Professor wins Petro-Canada Emerging Innovator Award

Molecule of DNA forming inside the test tube equipment

Bill Kim, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, has received the 2023 Petro-Canada Emerging Innovator Award to support his cutting-edge biological chemistry and genome editing research program.

While point mutations in DNA, caused by replication errors or environmental damage, are found in clinical samples from cancer patients, the role of most mutations in causing disease is unknown, impeding the development of new therapeutics. The award will enable Kim to develop new methods of creating genetic mutations in cells to better understand and treat diseases.

Bill Kim
Bill Kim

Leveraging a gene editing technology called clustered regular interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) and a CRISPR-derivative technology called “base editing” that he co-invented, Kim aims to target disease-associated DNA sequences in cell cultures and create various point mutations to study their impact on protein and cellular function. He will engineer a class of proteins known as DNA glycosylases, which remove the nucleotide bases within DNA; when bases are removed, the cell repairs them by introducing one of the four nucleotides in a semi-random manner. This innovative method will generate diverse mutations that can be studied further to understand their impact on disease. Kim’s approach is anticipated to be more efficient than the conventional base editing strategy he originally co-developed.

Kim is an emerging world leader in genome editing technology development. Throughout his scientific career spanning 11 years, his work on genome editing technology development has been published in world-class journals including Nature, Nature Biotechnology, Nature Communications and Science Advances, collectively accruing more than 5,400 citations. The CRISPR base editing technology that he co-invented is a revolutionary genome editing method that has gained widespread adoption in hundreds of laboratories worldwide. The technology was a finalist for Science magazine’s 2017 Breakthrough of the Year.

The Petro-Canada Emerging Innovator Award is given to outstanding new full-time faculty members beginning their academic career at York University. The awards program is a commitment by Petro-Canada (now Suncor Energy) and York University to encourage excellence in teaching and research that will enrich the learning environment and contribute to society.

YSpace partners with BDC to support future female leaders

A group of professional women standing together

York University will support and advance early-stage, women-led social impact businesses through a new partnership between YSpace, the University’s entrepreneurship and innovation hub, and BDC’s Thrive Lab, a new venture offering equity and equity-like investments for these impact-driven companies.

After building the one-of-a-kind, $100-million Thrive Lab over the past nine months, BDC – Canada’s bank for entrepreneurs – has announced investments, training and support for at least 100 ambitious, women-led businesses committed to delivering solutions to some of the world’s most pressing social issues.

The lab’s first phase will co-invest – alongside 25 partners from across Canada, including YSpace – in businesses at the earliest stages of development, where they face the most fundraising challenges.

As a partner, YSpace will help identify and validate women-led ventures within its portfolios as candidates for this funding and support. As a representative of York University, YSpace is also partnering with Schulich Startups, an initiative led by the Schulich School of Business Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship, to ensure that Schulich founders are also eligible and nominated. Thrive Lab is committing up to $250,000 in funding to help those companies accelerate, said Nafis Ahmed, entrepreneurship manager of YSpace.

“It’s a really good opportunity for our companies from YSpace. We have many women-led ventures that are looking for these investment opportunities and now they get a direct pipeline into the BDC program,” said Ahmed. “It’s helping them tap into extra funding opportunities that they didn’t have before. Our commitment to the founders is that we will be performing the due diligence process to prepare them for the BDC investment committee and provide up to 18 months of support should they be selected for investment.”

BDC has identified the first 25 partners as “changemakers for emerging companies.” Partners were selected based on their track record of supporting women entrepreneurs or their expertise in social impact, their capacity to deliver resources and their ability to reach women where they are across Canada, including in underserved communities.

David Kwok
David Kwok

“We are so excited to be partnering with BDC’s Thrive Lab to increase access to funding opportunities for women entrepreneurs across the country,” said David Kwok, director of entrepreneurship and innovation at YSpace and the Office of the Vice-President, Research & Innovation. “Our award-winning women’s entrepreneurship program ELLA has been a staple in the community supporting women-led ventures since 2019, and we recently went national this past year with our partners Innovation, Science & Economic Development Canada and Desjardins, supporting women from coast to coast. This partnership is strongly aligned with York’s UN SDGs focus on gender equality, and it also further demonstrates how YSpace and York University is a leading organization in supporting women entrepreneurs.”

