York University rises to top 35 globally in Times Higher Education Impact Rankings

THE 2024 General_YFile Story

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Dear colleagues,

York University has risen an impressive five spots to be among the top 35 institutions in the world for advancing the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to this year’s Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, published today.

This is a testament to the growing recognition for York’s global leadership on the SDG Challenge and has been made possible by our community of changemakers – faculty, staff, students, course directors, alumni and our many partners. It is your commitment to our shared values of sustainability, inclusivity and equity that has enabled us to achieve our highest ranking yet.

On behalf of the University, thank you for your individual contributions and collective efforts in interdisciplinary research, teaching, and a myriad of campus initiatives and community projects, which have led to this success.

With an additional 300+ universities joining the rankings this year, York has continued to hold its leading position among more than 2,100+ universities worldwide for the sixth consecutive year. York has a particularly strong global standing in the following categories: 

  • SDG 1 (No Poverty) – #2 in the world and #1 in Canada;
  • SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities) – 33rd in the world and #1 in Canada; and
  • SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) – tied for 13th in the world.

This is an achievement we all share and one that the entire York community can take great pride in. We are delighted to see the community united by our common goals: to realize the University Academic Plan 2020-25 and to answer the call of the SDG Challenge.

When we work together to create positive change there is no limit on York’s ability to address the most pressing global issues of our time. Read the News@York story for more details.

Sincerely,

Rhonda Lenton
President & Vice-Chancellor

Lisa Philipps
Provost & Vice-President Academic

Amir Asif
Vice-President Research & Innovation

Those who wish to share the news in social media posts or email signatures can find instructions on how to do so in the THE Impact Rankings Toolkit.

L’Université York se hisse parmi les 35 premiers rangs du palmarès Times Higher Education Impact

THE 2024 General_YFile Story

Chers collègues, chères collègues,

L’Université York a fait un bond impressionnant de cinq places pour figurer parmi les 35 meilleurs établissements au monde pour la promotion des 17 objectifs de développement durable (ODD) des Nations Unies, selon le palmarès Times Higher Education Impact de cette année, publié aujourd’hui.

Ces résultats témoignent de la reconnaissance croissante du leadership mondial de York dans le domaine des ODD. Ils ont été rendus possibles grâce aux efforts de tous nos artisans du changement : membres du corps professoral et enseignant, du personnel, de la population étudiante et de la communauté des diplômés ainsi que nos nombreux partenaires. C’est votre engagement en faveur de nos valeurs communes de durabilité, d’inclusion et d’équité qui nous a permis d’obtenir notre meilleur classement à ce jour.

Au nom de l’Université, nous vous remercions pour vos contributions individuelles et vos efforts collectifs dans la recherche interdisciplinaire, l’enseignement et une myriade d’initiatives sur le campus et de projets communautaires, qui ont conduit à ce succès.

Avec plus de 300 universités supplémentaires ayant rejoint le classement cette année, York a conservé sa position de leader parmi plus de 2 100 universités dans le monde pour la sixième année consécutive. York est particulièrement bien placée au niveau mondial dans les catégories suivantes : 

  • ODD 1 (Pas de pauvreté) – n° 2 dans le monde et n° 1 au Canada
  • ODD 10 (Réduction des inégalités) – no 33 dans le monde et no 1 au Canada
  • ODD 11 (Villes et communautés durables) – no 13 dans le monde, ex æquo

Toute la communauté de York peut s’enorgueillir de ce succès. Nous nous réjouissons de voir la communauté unie pour réaliser ensemble le Plan académique de l’Université 2020-2025 et relever le défi des ODD.

En travaillant de concert pour susciter des changements positifs, nous permettons à York de s’attaquer aux problèmes mondiaux les plus pressants de notre époque. Lisez l’article de News@York pour plus de détails.

Sincères salutations,

Rhonda Lenton
Présidente et vice-chancelière

Lisa Philipps
Rectrice et vice-présidente aux affaires académiques

Amir Asif
Vice-président de la recherche et de l’innovation

Ceux qui souhaitent partager l’actualité dans des publications sur les réseaux sociaux ou dans des signatures électroniques peuvent trouver des instructions sur la façon de le faire dans la boîte à outils THE Impact Rankings toolkit.

Y-EMERGE partnership to combat climate change by advancing mathematical modelling

climate crisis dry desert BANNER

By Elaine Smith

The York Emergency Mitigation, Engagement, Response & Governance Institute (Y-EMERGE) has established a partnership with the Research & Innovation Centre at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS-RIC) in Rwanda that will bring AIMS PhD students to York University to pursue their research in mathematical modelling as a tool for addressing climate change.

