Legal aid inquiries more than double at Osgoode Investor Protection Clinic

Osgoode Hall Law School entrance to the Ignat Kaneff building

The number of Canadians seeking advice from an Osgoode Hall Law School free legal clinic for wronged investors has more than doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Osgoode Investor Protection Clinic (IPC) completed 57 intake interviews between May 1, 2020 and April 30, 2021, which is up from 18 in the same period last year, according to the clinic’s newly released 2021 Annual Report

“The pandemic has created a perfect storm of market volatility and isolation that has contributed to a significant increase in the number of potentially fraudulent cases,” said Osgoode Hall Law School Professor Poonam Puri, the clinic’s academic director. 

Poonam Puri
Poonam Puri

The first of its kind in Canada, the Osgoode Investor Protection Clinic was launched in 2016 to provide pro-bono legal advice to people who believe their investments were mishandled and who cannot afford a lawyer. The clinic pairs 14 second- and third-year Osgoode juris doctor students with supervising lawyers from leading business law firms in Ontario. 

Puri and the clinic’s team documented an uptick in complaints from people who saw their investments decline and not recover with the market, prompting clients to question whether the investment products and advice were suitable. The cases were often exacerbated by physical distancing and quarantine measures that left investors cut off from trusted sources and vulnerable to unsuitable and high-risk investment products. 

Among their growing case load, the IPC students assisted several low-income clients who were left with substantial debt after their advisers inappropriately recommended that they borrow to invest – a practice called leveraged loans. There was also a prevalence of cases involving affinity fraud, often targeting immigrant groups that identify with the fraudster based on a shared ethnicity, culture, language and/or religion. 

“Our team continues to work very hard to respond to the increasing number of retail investor concerns,” said Puri.

The IPC is currently open and conducting virtual intake interviews. Everyone who brings forward a complaint receives an interview, although not every file is selected for representation. 

In addition to frontline client support, the IPC works to prevent losses before they happen. The Retail Investors Guide to COVID-19 provides a list of dos and don’ts for retail investors, and highlights common scams related to COVID-19, including get-rich-quick schemes and investment products marketed as “higher returns with no extra risk.” 

For more information on the latest stats and trends from the Osgoode Investor Protection Clinic, visit the clinic’s website. The clinic’s 2021 Annual Report is also available on the website.

       

The Royal Society of Canada elects five York professors into its ranks

Royal Society of Canada FEATURED image for YFile

The York University faculty are among 89 new Fellows who have been elected by their peers for their outstanding scholarly, scientific and artistic achievement, and 51 new members of the RSC College.

Five York University professors have been elected to the Royal Society of Canada (RSC). They are: Philip Girard, a professor at Osgoode Hall Law School; Jennifer Hyndman, associate vice-president research and a professor in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change and the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS); Michele Johnson, associate dean of students and a history professor in LA&PS; and Christina Petrowska Quilico, a music professor in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design. Appointed to the RSC College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists is Jane Heffernan, a professor of mathematics and statistics in the Faculty of Science.

“York is delighted to see that professors Girard, Hyndman, Johnson, Petrowska Quilico and Heffernan have been recognized by the Royal Society of Canada,” said Amir Asif, vice-president research and innovation. “These exceptional researchers embody our vision to enhance our impact on the social, economic, culture and overall well-being of the communities we serve.”

Royal Society Fellows

Philip Girard
Philip Girard

Philip Girard
Osgoode Hall Law School

Philip Girard’s prize-winning work on the legal history of Canada has shaped the field and redefined its agenda for the 21st century. Tracing the roots of today’s legal pluralism to the historic encounter of two European empires with Indigenous peoples in northern North America, he stresses how this pluralism allowed Quebec civil law to flourish on a continent of common law and now creates space for the renaissance of Indigenous law.

Jennifer Hyndman
Jennifer Hyndman

Jennifer Hyndman
Centre for Refugee Studies
Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies

Jennifer Hyndman studies geographies of forced migration, ethnography of the international refugee regime, feminist geopolitics, critical refugee studies and extended exile. Her research addresses violence in relation to diaspora and displacement among Tamils and other people on the move, international humanitarianism in war zones, as well as refugee and migrant inclusion in Canada.