BDC has earmarked $35 million for the first phase of the initiative. To be eligible, a business must be women-led, making a measurable positive impact tied to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) – such as food security and responsible agriculture, health and well-being, education, reduced inequalities, and responsible consumption and production – as well as actively raising capital and nominated by a Thrive Lab partner.

“Women entrepreneurs are under-represented and underfunded,” said Sévrine Labelle, managing director of Thrive Lab. “BDC aims to change that, and the fastest and most impactful way to deliver on that change is to work with organizations already rolling up their sleeves to support emerging women-led and social impact companies.”

Working collaboratively, the lab is designed to experiment and adapt and pursue new ways of providing support in line with the needs of women-led businesses.

The second phase will build on learnings from this initiative and ongoing feedback from partners and women entrepreneurs.

The Thrive Lab is part of BDC’s $500-million Thrive Platform. Announced in fall 2022, it is the largest investment platform in the world supporting women-led businesses. It includes three components: the $300-million Thrive Venture Fund, a $100-million Indirect Investment Envelope and the $100-million Thrive Lab.

York U Motion Media Studio a hub for future creative talent

YUMMS green screen studio

By Alexander Huls, deputy editor, YFile

The York U Motion Media Studio (YUMMS), supported by Cinespace Studios, continues to see growth as it offers courses, workshops, talks and critical hands-on experiential education for those in the York University community looking to become the next generation of content creators across creative industries.

Originally gifted to York’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) and York University in 2016 by the Mirkopoulos Family, the York U Motion Media Studio was branded and relaunched in its current iteration post-pandemic in February 2021. Located within Cinespace’s expansive content production complex in Toronto, YUMMS’ interdisciplinary studio space features a student lounge, two studios, a standing set, a green screen stage and state-of-the-art equipment provided by MBS Equipment Co. Its offerings are geared towards providing opportunities to receive hands-on experience with industry tools.

Students enrolled in AMPD courses have access to the space, and various courses – including production design, cinematography, virtual production, motion capture, creative producing and film production – integrate the space into the curriculum.

Ingrid Veninger
Ingrid Veninger

“We’re really on the ground with experiential education,” says Ingrid Veninger, director of YUMMS and associate professor in the Department of Cinema & Media Arts.

Beyond developing hands-on familiarity and mastering of filmmaking equipment, YUMMS intends to help students build up a resume of experiential accomplishments that will assist them with their future content creation careers. “The first thing they’re going to be asking you when you sit across an interview table will be, ‘What is your experience? What have you done? What sets have you worked on?’ ” says Veninger.

YUMMS empowers them with answers. It also aims to assist students navigating the industry by connecting them with creative professionals through the facility.

One way is through being located within the Cinespace complex – a hub of international filmmaking activity. “Our students and folks in the greater York U community can just open the door and look down the hall and see the world of productions swirling,” says Veninger. “They’re just one step away from the creative industries they want to be a part of.”

Another way is through workshops, masterclasses and programming like the YUMMS Industry Talks Series, a monthly career development and networking event, hosted in partnership with Cinespace’s CineCares program and OYA Black Arts Coalition, creating further opportunities to learn and form industry relationships. “We’re trying to help facilitate that extra step to foster meaningful connections, so that AMPD students can gain greater access, insight and opportunity to engage with our ever-growing on-screen industries.”

York U Motion Media Studio Industry Talk event
Ingrid Veninger moderating a session of the YUMMS Industry Talks series.

Veninger stresses that YUMMS isn’t solely meant for undergraduate students, however. “It’s a teaching, learning and research space for undergrad and graduate students, alumni and faculty researchers to utilize this invaluable resource for courses, labs, workshops, master classes and production,” she says. “The space is multifaceted. Media arts research faculty are building a three-panel installation on-site, graduate students are shooting thesis projects, AMPD alumni are returning to workshop feature film screenplays with actors, award-winning cinema and media arts instructors are launching new interdisciplinary courses like Shooting the Set, and more. We are continually receptive to new initiatives, which help us maximize the opportunity of this gift, originally from the Mirkopoulos family and now with TPG Real Estate Partners.”

