Lassonde prof honoured with gold medal for engineering excellence

Gold trophy, stars and confetti on a yellow background

Professor George Zhu at York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering recently received a gold medal from the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) in recognition of his contributions to the field.

Zheng Hong (George) Zhu
George Zhu

The Ontario Professional Engineers Awards honour first-class engineers and members of the OSPE who have made outstanding contributions to their field and broader community. The gold medal represents the highest honour, recognizing individuals who demonstrate exceptional public service, technical excellence and professional leadership.

“Receiving this award will help elevate my reputation among engineers nationally and internationally, while expanding my network and creating opportunities for collaboration with industry partners,” says Zhu.

This industry recognition is a testament to Zhu’s ingenuity and research impact. His ares of interest include spacecraft control and nanosatellite technologies, and he has received millions of dollars in funding from organizations such as the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Canadian Space Agency.

Currently, Zhu is focused on making access to space more cost-effective by using 3D printing to make spacecraft and other structures in outer space. His forward-thinking research has inspired other innovations, like using intelligent robots for space debris removal and tether systems for space transportation. His influential work has expanded the research capacity of Lassonde and attracted attention from broad scientific communities.

Zhu also co-directs Lassonde’s Manufacturing, Technology & Entrepreneurship Centre, an Organized Research Unit that blends three complementary disciplines to bring innovative technologies to market.

As a gold medal recipient, Zhu plans to build on this accolade by continuing to advance the field of engineering, build academic and industry partnerships, and drive impactful research to right the future.

York alumnus helps Ghana farmers flourish

harvester in a field with crops BANNER

By Elaine Smith

Moustapha Seck, an electrical and electronic engineering graduate from York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering, has created a company in Ghana that provides loans, market access and guidance to small-scale farmers in Ghana.

One of every two adult Ghanaians work as smallholder farmers, and many of them merely subsist, struggling to achieve profitably year after year. Seck created a company called Fluid Finance Technologies after identifying the need for those farmers to be able to obtain loans, despite their lack of collateral, to improve their businesses with more modern equipment and the latest agricultural knowledge, thus creating wealth for them. “There was a lot of education needed and lots of people have taken advantage of them, so their work was often a zero-sum game,” Seck says. “We wanted to turn that into a win-win situation.”  

Moustapha Seck
Moustapha Seck

Fluid Finance Technologies looks to create those scenarios by offering aid to smallholding farmers in Ghana and creating a bridge between them and the banking community so they can obtain business loans. Seck had no contacts in the banking industry as he was starting out, so it required a lot of cold calls and a lot of research and attending conferences to convince people that his company could be trusted. One bank got on board in 2022, and now Fluid Finance works with nine financial institutions in Ghana and about 6,000 farmers.

The company and its success is driven, in part, by Seck’s time at York University.

Seck was born in Canada and split his childhood between Senegal, his parents’ birthplace, and Canada, where his father taught finance at the University of Windsor. As he enrolled at York, Seck had a firm goal. “For me, it was all about studying something that would help me be an asset to the African continent,” he says.

Initially, that ambition took Seck on a different path than where he has ended up today. “In Senegal, there used to be a lot of power outages, so I thought an electrical engineering degree would help me fix that problem,” he says. Seck did pursue opportunities in that direction, like an internship at Hydro One and jobs with a startup venture and a technology company. That is, until an experience with a lender that helped e-commerce businesses get started got the wheels in his brain spinning with ideas.

“I see everything through the lens of creating opportunities in Africa,” he says. He saw value in how he might be able to help business in Africa get off the ground or achieve greater profitability. “So, I transitioned to finance and learned on the job.”

Now four years into existence, Fluid Finance Technologies assists banks with collecting and digitizing the information about farming they need to make decisions about providing loans to individual farmers. The company also brings in agronomy experts to teach farmers about appropriate fertilizers and new harvest methods and how to troubleshoot problems. In addition, Fluid has worked to ensure that farmers have fair and available markets for their crops. 

The result? Banks understand the needs of the local farmers and a willingness to work with them means new banking customers. Meanwhile, farmers get the financial, marketing and agricultural assistance they need to succeed and earn a living wage.     

