Professor Emeritus Gordon Shepherd publishes book exploring aurora and airglow of Earth’s upper atmosphere

Landscape with the prairie skies, Gordon Shepherd was born in the white house on the right of the photo
Landscape with the prairie skies, Gordon Shepherd was born in the white house on the right of the photo
Professor Shepherd in his office, holding up the COSPAR medal which he won
Professor Shepherd in his office, holding up the COSPAR medal which he won

Distinguished York University Professor Emeritus of Space Science, Gordon G. Shepherd, has published a new book, From Prairie Skies to Outer Space, a memoir which explores his life’s research on the aurora and the airglow in Earth’s upper atmosphere. Shepherd spent roughly half his life in Saskatchewan watching the aurora at night and the other half at York University, developing satellite instruments and missions for exploring the upper atmosphere.

Shepherd was fortunate to have grown up under Saskatchewan skies, watching the aurora borealis by eye, and then being a professor at the University of Saskatchewan when the space age began. As a pioneering space scientist, he was ready to participate in NASA’s billion-dollar UARS satellite mission when the opportunity arose.

Landscape with the prairie skies, Gordon Shepherd was born in the white house on the right of the photo
Landscape with the prairie skies, Gordon Shepherd was born in the white house on the right of the photo

The book pays homage to the major research activities of Shepherd’s career in the field of solar terrestrial research. This includes the conception of a field-widened Michelson interferometer for the measurement of winds in the upper atmosphere, called WINDII (Wind Imaging Interferometer), designed and built in Canada, and flown on NASA’s Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite from 1991 to 2003. This design and fabrication of such instruments allow for the observation and research of aurora and airglow in Earth’s upper atmosphere.

WINDII Instrument being lowered onto the NASA UARS satellite
WINDII Instrument being lowered onto the NASA UARS satellite

The aurora borealis and australis provide an immense amount of information about the influence of the sun on Earth’s magnetic environment. Through the sun’s 11-year cycle of activity, its little-understood longer-term variations, and its short-lived flares, it causes geomagnetic storms that can interfere with radio wave propagation and disrupt power lines. For this reason, its study is of great importance to Canada, as to other polar countries.

The second optical phenomenon is “airglow”, produced by solar ultraviolet light which dissociates molecular oxygen to atomic form, driving chemical activity, including visible light, similar to the aurora, but at a level below the visual threshold of the human eye. Because it occurs continuously, all over the Earth, its study is extremely valuable in characterizing the state of the upper atmosphere.

From Prairie Skies to Outer Space can be purchased on Amazon.

Shepherd has published two previous books, Spectral Imaging of the Atmosphere (2002) and Canada’s Fifty Years in Space – the COSPAR Anniversary (2008).

About the author

Gordon G. Shepherd obtained his BSc and MSc degrees at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon before receiving his PhD at the University of Toronto in 1956. After 12 years as a faculty member at the University of Saskatchewan, Shepherd became professor of physics at York University in 1969. He retired in 2000 and maintains an active research program as Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus.

Shepherd is a highly distinguished academic and has graduated more than 30 PhD students during his career. Awards and recognitions include: Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, Fellow of the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute, John H. Chapman Award of Excellence from the Canadian Space Agency, SCOSTEP Distinguished Research Scientist Award and the COSPAR William Norberg Medal.

Call for Nominations: Head of Bethune College

students outside of the chemistry building
students outside of the chemistry building

The Faculty of Science and the Lassonde School of Engineering are seeking a tenured faculty member who can provide leadership and mentoring to the intellectual community of students, faculty and Fellows at Bethune College. The college head must be committed to enhancing the experience of York’s students, especially first-year students.

Those who can fulfill these goals are encouraged to apply for the position of head of Bethune College, which is affiliated with and serves the students of the Faculty of Science and Lassonde School of Engineering. More information about Bethune College can be found at https://bethune.yorku.ca/about/.

Applications/nominations will be accepted until Jan. 29, 2021. The new position commences July 1, 2021 for a period of three years.

The successful candidate will be committed to enhancing the student experience, including the first-year experience, through the delivery of student-centred programs and services, and to engaging members of the York University community, as well as the wider community. The successful applicant must also demonstrate superior administrative skills, particularly in the areas of finance, staff supervision and leadership. The college head will have a thorough knowledge of York’s academic and administrative processes.

