneurship and innovation. As a founder known for his entrepreneurial drive, Ifegbuyi is excited for the future as his business continues to grow.

“This fund will be channelled into our sales and marketing endeavours, with the goal of reaching and serving more small- and medium-scale rental property owners and managers,” he says. “It’s not just a cash prize. It’s an investment in Cozii Technologies’ vision to revolutionize the way we approach property management.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with second place winner Zainab Williams
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with second-place winner Zainab Williams.

Second-place winner Williams, the founder of Fundevolve Inc., a pioneering platform dedicated to empowering women in their financial journey, will receive $3,000 to further her company. Williams developed her passion for business while studying business administration and management at York. Born out of an investment gone wrong, Williams became an independent financial planner and was determined to empower individuals to make the right financial decisions. Her business is quickly building momentum as she works to further develop the web-based platform and equip women with the tools to take control of their financials.

“We plan to use the prize winnings for testing before launching our platform,” says Williams. “This investment in security ensures not only our project’s safety but also our users’ trust.”

Both Ifegbuyi and Williams cite the boot camp’s collaborative spirit as a contributor to their startup’s success. “Participating in the program has been a transformative journey,” says Ifegbuyi. “The unwavering support and mentorship we received are catalysts for long-term growth.”

Special guest Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also attended a private event – where York President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton was also present – held before the awards to meet the finalists and learn more about their businesses.

“Meeting Justin Trudeau was a great honour and opportunity,” says Ifegbuyi. “It symbolized the recognition of our hard work and the federal government commitment to supporting the Black entrepreneurial community. It’s a reminder that our efforts are making an impact, and it inspires us to continue pushing boundaries and striving for excellence in everything we do.”

Both BEA and YSpace offer several innovative programs and events for entrepreneurs at all stages, including curated programming dedicated to under-represented groups like Black entrepreneurs and women founders.

To learn more about this partnership, visit BEA’s website at YSpace.

Schulich ExecEd expands health-care training partnership in Guyana

Schulich ExecEd Guyana group photo

Schulich ExecEd, an extension of the Schulich School of Business at York University, is building upon its existing partnership with the Government of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana by launching a new Guyana-Schulich ExecEd Masters Certificate in Physician Leadership Program and kicking off a second cohort of the Schulich ExecEd-Guyana Masters Certificate in Hospital Leadership Program. Both programs are set to begin their virtual classroom sessions this month.

Representatives from Schulich ExecEd travelled to Guyana last month to celebrate the new program launch with members of Guyana’s government. The attendees from Schulich ExecEd were: Rami Mayer, executive director; Dr. Susan Lieff, program director; Jeff MacInnis, facilitator; Robert Lynn, associate director; and Ai Hokama, program co-ordinator.

“I am excited to announce the continuation of our partnership with the Government of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana,” said Mayer. “Together, we are pioneering transformative learning programs focused on social innovation that are aimed at equipping health-care leaders with essential skills crucial for navigating the evolving landscape of health care in the Guyana region.”

The Schulich ExecEd-Guyana Masters Certificate in Hospital Leadership Program focuses on fortifying the administrative skills of health-care workers, equipping them with the knowledge to effectively manage health-care facilities, resources and personnel. Its sister program, the Guyana-Schulich ExecEd Masters Certificate in Physician Leadership Program, is a direct response to the needs of physicians in the region. The goal is to build up physicians’ leadership abilities, improve their decision-making skills, and sharpen their capacity to manage health-care facilities and resources. 

“These programs have been specifically designed to empower health-care professionals in Guyana and enhance the quality of health-care services they provide to their patients,” said Frank Anthony, Guyana’s minister of health. “We are grateful for the co-operation of the Ministry of Public Service and the Government of Guyana in delivering this training to the participants free of charge.”

Schulich ExecEd’s ongoing mission with this partnership is to transform Guyana’s health-care system to deliver more equitable, accessible and enhanced health care. The shared vision of these partners is to develop better health care and physician leaders in Guyana and to provide innovative health-care solutions to improve patient outcomes across the country. Program participants hail from all 10 regions of Guyana, including the country’s Indigenous communities.