Michele Johnson
Michele Johnson

Michele Johnson
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies

An international leader in Black history, Michele Johnson is esteemed for rigorous and methodologically innovative studies of cultural production and performance, race and racialization, gender relations and labour among persons of African descent in the Caribbean and Canada. Equally committed to networking and communicating with multiple audiences, Johnson has employed her global prominence to benefit students and scholars around the world, and to promote wider community engagement with Black history.

Christina Petrowska Quilico
Christina Petrowska Quilico

Christina Petrowska Quilico, C.M.
School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design

Appointed to the Order of Canada “for her celebrated career as a classical and contemporary pianist and for championing Canadian music,” Christina Petrowska Quilico, professor of musicology and piano performance at York University, has opened the ears of students and audiences with numerous premieres of music of our time, featuring many women composers and repertoire ranging from baroque to the present in solos, chamber works, 45 concertos and on over 50 internationally acclaimed CDs.

RSC College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists

Jane Heffernan
Jane Heffernan

Jane Heffernan
Faculty of Science

Jane Heffernan is a recognized international leader in infectious disease modelling. Her Modelling Infection and Immunity Lab tackles important questions in mathematical epidemiology and in-host pathogen dynamics, using mathematical and computational modelling to ascertain key characteristics of pathogens, individual hosts, and populations that allow for disease spread and to determine public health and medical intervention strategies that will be needed to contain or eradicate an infectious disease.

These York University faculty are among 89 new Fellows who have been elected by their peers for their outstanding scholarly, scientific and artistic achievement, and 51 new members of the RSC College. Recognition by the RSC for career achievement is the highest honour an individual can achieve in the arts, social sciences and sciences. The RSC College consists of mid-career leaders who provide the RSC with a multigenerational capacity to help Canada and the world address major challenges and seize new opportunities, including those identified in emerging fields.

“This year, the Royal Society of Canada welcomes an outstanding cohort of artists, scholars and scientists, all of whom have excelled in their respective disciplines and are a real credit to Canada,” says RSC President Jeremy McNeil.

On Friday, Nov. 19, the RSC will welcome the Class of 2021 new RSC Fellows and new members of the RSC College and present awards for outstanding research and scholarly achievement.

Faculty of Health recognizes four with research, teaching and service excellence awards

Osgoode teams take first and second at Canadian National Negotiation Competition

The Faculty of Health has recognized four of its faculty members for their accomplishments in teaching, research and service.

Four faculty members were recognized with the annual Dean’s Awards, which reflect excellence and innovation within the Faculty.

This year’s recipients are: Mathieu Poirier – Dean’s Award for Excellence in Educational Leadership, Pedagogical and/or Curricular Innovation; Julie Conder – Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching; Adrian Viens – Dean’s Award for Excellence in Service & Engagement Impact Award; and Amy Muise – Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research.

The annual awards alternate each year between “early career” faculty and “established career” faculty in the categories of Teaching, Research and Service. This year’s awards cover the 2020-21 academic year for early career faculty.

“These Faculty Awards recognize the excellence of four individual faculty members whose dedication and expertise have enabled us to achieve our mission of providing an innovative and supportive environment for learning, teaching and discovery,” said Faculty of Health Dean Paul McDonald. “On behalf of all faculty, staff, students and community partners, congratulations and thanks to this year’s winners.”

Dean’s Award for Excellence in Educational Leadership, Pedagogical and/or Curricular Innovation

Mathieu Poirier
Mathieu Poirier

Award Recipient: Mathieu Poirier, School of Global Health

Nominated by Assistant Professor Tarra Penney

This award recognizes outstanding educational leadership, pedagogical and/or curricular innovation. 

Poirier is an innovative educator who has demonstrated leadership in internationalizing pedagogical approaches to experiential learning. For example, he has taken the lead to coordinate several projects delivered by through our Costa Rican partners and campus. Poirier volunteered to be the faculty lead on a documentary film project that explored the determinants of health of migrant workers in Costa Rica during COVID-19. The documentary was released this summer with plans to produce many more episodes that focuses on various topics.