If you are a tenured faculty member interested in becoming the head of Bethune College, you can apply directly. If you are a member of the York University community who knows a tenured faculty member who would make an exceptional college head, we welcome your nomination of that individual.

College heads receive a stipend, course release and sabbatical top-up. For faculty members with an active research program, research support funds may be available upon submission of a proposal to the deans of Science and Lassonde.

Bethune College’s search committee is chaired by Professor Gerald Audette. Applications/nominations should be submitted by email to Tianna McFarlane (tiannam@yorku.ca) in the Office of the Dean, Faculty of Science. The deadline for applications is Friday, Jan. 29, 2021.

Lassonde prof selected executive vice-president and upcoming president of Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering

CzekanskiAFeatured

Aleksander (Alex) Czekanski, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Lassonde School of Engineering and the founding director of York University’s Centre for Automotive Research, has been selected as the executive vice-president and upcoming president of the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering (CSME).

Alex Czekanski
Alex Czekanski

Czekanski has made significant contributions to the CSME through his leadership and dedication to innovative engineering education. Just after joining York University, he launched the Mechanical Engineering Club in 2014–15, the first CSME student chapter at York University.

He is also a founding chair of the CSME Student National Design Competition, which provides undergraduate students in mechanical engineering and other disciplines in Canada an opportunity to showcase their engineering skills and achievements to a wide audience. In the 2014–17 competitions, teams of students were challenged to design and build low-cost 3D printers. Beginning in 2018, the competition took on a new format, where dozens of students began showcasing their capstone design projects. In 2018, Czekanski was the Congress Chair of the CSME International Congress at York University, with more than 200 participants attending and 250 papers being presented. In the last two years, he has led the CSME Congresses Committee to support future CSME Congresses.

Czekanski is the recipient of many CSME honours and awards, including the Robert W. Angus Medal, which is awarded annually to a Canadian engineer for outstanding contributions to the management and practice of mechanical engineering. He is also recognized as a Fellow of the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering.

Call for Nominations: Head of Bethune College

The Faculty of Science and the Lassonde School of Engineering are seeking a tenured faculty member who can provide leadership and mentoring to the intellectual community of students, faculty and Fellows at Bethune College. The college head must be committed to enhancing the experience of York’s students, especially first-year students.

Those who can fulfill these goals are encouraged to apply for the position of head of Bethune College, which is affiliated with and serves the students of the Faculty of Science and Lassonde School of Engineering. More information about Bethune College can be found at https://bethune.yorku.ca/about/.

Applications/nominations will be accepted until Jan. 29, 2021. The new position commences July 1, 2021 for a period of three years.

The successful candidate will be committed to enhancing the student experience, including the first-year experience, through the delivery of student-centred programs and services, and to engaging members of the York University community, as well as the wider community. The successful applicant must also demonstrate superior administrative skills, particularly in the areas of finance, staff supervision and leadership. The college head will have a thorough knowledge of York’s academic and administrative processes.

If you are a tenured faculty member interested in becoming the head of Bethune College, you can apply directly. If you are a member of the York University community who knows a tenured faculty member who would make an exceptional college head, we welcome your nomination of that individual.

College heads receive a stipend, course release and sabbatical top-up. For faculty members with an active research program, research support funds may be available upon submission of a proposal to the deans of Science and Lassonde.

Bethune College’s search committee is chaired by Professor Gerald Audette. Applications/nominations should be submitted by email to Tianna McFarlane (tiannam@yorku.ca) in the Office of the Dean, Faculty of Science. The deadline for applications is Friday, Jan. 29, 2021.

Professor draws on expertise of the Lassonde Education & Innovation Studio

Bergeron Centre
Bergeron Centre

When remote course delivery became a reality for the 2020 fall semester, Mojgan Jadidi knew she would need some support in turning her third-year course, ESSE3600 – GIS and Spatial Analysis, into a successful online experience, so the Lassonde assistant professor of geomatics engineering turned to the most likely source of assistance: the Lassonde Education and Innovation Studio (LEIS).

Mojgan Jadidi
Mojgan Jadidi

LEIS was established in the spring of 2020 as a way of assisting faculty at the Lassonde School of Engineering in bringing innovation into their classrooms. When the pandemic hit and instruction moved online, their work became highly valued. Jadidi is a member of LEIS, as well as a client.