“Our programs are meticulously designed to fill critical gaps in business education, addressing skill needs not traditionally covered in medical school,” explained Mayer. “We are committed to empowering physicians and health-care leaders with the tools to manage difficult conversations, solve complex problems, foster collaboration, lead effectively and elevate the overall quality of care in the country.”

Both programs are expected to graduate their current participants in September of this year.

For a closer look at the Schulich ExecEd team’s celebratory trip to Guyana last month, visit vimeo.com/901964260/c095aa81b2?.

Federal grant supports innovative project to improve Canadian digital health care

Medical,Healthcare,Research,And,Development,Concept.,Doctor,In,Hospital,Lab

A three-year grant totalling $500,000 will fund a collaborative project between York University Professor Maleknaz Nayebi and RxPx, a company that creates and supports digital health solutions.

Maleknaz Nayebi

Naybei is a professor in the Lassonde School of Engineering in the Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science and a member of the Centre for Artificial Intelligence & Society (CAIS). CAIS unites researchers who are collectively advancing the state of the art in the theory and practice of artificial intelligence (AI) systems, governance and policy. The research includes a focus on AI systems addressing societal priorities in health care.

The funding, awarded by the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada’s Alliance Grant program, will support the development of the Digital Health Defragmenter Hub (DH2).

Alliance Grants support university researchers collaborating with partner organizations to “generate new knowledge and accelerate the application of research results to create benefits for Canadians.”

This collaborative project aims to address the intricate challenges within the Canadian digital health-care landscape by integrating advanced software engineering principles with machine-learning algorithms.

The project’s goal is to develop a software platform dedicated to digital health services. Currently, digital health services are designed and offered in isolation from other social, economic or health services, says Nayebi, adding that this results in inharmonious digital health care where many services overlap, while many pain points and requirements remain untacked.

“Lack of co-ordination among providers, the inability of patients to choose services and make open decisions, the rigidity of the market toward digital innovations and isolation of providers are known as the main barriers in the Canadian digital health-care ecosystem,” says Nayebi. “In this ecosystem, the physicians act as service-supply-side monopolists, exercising significantly more power than their demand-side patients. A survey conducted by Price Waterhouse Cooper showed the unpreparedness of the ecosystem, where only 40 per cent could envision a collaboration with other organizations. This further leads to increased inequality within the health-care system. In contrast, 62 per cent of American-based active health-care organizations had a digital health component in their strategic plan.”

DH2 is a platform that brings together open innovation in health care, allowing health-care providers to deliver personalized services to the public. The project is aimed to provide software and AI-based technology that makes digital health services more affordable and accessible to a broader population, integrates innovative business strategies for new entrants or low-end consumers, and creates a value network where all stakeholders benefit from the proliferation of innovative technologies.

“DH2 serves as a marketplace where not only can individuals with basic health-care services contribute, but it also features AI-driven matchmaking services, connecting patients with the specific demands of health-care providers and caregivers,” says Nayebi.

In this capacity, DH2 addresses the defragmentation in the wellness and health ecosystem by enabling users and user communities.

“DH2 goes beyond just connecting people; it also uses machine learning to help patients make informed decisions about their digital health-care options. Such platforms can act as the governing and strategic solution for leading market and innovation, and provide faster time to market by assisting providers in their deployment, distribution and monetization processes. They provide even access to information for all parties and effectively reduce inequalities.”

In addition, platforms add to the geographic diversity of participants. Moreover, says Nayebi, the platform enhances the diversity of participants across different geographic locations, establishing an ecosystem that enables quicker responses to disruptive events such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

From practising law to innovating health care: York prof harnesses potential of genomic medicine 

Collage showing DNA, medicine and more

By Ashley Goodfellow Craig, YFile editor 

York University Assistant Professor Ian Stedman says the diagnosis of his first-born daughter’s rare disease likely saved his life – and now, he’s focusing his work on helping to do the same for others across Canada.