Ghana Broadcasting Corp. featuring (l to r) Amir Asif, Prof. Solomon Boakye-Yiado and Moustapha Seck.
A Ghana Broadcasting Corp. segment featuring, from left to right, Amir Asif, Solomon Boakye-Yiado and Moustapha Seck.

Looking ahead, Seck hopes to expand the business to other African countries in the Global South. He is also thinking about how to provide farmers with markets on a global scale and trying to be proactive about climate change, “giving farmers access to resources ahead of time so they can withstand shocks.”

For Seck, it’s all about advancing a singular passion, one readily found on his LinkedIn page like a motto: “Creating opportunities for people in the Global South is my calling.”

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.

Students present sustainable solutions, enhance career-readiness at Spring Capstone Day

Photo by Singkham from Pexels

Five monetary awards were presented to teams of upper-year students at York University’s 2024 Spring Capstone Day, a public event hosted by the Cross-Campus Capstone Classroom (C4) in celebration of innovation, creativity, ambition and impact.

Held on April 26, this year’s Spring Capstone Day drew more than 350 members of the York community and external visitors to York’s Scott Library Collaboratory. There, attendees learned about the work of the 225 presenting students, whose capstone projects – finishing-year projects where student teams work with external clients to solve real-world problems – focused on innovative and sustainable design solutions, aiming to address societal issues, advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and create positive change. This biannual project showcase is an invaluable opportunity for students to share their experience and develop professional skills to enhance their career-readiness.

“For three hours, the entire Collaboratory was sparkling with conversations between project partners; York staff, professors and librarians; and students from every Faculty at York,” said Danielle Robinson, co-founder and co-lead of C4, a high-impact experiential education course intended to uniquely prepare students for the next phase of their career. “Our collective focus was on launching these students out into the world as the powerful changemakers they are ready to be.”

An important day for all participating students, Robinson described it as similar to a graduation or a professional debut, where students get dressed up and present their work to attendees and judges.

According to Mahogany Lopez, a Faculty of Science student whose team won the Sustainability Award, the day was bittersweet. “It marked the end of my journey with the C4 class, where I made new friends and had an amazing time,” she said. “However, I was happy to see our project well-received and to witness the impressive work of different groups. This experience emphasized the value of interdisciplinary learning and collaboration in solving real-world problems.”

Donna Nguyen, a student in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, whose team won the Community Impact Award, appreciated the event for shining a spotlight on student work: “This event and this win was important to me as a student because our hard work was acknowledged and it signified that our ideas genuinely made an impact on the community,” she said.

Faculty of Health Professor Asal Moghaddaszadeh, who acted as a project shepherd, guiding students through their project journey in the C4 class, believes the Capstone Day event is pivotal for the University.

“It’s about instilling teamwork, fostering community partnerships and preparing students to tackle workforce challenges boldly,” she said. “Additionally, by working in interdisciplinary teams, students learn the importance of collaboration across diverse Faculties, enriching their problem-solving skills.”

Lassonde School of Engineering student Mehrshad Farahbakhsh agreed, calling Capstone Day a “transformative experience.”

“It taught me the value of collaboration and how diverse perspectives can lead to innovative solutions,” said the international student, whose team won the Innovation Award for their project focused on making the automotive industry more sustainable. “Each member of our group brought a unique background and approach to the table, which allowed us to brainstorm innovative solutions.”

The awards students were competing for included the YSpace-sponsored Innovation Award, with a prize of $100 for the winning student team; and the GHD-sponsored Community Impact Award and Honda Canada Foundation-sponsored Sustainability Award, both offering prizes of $1,500 to the winning teams and $500 to the runners-up.

The day’s award winners were determined by a committee of 16 York University judges – from YSpace, Alumni Engagement and the Office of Sustainability. The full list of award winners and project titles are as follows:

  • Innovation Award winner: “Finding Our Way through Sustainable Choices (Weins Auto Group)” by Team BF;
  • Community Impact Award winner: “Fostering Food Sovereignty (HiGarden)” by Team BE;
  • Community Impact Award runner-up: “Policy Pal (Engage)” by Team AC;
  • Sustainability Award winner: “Reconstructing Education (Sensorium)” by Team AA; and
  • Sustainability Award runner-up: “Saving the Planet (Independent)” by Team BD.