“As an instructor, it’s important to give my students a learning journey, and LEIS sparked ideas about how my students could move smoothly toward applying their skills to something tangible,” said Jadidi. “Their expertise helped me design my course so that I could continue to use the flipped classroom mode once we return to in-class instruction.

“In working with LEIS, I realized that we also need to be very effective in our communications online and that students need a clear roadmap so they know what they are doing each week.”

In the flipped classroom approach, students are responsible for reading/watching the requisite informational material prior to attending class. Class time is used to discuss the concepts and theories or to work through problems that rely on what the students have learned themselves.

Jadidi asks her students to watch a series of short videos prior to attending class. They then solve problems or do exercises together or in break-out groups during a synchronous online class. The lab component of the class operates in similar fashion. Students spend the first portion of their lab time following structured lab instructions on their own. A live, synchronous lab follows, allowing for a discussion of their results and any problems they encountered.

Jadidi has also adopted a different approach to grading the course, focusing largely on competence-based assessment. Sixty per cent of the grade is based on a digital portfolio the students are required to create using COVID-19-related scenarios that also incorporate systems design, problem solving, GIS data science techniques and software, as well as equity, diversity and inclusion. There are three individual projects and a team project.

“We have both engineering and science students in the class, and they have different ways of looking at a problem and designing the solution,” Jadidi said. “They complement each other as they work together to create something new.”

The students tackle one of these digital challenges every three weeks, using the new knowledge they have accumulated during that period. First, Jadidi asks them, in a hypothetical scenario, to decide where to locate new hand sanitizing stations on campus; next, where a new COVID-19 testing centre should be built; and finally, how to make that testing centre accessible. The team project focuses on dealing with the disruptive COVID-19 situation to implement UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

“These projects bring a lot of concepts and skills together and allow the students to apply their knowledge,” Jadidi said. “Although in this case, their ‘client’ is York University in a hypothetical scenario, this problem could exist anywhere, and they can apply what they’ve learned in their future career path.

“By the end of the term, they will have a digital portfolio that they can present to any employer.”

Jadidi says she hopes the class has given students skills that will assist them in their careers.

“They will know how to use data to solve problems, applying spatial data science techniques which should be useful when they seek informed decision making and optimal solutions,” she said.

She is delighted by the way her revamped course is unfolding and credits LEIS for helping her bring it to life online.

“At Lassonde, we’re always trying new educational methods to give practical experiences to the students,” Jadidi said. “We need to be innovative and move from traditional objectives to something new so students can learn.”

By Elaine Smith, special contributing writer

UNHack offers future changemakers an opportunity to design solutions and impact lives

Students grouped around a computer

UnHack More than 400 student changemakers will work on interdisciplinary teams to solve some of the world’s most important problemsposter shows copy that is featured in the storyThe Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science & Technology (BEST) program at the Lassonde School of Engineering is running a virtual three-day experiential learning event called UNHack, Nov. 20, 21 and 22.

More than 400 student changemakers will work on interdisciplinary teams to solve some of the world’s most important problems using Design Sprint methodology. From climate change to improving education systems, they will learn how they can impact society, starting from even the smallest scale.

The weekend is designed to be an immersive experiential program where participants can learn about creative problem solving, team building and about themselves. York University students from engineering, business, science, health, environmental and urban change, and humanities, will work on teams with high school students from Grades 11 and 12. The event will teach them how to define an important problem, develop a viable solution and build an implementation plan.

Over the course of the three days, the students will learn to:

  • Discover their passion;
  • Appreciate how they can make a difference;
  • Connect with like-minded people during a shared experience;
  • Identify a real problem, develop potential solutions, select and validate best solution;
  • Understand how to assess desirability, viability and feasibility;
  • Work in a dynamic team to nurture team and leadership skills;
  • Experience creative problem-solving approaches;
  • Meet students, mentors, and advisors to expand their network;
  • Explore future career options.

This year’s challenges will focus on a theme centred on the United Nations’ (UN) 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as quality education, climate action, affordable and clean energy, sustainable cities and communities, good health and well-being. Participants will also focus on a series of York University Sustainability Challenges such as how to reduce organic waste on campus, how to improve waste management and recycling on campus, and  how to reduce the impact of smoking that impacts non-smokers on campus.

To learn more, visit http://www.bestlassonde.ca/unhack/.