Poirier is York’s leader in the Globally Networked Learning Environment (GNLE) partnership with universities in Germany and Romania. This network was launched in the fall of 2020 with the course he created entitled Global Health Policy: Power & Politics. Over 200 students participated from three countries and had the opportunity to develop policy briefs, supporting podcases and policy solutions to a range of pressing issues such as mitigating the medical, social and economic impact.

His nominator, Assistant Professor Tara Penny, wrote that Poirier “embraces the opportunities and the challenges in the course of planning and implementing pilot initiatives and has not been deterred to work through them. These innovative approaches to pedagogy and curricular development are laying the groundwork to internationalize our course offerings and deeply integrate experiential education learning into the fabric of our School of Global Health.”

Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching

Julie Conder
Julie Conder

Award Recipient: Julie Conder, Department of Psychology

Nominated by University Professor Suzanne MacDonald

This award recognizes outstanding commitment to high quality teaching. 

Conder’s love of teaching and dedication to students manifests itself through the innovative ways she engages with them. She is leading the way in creating innovative teaching resources that she openly shares with her colleagues. Here are just two of her outstanding contributions:

  • A Roadmap to Learning is a series that she spearheaded to provide resources and training to psychology faculty and graduate students enabling them to develop more effective online courses.
  • A collaboration with the Faculty of Science to host science communication panel which provided students an opportunity to learn how to effectively communicate science to the public

She teaches in the areas of critical thinking, writing and communication in psychology. In her nomination letter, Conder’s colleagues shared praise of her teaching and noted they look to her for tips that they can use in their own teaching.

Dean’s Award for Excellence in Service and Engagement Impact

Adrian Viens
A. M. Viens

Award recipient: Adrien Viens, School of Global Health

Nominated by Assistant Professor Oghenowede (Ede) Eyawo

This award recognizes the outstanding service and impact of faculty members in the Faculty of Health who has gone beyond the usual service expectations.

Viens has been a stellar colleague who has made service contributions at all levels of the University from his School to the University Senate. He stepped forward to serve as the inaugural Chair of the School of Global Health. For the last several months he has also served as it undergraduate program coordinator. As Chair of the new school, he has been developing innovative strategies to increase student recruitment and successful career development.

In addition to co-leading and contributing through his membership on committees that range from hiring, curriculum, EDI and tenure and promotion, Viens also led the school’s first cyclical program review. As an example of his contributions, Viens volunteered to assist another unit’s UPD when they experienced an unusually high volume of Academic Honesty meetings.

In addition to University service, Viens serves on provincial and national committees providing advise on COVID-19-related strategy. He continues to engage in service internationally, with his leadership as Editor-in Chief of a highly regarded international Journal of Health, Philosophy and Policy.

Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research

Amy Muise SCOOP
Amy Muise

Award recipient: Amy Muise, Department of Psychology

Nominated by Associate Professor Jennifer Steele

The Dean’s award for Excellence in Research recognizes a Faculty of Health faculty member whose research is making an impact through its innovation, level of excellence, and commitment to dissemination. 

Muise joined York in 2016. Her research focuses on the successful maintenance of romantic relationships, a key contributor to overall health and well being. Muise’s work has had a national and international impact. 

  • In 2016 Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) President’s recognized her with a New Researcher Award
  • The Ontario Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science bestowed an early research award in 2018. 
  • Also in 2018 she received the Caryl E. Rusbult Early Career Award from the Relationships Research Interest Group of Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP)
  • In 2019 she was awarded a York Research Chair in Relationships and Sexuality
  • In 2020 she received the Sage Young Scholars Award from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, and the Gerald R. Miller Early Career Achievement Award from International Association of Relationship Research (IARR).

Muise has secured more than $1.8 million in Tri-council research funding. In the past three years, Muise has published 45 articles in some of the highest impact journals in her field. She has been a frequent invited speaker, conference presenter, and already mentored more than 30 graduate students.  

Schulich contributes to research advancing theory of institutional drift

An image depicting the logo for Schulich School of Business

Even the smallest variations in the way people interact with one another and perform their jobs inside an organization can lead to significant institutional change over time, according to new research published in the Journal of Management Studies.