Ian Stedman
Ian Stedman

The Osgoode Hall Law School alum and lawyer – appointed as assistant professor in the School of Public Policy & Administration in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, with graduate appointments at Osgoode, in Science and Technology Studies and in Socio-Legal Studies – is a co-applicant on a $15-million project that aims to disrupt the current health-care model through the development of a first-of-its-kind national genomics database. 

The Pan-Canadian Human Genome Library (PCHGL), funded through a five-year grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, will bring together human genome sequencing initiatives across the nation to enhance the collective well-being of people in Canada. 

It will have huge implications for health care, says Stedman, especially for those living with rare diseases and struggling to find a diagnosis – an experience he’s lived through. 

Beginning at a young age, Stedman suffered from a host of symptoms that grew in severity as he got older – frequent rashes, periodic fevers, headaches, bloodshot eyes, arthritis and eventually hearing loss – that had doctors and specialists stumped for more than 30 years. 

Looking back over his health records from the first 18 years of his life, Stedman noted 190 separate visits to his family doctor, walk-in clinics and specialists – not to mention the many visits to emergency departments when his pain became unbearable – that had him seeking answers to his ongoing progressive illness. 

“So, my story is 30 years undiagnosed, having no idea what was going on, and then just giving up,” says Stedman. 

That was, until his daughter Lia began exhibiting similar symptoms during her first year of life. When her health declined a few months before her first birthday, she was brought to the SickKids emergency room, which marked the beginning of their diagnostic journey together.

Ian Stedman's daughters Ivy, Ainsley and Lia.
Lia (right) with sisters Ivy (left) and Ainsley (middle).
Lia Stedman
Ian Stedman’s daughter Lia.

In 2014, both father and daughter were diagnosed with a one-in-a-million genetic disorder called Muckle-Wells syndrome (MWS), a member of the family of genetic disorders known as cryopyrin associated periodic syndromes. Thought to be the 12th and 13th in Canada to receive the diagnosis – with the confirmation of Lia’s MWS leading to his same diagnosis – Stedman learned that if left untreated, the syndrome results in premature death before the age of 36 for one in three people.  

He was 32. 

After diagnosis, and with the realization that his daughter had potentially saved his life, Stedman began his advocacy work through the Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders, where he forged connections with those in the health-care space. He met computer scientist Michael Brudno from the University of Toronto, who, at the time, was the scientific director for SickKids’ Centre for Computational Medicine and co-founder of PhenoTips, a Toronto-based team that provides software and services to genetic health-care providers. 

PhenoTips takes your genetic information and your list of symptoms and uses machine learning to search for other individuals with the same symptoms (phenotype) to then compare whether there are similarities in the related genomes (genotypes). The goal is to offer a potential differential diagnosis or to reveal a possible genetic marker for future research. 

After hearing Stedman’s story at a conference, Brudno approached him and asked if he could digitize his medical records. 

“He wanted to run my information through PhenoTips to see whether the software would be able to suggest a diagnosis,” says Stedman. “It took the software eight visits to figure out what was wrong with me … because he had a dataset of genomes that he could run it against, and so that was the moment where I thought, ‘OK, I’m not just doing law, I’m doing law and health policy now.’ ” 

This experience inspired Stedman to pivot his professional focus and learn how to actualize this type of groundbreaking health-care tool for all Canadians.

Ian Stedman with daughter Lia. Both father and daughter are in good health with the right treatment for their diagnosis of a one-in-a-million genetic disorder called Muckle-Wells syndrome.
Ian Stedman with daughter Lia. Both father and daughter are in good health with the right treatment for their diagnosis of a one-in-a-million genetic disorder called Muckle-Wells syndrome.