Eighth annual Mercier Seminar featured entrepreneur and philanthropist James Temerty

Temerty FEATURED image
Temerty FEATURED image

The Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science & Technology (BEST) at the Lassonde School of Engineering hosted the eighth annual Mercier Seminar Oct. 27. The event featured a keynote presentation by James Temerty, who is the founder of Northland Power, a philanthropist and business executive. It was offered over Zoom.

“Be Bold, Dream, Begin” are the keywords that Temerty lives by as an entrepreneur. At an early age, Temerty told the Mercier Seminar audience that he always sought to do things differently and was very active in extra-curricular activities in his school, including initiating and leading different clubs.

Mercier Seminar keynote lecturer James Temerty presented his comments via Zoom to a capacity crowd
Mercier Seminar keynote lecturer James Temerty presented his comments via Zoom to a capacity crowd

During his post-secondary education at Concordia University in Montreal, Temerty and his friends decided to hold an event that would employ more than 40 students. Initiating, planning and holding the event served to kickstart his lifelong passion for entrepreneurship. After graduation, Temerty worked for more than 15 years with IBM. He spoke to the audience about his many roles with the company and his enduring focus on providing unique solutions to situations he encountered during a multifaceted career in sales, product planning and management.

After leaving IBM, Temerty began work on a computer storefront known as Computerland with a salesman he used to manage. They scaled the business from one to 30 storefronts. He told the Mercier Seminar audience that the ambition and drive established at a young age were what drove him to scale his business so dramatically. He spoke about the importance of overcoming hardships and obstacles, without which, he said, he wouldn’t have been able to execute the business in a way that would lead to such success.

After six years building Computerland, Temerty received a phone call that would soon determine the creation of one of Canada’s first environmentally conscious power plants – Northland Power. The company was innovative in that it made use of wood wastes and residue to create steam and make electricity. As an entrepreneur, Temerty spoke frankly about his lack of prior knowledge in the field of power generation and the importance of the nature of entrepreneurs to naturally learn and adapt in different fields. He said he was able to transition into different aspects of the market because of his ability to craft solutions that are completely unique to a problem. He discussed the many obstacles and his approach to devising specific paths to develop innovative solutions that benefitted Northland Power.

Following his talk, Temerty participated in a Q-and-A session with the Mercier Seminar audience. When Lassonde Professor Andrew Maxwell, the Bergeron Chair In Technology Entrepreneurship and director of BEST, asked Temerty what advice he would give to students about how to develop an entrepreneurial mindset, and how he made best use of the lessons he learned over the course of his career. Temerty responded frankly and with passion. “It is important to realize that there is more to life than just your career, your job and the money that you make, you need to be able to put your head on a pillow and feel good about yourself, that takes executing across a lot of things,” he said.

“You also need to feel good about how to participate in society starting with your family, your community and your country. You should find room in your life to volunteer, to do things, to help other people. You should build other skills such as soft skills and emotional quotient, develop natural curiosity about things and about people,” he added. “You need to be active, open and take leadership role in extracurricular activities at school and make connections with organizations with the culture of excellence and be creative in that culture, then things will open up. Don’t jump into just launching your business, get all the equipment, get the skills that you need first.”

The eighth Mercier Seminar 2020 sold out quickly with 250 audience members. Participating in the seminar were York President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton, students from across the University, professors, staff and founders from the startup community.

The recorded video of Temerty’s Mercier Seminar can be found at:  https://vimeo.com/473185562.

With files from Maedeh Sedaghat, program officer, Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology (BEST), Lassonde School of Engineering

PhD student develops tool for improved symptom management in oncology patients

Oncology FEATURED image Brainstorm
Oncology FEATURED image Brainstorm

New research from York University represents a remarkable step forward in personalized breast cancer treatment. Lassonde School of Engineering PhD student Khadijeh Saednia, in collaboration with Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, the University of Toronto and others, investigated a novel application of machine learning to detect skin toxicity (or damage) from breast radiotherapy much earlier than was previously possible.

This study proved the feasibility of artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted image-guided approaches – specifically, Quantitative Thermal Imaging (QTI) – as a new clinical decision support tool for symptom management in the breast radiation oncology clinic.

This was possible through earlier detection using machine learning methodologies: “Patients undergoing radiation therapy, or RT, would benefit from earlier detection of skin damage or toxicity because symptom management could be introduced sooner than is the existing practice. These individuals could experience an improved quality of life during and beyond treatment,” Saednia emphasizes.