For more information about these projects, the winners and the Cross-Campus Capstone Classroom, visit the C4 website or email

One year later: the Microlecture Series in Sustainable Living

Globe and York branded box for the Microlecture Series launch

Last year, in honour of Earth Month, York University launched the Microlecture Series in Sustainable Living, an award-winning online series of six-minute interactive presentations given by six of the University’s leading sustainability scholars.

Since its release, 900 people have participated in the Microlecture Series, which has gone on to be recognized as best-in-class communications by the International Association of Business Communicators in its OVATION 2024 Awards.

Even with fast-paced developments in the world of sustainability efforts, a year later the microlectures have remained topical resources for those looking to lead more informed, sustainable lives.

Shooka Karimpour
Shooka Karimpour

There have been changes too, of course. Take Lassonde School of Engineering Professor Shooka Karimpour’s microlecture on microplastics, a subject important enough that it was selected to be this year’s Earth Day theme.

In her microlecture, Karimpour covered how the near infinite use of plastic in our world has led researchers like herself to try to better understand how microplastics – small pieces of plastic debris in the environment – journey through and impact our ecosystem.

Evidence is emerging daily showing how widespread and harmful these contaminants are, but much is still unknown regarding the adverse ecosystem and human health impacts of microplastics due to the challenge of looking at them more closely. Studying their behaviour in water – where Karimpour focuses her research – is especially challenging.

However, according to Karimpour, improvements to detection have been among the changes over the past year.

“The research community globally has been working to establish standardized protocols for detection,” she says. “There are also new technologies designed for detection of microplastics, especially those small ones that aren’t visible to naked eyes.”

One example she gives is micro-Fourier-transform infrared reflectance (FTIR) spectroscopy, which allows researchers to visualize and map microplastics in micrometre scales. She also mentions state-of-the-art research equipment, including advanced optical tools, that she uses to assess how microplastic particles interact with the surrounding water and sediments.

“Our new high-frequency particle tracking velocimetry system enables us to track the motion of microplastics in water and develop models that accurately mimic their captured motion,” she explains.

Karimpour is among those contributing to advancements through participation in several multidisciplinary research collaborations focused on the toxicity of aquatic microplastics and source identification.

In one of those projects, she is analyzing – along with Professor Raymond Kwong, a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Biology at York, and PhD student Sejal Dave – the microplastic uptake of these contaminants under dynamic conditions on selective native and invasive species in Lake Ontario, with the hope of potentially using those species as bio-indicators in water.

Efforts like these over the past year have helped advance better understanding of microplastics, but also potential mitigation – which can, of course, also be helped by non-researchers. As academics have continued to work to solve the world’s most pressing sustainability challenges, Karimpour now repeats her advice from last year around the importance of what individuals can do to effect change.  

While she admits it’s nearly impossible to avoid plastics altogether in our daily lives, she encourages incorporating small adjustments that can make a big difference. On a practical level, she says, “what is important is to use plastic-based products with a longer life span, and as much as possible avoid using single-use plastic products.” On a big-picture level, she stresses the need for awareness. “It’s important to stay informed and raise awareness on this growing environmental issue and advocate for policies reducing plastic usage and promoting sustainable alternatives,” she says.

Initiatives like the Microlecture Series can accomplish that.

Looking back on her microlecture one year later, Karimpour is proud of the impact the series has had. She believes it achieved their goal of inspiring the community to tackle societal and environmental issues, including plastic pollution. Since her microlecture was released, she reports having had many inspiring discussions about it with community members – not only from York but from schools across the Greater Toronto Area, demonstrating a broader reach than originally anticipated.

“Seeing how it has resonated with viewers and contributed to their learning journey reaffirms the importance of accessible education and the power of digital platforms in disseminating information,” she says. “I honestly believe there is the will in people – and some companies – for change.”

To watch Karimpour’s microlecture, as well as the other five in the series – and earn your Sustainable Living Ambassador Badge – visit the Microlecture Series in Sustainable Living website.