“It took me 32 years to get a diagnosis, and it doesn’t seem like it has to be like that anymore. If I could enter the health-care system now, and if that system was allowed to learn from everyone’s health data, I could be diagnosed in one visit,” he says. “It’s actually my mission in life to figure out how that could be possible so that people like me – those coming up behind me – don’t have to tell a story like the one I tell.” 

Drawn to the possibility of creating positive change in the health-care landscape, Stedman became more involved in advocacy work, learned more about health research, joined several boards related to rare diseases and genetics in medicine, and advanced his learnings as a social scientist in a new discipline. 

Now, Stedman will lead a team responsible for patient partnership, participant engagement, training and outreach for the national genome database PCHGL.  

Stedman emphasizes the significance of involving patients in scientific research and highlights the need for patient involvement, and education, in the PCGL initiative. This approach challenges the traditional health-care model and aims to enhance the role of patient partners. 

The project provides an opportunity to empower patient partners in various aspects of the initiative and seeks to ensure their voices are heard in matters including technical decisions, ethics and policymaking.  

Stedman will also contribute to a working group overseeing ethical and regulatory compliance for the library to meet its goal to collect, store and improve access to Canadian genomic data in a way that is equitable, secure and sustainable. 

One of the key questions of the project is “How do we build a more inclusive genomic infrastructure in Canada?” says Stedman. 

“Part of our project is to look at who is represented and who is not represented in the genomes we’ve sequenced in this country. With this library, we can start to take control over improving our representation within the data.” 

Dr. Guillaume Bourque, director of the bioinformatics department at the McGill Genome Centre, will lead this initiative, collaborating with researchers from various partnering institutions. The database project is an extension of the Government of Canada’s Drugs for Rare Diseases Strategy. Its aim is to create a centralized genome library that reflects Canada’s diverse population and empowers researchers and health-care professionals with invaluable insights. 

“The real vision of this library is that it’s going to break down all the silos, so when someone gets diagnosed in Ontario, their doctor can say, ‘Let me go to the library and see what’s out there. Let me see who I can find, and whether they’ve consented to be contacted. Let me see if I can find other physicians who are affiliated with those genomes,’ ” says Stedman. “And it’s a lot easier, because it’s one massive registry.” 

The library will be behind a secure infrastructure that allows researchers and medical professionals to access information, but not remove it. There are interdisciplinary experts in data infrastructure, ethics and governance, patient partnership and operating principles teaming up to realize this shared vision for this life-changing resource. 

The team already has commitments from a few groups willing to share, with patient consent, genomic data. The hope is that within two years, PGCL will be close to launching. 

“When you realize the power genomic data holds to help improve people’s health – and when you’ve lived that realization – it’s a lot easier to buy into the big idea,” says Stedman. “It’s visceral, it’s real. That’s what makes this project so powerful and that’s what I think will ultimately make this library successful.” 

Stedman also serves on the executive of both the Centre for AI & Society and Connected Minds (CFREF) at York University. 

Osgoode prof advocates for access to legal information

Office clerk searching for files in a filing cabinet drawer

Osgoode Hall Law School Assistant Professor Patricia McMahon is calling for key changes to Canada’s Access to Information Act after it took her more than five years to acquire information about a significant court case that dates back more than 100 years.

Patricia McMahon
Patricia McMahon

McMahon said certain provisions in the law are stifling research and she is organizing an interdisciplinary group of fellow academics to advocate for changes to the law.

“When I started this project, I had no idea that it would be harder to get information about what happened during the First World War than it was to get access to the documents I relied on to do my PhD dissertation on nuclear policy,” she said. “We’re trying to come up with some easy fixes that could make a big difference in the way access-to-information claims are processed.”

McMahon filed the first of several access requests in 2011, when she started researching an article about the use of habeas corpus during the First World War. She decided to focus on two cases heard by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1918 and filed an access-to-information request for the respective Department of Justice files. The cases were brought by two farmers – George Gray from Ontario and Norman Lewis from Alberta – who challenged the federal government’s move to revoke exemptions from compulsory military service when conscription failed to raise a sufficient number of troops to fight overseas.