The project, called Human Capacity Building in Climate Change and Health in Africa, is being jointly funded by York International (YI) and Global Affairs Canada’s Canadian International Development Scholarships 2030 program, marking the first external grant to Y-EMERGE. It is also the first time York International has matched funds on this scale in support of an international research endeavour.

“York International is delighted that our researchers were able to leverage C$25,000 in matching funds to secure a significantly larger external grant for an impactful international research collaboration,” said Vinitha Gengatharan, assistant vice-president of global engagement at YI. “The money will be used to top up scholarships for up to six female PhD students coming to York, as well as to provide emergency bursaries for any PhD student travelling to York for this program.” 

As part of the project, 10 PhD students from the AIMS Research & Innovation Centre will each spend a year at York between 2025 and 2028 to advance their work with mathematical modelling and climate change. Y-EMERGE will be hosting the program, with York International assisting in helping the students to feel at home. Participating students will have the opportunity to develop their research by working with experts in their areas of interest. 

Pictured, from left to right: Vinitha Gengatharan, assistant vice-president, global engagement at Y-EMERGE; faculty member Jianhong Wu; Sam Yala, president of AIMS Rwanda; York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton; Amir Asif, vice-president research and innovation; Y-EMERGE faculty member Woldegebriel Assefa Woldegerima 
Pictured, from left to right: Vinitha Gengatharan, assistant vice-president of global engagement at Y-EMERGE; York University Professor Jianhong Wu; Sam Yala, president of AIMS Rwanda; York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton; Amir Asif, vice-president research and innovation at York U; and York U Professor Woldegebriel Assefa Woldegerima. 

AIMS is no stranger to York U; the institutions have previously collaborated on infectious disease modelling for influenza and COVID-19.

For Professor Jude Kong, founder and director of the University’s Africa-Canada Artificial Intelligence & Data Innovation Consortium (ACADIC) and a native of Cameroon, this collaboration is a passion project. He believes a focus on climate change and health is imperative, as the African continent is already feeling the effects of climate change.

“We’ll take the modelling experience present at York’s Y-EMERGE, as well as ACADIC and AIMS, to ensure we build the capacity to model climate change in Africa,” said Kong. “Climate change is coming and the situation is worsening in Africa. It will affect health in a way that has never happened before, and we’ll be able to build responsible models with an understanding of the local dynamics. … We’ll be using local expertise, so the results will be locally relevant, decolonized and intersectional.”

Professor Jianhong Wu, director of Y-EMERGE, is equally committed to the project.

“We consider this to not just be the beginning of an intensive collaboration with the AIMS Research & Innovation Centre in particular, but AIMS in general,” he said.

Professor Wilfred Ndifon, president of the AIMS Research & Innovation Centre, added, “For us at the institutional level, we have achieved our successes thanks to partnerships like the one we have with York.”

To help facilitate this long-term partnership, Y-EMERGE is forming a college of mentors to work with the AIMS students and establishing an advisory board to guide the growing Africa-Canada collaboration in mathematical modelling.

“We want the students to not only get excellent training but to grow their careers and begin to build up their own networks,” Wu said. “The students who come to York to train will be ambassadors for collaboration between the African continent and Canada in mathematical sciences.”

Kong is excited by the opportunity to build capacity on his home continent through a “train-the-trainers” model.

“When these students return home, they will be sent to other AIMS centres to make data actionable,” he said. “We need homegrown talent, rather than people from the Global North, to teach others [in Africa]. York is one of the many institutions that have reached out to help AIMS change the paradigm, and it is committing funding because they don’t view this as a one-off.”

York U professor helps transform engineering education in Uganda

Kampala,,Uganda

In an effort to enhance undergraduate engineering research in Uganda, faculty members from York University and the University of British Columbia have joined forces on an education-enhancing project with Academics Without Borders (AWB), a non-profit organization aiming to improve the higher education landscape in developing countries.

The Strengthening Engineering Undergraduate Research (SER-Undergraduate) project, initiated by faculty at the Mbarara University of Science & Technology (MUST) in Uganda, aims to provide international support to MUST undergraduate students, empowering them to engage in high-quality research endeavours.

As part of the collaboration, York U Professor Arash Habibi Lashkari – an AWB volunteer who is also the founder and director of York University’s Behaviour-Centric Cybersecurity Center – embarked on a week-long visit to MUST, where he interacted with students and faculty members to assess the current state of the institution’s undergraduate research program and identify areas for improvement.

