York University announces that Rhonda Lenton has been appointed president and vice-chancellor

Rhonda Lenton
President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton

Rick Waugh, chair of the York University Board of Governors, sends the following message to the community:

On behalf of the Board of Governors of York University, I am delighted to announce that after an extensive search process that began in December 2015, Dr. Rhonda Lenton has been appointed York University’s eighth President and Vice-Chancellor.

President Designate Rhonda Lenton

Most of you know Professor Lenton. She joined York in 2002 and most recently serves as the University’s Vice-President Academic and Provost, a position she has held since 2012. A respected sociologist, she has taught and published broadly in the areas of gender, health, sexual violence and higher education. Professor Lenton sits on the Boards of the Ontario Council on Articulation and Transfer (ONCAT) and eCampus Ontario.

Professor Lenton is a proven and skilled leader, possessing the qualities, skills and experience required to meet York’s needs now—and into the future. She will continue to foster York’s commitment to innovative learning environments, diverse experiential learning, unique cross-disciplinary programs and community-engaged research opportunities.

Professor Lenton is committed to achieving the highest levels of excellence for York as a leading comprehensive university and to building on York’s mission to deliver new ways of thinking that drive teaching, learning and research excellence. A champion of higher education and of York University, she will continue to engage all members of our outstanding community of faculty, staff, alumni and partners in supporting our students and providing them with the education they need to succeed in a global economy.

This is an important day for York University and a dynamic time as we continue to build on our reputation as a progressive university. Together, let’s celebrate the successes that have created this remarkable institution as we look forward to an exciting future under Professor Lenton’s leadership.

Professor Lenton commences her duties as President on July 1, 2017. In the coming months, she will begin planning with the Board of Governors and Dr. Shoukri to ensure a smooth transition of duties and responsibilities, including succession for the position of Vice-President Academic and Provost.


Rick Waugh
Chair, York University Board of Governors


Up and away: York professor’s stratospheric balloon takes flight

Kasa Balloon
Kasa Balloon

York space engineering Professor Jinjun Shan will be heading to Alice Springs, Australia in April to deploy a modified 2-D Fabry-Pérot Spectrometer on a stratospheric balloon flight mission. The mission is the second for Shan.

Last fall, Shan and his team achieved a global first when they successfully flew their 2-D Fabry-Pérot Spectrometer on a stratospheric balloon during a 10-hour mission that saw the balloon and its scientific payload reach an altitude of 34 kilometres. The flight took place in Kiruna, Sweden, lifting Shan’s 2-D imaging Fabry-Pérot spectrometer aloft. The spectrometer, which was jointly developed by Shan’s team at YorkUniversity and MPB Communications Inc., was created to obtain very high spectral resolution measurements. In essence, it views sunlight that is absorbed and scattered by the atmosphere and reflected by the Earth’s surface.

Above: The York University-Canadian Space Agency (CSA) team with FPS instrument. From left, Prof. Jinjun Shan (York University), Steeve Montminy (CSA), Ryan Orszulik (University of Magdeburg, Germany), Chris Sioris (York University), Mohammed Kagalwala (York University), Mike Voutsogiannakis (York University), Yuan Ren (York University), and Philippe Vincent (CSA)

“The measurements provide information on aerosols, surface pressure and surface albedo,” said Shan, who is Professor of Space Engineering in the Department of Earth and Space Science and Engineering (ESSE) in the Lassonde School of Engineering at York University. Shan is the principal investigator of the project, which is funded by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), under its Flights for the Advancement of Science & Technology (FAST) program in 2014.

Professor Gordon Shepherd and Chris Sioris (PhD ’01) also from ESSE, are co-investigators on the project. Also contributing to the project development of instrumentation are a number of science and engineering researchers, including ESSE students.

The balloon takes flight from the Esrange Space Center near Kiruna, Sweden

For its first flight, Shan said the stratospheric balloon took off few minutes before 7am local time (about 1am EDT) on Saturday, Sept. 3at the Esrange Space Center, near Kiruna, Sweden. It landed around 2:15pm in Northern Finland, and the instrument was successfully recovered before 8pm. “The success of the flight was a first,” said a jubilant Shan.