Maxim Voronov
Maxim Voronov

Maxim Voronov, a professor of organization studies at York University’s Schulich School of Business, co-authored the research paper together with Mary Ann Glynn, an associate of the Department of Sociology at Harvard University, and Klaus Weber, a professor of management and organizations at the Kellogg School of Management.

The research paper puts forward what it terms the “theory of institutional drift” to explain how minor, under-the-radar changes to standard practices can lead over time to significant and unexpected changes in organizations. A classic example of institutional drift, says Voronov, is what happened at NASA regarding the Challenger disaster in 1986, when the NASA space shuttle suddenly exploded one minute after takeoff, killing all seven crew members aboard. 

“When ongoing deviations from routine interactions between people within an organization are ignored or normalized, the result is institutional drift.”

— Professor Maxim Voronov

A number of studies have shown that one of the contributing factors in the accident was the slow but steady tolerance from NASA engineers for accepting greater levels of risk, which in turn led to an erosion of safety standards within the organization – what the researchers describe as the “normalization of ever-greater deviations from routine practices.”    

“Institutional drift leads to institutional change by altering the repertoire of practices associated with certain roles, thus redefining the shared understandings of acceptable and normal practice,” says Voronov. “When ongoing deviations from routine interactions between people within an organization are ignored or normalized, the result is institutional drift.”

The key lesson here for organizations, adds Voronov, is that small practice deviations on the part of a large number of employees should not be seen as trivial – particularly when they build up over time.

Read the full study here.

York University hosts international conference exploring linguistic theory

Linguistics conference Featured image

The Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics (DLLL) in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) organized and hosted the 16th International Conference on Role and Reference Grammar (RRG2021). The conference ran from Aug. 4 to 6 and was conducted online due to the pandemic.

The background art work is by Artist Alberto Ibáñez Cerda, used with permission.
The background art work is by Artist Alberto Ibáñez Cerda, used with permission.

More than 70 registrants from across different continents attended this year’s event, which was double the number of participants from past years. Role and Reference Grammar is a syntactic theory that emphasizes the importance of data from “exotic” languages and the communicative function of language.

RRG2021 featured two keynote lectures: “RRG–Abstract Grammar vs. Processing Model” delivered by Robert Van Valin Jr. (University at Buffalo/Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf), the primary developer of the theory of RRG, and “A New Approach to Aktionsarten in Role and Reference Grammar” by Ranko Matasović (University of Zagreb), a typologist and a specialist in Celtic and Slavic languages.

An additional 26 conference papers were presented at the conference. Topics covered a range of subjects, including the question of case-marking alternation to split behaviour centering on causation, information structure, syntax-semantics linking and the application of RRG to second language acquisition, language processing and computational models. The conference also highlighted a special contribution from the information technology sector by John Ball, the chief technology officer of Pat, Inc. Titled “Engineering RRG in 2021,” it demonstrated how the theory of RRG is used in Natural Language Understanding.

The conference involved both established and junior researchers, addressing issues on not only often studied languages such as English, Spanish, Italian, French, Icelandic, Irish, Japanese and Chinese, but also lesser studied languages, including Bonggi (an Austronesian language), Daakaka (spoken in Ambrym, the Republic of Vanuatu), Gĩkũyũ (a Bantu language), Persian, and Reunionese (a French-lexified Creole language), as well as two sign languages (SL): Taiwan SL and German SL.

“This year, a few graduate students presented very interesting papers, introducing under-studied topics and exploring less-documented languages within RRG,” said Kiyoko Toratani, an associate professor in the Japanese Studies section of DLLL in LA&PS, who was one of the conference organizers.

Part of the conference site in RRG2021, GatherTown in shown in the image. The three avatars of the conference organizers can be seen in the image; the video cameras and microphones can be turned on for synchronous communication.

Liisa Duncan, assistant professor, teaching stream, in the Linguistics section of DLLL in LA&PS said, “I was very impressed by the level of engagement and encouragement at this conference. Participants were clearly invested in and inspired by each other’s work.”