She received almost the entire file on the Gray case but nothing for the Lewis case because, the government stated, it contained personal information. When she challenged that finding, she received about half the file. The rest was withheld on the grounds of solicitor-client privilege. It took five years to get the full file.

McMahon said different government officials review different access-to-information requests, even ones that are related like hers, and often come up with different conclusions as to what and how much can be released. That’s why she received most of the Gray file but had problems getting documents from the Lewis file, notwithstanding that each contained the same types of records.

“When in doubt, people typically take the cautious and most conservative approach and don’t release documents,” she said. “Everybody is afraid of releasing something that shouldn’t have been released.”

She said the interdisciplinary group of scholars she has helped to organize is hoping to shed light on the problems that the Access to Information Act is posing for researchers.

“It’s not just about access for journalists, which is really important,” she said, “but it’s also affecting the work that social scientists and others can do.”

McMahon said the group hopes to hold a symposium in the spring that will give researchers an opportunity to discuss the access-to-information problems they’re facing and some possible solutions.  

For McMahon’s research, the challenge was the way government relied on solicitor-client privilege to withhold select documents.

“Solicitor-client privilege survives for all time and belongs to the client,” she explained. “In the case of government lawyers, the government is the client. Solicitor-client privilege is a discretionary ground under the Access to Information Act, which simply means that government may withhold documents but has the discretion to release them, too.”

In McMahon’s view, solicitor-client privilege should not be used to protect government documents from permanent scrutiny. Even a temporal limit – like 20 or 30 years – would go a long way toward improving the situation.

“Whether the right amount of time is 20 or 30 years is a matter of debate,” she said, “but few could think it justified to withhold documents from researchers that are almost 100 years old.”

Employment Equity Report 2022 now available

Two women chatting over coffee

The Annual Employment Equity Statistical Report for 2022 details the workforce analysis for equity-identified groups at York University. The report for the period Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2022 is now available here: Employment Equity and Diversity.

The report highlights representation at York University for the four federally designated groups – women, Indigenous Peoples, racialized persons and persons with disabilities – under the Employment Equity Act, and representation rates for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. It also highlights some of the employment equity initiatives undertaken in 2022 and identifies future employment equity goals.

As part of its obligations under the Federal Contractors Program, the University is required to conduct a workforce analysis to identify areas of under-representation of designated group members in its workforce. The Annual Employment Equity Statistical Report details this workforce analysis.

The report also notes the recommendation from the Decolonizing, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy to develop a pan-university employment equity action plan. The action plan would include benchmarks for recruitment, hiring and retention of equity-deserving individuals, as well as qualitative and quantitative reporting mechanisms, with the goal of increasing representation, career progression, success and retention across all employee groups. 

To find out more about Employment Equity at York and to view past reports, visit: yorku.ca/vpepc/employment-equity-and-diversity.

k2i academy’s Bringing STEM to Life empowers young minds

Two young woman work on a technical project

Bringing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to Life, a program run by the k2i (kindergarten to industry) academy at York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering, allows students entering grades 11 and 12 to participate in a one-month paid summer research experience while earning an Ontario high-school course credit in physics or English. This year, 100 per cent of high-school students earned their credit with a cumulative course median over 91 per cent across all programs.

Bringing STEM to Life, a work-integrated learning program, was designed in collaboration with the Toronto District School Board, York Region District School Board and Peel District School Board, with a specific focus on providing opportunities for students from marginalized communities. Black and Indigenous youth, students from priority communities and girls, who are traditionally underrepresented in STEM, were invited to partake in the program, to help break down systemic barriers and create more equitable access to STEM education.

“Together with our valued school boards, teachers, undergraduate students, faculty members and Lassonde staff, we are united as a community in our collective efforts to address inequities in STEM career pathways and open up opportunities for high-school students,” says Jane Goodyer, dean of Lassonde.