Analysis of the observation data is ongoing and the second flight will contribute greatly to the understanding of aerosols, surface pressure and surface albedo, said Shan. He noted that during the eight-hour flight, key technologies of Fabry-Pérot spectrometer were successfully demonstrated and validated, leading to the second flight in April. It is anticipated, said Shan, that the technologies can now be readily be implemented on a future satellite mission.

And while the flight and the successful retrieval of observation data were exciting, one of the most memorable and life-changing moments for Shan was having a front row view of the Northern Lights, which, as if to celebrate the success of his project, decided to put on an early and magnificent appearance.

Science student receives prize at Three Minute Thesis Competition

Three Minute Thesis Competition Prize Winner
Three Minute Thesis Competition Prize Winner
Armita Jalooli, York U’s Three Minute Thesis Competition Prize Winner

In January, fourth-year undergraduate Science student Armita Jalooli received a prize at a Three Minute Thesis Competition at the annual Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) National Conference.

The competition, trademarked as Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) and administered by many institutions and organizations around the world, challenges students to explain their research in three minutes, using lay language and only one slide. Jalooli, who is double-majoring in physics and pure mathematics, presented an overview of the research she is conducting with Faculty of Science Professor Sean Tulin to search for a “fifth fundamental force.”

There are four fundamental forces in nature (gravity, electromagnetism, the weak force, and the strong nuclear force), and the Standard Model of particle physics only includes these four force particles.  But there might be other forces that haven’t yet been detected experimentally. The discovery of a new force particle would have staggering consequences for the Standard Model and open up new avenues to understand our universe. Jalooli conducted theoretical research that will be used in the Proton Radius Experiment at the Jefferson Lab (Virginia, USA), which is searching for new fundamental forces.

“The WISE conference is a great place to see what you can do with your degree and to meet other professionals in STEM,” says Jalooli.  “In this conference, we get the opportunity to meet very inspirational women and hear about their stories and the paths they have taken to be where they are. I personally had a great experience because I learned that everyone has a different story to become successful.”

The 3MT presentations were judged by a diverse panel of judges. Jalooli was one of four prize winners and received a job interview and networking opportunity with Schneider Electric’s rotational internship program.

Alex Mills, Associate Dean for Students in York’s Faculty of Science, was understandably pleased with the result.

“We were able to sponsor several of our students to attend this event, including Armita, and it was heartening to learn of her success,” says Mills. “It’s so satisfying to watch our students as they develop, as they both share and compete with students from other institutions, and then make their way out into the world.”


York project that improves employment for disabled persons earns award

DRPI award
DRPI award

A York University-led project that helps people with disabilities participate in the workforce in Bangladesh, India and Nepal has earned the honour of a prestigious award that recognizes innovative practices improving the lives of persons with disabilities.

Disability Rights Promotion International (DRPI) was selected as one of the recipients of the Zero Project Innovative Practice 2017 Award for its work on the DRPI AWARE project, and supports the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

DRPI is a collaborative five-year project to establish a comprehensive, sustainable international system to monitor human rights of people with disabilities and is co-directed by Marcia Rioux, a York University Distinguished Research professor in Critical Disability Studies, and an Order of Canada recipient.

DRPI AWARE works with organizations of disabled persons that collaborate with employers to recognize the skills of disabled workers, instead of focusing on their disabilities and limitations. DRPI AWARE successfully placed 163 people with disabilities in jobs in the open labour market between 2013 and 2016.

Marcia Rioux

Rioux and her colleagues were honoured for their work during the Zero Project conference, which was held in February in Vienna, Austria. They were among 68 innovative practices and policies selected by Zero Project as being the most outstanding in the world, and were selected from 260 nominees. Rioux attended the event, and gave a presentation on DRPI AWARE.

“This recognition at an international level is a testament to the commitment and hard work each team member has exhibited towards increasing employment for people with disabilities over the past four years of the DRPI AWARE project,” said Rioux. “Our project has stirred up the status quo and removed barriers to employment, and created networks with employers resulting in many people with disabilities acquiring long lasting jobs in each of the three city.  We are paving pathways for repeat hiring by employers who have witnessed first-hand that people with disabilities can work, and their businesses are more successful when people with different abilities are included in their workforce.”