A significant patient population could benefit from early detection and early intervention for symptom management
A significant patient population could benefit from early detection and early intervention for symptom management

This original research was supervised by Lassonde Professor Ali Sadeghi-Naini, York Research Chair in Quantitative Imaging and Smart Biomarkers, and Sunnybrook Scientist Dr. William Tran, funded by the Terry Fox Foundation and published in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics (2020).

Radiation therapy, a key part of post-operative management, often has side effects on the skin

This research fills an important void. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian women (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers). It is the second leading cause of death from cancer in Canadian women. It is estimated that, in 2020, 27,400 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer – that’s 25 per cent of all new cancer cases in women in 2020. (Canadian Cancer Society)

RT, which uses ionizing radiation to target residual cancer cells of the breast, is a crucial component in the postoperative management of breast cancer. But the side effects from this treatment may affect patients’ quality of life since the skin is susceptible to radiation damage and toxicity. This can mean pain and discomfort for these patients. That’s one of the reasons why patients undergoing RT are carefully monitored.

From the left: Ali Sadeghi-Naini and Khadijeh Saednia
From the left: Ali Sadeghi-Naini and Khadijeh Saednia

Saednia, who specializes in AI and machine learning for cancer management, turned her attention to one common side effect of RT in breast cancer patients: dermatitis. She suspected that thermal imaging in conjunction with machine learning could help because it could detect the damage earlier than previously possible.

She explains how this would work: “Physiological changes associated with radiation-induced dermatitis, such as inflammation, may also increase body-surface temperature, which can be detected by thermal imaging.” Quantitative imaging techniques coupled with machine learning can potentially be adapted to detect such alterations earlier after the start of RT.

So, she investigated the use of QTI biomarkers and machine learning for early detection of radiation-induced skin toxicity in breast cancer.

Ninety patients recruited from Sunnybrook

Saednia’s study took place at the Odette Cancer Centre at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto. Image reproduced with permission of Sunnybrook.
Saednia’s study took place at the Odette Cancer Centre at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto. Image reproduced with permission of Sunnybrook.

The research team recruited 90 patients who were being treated for RT. The study took place in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Odette Cancer Centre at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.

Thermal images of the treated areas of these patients were acquired at various intervals: before RT, then weekly. Parametric thermograms, which measure heat, were applied and their findings analyzed. The thermograms were used to derive quantitative thermal-based features that included surface temperature and texture parameters. Skin toxicity or damage was evaluated at the end of RT using the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events guidelines.

<Caption> This diagram illustrates how the QTI measured the heat and detected the damage or toxicity resulting from the RT at various different points in time. (“Fraction” refers to the session.)
This diagram illustrates how the QTI measured the heat and detected the damage or toxicity resulting from the RT at various different points in time. (“Fraction” refers to the session.)

Results: Researchers were able to predict skin toxicity much earlier

Thirty-seven patients, of the 90 in the study, exhibited adverse skin effects, and had significantly higher local increases in skin temperature, reaching above 36 C.

The timing of this key finding is what’s important; the researchers’ ability to measure skin toxicity earlier than previously possible is key. Skin toxicity is typically observed after the 10th RT session (or fraction) or after 10 or 14 days of initiating RT. Instead, Saednia and her team, using QTI with machine learning, obtained this information at the fifth RT session, demonstrating early prediction capabilities to severe skin toxicity.

“Machine learning models demonstrated early thermal signals associated with skin-toxicity after the fifth radiotherapy fraction with high prediction accuracy,” she explains.

“Our study concluded that QTI can be used to detect changes associated with radiation-induced dermatitis and can be integrated with machine learning frameworks to develop a predictive tool for skin-toxicity assessment at early treatment times,” adds Sadeghi-Naini.

Saednia is confident that a significant patient population would potentially benefit from early detection and early intervention for symptom management. She emphasizes the direct application of this research: “We propose that ‘smart’ QTI be used as a clinical tool in radiation oncology.”

To read the article, “Quantitative Thermal Imaging Biomarkers to Detect Acute Skin Toxicity from Breast Radiotherapy Using Supervised Machine Learning,” visit the publisher’s website. To learn more about Ali Sadeghi-Naini, visit his Faculty profile page.

To learn more about Research & Innovation at York, follow us at @YUResearch; watch our new video, which profiles current research strengths and areas of opportunity, such as Artificial Intelligence and Indigenous futurities; and see the snapshot infographic, a glimpse of the year’s successes.