Still relatively new, the use and awareness of the studio’s multiple offerings requires outreach through a variety of channels. In addition to social media, building excitement happens with students. “I’m sometimes surprised when I go into first- and second-year classes. And I’ll ask if they know about the Motion Media Studio and there will be crickets,” she says. “But as soon as I mention we are located at Cinespace, where award-winning features and shows have been produced – like ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ ‘The Umbrella Academy,’ Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water ­– their eyes light up.”

Awareness of YUMMS is changing quickly. As the University heads into the winter term, YUMMS currently has 13 student film productions booked back-to-back. “The space has never been more active. Our calendar is packed, which is a great problem to have,” says Veninger.

An ongoing $3.12-million investment of support, from 2022 by the Cinespace Film Studios, will continue to allow YUMMS to pursue its goals and build up momentum, not just to benefit those who use the studio but the industry as well.

“Our students are the next generation of original content creators. They’re the forward-thinking innovators,” says Veninger. “The industry wants to discover new talent? Well, here you go. Let us introduce you to the next wave of bold, new, fresh, original visionaries ready to ignite our creative industries across Canada and around the world.”

For more information about the York University Motion Media Studio, visit

Special exhibit celebrates York’s contribution to technological breakthrough

MCM Model 70 Microcomputer designed and built in Canada from 1972-74 (Kingston and Toronto), AC and/or battery power, two tape cassettes for programs and storage, plasma display screen (credit: Nash Gordon/Wikimedia Commons)

A new exhibit at York University’s Steacie Science and Engineering Library celebrates the history of technology and highlights York’s contributions to a milestone innovation more than 50 years ago.

Zbigniew Stachniak
Zbigniew Stachniak

On Sept. 25, 1973, members of the Canadian press gathered at the Royal York Hotel in downtown Toronto to witness what would become one of the most significant events in the history of computing in Canada. In the hotel, a Toronto-based electronics company, Micro Computer Machines (MCM), unveiled its MCM/70 computer – noted as the world’s first personal computer, and one of the first microcomputers.

“What MCM introduced that day was not only its portable personal computer but also a new computing paradigm that challenged the domination of massive and expensive mainframe computers requiring the kind of space and financial resources that could only be mustered by large corporations,” says Zbigniew Stachniak, an associate professor at York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering and expert on computer history. “Small PCs, claimed MCM, would redefine the relationship between society and computers and make widespread, personal information processing a reality.”

The development of this groundbreaking technology is also traced back to York, with two former employees of the York University Computing Centre (located in the Steacie Science and Engineering Library) among the key software engineers working on the MCM/70 project. Gord Ramer and Dom Genner worked at York University before joining MCM. While at York, they developed the York APL programming language and that proved critical for the writing of software for the MCM/70 computer.

The Sept. 25, 1973 announcement of the MCM/70 in Toronto's Royal York Hotel (from left: Mers Kutt, Gordon Ramer, Edward (Ted) Edwards and Reg Rea with a prototype of the MCM/70. (Photo by Parkway Production courtesy of York University Computer Museum)
The Sept. 25, 1973 announcement of the MCM/70 in Toronto’s Royal York Hotel (from left: Mers Kutt, Gordon Ramer, Edward (Ted) Edwards and Reg Rea with a prototype of the MCM/70. (Photo by Parkway Production courtesy of York University Computer Museum.)

The MCM/70 @ 50 exhibit, organized by the York University Computer Museum and York University Libraries, celebrates the momentous appearance of the MCM/70 computer – a technological marvel that offered an early glimpse of a new digital reality. It pays tribute to the makers of the MCM/70 for their contributions to personal computing.

Curated by Stachniak – who authored a book titled Inventing the PC: The MCM/70 Story – the exhibit features a complete line of MCM computers from the York University Computer Museum’s MCM collection, including an MCM/70 computer and its first prototype. Among the exhibited images are those taken during the unveiling of the computer in Toronto, and those depicting former MCM engineers reunited with the MCM/70 computer, reflecting on the creativity, enthusiasm and dedication it took to realize their personal computer concept and deliver their creation into the new world of personal computing.