York University Professor Arash Habibi Lashkari (front, centre) with students from the Mbarara University of Science & Technology in Uganda.

“I am honoured to be part of this initiative to empower undergraduate students in Uganda to pursue research excellence,” says Lashkari. “By sharing our expertise and resources, we can make a meaningful impact on these students’ academic and professional trajectory.”

During his visit to Uganda, Lashkari engaged in insightful discussions with students, faculty members, the international office and the administration department, guiding and enhancing research methodologies and academic standards. The visit not only fostered knowledge exchange but also served as a testament to the importance of volunteerism and international collaboration in advancing education and research on a global scale.

“Membership in the AWB Network offers opportunities for academics and professionals to share their expertise and knowledge as volunteers in capacity-building projects in partnership with institutions in low- and middle-income countries,” says Professor Nancy Gallini, executive director of Academics Without Borders. “Engaging in this work gives faculty and staff a global perspective that enriches education and research on their campuses.”

For MUST students, the SER-Undergraduate project allows for access to resources, mentorship and opportunities for hands-on research experience that they wouldn’t have otherwise had. By leveraging the expertise and resources of Canadian faculty members serving as volunteers, Ugandan students can gain the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in their future academic and professional endeavours.

As the SER-Undergraduate project continues to unfold, the goal of transforming engineering education and empowering a new generation of research-driven scholars in Uganda remains.

For more information, visit the Academics Without Borders website.

PhD candidate receives dissertation fellowship in Buddhist studies

Temple and two monks in Yangon, Myanmar, Shutterstock

Htet Min Lwin, a PhD candidate in York University’s Department of Humanities and a graduate associate at the York Centre for Asian Research, has been awarded a 2024 Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowship in Buddhist Studies to advance his dissertation work in Buddhist studies.

Htet Min Lwin
Htet Min Lwin

Htet is one of 11 scholars from universities around the world who have been awarded $30,000 each in support of their dissertation fieldwork, archival research and writing. This fellowship program is administered by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) and made possible by a grant from the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Global, which aims to promote the understanding and interpretation of Buddhist thought in scholarship and society, strengthen international networks of scholars in the field, and increase the visibility of new knowledge and research on Buddhist traditions.

The award builds upon – and looks to advance – Htet’s doctoral research at York which explores the Myanmar government’s attempts in 1958, 1962 and successfully in 1980 to institutionalize the country’s monastics – people who renounce worldly pursuits to devote themselves fully to spiritual work – under a centralized, state-backed authority.

Arguing against the triumph of the state’s political secularism, his work demonstrates the monks’ Buddhist logic and the sources of power within the tradition that led to them finally accepting this centralized authority. He shows how the state’s attempt to regulate religion resulted not only in the monastics being put under state control but the state ultimately being transformed by religion – creating a more orthodox society and resulting in an authoritarian, nationalist Buddhist state and communities.

“I am extremely delighted and looking forward to the field research,” says Htet, “as my work has potential to provide significant theoretical intervention on how the other-worldly ideal of the Theravada [Buddhist] tradition and protection of Buddhist teaching can get entwined with the ‘political secularism’ of the modern nation-state.”

Osgoode event celebrates a decade of supporting internationally trained lawyers

Lawyers working with Lady Justice looking on

For its 10th anniversary, Osgoode’s Internationally Trained Lawyers Day (OITLD), organized by York University’s Osgoode Professional Development (OsgoodePD), is growing into a two-day event. The expansion is a reflection of the rising success and contributions of internationally trained lawyers (ITLs) across Canada, eager to share their journeys with attendees.

When the event first launched in 2015, its mission was to bring together legal employers, lawyers and law graduates from around the world to learn, share, celebrate and advance internationally trained talent across Canada.

Since its inception, the event has been an extension of OsgoodePD’s year-round dedication to supporting internationally trained lawyers as they navigate the unique challenges of practising law in Canada – be it cultural nuances, unfamiliar legal systems or regulatory requirements.

Initially, the event focused primarily on Canadian legal professionals offering guidance to ITLs and National Committee on Accreditation (NCA) candidates who represented a growing cohort of aspiring lawyers from Osgoode. However, as OITLD approaches its 10th year, it has evolved.

Over the past decade, numerous international legal candidates have acquired the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in the Canadian legal landscape. Many have advanced to senior and decision-making roles, significantly contributing to the Canadian legal community. These individuals are now becoming mentors, sharing their insights and experiences with incoming ITLs who are in the same shoes they once were.