By Megan Mueller, senior manager, Research Communications, Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation, York University, muellerm@yorku.ca

Lassonde grad student to work at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Athina Peidou

Lassonde PhD student Athina Peidou is heading off to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California where she will be doing innovative work on the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) and GRACE Follow-on missions.

NASA’s GRACE launched in March of 2002. The mission studies gravity variations in Earth such as changes to surface and bottom of the ocean and ground water storage on land masses. Peidou’s work will focus on developing strategies and methodologies for new gravitational models for the Earth.

Peidou is positioned well in this research group, having recently worked on a systematic problem present in the gravity field models. Read more about her work in a previously published article here, which details how Peidou and the team discovered that when the orbit of a mission follows an interlaced pattern while sampling the Earth gravitational signal, stripes are created on the gravity field maps.

The gravity field maps derived from satellite measurements are obscured by very disturbing thick lines sweeping from south to north, partially masking useful information. Identifying this pattern was challenging and constitutes a breakthrough, which may eventually lead to removing the stripes altogether, providing more fulsome data for researchers. Peidou will continue working on the uncertainties of the global gravity field models at JPL/NASA.

“This opportunity opens the avenues to collaborate with the top field scientists in my discipline. Now, I get to collaborate with scientists whose work I studied as a PhD student, and develop with them new methodologies for the advancements of the field,” says Peidou.

York University announces 12 York Research Chair appointments

Vari pond
Vari pond

Eight emerging and four established researchers across the University will join the York Research Chairs (YRC) program, York University’s internal counterpart to the national Canada Research Chairs (CRC) program, which recognizes outstanding researchers. Two of these appointments are renewals.

These YRCs belong to the seventh cohort of researchers to be appointed since the establishment of the program in 2015. These YRCs’ terms start July 1 and run through to June 30, 2025.

Rhonda L. Lenton

“Our new YRCs exemplify the extraordinary contributions of York’s researchers,” said President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton. “York is committed to ensuring that our research, scholarship and creative activities are focused on the needs of the communities we serve and on the complex challenges facing our society – from climate change to racism. In the current context, as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, research focused on creating positive change is even more important. The YRC program is central to that commitment, and we are proud to support the ongoing excellence of our outstanding researchers through this initiative.”

Amir Asif

The YRC program seeks to build research recognition and capacity, with excellence in research, scholarship and associated creative activity serving as selection criteria. “This program mirrors the federal CRC program to broaden and deepen the impact of research chairs at York in building and intensifying world-renowned research across the institution. These new YRCs are undertaking visionary work that has local, national and international impact,” said Vice-President Research & Innovation Amir Asif.

Tier I YRCs are open to established research leaders at the rank of full professor. Tier II YRCs are aimed at emerging research leaders within 15 years of their first academic appointment.

Tier I York Research Chairs

Ilijas Farah

Ilijas Farah
York Research Chair in Foundations of Operator Algebras

Ilijas Farah, Faculty of Science, singlehandedly developed the field of the applications of logic to operator algebras, revealing deep and unexpected connections between the foundations of mathematics and some of the most concrete and ubiquitous mathematical objects. A top researcher in both of these hitherto unrelated subjects, he was invited to speak at the International Congress of Mathematicians. He was also fortunate to supervise some spectacularly talented PhD students.

Stephen Gaetz
Stephen Gaetz

Stephen Gaetz
York Research Chair in Homelessness and Research Impact

Stephen Gaetz, Faculty of Education, is the director of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, the Homeless Hub, and Making the Shift – Youth Homelessness Social Innovation Lab. He has a long-standing interest in understanding homelessness – its causes, how it is experienced and potential solutions. His research is defined by his desire to ‘make research matter’ through working in collaboration with partners to conduct and mobilize research so as to have an impact on policy and practice.

Obiora Okafor
Obiora Okafor

Obiora Okafor
York Research Chair in International and Transnational Legal Studies

Obiora Okafor, Osgoode Hall Law School, has had his YRC renewed. This renewal supports the continuation of Okafor’s research on Canada’s human rights engagements with various African countries, including in the sub-areas of economic and social rights, judicial strengthening, institution building, democratization and poverty alleviation. This work includes a study on Canada’s human rights engagements with the African Union as a body.