K2i academy Lisa Cole
Lisa Cole

“By creating a program where students can gain valuable work experience while earning a high-school credit, especially a prerequisite credit to STEM pathways, we help level the playing field for those who may otherwise have been pushed out of post-secondary STEM pathways,” says Lisa Cole, director of programming for k2i academy.

Throughout the summer, students worked as high-school lab assistants together with a dedicated team of undergraduate STEM student mentors, k2i academy staff, Lassonde faculty advisors, as well as high-school physics and English teachers. Guided by the program’s focus on sustainable development, students explored diverse research topics such as robotics, to understand space, designing smart power grids for sustainable cities and engineering brain-like tissue for simulations and testing.

The program culminated in a symposium at the end of the summer, which provided an opportunity for young researchers to showcase their hard work and present their findings to a wider audience, discussing their research and its potential impact on society, the environment and various industries.

The event aims to not only celebrate the students’ accomplishments, but highlight the importance of collaborative efforts between educational institutions, government bodies and private organizations to advance STEM education and empower young minds to shape a sustainable and equitable future.

k2i academy’s partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Education has enabled this program to reach 400-plus high-school students with a team of 130-plus undergraduate STEM student mentors since June 2020.

“The Ministry of Education’s partnership with k2i academy has become one of the most consequential relationships that the ministry has,” says Patrick Case, assistant deputy minister of equity secretariat at the Ministry of Education. “This program is the face of change in STEM – breaking down barriers and opening doors that were previously closed for so many deserving but often overlooked young people. This is what change looks like.”

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.

Four York researchers receive grants for knowledge mobilization projects

Aspire lightbulb idea innovation research

Four York University researchers have been awarded 2023 Connection Grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for various knowledge mobilization projects, ranging in topic from local Indigenous history education to youth affected by conflict in Africa to corporate social responsibility and sustainability.  

Connection Grants support events, workshops and outreach activities that often lead to longer-term research projects and enable scholarly exchanges with academic and non-academic partners, and collaboration between the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.

The York recipients for this latest round of funding include Jennifer Bonnell, Alan Corbiere and Annie Bunting, professors in the Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, and Barnali Choudhury, a professor at Osgoode Hall Law School.

“York University is a national leader in knowledge mobilization efforts and these successful grant recipients exemplify our research community’s exceptional talents in this area,” said Amir Asif, vice-president research and innovation at York. “With SSHRC’s support, our faculty members can more broadly engage, collaborate and share their work with the public. Congratulations to Dr. Bonnell, Dr. Corbiere, Dr. Bunting and Dr. Choudhury as they apply their research in ways that create lasting positive change.”

Bonnell and Corbiere’s project, “Changing the Narrative: Connecting Indigenous and Settler Histories at Black Creek Pioneer Village,” received $43,911. The project brings together a team from York, the University of Toronto and Black Creek Pioneer Village, a history museum, to mobilize SSHRC-funded research to support the development of a permanent exhibition and associated programming on the Indigenous history of the northern Greater Toronto Area and its interconnections with settler history at Black Creek Pioneer Village.

Bunting’s project, “Youth and Gender Violence – Health and Gender Justice,” received $25,000. Bunting and her team will organize virtual workshops with youth and young adult survivors of violence in several African countries in crises (Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia), researchers, filmmakers and practitioners working with youth to develop a research program that focuses on intergenerational trauma and psycho-social needs of youth affected by conflict.

Choudhury’s project, “Sustainability impacts of Canadian companies,” received $17,776. The grant will support a conference that will bring together scholars from around the world to collaborate on ways to better address Canadian corporations’ impacts on sustainability issues. The conference will look to develop legislation and other regulatory vehicles to address corporate responsibility and feature a keynote speech by a member of the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights.

The York researchers were among 66 recipients across the country to receive funding.   

York collaborates on international post-pandemic recovery research

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

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

Claudia Chaufan
Claudia Chaufan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more, visit https://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/funding-financement/nfrf-fnfr/special/2022/award_recipients-titulaires_subvention-eng.aspx.