The exhibit opens on Tuesday, Nov. 14 with a special event at 4 p.m. in the Steacie Science and Engineering Library at York University’s Keele Campus. To learn more about the MCM70 @ 50 exhibit, visit the online catalog here.

New, free services enhance IP protection, commercialization for researchers

research patent innovation

York University’s Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation (VPRI) is partnering with the IP Innovation Clinic, a legal clinic at Osgoode Hall Law School focused on intellectual property (IP), to offer new streamlined services to enhance IP protection and the commercialization efforts of the University’s research community.

Backed by a recent investment from the provincial agency Intellectual Property Ontario, the two York units have increased resources, including new staff, to drive innovation at York and support researchers strategically to transform, protect and leverage their research outcomes via patents, trademarks, other IP strategies and business ventures.

“VPRI is committed to optimizing the impact, outcomes and the commercial potential of university research,” said Jennifer MacLean, assistant vice-president innovation and research partnerships. “Our partnership with the IP Innovation Clinic will help York researchers excel in a competitive environment and turn their great ideas into reality, advancing the University’s mission to drive positive change.”

The range of free services available to York researchers include: IP discussions and strategic information, prior art and patent searches, trademark searches, business development knowledge, IP management and entrepreneurial supports, among others.

“The launch of our new integrated approach will provide York researchers a stronger and clearer pathway to bring their invention, product or service to market,” said Joseph Turcotte, assistant director of the IP Innovation Clinic. “We aim to be a key part of York’s innovation ecosystem and help researchers transition their work from the lab to society.”

Working with VPRI’s Technology Transfer Office and its commercialization managers, the clinic will develop a customized plan tailored to reach researchers’ unique needs, goals and stages of development. By leveraging this internal expertise, York researchers can save on the time and costs associated with finding and hiring external IP practitioners, commercializing their research faster and more efficiently.

“Our aim is to not only provide researchers the peace of mind that their IP is protected, but help simplify a complicated process and avoid errors that can delay the journey to market,” said Courtney Cole, business development manager with VPRI. “We can help York researchers build partnerships and connect them with opportunities that will maximize their innovation impact.”

Founded by the clinic’s director, Professor Giuseppina (Pina) D’Agostino, in 2010, the IP Innovation Clinic has completed over 300 consultations, 169 prior art searches, 115 trademark searches and created 20 IP agreements. It estimates that it has saved clients over $2 million in legal fees.

“Thanks to this partnership with VPRI, we are able to serve many more clients and better scale our reach across York,” said D’Agostino. “We can also provide more hands-on training to our law students, making them more IP and business savvy and better skilled to protect key assets in our disruptive tech economy.”

Researchers looking to advance their inventions or research projects into the market can schedule one-on-one consultations with the clinic by emailing

Opportunities are also available for IP and commercialization information and education sessions to be hosted on campus, including training sessions and workshops on how to harness IP effectively. Those interested in having their department, program, lab or research unit host a session should reach out to

AMPD showcases facilities through new virtual tour

students on AMPD soundstage

To engage prospective students, York University’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) has launched a virtual tour resource to showcase its 300,000-square-feet worth of facilities, share student stories and highlight experiential education opportunities.

The AMPD Virtual Tour offers visitors the ability to view state-of-the-art facilities associated with different departments and programs within AMPD, including cinema and media arts, dance, design, digital media, music, theatre, visual art and art history, as well the integrative arts. A total of eight tours are available, with different “scenes” contained in each tour that students can interact with in a similar way that they would at an open house.

Each viewable location gives virtual visitors the chance to step into these dynamic spaces through 360-degree photos of AMPD facilities that include hot spots focused on noteworthy features and videos of student profiles. Furthermore, the images showcase students in action to highlight the various hands-on, industry and experiential education opportunities available. For example, a virtual tour of the Cinema & Media Arts program facilities shows AMPD students shooting large-scale scenes in a soundproof studio.

The AMPD Virtual Tour was built with Circuit Virtual Tours, a leading technology company based in Toronto that enables the creation of immersive digital experiences for higher education institutions and other physical spaces. From start to finish, the project took four months, from plotting out scenes and crafting the script to organizing photo shoots and curating media assets.