Laurie Wilcox
Laurie Wilcox

Laurie Wilcox
York Research Chair in 3D Vision

Laurie M. Wilcox, Faculty of Health, is a member of the Centre for Vision Research and VISTA (Vision: Science to Applications). Her research focuses on the neural mechanisms responsible for human depth perception and how depth information is processed under complex real-world conditions. She has a long history of collaboration with industry partners, for instance in 3D film (IMAX, Christie) and more recently in virtual and augmented reality (Qualcomm Canada) and image quality (VESA).

Tier 2 York Research Chairs

Ali Abdul-Sater
Ali Abdul-Sater

Ali Abdul-Sater
York Research Chair in the Regulatory Mechanisms of Inflammation

Ali Abdul-Sater, Faculty of Health, is interested in identifying novel regulators of inflammation and understanding how these regulators control immunity and the inflammatory response. He is pursuing several avenues of research: the roles of the protein TRAF1 in controlling inflammatory and autoimmune diseases; the role of Type I interferons (proteins made in response to the presence of viruses) in bacterial and viral responses; and how exercise regulates the immune response.

FES Professor Sheila Colla
Sheila Colla

Sheila Colla
York Research Chair in Interdisciplinary Conservation Science

Sheila Colla, Faculty of Environmental Studies, is an ecologist using scientific principles to address real-world conservation issues. Her research focuses on the conservation of lesser understood native species such as bees, butterflies and flowering plants. She works closely with environmental NGOs, landowners, academic partners and government agencies to implement conservation management based on the best available science. She wants her research to inform relevant environmental and agricultural policy.

Mike Daly
Mike Daly

Mike Daly
York Research Chair in Planetary Science

Mike Daly, whose YRC was renewed, is in the Lassonde School of Engineering. This appointment recognizes Daly’s outstanding contribution to space-flight instrumentation research at York. The YRC will enable his participation in NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission to the near-Earth asteroid Bennu and the return of Canada’s first sample of material from another solar system. Knowledge gained from Bennu could provide key information about the origins of Earth and the solar system.

Sarah Flicker
Sarah Flicker

Sarah Flicker
York Research Chair in Community-Based Participatory Research

Sarah Flicker, Faculty of Environmental Studies, is an expert in community development, health promotion and adolescent well-being. Flicker’s innovative program of research focuses on the engagement of youth and other allied actors in environmental, sexual and reproductive justice. She works across methodologies using participatory approaches for social change.

Eve Haque
Eve Haque

Eve Haque
York Research Chair in Linguistic Diversity and Community Vitality

Eve Haque, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, has research and teaching interests that include multiculturalism, white settler colonialism and language policy, with a focus on the regulation and representation of racialized groups in white settler societies. Her current research focus is on the recognition and language rights of non-official language communities in Canada. She is also the author of Multiculturalism Within a Bilingual Framework: Language, Race and Belonging in Canada.

Ali Sadeghi-Naini
Ali Sadeghi-Naini

Ali Sadeghi-Naini
York Research Chair in Quantitative Imaging and Smart Biomarkers

Ali Sadeghi-Naini, Lassonde School of Engineering, is an emerging leader in multi-disciplinary research at the intersection of AI, biomedical engineering, biophysics and oncology. His seminal studies demonstrated, for the first time, that quantitative ultrasound biomarkers at low frequencies can detect cell death induced by anti-cancer therapies. He seeks to develop quantitative imaging and biomarker technologies integrated with innovative machine learning and computational modeling techniques for precision medicine and personalized therapeutics.

Valerie Schoof
Valerie Schoof

Valérie A. M. Schoof
York Research Chair in Primate Behavioural Endocrinology

Valérie A.M. Schoof, Glendon Campus, is a primatologist whose research program, funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and New Frontiers in Research Fund, focuses on the ecology, sociality, physiology and life history of wild primates in East Africa, and the biological, geographical and cultural factors influencing human-wildlife interactions. She is also the director of the Primate Behavioural Endocrinology Lab, recently funded by Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Research Fund.

Marlis Schweitzer
Marlis Schweitzer

Marlis Schweitzer
York Research Chair in Theatre and Performance History

Marlis Schweitzer, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design, is a theatre and performance historian with a specialization in 19th and early-20th century Anglo-American performance. Schweitzer plans to use her YRC to explore urgent questions about the relationship between historical casting practices, theatre’s role in the circulation and perpetuation of racist stereotypes, and the onstage representation of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) individuals in contemporary Anglo-American performance.