The conference adopted three online platforms, giving each a distinct role to encourage different levels of engagement and interactions: Zoom for delivery of live presentations, Microsoft Teams for chats, textual comments and questions regarding the talks and for sharing files and links to recorded videos, and Gather for social networking and a demonstration and live deliveries of Q-and-A sessions by pre-recorded presenters.

Ahrong Lee, assistant professor, teaching stream in the Korean section of DLLL in LA&PS, who served as the other organizer of RRG2021, noted, “I find the use of Gather was especially very effective, as we, or our avatars, could freely move around the virtual conference site to meet and greet the participants, or ask questions which we could not in Zoom.”

The conference organizers thank York University and the Office of the Dean, LA&PS, for supporting this important event, and to Alex Newman and other members of eServices in LA&PS for the technical assistance.

Research identifies how to become the next Uber or Amazon

pexels-mike-jones-9461230

The success and proliferation of digital platforms like Uber and Amazon are increasingly inspiring entrepreneurs to build new ventures on similar lines. Despite the prominent success stories, many digital platforms fail to survive the startup stage. How can aspiring platform entrepreneurs overcome the early-stage challenge and enable the successful emergence of digital platform ecosystems?

Professor Anoop Madhok, the Scotiabank Chair in International Business and Entrepreneurship at York University’s Schulich School of Business, and his collaborator Ramya K. Murthy from the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (as well as a former doctoral student at Schulich) set out to answer this question.

Anoop Madhok
Anoop Madhok

The challenge for the platform entrepreneur in the early stage is to secure the commitment and resources of autonomous third-party contributors for a little-known entity that is yet to emerge in the form of an ecosystem around the digital platform. The contributors are vital for the digital platform, as they create complements that enhance the platform’s value to consumers but are only motivated to produce complements for a platform that offers attractive platform resources and provides access to a large base of consumers. With an ecosystem that is yet to emerge, digital platform entrepreneurs, who are typically both owners as well as sponsors of their platforms, have few resources and avenues to attract these complementors (businesses that directly sell a product or service that complement the product or service of another company by adding value to mutual customers) in the early stages.

In their new study published in the Journal of Management Studies, Murthy and Madhok study numerous platforms in the incipient stage and demonstrate that the choice of platform sponsor scope offers a way to overcome the early-stage challenge of the emergence of digital platform ecosystems. Platform sponsor scope refers to the sponsor’s choice of value creation activities to perform internally as well as their decision rights over complements, a choice that shapes the opportunities subsequently available to complementors. When such opportunities seem beneficial, the complementors and consequently consumers are attracted to participate, leading to the emergence of the digital platform ecosystem.

The study develops a problem-solving perspective of the emergence of digital platform ecosystems and contends that the platform sponsor should choose their scope in alignment with the nature of the problem to find valuable complements efficiently. Such an alignment between problem and platform sponsor scope signals to complementors attractive opportunities and thus attracts their participation and, in turn, brings consumers to the ecosystem. Using a data set of crowdfunding campaigns to raise funds to launch digital platforms, they identify pathways for the successful emergence of complementary innovation ecosystems, open-source ecosystems and information ecosystems.

“The study highlights a novel set of considerations – problem and platform sponsor scope – that shifts the emphasis away from the actors (who) to the problem at hand (what) to explain platform ecosystem emergence, a hitherto understudied topic,” says Madhok.

Their findings suggest that aspiring entrepreneurs have agency in addressing this challenge and should focus on identifying the dimensions of the problem they confront and choose their scope accordingly to attract complementors and, consequently, consumers. Further, they demonstrate that multiple pathways exist for the platform sponsor to enable ecosystem emergence as long as the problem and their choice of scope are aligned. The underlying tenet is that the platform sponsor can shape attractive opportunities for the complementors when such an alignment is achieved.

Read the full study at onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/joms.12748.

Faculty of Science spotlights leading-edge student research at NSERC Undergraduate Research Conference

Faculty of Science Observatory and Life Sciences Buildings FEATURED image for new YFile

The Faculty of Science hosted its annual NSERC Summer Undergraduate Research Conference on Aug. 19, via Zoom.

Students from the Faculty of Science, Faculty of Health, and Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change participated in the event. The conference is the culmination of participants’ summer work terms, where they conduct research in labs across the University with York supervisors over the course of 16 weeks.