Contributing to the project’s success, said Rioux, are:  Swadhikaar, NFDN, BPKS, Subhi Association, Sean Wiltshire, Monica Ackermann, and other individuals who have provided contributions here in Canada, as well as the project’s Work Placement Coordinators, and the Country Coordinators: Sreedhar Ganta in Hyderabad; Sagar Prasain and Bishal Dahal in Kathmandu; and Mayeen Ahmed in Dhaka.

More information on the DRPI AWARE project can be found on the DRPI website at drpi.research.yorku.ca/asia-pacific/drpi-aware. More information on the Zero Project, an initiative of the Essl Foundation, an Austrian charitable foundation and NGO associated with the United Nations, can be found on this website zeroproject.org/about-us/mission-statement.

Jean-Gabriel Castel Lecture series explores political perspective of international law

Castel Lecture
Castel Lecture

Distinguished Canadian politician and former Member of Parliament Bill Graham will present the 2017 Jean-Gabriel Castel Lecture on International Law and International Organizations on March 14 at 7:30 pm with a focus on “International Law: A Political Perspective”.

Bill Graham

The annual lecture, hosted by Glendon College, will be delivered in English and is free to attend. It will take place at the BMO Conference Centre, 2275 Bayview Ave., North York.

Graham was educated at the University of Toronto and the Université de Paris. He practiced law with the firm of Fasken and Calvin and taught at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law.

In 1993, he was elected Member of Parliament for Toronto-Centre-Rosedale, and from 1995 to 2002 served as Chairman of the Standing Committee of the House of Commons on Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

He was Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2002 to 2004 and Minister of National Defence from 2004 to 2006. From February to December 2006, he was Leader of the Official Opposition and Interim Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. He is currently Chancellor, Trinity College, University of Toronto; Chair of the Canadian International Council; and Honorary Colonel of the Governor General’s Horse Guards. He is Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur and a Member of the Order of Canada.

Registration is required for this event and can be done here.

About the annual Jean-Gabriel Castel Lecture

The annual Jean-Gabriel Castel Lecture was created in 2004 to honour Professor Jean-Gabriel Castel, an internationally acknowledged jurist and now emeritus Distinguished Research Professor in international law at Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and Officer of the Order of Canada.

For a decade, Castel taught international law to Glendon’s undergraduate students in the International Studies Program. This public lecture series was launched in order to honour his contribution to this department, and to give the students in the Department of International Studies, as well as other social sciences disciplines, the opportunity to hear an eminent jurist and/or a well-known personality in public life discuss issues in law that demand public debate.

The first speaker in the series was Jean-Gabriel Castel himself, who spoke in February 2005 on the topic “The Legality and Legitimacy of Unilateral Armed Intervention in an Age of Terror, Neo-Imperialism and Massive Violations of Human Rights. Is International Law Evolving in the Right Direction?”.

For more on the background, visit www.glendon.yorku.ca/international-studies/castel-conference.


Plan to attend the Undergraduate Research Fair and Art Walk on March 1

Particpants at the 2016 Undergraduate Research Fair event in the Scott Library
Particpants at the 2016 Undergraduate Research Fair event in the Scott Library

York University’s fifth annual Undergraduate Research Fair & Art Walk takes place on Wednesday, March 1, in the Scott Library Collaboratory.

Particpants at the 2016 Undergraduate Research Fair event in the Scott Library

Jointly sponsored by York University Libraries and the Office of the Vice-President Research and Innovation, the multidisciplinary fair celebrates the work of undergraduate student researchers and provides them with the opportunity to share their work by presenting a poster session. The juried research fair provides an excellent opportunity for experiential learning, as undergrads share their work in a friendly, cross-curricular environment.

The Scott Library Art Walk exhibition, which opens the same day, showcases the work of student artists or designers. One artwork submission will be chosen to grace the cover of the e-journal Revue YOUR Review (York Online Undergraduate Research), associated with the fair and prizes will be awarded to select poster session presenters.

Last year’s fair drew a large audience of students and faculty from across the York community, as well as friends and family of student-presenters. A performance by students from the Department of Music takes place at 12:45pm.