With the increased number of alumni and ITLs willing to share their stories, Osgoode’s event has, for the first time, expanded to a two-day event. This extension allows for more panels and sessions, highlighting the wealth of experience and success stories within the community.

The event will feature nine panels, including specialized sessions from current OsgoodePD students and alumni as well as organizations such as the Black Female Lawyers Network, the Canadian Hispanic Bar Association, the NCA and the Law Practice Program.

New session highlights for in-person attendees will include a speed mentoring session, which offers attendees the chance to build valuable connections and engage in quick, impactful interactions with an assortment of Internationally Trained Lawyer mentors providing first-hand experience in accreditation, licensing, job recruitment and professional development.

Additionally, a workshop will offer assistance on the art of the cover letter and CV, tailored specifically for ITLs. The session will provide practical tips and insights on crafting compelling cover letters and CVs that stand out in the competitive legal job market and showcase international experience and legal skills to potential employers. The event will be hosted by Danielle Laflamme, a respected senior manager of professional recruiting and student programs at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP in Ottawa.

There will also be panels featuring current students and alumni. One – titled “ITL Stories: NCA Process, Job Recruitment, and Licensing” – will provide first-hand accounts from those who have successfully navigated the NCA process, secured employment and obtained their legal licences in Canada. Its goal is to offer invaluable insights and inspiration for those who have already been through the process.

The event will draw too on the community by featuring an academic conference, presented by current students and alumni of Osgoode who are ITLs, that will highlight research, case studies and papers that reflect their perspectives and contributions to the legal field – and celebrate their academic achievements and intellectual contributions to the community.

A special highlight of the two-day celebration will be a keynote address from Justice Lorne Sossin, a former professor and dean of Osgoode Hall Law School, now appointed to the Court of Appeal for Ontario. Sossin will share insights and reflections on the evolving landscape of law and the significant role of ITLs in shaping it.

For more information about the event and to register (before May 27), visit the OITLD event’s website.

Costa Rica provides canvas for Eco-Arts Residency

By Elaine Smith

York University’s Las Nubes Campus in Costa Rica is serving as a home base for its first-ever Eco-Arts Residency, an intensive, 10-day course being offered by two professors from the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD).

Professor Brandon Vickerd, a sculptor, as well as theatre and performance artist Laura Levin, director of Sensorium – a York research centre for digital arts and technology – are leading a group of 25 students in research centred on the Alexander Skutch Biological Corridor preserve and communities near Las Nubes.

The course focuses on developing research methodologies and strategies for building community-driven, site-oriented, collaborative approaches to art production.

“Current studio courses focus on students’ artistic skills and don’t teach them how to go to a community, make connections and respond to the reality of the environment, the politics and the institutions while producing meaningful works,” said Vickerd. “This residency-based course provides such an opportunity.”

The students are living with families in the local villages, two per home, and taking part in a curated, daily schedule of activities and exploration. Their experience began in San José, Costa Rica’s capital, with two days of visiting theatre companies and museums before travelling to Las Nubes. Once there, they were able to get a sense of the landscape, the people, the economy and politics.

“They will engage with the larger questions of the course in a site-specific way,” Levin said. “They’ll visit local farms, and – informed by their readings on food sovereignty – they’ll learn first-hand about the challenges of individuals running small farms in the global food system. 

“We’ll also travel to an Indigenous village that is the home of the Boruca people, a group that has developed over time an intricate mask-making tradition and a youth theatre company that imaginatively incorporates those masks. There will be a lot of hands-on engagement with cultural producers.”

One of the students’ other major tasks is to assist with producing ExpoCOBAS, an annual festival organized by the local community designed to celebrate and consolidate identity around the Alexander Skutch Biological Corridor. It’s an exercise that will include everything from making piñatas to putting on a student art showcase to brainstorming about activities that will engage young people.

“There are important lessons we’d like our students to absorb,” said Vickerd of the residency’s goals. “We want to show them that they can engage with the environment in a variety of ways. We also want them to understand what it means to engage ethically with a community and collaborate, to engage in social action. They need to understand what’s important about a culture and how they can contribute with support and understanding, meaningfully adding to its health.”

Levin noted that some students had never travelled to Latin America before undertaking this residency, offering an additional opportunity for some.

“We want them to learn what it means for artists not to be tourists and how to negotiate their experiences in a thoughtful way, rather than viewing the community as a spectacle to be consumed,” Levin said.