Through the virtual tour and embedded calls-to-action throughout it, AMPD aims to increase student interest in arts, culture and design programs – particularly from international students who cannot physically attend events, tours, showcases and performances. The new virtual experience puts the learning opportunities available at AMPD on stage 24-7 for students around the world.

Experience the AMPD Virtual Tour today at

York’s world-leading vision research program looks towards the future 

Doug Crawford with members of VISTA team

By Corey Allen, senior manager, research communications

VISTA: Vision Science to Applications, York University’s first large-scale research program to receive support from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF), will enter a new phase in 2024 after marking its seven-year milestone.     

The novel program was first awarded $33.4 million from CFREF, the country’s top federal research grant, back in 2016. Since then, the VISTA program has established itself as an international leader in vision research across a wide range of real-world applications – from basic visual function to 3D imaging to computer vision and object recognition – and played a significant role in growing York University’s standout reputation in the field of vision science.

Doug Crawford speaking at VISTA event
Doug Crawford speaking at the VISTA celebration.

“VISTA has been a labour of love and it’s taken vision research at York to the next level,” said Doug Crawford, the program’s inaugural scientific director, who now heads up York’s second CFREF program, Connected Minds. “I believe that over these last seven years, VISTA has become the best vision research program in the world.”  

With over 500 international co-authored publications, over 100 research awards, dozens of patent filings and invention disclosures, several startups, among other achievements, the VISTA program has experienced great success.  

VISTA funded 18 new faculty hires and 148 postgraduate trainees, working across five Faculties, including the Lassonde School of Engineering, the Faculty of Health, the Faculty of Science, the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design, and the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.  

The program’s partnership and affiliate programs resulted in more than 300 external collaborations across multiple sectors, leading to new applications in law enforcement, clinical diagnosis, art exhibits and space research.  

James Elder with his research demo
James Elder, VISTA member and York Research Chair in Human and Computer Vision, demonstrates his research on an attentive robot.

Altogether, the program’s distinguished membership, including 16 Canada Research Chairs, brought in more than $89 million of external research income, including research grants and partner contributions.  

Now that the CFREF grant is coming to the end of its seven-year term, VISTA will continue to operate as part of the Centre for Vision Research (CVR) at York, where an interdisciplinary team gathers to advance fundamental research that merges techniques in human psychophysics, visual neuroscience, computer vision and computational theory. 

In addition to the historic CFREF grant, contributions from the University and other external partners, the VISTA program received more than $120 million in total funding over its first seven years. 

Guests at the VISTA celebration trying a research demo
Guests at the VISTA celebration event test out some of the research program’s technology applications.

“VISTA forged strong and sustained links between vision science at York and industry partners, nationally and internationally,” said Laurie Wilcox, an esteemed vision researcher and VISTA’s new scientific director. “The program has fostered close collaborations, invested in state-of-the-art equipment and laid the foundation for a continued focus on applied vision with the Centre for Vision Research. I am excited to work with the CVR to establish this new phase of the VISTA program.”

To mark the program’s milestone seventh year and its transition, the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation hosted a celebration event earlier this month.  

“With many of the world’s top experts conducting cutting-edge research and innovation, training highly qualified personnel, and offering academic programs in the field of biological and computer vision right here at York, the VISTA program is a crowning achievement of their research excellence, and an incredible source of pride for the entire University community,” said Amir Asif, vice-president research and innovation, speaking at the event.

International project promotes healthy cities, transportation

bicycles in front of tree

York University School of Kinesiology & Health Science Professor Alison Macpherson, and postdoctoral visitor Emily McCullogh, travelled to Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, to collaborate on CapaCITY/É, a joint project focusing on sustainable transportation interventions.

The CapaCITY/É project, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Australia’s National Health & Medical Research Council, is comprised of population and public health researchers from 10 jurisdictions across Canada and Australia – including York University.

From left to right: Dr. Ben Beck (Monash University), Dr. Emily McCullogh (York University), Dr. Alison Macpherson (York University), and Dr. Lauren Pearson (Monash University).
From left to right: Ben Beck (Monash University), Emily McCullogh (York University), Alison Macpherson (York University) and Lauren Pearson (Monash University).