Most of the participants received an NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award (URSA), a Dean’s Undergraduate Research Award (DURA) or a York Science Scholar Award. The DURAs are funded through Bernadene Magnuson and Earle Nestmann, the Gérard Herbert Award and the Luise Herzberg Award for Women in Science.

“We would like to thank NSERC and all our generous donors who make this event possible,” said Michael Scheid, associate dean of students, Faculty of Science. “These summer placements give our talented undergraduate students an invaluable opportunity to conduct research they’re passionate about in a real-world setting and hone their future career trajectories.”

At this year’s virtual conference, 43 students showcased their research through oral and poster presentations, spanning topics such as proving dark matter with gravitational waves, cognitive and visuomotor performance in COVID-19 patients, and tracking changes in permafrost thaw on northern lakes.

Judges evaluated oral and poster presentations and selected winners for each category.

Oral presentation winners

  1. Coral Hillel
  2. Ailiya Rizwan
  3. Tamara Kostyuk 

Poster presentation winners

Breakout Room 1:    Claire Del Zotto

Breakout Room 2:    Elizaveta Yakubovskaya

Breakout Room 3:    Alex Akhundov

Breakout Room 4     Kristina Issa

Breakout Room 5     Edman Abukar

Breakout Room 6     Ethan Sooklal

The success of the program and virtual conference was also enabled by the generous contributions of time and talent by faculty members, researchers and staff.

“We are grateful to the supervisors, graduate students, postdoctoral Fellows and technicians, as well as our event judges and organizers, who helped make this year’s program a success,” Scheid said.

Since 1980, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has supported research experiences for university students early in their careers through the USRA program. The program currently provides direct support for research work terms for more than 3,000 students each year and is meant to nurture the interests of undergraduate students and fully develop their potential to pursue a research career in the natural sciences and engineering disciplines.

The full conference program, along with profiles of students’ research, can be found at yorku.ca/science/nserc2021summerundergraduateresearchconference.

Meet the inaugural recipients of the Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellowships for Black and Indigenous Scholars

ork University has announced the four inaugural recipients of its new Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellowships for Black and Indigenous Scholars: Godwin Dzah, Don Davies, De-Lawrence Lamptey and Ruth Murambadoro

York University has announced the four inaugural recipients of its new Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellowships for Black and Indigenous Scholars: Godwin Dzah, Don Davies, De-Lawrence Lamptey and Ruth Murambadoro. This two-year award, valued at $70,000 per year, seeks to address underrepresentation in many disciplines and fields by providing Black and Indigenous scholars with the ability to dedicate their time to pursuing new research, while accessing the collegial resources, faculty supervision and mentorship for which York University is well known.

York has a strong commitment to the pursuit of justice. Integral to this pursuit is an understanding of knowledge as multifaceted and plurally constituted. For the sake of knowledge, diversity is fundamental. While the Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program provides new opportunities for Black and Indigenous scholars, most importantly it seeks to attract superb scholars who will help to push the boundaries of knowledge in necessary ways.

Professor Lisa Philipps, York’s provost and vice-president academic, believes that “building new paths and welcoming spaces for diverse voices to thrive in the academy and beyond is vitally important.” She continues by saying that the Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellowships for Black and Indigenous Scholars are “a reflection of the inclusive higher education environment that we are committed to creating at York.”

Professor Thomas Loebel, associate vice-president graduate and dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, adds: “As a program, these fellowships manifest a challenge that York has put to itself, which is to work with emerging scholars in individualized ways and to understand their needs as these emerge through the research process. Our goal is to help connect postdoctoral scholars to the incredible community that is York University, so that with this program we can create something truly career developmental.”