York student becomes 3D printing CEO

Modern 3D printer printing figure close-up macro

Nick Di Scipio, a master of applied science candidate in mechanical engineering at York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering, is the CEO and founder of Pantheon Prototyping, an additive manufacturing (3D printing) company that has grown to provide services to major corporations.

Launched in 2021, Pantheon Prototyping is supported by a team of engineering, design and manufacturing experts who look to create functional products for various companies, layer by layer, leveraging the many benefits of additive manufacturing such as low production cost and enhanced product function.

Nick Di Scipio
Nick Di Scipio

Di Scipio’s interest in 3D printing began in his first year as an undergraduate student at Lassonde. “After getting my own 3D printer, I started printing different tools and parts for my classmates, charging a small fee. From a single printer in my basement, I created my own company.” 

He credits his ability to do so, in part, to the diverse courses and experiential learning opportunities he had at York and Lassonde, which exposed him to interesting technologies that inspired his curiosity and helped advance his technical skills.

“Lassonde is where I honed my skills as a mechanical engineer, learning the art of problem solving, engineering design, professional communication and more,” he says. “Lassonde was also where I first worked with 3D printers, and that exposure helped drive the creation of Pantheon. I learned that I could take 3D printing to the next level for students, business founders and other clientele.”

The Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology (BEST) program was also pivotal to the growth and development of Pantheon Prototyping. Di Scipio’s experience in the program helped him gain essential business skills like accounting, creating a business model and developing a compelling business pitch.

Through the program, he received support, funding, networking opportunities and valuable mentorship from Professor Andrew Maxwell, BEST program director and Bergeron Chair in Technology Entrepreneurship.

“Nick has demonstrated the entrepreneurial characteristics that enable engineers to be changemakers,” says Maxwell. “Pantheon is a great example of deploying a new technology to maximize benefits for Lassonde and York.”

In recent successes, Di Scipio had the opportunity to work with automotive industry leader Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association (APMA). While attending the Collision Conference in 2023, Di Scipio met the president of APMA, and months later, Pantheon Prototyping was hired to create 3D-printed corporate gifts and merchandise as part of the company’s new initiative Project Arrow, which aims to create Canada’s first zero-emission concept vehicle.

Harnessing the power of 3D printing, Di Scipio developed a unique, interactive business card (kit card) and customized, scaled-down model of the Project Arrow car, among other tailor-made products.

Working with prominent companies like APMA has enhanced Di Scipio’s entrepreneurial experience and allowed him to become an important part of monumental projects.

With the support of Lassonde behind him, Di Scipio will continue to advance the capabilities of Pantheon Prototyping and elevate the company to new heights. What started as a simple idea has grown into a well-respected organization with big plans for the future, like launching sub-brands to create highly specific products and tackle different markets.

“When I first decided to create a startup, I was an undergrad engineering student with zero experience in what it takes to run a business,” he says. “You don’t need a business background to be an entrepreneur; all you need is a good idea, a strong vision of where you want to take your idea and the determination to make that vision a reality.”

Prof’s discovery could advance future of thermoelectric devices

Engineer using tablet outside of energy generator plant

Simone Pisana, an associate professor in the Electrical Engineering & Computer Science Department at York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering, recently made a fascinating, unexpected discovery concerning two unique layered crystals that could have a significant impact on the development of thermoelectric devices.

Simone Pisana
Simone Pisana

After examining thermal properties of two types of crystals – named rhenium disulfide and rhenium diselenide – with a special approach, Pisana and his graduate student Sina Tahbaz found that both materials exhibit an extremely valuable property known as thermal conductivity anisotropy.

Materials demonstrating this behaviour conduct heat differently depending on the direction of flow. For example, when heat flows across one direction of the material surface, it can exhibit high thermal conductivity, but when heat flows in another direction it can demonstrate low thermal conductivity.

Thermal conductivity anisotropy is a highly sought-after quality for many material applications, specifically the development of thermoelectric devices, like thermoelectric generators, that can recover waste heat and turn it into usable electric power. These generators are used in various niche applications, including space missions like the Mars Curiosity and Perseverance rovers.