Vickerd and Levin are providing the students with creative prompts and exercises to help them engage with the unique landscape, such as participating in outdoor classes or hiking in the rainforest.

“They won’t be able to sit back,” said Vickerd. “This course is about engagement.”

Po Kuen Cheung, a graphic designer and mature visual art and art history student who is studying part time for a degree, is one of the students registered for the intensive Las Nubes course.

“I want to explore the wonderful world of art when I retire, and when I saw the Costa Rica course, it matched exactly what I want to do – explore what happens elsewhere,” said Cheung. “It will be an experience of a lifetime.”

Once he and his fellow students return home, they will have the opportunity to reflect on the experience and translate it into either an essay or artistic output.

“This experience allows them to think about how to explore and explain the world in a different way,” Vickerd said.

Their responses, whatever form they take, will enrich the understanding of others, giving what they’ve learned a broader impact.

Professor creates performances that reclaim women’s history

Temple of Zeus in Turkey BANNER

By Elaine Smith

Thanks to York University’s Profesor Erika Batdorf, attendees at the Bergama Theatre Festival in Asclepieion, Turkey, have a treat in store for them this August: a large, site-specific, immersive event with multiple performers placed on location throughout the grounds, known as an ancient healing site. Its aim: bringing the stories of contemporary women to ancient sites where women’s history has often been disregarded and forgotten.

Batdorf is the creator of the Batdorf Technique, an embodied physical theatre practice with which she likes to explore a means of bringing women’s stories back to a site where they have been ignored.

Erika Batdorf
Erika Batdorf

“In visiting ancient sites, I find there is almost no mention of women,” Batdorf said. “The perception is that they are nothing. How do we prevent losing more stories of women?” 

Batdorf, together with master of fine arts graduate Gulce Oral, tested a model of this approach in the summer of 2023 in Troy, an ancient archeological site in Turkey made famous in Greek mythology. For a performance project, they asked students from Çannakale Onsekiz Mart University in Turkey to study their grandmothers to learn about the dreams they had as young women, their understanding of freedom and what symbolizes power to them.

In the process, students soon began to see themselves in their grandmothers and – with guidance from Batdorf and Oral – turned these findings into three-minute pieces that they performed live at Troy.

A similar process will unfold in Asclepieion this fall, made possible with funding from the festival and the Canada Council for the Arts, as well as actors, musicians, and puppeteers from Istanbul and areas around Bergama, including local female Romany musicians and Kozak women.

Asclepieion, Turkey
Asclepieion, Turkey.

“Our work is devised theatre, rather than text-based,” Batdorf said. “I’m not a historian myself; I’m a contemporary theatre artist, so I know how to devise and create actual, physical theatre that animates a space.”

Among their projects, one will include a piece at Zeus’s temple, which will incorporate stick games played by local women and music by Romany drummers, as a way of reclaiming that space as their own.

Parchment making is being revived locally, too, and one of the sculptural pieces at the festival will be a giant book that holds Turkish stories, recipes and wisdom shared by women with whom they have been meeting.

While ancient sites are less accessible in Canada, Batdorf has involved York students in her performance creation class in a similar project.

In the classroom, for example, she asked her students to each research their mothers and grandmothers before choreographing a piece inspired by their findings – much like the Troy project.

Similarily, next year Batdorf will be leading a group of students in a site-specific project called Haunted Honeywood, working with tales of paranormal occurrences that have occurred in a small town north of Toronto. Batdorf is mentoring them, not only in creation but in grant writing and outreach, skills that will be useful to them in funding their personal performance work in the future.

Kayla Silvestre
Kayla Silvestre

Kayla Silvestre, an upper-year theatre student, is one of the participants in the Haunted Honeywood project, because she has been influenced by Batdorf’s movement classes and is eager to continue learning from her.

“Her movement class has been the most beneficial acting course of my career,” Silvestre said. “I use 95 per cent of what I learned in my theatre work.”

She says the Haunted Honeywood project will incorporate some of the same principles that Batdorf is using in her work in Asclepieion, allowing people to wander an outdoor path running through the woods, where they’ll encounter guides and ghosts. A writing team is working on stories based on local history and culture, in addition to creating some new stories. The group is also planning to bring workshops to the schools in the area to promote the arts.

The 2025 debut of Haunted Honeywood is still more than a year away, but each of Batdorf’s site-specific works requires time to put all the pieces in place. She has been working toward Asclepieion for three years, yet it will be performed for only three days during this highly respected festival.