Godwin Dzah (Osgoode Hall Law School)

Godwin Dzah

Dzah comes to York having recently completed a doctorate in law at the University of British Columbia. His research proposes a fundamental re-evaluation of how international environmental law deploys concepts of crisis in ways that limit the potential for more sustained and complete forms of transformation. “The historical significance of this award is an ever-present reminder of the unfinished task of addressing systemic challenges,” says Dzah. “I am looking forward to advancing this cause by expanding my teaching and research interests, which sit at the intersection of international law and the environment, by demonstrating the common interests and connections between the peoples of the Global South and their counterparts – the Indigenous Peoples in the Global North – in the context of the law and politics of international environmental law. I am grateful to the leadership at Osgoode Hall Law School; my supervisor, Professor Obiora Okafor; and especially to York University for this exciting opportunity.”

Don Davies (Faculty of Science)

Don Davies
Don Davies

Davies is currently a postdoctoral researcher at St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg. His research investigates a novel approach to the causes of Alzheimer’s disease, arguing that processes of forgetting are naturally amplified in major neurodegenerative diseases. “The Canadian Indigenous population has an increased prevalence and earlier onset of Alzheimer’s disease than the Canadian non-Indigenous population,” he says. “This opportunity will allow me to establish a research program to study Alzheimer’s disease within the Indigenous community and accelerate growth in scholarly diversity through development of an academic pipeline for Indigenous scientists. I am very grateful for the advice from Dr. Steven Connor, who will be mentoring me during my postdoctoral fellowship.”

De-Lawrence Lamptey (Faculty of Health)

DeLawrence Lamptey
DeLawrence Lamptey

Lamptey is currently a postdoctoral Fellow at Mount Saint Vincent University in Nova Scotia. His research introduces an intersectional approach to the study of the material, social, and financial barriers Black children and their families are faced with in Canada. “York’s commitment to support Black and Indigenous scholars is very remarkable,” says Lamptey,” and I am proud to be an inaugural recipient. This fellowship is a recognition of the unique and complex challenges that Black and Indigenous scholars often confront as we pursue our career ambitions. My research will be exploring the intersectionality of race/ethnicity and disability among children and youth in Canada. I look forward to making a positive difference in society through this fellowship.”

Ruth Murambadoro (Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies)

Ruth Murambadoro
Ruth Murambadoro

Murambadoro is currently a lecturer at the Wits Schools of Governance at the University of Witswatersrand in South Africa. Her research explores how women who have experienced state-sanctioned violence in Zimbabwe deploy narratives to advance the goal of gender justice. “My project, ‘Gender justice and narratives of violence by women in post-colonial Zimbabwe,’ involves working with women’s social movements and the diaspora to produce new insights on how networks of women provide avenues for healing, justice and peace, outside the auspices of the state,” she says. “This work focuses on women’s encounters of state-sanctioned violence and living under dictatorial rule for the past 40-plus years. I am delighted to join the Centre for Feminist Research at York University to work closely with Dr. Alison Crosby as a Fellow under the Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellowships for Black and Indigenous Scholars.”

How artificial intelligence and big data are fighting COVID-19 in Africa

Featured illustration of the novel coronavirus
An illustration showing the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

A collaboration led by York University researchers in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS), the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Health is using artificial intelligence (AI) to define public health policies and interventions to contain and manage the spread of COVID-19 in Africa.

With a scarcity of COVID-19 vaccines in many African countries and the rise of new variants of concern, the Africa-Canada Artificial Intelligence and Data Innovation Consortium (ACADIC) is playing a pivotal role in providing locally nuanced analysis of data to inform public health decision making, as well as vaccination rollout strategies.

A photo with a black backgroud that features two vials of COVID-19 vaccine and a syringe
The Africa-Canada Artificial Intelligence and Data Innovation Consortium is playing a pivotal role in providing locally nuanced analysis of data to inform public health decision making, as well as vaccination rollout strategies

The interdisciplinary consortium is directed by York University Professor Jude Kong from the Faculty of Science. Also serving on the executive committee from York University are: Distinguished Research Professor Jianhong Wu, director of the Laboratory for Industrial and Applied Mathematics in the Faculty of Science and ACADIC co-president; Professor James Orbinski, director of the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research and ACADIC executive committee member; and LA&PS Associate Professor Ali Asgary, associate director of the Advanced Disaster, Emergency and Rapid Response Simulation and ACADIC executive committee member. ACADIC brings together an interdisciplinary team of data scientists, epidemiologists, physicists, mathematicians and software engineers, as well as AI, disaster and emergency management, clinical public health, citizen science and community engagement experts. It is leveraging big data and AI-based techniques in nine African countries, with experts from 11 different countries – Botswana, Cameroon, Canada, Eswatini, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

These techniques help identify and analyze emergent COVID-19 hotspots and outbreaks, and develop strategic, highly targeted and staged delivery plans for vaccines to priority areas. The team is also using ongoing monitoring to enhance COVID-19 testing to ensure public health interventions are equitable and effective.