By dissipating heat in one direction and blocking heat in another, materials exhibiting thermal conductivity anisotropy can also be used to improve the cooling efficiency of electronic components like sensors and lasers.

“To improve thermoelectric devices, it is beneficial to have a material that is both a good electrical conductor and bad thermal conductor,” says Pisana. “If we can figure out how to direct heat, we can help engineer materials that recover and reuse waste heat.”

Pisana’s groundbreaking discovery regarding rhenium disulfide and rhenium diselenide has the potential to advance the future of thermoelectric devices. However, before these materials can be put to good use, he wants to find the fundamental explanation behind his experimental results.

“This discovery is only the beginning of our work,” he says. “We don’t really have a good explanation for the behaviour of these materials yet.”

Much of the surprise behind the experimental results concerns the size of the anisotropy measured. In the case of rhenium diselenide, the thermal conductivity was found to vary by a factor of four within the crystal’s layers – this level of anisotropy has never been observed before.

“This discovery has really made us wonder: why are these materials exhibiting this behaviour; are there other materials that act like this; and how do we explain this?”

Now, the professor and his graduate students are preparing for complex research ahead, working backwards from their experimental findings to establish an accurate scientific theory.

“Heat transport is very difficult to accurately model down to atomic dimensions, so coming up with a theory behind the behaviour of these materials won’t be easy,” he says. “We are performing some computations with the help of Digital Research Alliance Canada to support our work. Even with advanced supercomputers it can take hours of computing for a small set of calculations. This project is going to require us to invest a lot of time and labour.”

This work is presented in the paper “Extreme in-plane thermal conductivity anisotropy in Rhenium-based dichalcogenides,” published in the Journal of Physics Materials as part of a special emerging leaders initiative. Being classified among other leading researchers has allowed Pisana’s work to gain increased recognition among broad scientific communities.

Learn more about this research on Pisana’s Heat Transport in Electronic Devices Lab web page.

York research examines complexities of sight

eye wide

Andrew Eckford and Gene Cheung, associate professors in the Electrical Engineering & Computer Science Department at the Lassonde School of Engineering, are developing a tool that can interpret the activity of cells involved in visual processes, enhancing our understanding of this complex biological system.

Whether we are admiring a beautiful landscape or watching an action-packed movie, our visual system is hard at work performing intricate biological functions that allow us to process and respond to visual information.

Andrew Eckford
Andrew Eckford

Understanding the intricacies of the visual system is key to advancing research in biology, biomedicine and computer vision. Moreover, this understanding can aid in developing strategies to address visual impairments in humans.

Eckford and Cheung’s research is focused on nerve tissue behind the eye known as the retina. The retina is responsible for receiving images and sending them to the brain for processing using ganglion cells.

Many researchers have hypothesized that each ganglion cell type is responsible for computing specific features in a visual scene. For example, some cells may focus on information about the texture of an object, while others may process movement in a particular direction.

“From a big-picture perspective, we are trying to gain a better understanding of the visual system and how the eye processes information,” says Eckford. “We developed a tool that can analyze a data set of ganglion cell activity and identify relationships and patterns to predict exactly what they are looking at.”

Gene Cheung
Gene Cheung

Eckford and Cheung, and their graduate student Yasaman Parhizkar, proposed a graph-based tool that uses mathematical operations to discover patterns within a data set and make useful predictions about trends among the data points.

The proposed tool was tested using visual data gathered from a novel experiment led by University of Chicago Professor Stephanie Palmer. During the experiment, a film about an aquatic environment was projected onto the retinas of salamanders. The scenes resembled their natural habitat – imagine cool waters, sea plants and the occasional swimming fish.

As the film played, data concerning the salamanders’ ganglion cell activity was collected. The graph-based tool was used to identify and interpret trends within the data set and link these patterns to specific visual features in the film.

“It’s really cool to be able to take a data set of cell activity and see if we can predict exactly what the eye is looking at,” says Eckford.

Not only did the tool exhibit the capacity to interpret patterns within the data set and make useful predictions, but it also surpassed the abilities of comparable algorithms.