Its goal is to explore transportation infrastructure with safe and inclusive design to support the uptake of walking, cycling and using public transit. CapaCITY/É will lead analyses of implementation processes and outcomes, health equity and mobility impacts, as well as develop a novel framework to guide this meaningful work across cities and urban environments. All ages and abilities (AAA) infrastructure and speed management investments are key built environment changes that the CapaCITY/É team are looking at.

“Cities that prioritize a safer, more equitable built environment are more likely to have greater uptake of sustainable transportation, and CapaCITY/É will help us to understand ways to achieve this,” Macpherson notes.

Macpherson and McCullogh’s research trip to Australia was motivated by the project’s intent to leverage transportation systems and experts elsewhere to further CapaCITY/É progress. For example, one objective of the project is to develop a novel “skeleton framework,” geared towards implementing sustainable transportation interventions such as AAA infrastructure and speed management strategies. Currently, there are no implementation science frameworks designed specifically for sustainable transportation infrastructure and this work closes this gap. The goal is for the framework to help guide cities as they work to implement these interventions in their specific contexts.

The “skeleton framework,” once developed, will undergo review from other members of the CapaCITY/É team and be refined to reflect, and address, the barriers and enablers for sustainable transportation interventions across Canadian and Australian urban settings.

“Meeting with members of the Australian team certainly strengthens this research,” says York’s McCullogh. “We were able to discuss key differences and similarities between our two road safety contexts that will inform the development of the ‘skeleton framework,’ as well as the other CapaCITY/É objectives.”

“Key to multinational research is intentionally bringing together ideas in a meaningful and applied way,” says postdoctoral Fellow Lauren Pearson from Monash University. “Emily and Alison’s recent trip to Melbourne enabled them to not only embed themselves within our research team, but to gain a thorough understanding into the inner workings and complexities of our transport and public health systems.”

“The partnership between Canadian and Australian researchers, and city partners, is critical to advancing implementation of sustainable transport interventions,” said Associate Professor Ben Beck from Monash, “and our Sustainable Mobility and Safety Research Group at Monash University are delighted to be furthering our deep collaborative relationships with York University and the wider CapaCITY/É team.”

It’s a critical component of the CapaCITY/É project, now in the first of its six-year span, to exemplify interdisciplinary collaboration, as the team consists of researchers with a breadth of expertise in applied public health, preventative medicine, epidemiology, geography, urban planning, political science and sociology.

“Our work is really motivated by what we were hearing from municipal staff and from NGOs who are now an embedded part of the CapaCITY/É team,” says Meghan Winters, the project’s lead principle investigator, from Simon Fraser University. “They wanted to learn more from other cities – what worked, what the barriers were and how they overcame them. Over the next years, these are the conversations we will be hosting.”

Visit the CapaCITY/É website for updates:

Envision YU eases student transition to and from university

Students and mentor gathered around a table

By Elaine Smith 

With support from York University’s Academic Innovation Fund, Professors Carolyn Steele and Lynda van Dreumel have created Envision YU, a curriculum complete with tools and a pressbook in both English and French, to aid faculty in guiding students into university life and through it to the career world, building useful skills throughout.  

Van Dreumel, an assistant professor and undergraduate program director for the Faculty of Health, was exploring ways to assist students in building necessary skills for success while transitioning to university when she met Steele, an assistant professor in the Department of Humanities in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies. Steele was working on a project to assist students with their transition from university to the working world by building on classroom knowledge, skills and experience. The two teaching-stream faculty members decided to join forces to equitably support the student transition continuum from the time they enter the University to the time they graduate to the next stage in their lives – whether that meant the workforce or more schooling. 

“We felt that this same continuum could happen in a single course, not only across courses,” Steele said. “An instructor could begin with preliminary reflection skills early in the course and advance to more complex applications of reflection later in the course to enable students to identify career interests emerging out of the course content.”

Along with a team of instructors, students and subject matter experts, the pair created the Envision YU curriculum with “tools and resources that professors can embed directly into courses and customize to fulfill learning objectives using course content, so students engage naturally and can build skills,” van Dreumel said.  