“We’ll do the best we can to document the piece,” Batdorf said, “and we hope to have a website to host conversations among local women and others.”

Although the performances are fleeting, for those who participate, either as actors or as visitors, she hopes the experience will be enduring and impactful.

York forges international cybersecurity collaboration

Cybersecurity professional sitting in front of data screens shutterstock

Just as modern life has become increasingly reliant on the storing and sharing of digital information, so too has the need to protect it. York University’s Behaviour-Centric Cybersecurity Center (BCCC) was established as a response to this ever-growing need, striving to identify the underlying causes of malicious cyberattacks and provide insights for future detection and prevention.

In an effort to advance its cybersecurity research and foster global academic collaboration, BCCC has secured a groundbreaking partnership with Japan’s National Institute of Information & Communications Technology (NICT) through the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU).

Under the MOU, BCCC and NICT will engage in various collaborative activities focused on cybersecurity, including: knowledge exchange, research collaboration, student and researcher exchange, international networking and funding opportunities, resource sharing, joint workshops and conferences, and publication opportunities. By leveraging their collective expertise and resources, the two teams aim to address cybersecurity challenges and develop solutions to mitigate risks in today’s interconnected world.

Arash Habibi Lashkari portrait
Arash Habibi Lashkari, photo by Rob Blanchard

Professor Arash Habibi Lashkari, founder and director of BCCC at York, expressed excitement about the collaboration, stating, “This MOU represents a significant milestone in our efforts to strengthen global cybersecurity research collaboration. By partnering with NICT, we can leverage each other’s strengths and expertise to tackle cybersecurity challenges more effectively.”

This initiative will centre on cybersecurity research projects initiated and led by BCCC. Through joint research initiatives and international networking, researchers from both institutions will work together on mutual-interest projects, helping to advance cybersecurity knowledge and practices.

“We’re excited to forge this research partnership with the BCCC at York University,” said Professor Tao Ban, the research leader from NICT. “Through this MOU, we aim to enhance collaboration with Canada, integrating our unique competencies and insights to elevate cybersecurity practices.”

This collaboration is expected to facilitate a dynamic exchange of knowledge and expertise, benefiting all students, researchers and institutions involved.

For more information, visit the Behaviour-Centric Cybersecurity Center website.

Lassonde student turns space aspirations into a career reality

Satellite in space

Fourth-year mechanical engineering student Rehan Rashid, in York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering, always dreamed of working at NASA – the ultimate goal of every space enthusiast. He’s already done so three times now, thanks to internships and his time at York.

Rehan Rashid
Rehan Rashid

Inspired by stories he had heard of Lassonde students forging their own paths in space engineering and beyond, Rashid made the most of his time at Lassonde by getting involved in student clubs, extracurricular activities and programs that would allow him the opportunity to pursue his passions beyond the classroom.

With support from Lassonde, Rashid completed three internships at NASA during his undergraduate years. And he will soon begin his fourth, at the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, where he will be working on a project about novel carbon utilization-based technology for the lunar surface. These internships, he says, have been instrumental to his academic and career progression.

“My internship experiences at NASA have strengthened my passion for space exploration and energy storage technology,” says Rashid.

His internships took place at three different NASA locations: Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.; Johnson Space Center in Houston; and Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Fla. As part of the internships, Rashid conducted several research projects, including designing, fabricating and testing new battery designs for electric aircraft. He was also recognized as a NASA Innovator for his work on a compact, plasma-based elemental analyzer for astronauts in the International Space Station.

Lobby of Crew and Thermal Systems Division at NASA’s Johnson Space Center
Lobby of Crew & Thermal Systems Division at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

Beyond knowledge acquisition, skill development and invaluable real-world experience, each of these internships nurtured Rashid’s fascination with space, providing him ample opportunities to witness launches for companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin and, of course, NASA itself. During his first internship, in 2022, he also had the pleasure of meeting several astronauts who were preparing for upcoming space missions.

“My advice to students is to get involved early on,” he says. “I strongly recommend participating in extracurricular activities, especially the clubs offered at Lassonde. There are numerous organizations and programs that students can join to gain hands-on experience, like the York University Robotics Society and Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology program.”

Doing just that has allowed Rashid to not only make his mark on NASA, and fulfill his dream of working there, but build on York’s ever-growing leadership in fields of study focused on what lies outside the Earth’s atmosphere.

Rashid’s extraordinary undergraduate experience has prepared him well for the next step of his academic journey, as a master’s candidate at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. As for where will he end up after that, the sky’s the limit.