“Our tool addressed many of the problems that other algorithms have,” says Parhizkar. “Ours is much more interpretable and less data hungry.”

The applications of this unique tool can also be extended far beyond the field of biology, to industries such as agriculture, for making predictions about crop yield. 

Learn more about this work in Eckford, Cheung (who is also a member of Conencted Minds) and Parhizkar’s recent publication.

York research advances flood risk management with AI

flood surrounding traffic sign BANNER

In a recently published paper, Rahma Khalid, a PhD candidate in the Civil Engineering Department at York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering, and her supervisor, Associate Professor Usman Khan, proposed a promising new model for flood susceptibility mapping (FSM) that incorporates artificial intelligence (AI) machine learning (ML) methods.

Flood susceptibility mapping – the process of identifying potential flood-prone areas based on their physical characteristics – is a valuable technique used to identify areas that are vulnerable to flooding and inform risk mitigation and protection strategies. Unfortunately, conventional FSM methods rely on time-consuming physical and mathematical models that are also limited in their ability to predict flood risk across large regions.

Rahma Khalid
Rahma Khalid

“We have seen that physical and mathematical models can be very inconvenient for flood susceptibility mapping, especially when it comes to analyzing large areas,” says Khalid. “From a research perspective, we know that using machine learning can improve the speed and efficiency of different processes. This is why we proposed a flood susceptibility mapping model that is leveraged by machine learning for more accurate, rapid and reliable results.”

In their paper, titled “Flood susceptibility mapping using ANNs: a case study in model generalization and accuracy from Ontario, Canada,” Khalid and Khan document how they put their idea to the test and utilized an ML model to map out different regions in southern Ontario and determine their flood susceptibility.

Usman Khan
Usman Khan

They did so by using previously gathered data from different regions across southern Ontario, allowing the model to interpret, identify and predict areas that are at risk of flooding.

The model’s performance was also compared against conventional physical and mathematical models, as well as various emerging ML methods.

“When it comes to flood susceptibility mapping in real-world scenarios, machine learning models have not really been used,” says Khalid. “Industry members are also hesitant to apply these models because there is very little information about their accuracy and reliability.”

Khalid and Khan’s proposed model addressed limitations of other FSM models through training and testing that proved it to be a superior method for flood susceptibility mapping, outperforming other models. It even demonstrated novel capabilities that can help advance the future of flood risk management.

“Our model demonstrated a novel ability to accurately predict flood susceptibility, even across areas that we did not provide training data for,” says Khalid. “Knowing this, we can work towards training our model to understand more about different regions and further improve its ability to predict flood susceptibility in larger areas.”

Currently, Khalid and Khan are working on enhancing the performance of their model with a particular focus on improving data resolution, as well exploring the possibility of supplementing their model with additional ML methods.

Prof receives funding recognizing emerging research leadership


Hossein Kassiri, an associate professor in the Electrical Engineering & Computer Science Department at York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering, was recently honoured with a prestigious Early Researcher Award (ERA) from the government of Ontario. He is the only researcher at York University to receive the award this year.

Hossein Kaassiri
Hossein Kassiri

The ERA recognizes rising stars in the initial stages of their research journeys who are leading impactful work. It looks to fuel innovation across Ontario by providing recipients with funding to help build teams of researchers supporting the future of innovation.

“This award is one of the most prestigious recognitions an academic can receive early in their career – it’s a great feeling to be acknowledged,” says Kassiri. “Receiving an ERA indicates that I’m headed in the right direction with my research.”

Kassiri plans to use his ERA funding to recruit talented graduate students who will help support his interdisciplinary research project spanning across disciplines from electrical engineering to neuroscience. His research focuses on the design and development of miniature brain implants that can help monitor, diagnose, and treat neurological disorders such as epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease.

These small, powerful implants work wirelessly and do not require batteries. They can sense neuronal activities in different areas of the brain, process them using machine learning algorithms that are specifically tailored for each patient, and provide responsive feedback to the brain through electric or optical pulses.

“This award will provide the financial support necessary to hire more excellent researchers and advance the development of medical device technologies,” says Kassiri.