Steele noted that when this is done iteratively, the students become more fluent with these skills and transition to the next stage of their lives with more agency and confidence.  

The Envision YU resources and supporting materials include interactive activities (H5P-based lessons), videos, infographics, tip sheets and worksheets. Instructors can use the resources as-is, or they can tailor the resources based on their specific course requirements. Many of them have been student- and instructor-tested.   

The Envision YU curriculum assists in building four capacities that are crucial to student success: reflection, self-regulation, teamwork and transfer. Faculty also have the option of incorporating resources developed for various stages of learning into their courses. The Envision YU curriculum has resources tailored toward different stages of skill development: comprehending, developing, applying and advancing. 

Steele says these Envision YU capacities are ubiquitous, needed by all students, no matter their academic focus. For instance, she said, “The ability to transfer knowledge, skills and experience from one context to another is critical in today’s dynamic world, but many instructors’ expertise is focused only on academic contexts, and they are uncomfortable including material that stretches beyond their disciplines.  

“Our toolkit helps instructors, so they aren’t expected to be experts in everything, yet can provide opportunities for students to master transition skills in their courses.”  

There’s a big cognitive load for professors when they get into the more nuanced aspects of teaching, especially in terms of classroom-based experiential education. Many instructors don’t know the theory of reflective writings and are, thus, ill-equipped to teach their students how to reflect critically. With the resources in Envision YU, they can use one or more of the several reflective assignments to guide their students to reflect critically on the syllabus, assignment feedback, course-based experiences, their skills, values, and the relevance of course topics and readings in their students’ lives. 

“Envision YU is about the impact you can have on your students – not only in class, but down the road. We want to provide instructors with the flexibility and self-confidence to integrate these skills in courses across the curriculum,” said Steele. 

Envision YU is an open access resource and is available through eCampus Ontario. Steele and van Dreumel are available to answer faculty questions and assist in customizing the tools. 

Lassonde innovation lands place in space history

osiris-rex on bannu

A milestone space achievement for York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering was shared with students and members of the public during an event at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) last month.

Lassonde recently celebrated landing a place in space history by contributing an essential scientific instrument to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s OSIRIS-REx – the first U.S-led space mission to successfully collect a sample from an asteroid – and shared details of the mission and its success with the community.

Last month, an information booth at the ROM occupied by members of Lassonde’s Centre for Research in Earth & Space Science (CRESS) provided an opportunity for ROM visitors to engage with the efforts of Lassonde faculty who were involved with the OSIRIS-REx mission.

Information booth at the Royal Ontario Museum.
An information booth at the Royal Ontario Museum.

The mission involved the OSIRIS-REx craft being launched into space in 2016, with the goal of investigation and gathering samples from an asteroid named Bennu. On Sept. 24 of this year, the OSIRIS-REx successfully returned and delivered samples of Bennu to a desert region in Utah, where researchers were waiting with anticipation. Samples retrieved from Bennu will undergo extensive analysis, aiming to uncover details of the Earth and solar system’s ancient history.

The OSIRIS-REx mission marks a monumental achievement for Lassonde, as several Faculty researchers led the ideation, design and development of the OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA), a scientific instrument responsible for important tasks such as helping to choose a sampling site, supporting spacecraft navigation and collecting data used to create a realistic shape model for scientific analyses.

Working with the support of the Canadian Space Agency, Michael Daly, principal investigator of OLA and director of CRESS at Lassonde, led OLA from first concept through to the design and operations phases. The team also included expert researchers from various institutions, as well as James Freemantle, project management support and research associate at CRESS, and Jeff Seabrook, deputy instrument scientist and research associate at CRESS. (Freemantle and Seabrook were present at the recent ROM information booth to engage with community members about their, and Lassonde’s, work.)

OLA was first conceptualized by Daly more than a decade ago during his time at Canadian space technology company MDA. The company continued to support the project by building OLA with help from Teledyne Optech, a leader in the design, development and manufacturing of advanced lidar instruments.

In addition to the community event at the ROM on Sept. 26, Freemantle and Seabrook offered the York community on the Keele Campus an opportunity to learn more with an information booth stationed in the lobby of the Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence.

Learn more about the event, and the mission, here.