Half of the world’s doses of vaccines have been secured by a handful of economically developed countries, but most African nations have received very few and continue to prepare and test their vaccination campaigns for when sufficient vaccine doses are made available.

A defining challenge is to develop local strategies that will reduce the number of COVID-19 cases, even as variants of concern circulate amidst a dearth of vaccines.

Some areas of focus for York researchers involved in ACADIC include:

  • making big data and AI actionable for real-time delivery of reliable and comprehensive information to predict the spread and impact of an epidermic, and to guide governmental policies and best practice in an epidemic;
  • the role of big data and AI in understanding and intervening in pandemics;
  • big data, AI and COVID-19 in Africa;
  • the determinants of the low COVID-19 transmission and mortality rates in Africa;
  • vaccine acceptance/hesitancy across Africa;
  • incorporating AI and mathematical modelling for smart vaccination rollout in vaccine-limited regions;
  • clinical public health practices in epidemics and pandemics;
  • intervention systems in disasters and health emergencies;
  • disease dynamics and modelling;
  • transferring lessons learned from mass vaccination simulation to Africa;
  • disease modelling and simulation in refugee camps in Africa; and
  • use of AI to model economic impacts of COVID-19 in Africa.

New study explains how time influences consumer behaviour

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How does the past, present and future interact to influence consumer behaviour? A new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research considers how time is a key structural component of our lives and its resulting influence on market activities.

Ela Veresiu
Ela Veresiu

The research, undertaken by York University Associate Professor Ela Veresiu (Schulich School of Business) in collaboration with Assistant Professor Thomas Derek Robinson from Bayes Business School, University of London, and Assistant Professor Ana Babic Rosario from the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business, shows how time is a cultural consumption resource.

In this conceptual article, the authors introduce the concept of “consumer timework” to capture how past experiences and future expectations impact consumer behaviour in the present.

“Time is a key structural component of our lives and of the universe,” said Veresiu. “It is therefore no surprise that consumers engage with the multiple orientations of time – the past, the present and the future – in their daily consumption choices and activities.”

For example, some consumers treasure heirlooms from past family members and enjoy heritage-themed experiences, such as high tea at Toronto’s historic Windsor Arms Hotel. At the same time, other consumers engage in sustainable consumption like buying only second-hand clothing and installing solar panels on private homes to fight future-facing environmental degradation.

The co-authors argue that the increased speed and complexity of social change today creates multiple ways of interpreting how the past, present and future relate. In other words, it has become more difficult for individuals to anticipate their life trajectory from the past into the future. In response, the co-authors identify four strategies of consumer timework to regain control of time through consumption: integrative, disintegrative, subjugatory and emancipatory.

The scholars theorize integrative and disintegrative consumer timework respectively as harmonizing or rupturing the flow of time from the past into the future via consumption activities. As an illustration of the first strategy, consider how consumers now want to trace their own ancestry and genealogy through DNA databases like 23andMe. Alternatively, vaccine skepticism can also be understood through the second consumer timework strategy.

They theorize subjugatory and emancipatory consumer timework respectively as enforcing or disrupting temporal hierarchies of power through consumption practices. For example, self-tracking health apps, such as MyFitnessPal, SleepCycle and Fooducate, constitute a form of subjugatory consumer timework, since individuals pursue personal goals that are in actuality defined by an algorithm. Regarding the final strategy, using virtual reality devices to envision alternative futures and future selves is a form of emancipatory consumer timework.

“Our work directly responds to an observed decline in theoretical contributions in the marketing and consumer research,” said Veresiu. “In this paper, we not only realign existing ideas on time and consumption, but also offer detailed future research directions.”

The full article is available here.