Everyone is invited to attend the Undergraduate Research Fair and Art Walk to celebrate York’s undergraduate researchers and artists. A reception follows the fair.

For more information, visit the Undergraduate Research Fair website.

Osgoode and CIGI announce new partnership in fostering innovation

Giuseppina D’Agostino
Giuseppina D’Agostino

IP Osgoode, the celebrated intellectual property (IP) law and technology program at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, and the International Law Research Program (ILRP) at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) announced on Friday a partnership to expand a student-focused innovation initiative to assist start-up companies, entrepreneurs and inventors with IP-related business issues.

The International Law Research Program at CIGI – an independent, non-partisan think tank on international governance based in Waterloo, Ontario – will provide $100,000 to cover the salary for one year of an administrator for IP Osgoode’s Innovation Clinic as well as stipends for two Juris Doctor (JD) student research assistants.

Giuseppina D’Agostino

The research assistants will assist IP Osgoode’s Founder and Director, Professor Giuseppina D’Agostino, to critically evaluate Osgoode’s Innovation Clinic model as well as clinic models elsewhere, and identify potential opportunities for developing a network of clinics in Canada and beyond.

“We believe the time is right to take the Innovation Clinic to the next level,” D’Agostino said. “Things are working well here and we think they can also work elsewhere. Our goal is to help under-resourced inventors make their ideas come true and go to market. We are grateful to CIGI for helping us in this endeavour, and we’re delighted that this collaboration with CIGI will allow us to continue to offer our students a unique experiential learning opportunity.”

“Over the past two years, CIGI’s legal experts have been working to support the development of practical IP legal skills and give new entrepreneurs and innovators early access to IP legal support through student-run IP legal clinics at Communitech, one of Waterloo region’s prominent innovation centres, and LTEC at the University of Windsor,” said Bassem Awad, Deputy Director of CIGI’s innovation and IP law research. “This partnership with Osgoode provides an opportunity to support the study of a different kind of IP legal clinic which aims to provide start-ups with free access to IP legal advice from a major IP law firm and law students with front row practical IP legal training. We look forward to learning how effectively this model delivers IP awareness and IP legal training and whether the model is sustainable.”

Launched in 2010, the Osgoode Innovation Clinic was the first student-staffed IP legal clinic of its kind in Canada. The students, who are supervised and mentored by lawyers from Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP, provide pro bono legal assistance to start-ups that cannot afford to pay legal costs. Obtaining just one patent in Canada typically costs about $20,000 from filing to final registration.

In its seven years of operation, the Innovation Clinic has attracted a broad range of clients including walk-ins from the general public, referrals from a number of external organizations, such as the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), ventureLAB, OCADU, and the York Entrepreneurship Development Institute, and through formal collaborations between York University’s Innovation York and the Lassonde School of Engineering’s Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science & Technology (BEST) Program.

D’Agostino said the Innovation Clinic research dovetails with two of her current Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)-funded research projects, entitled “Fostering Innovation in Canada through Intellectual Property Law” and “Triggering Innovation: Transnational Partnership for the Mobilization of IP Policy and Practices.”

The first project investigates the policies and practices inventors face at Canadian universities as they attempt to commercialize their inventions with the assistance of their university’s innovation or technology transfer offices. While the latter project investigates the legal implications of commercializing the intellectual property rights of public and private entities, and aims to tackle specific facets of commercialization.

“The Innovation Clinic is actually the petri dish for my research,” D’Agostino said. “The federal government’s investment in my research has helped to enable this partnership with CIGI, provide experiential learning opportunities for our students, and support under-resourced inventors and start-ups.”

Wanda Nanibush will discuss Indigenous performance during Goldfarb Lecture

Wanda Nanibush
Side by side of the original Ishi photo and “Ishi Speaks” – both are digital inkjet prints (2011) from the performance work “ISHI” by James Luna

Wanda Nanibush, assistant curator of Canadian and Indigenous Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario, is the featured speaker for the 2017 Goldfarb Lecture in Visual Arts presented by York’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design (AMPD) on March 1.

Wanda Nanibush

In her talk titled “Sovereign Acts: New Histories of Indigenous Performance,” Nanibush will explore contemporary Indigenous performance as an active re/assertion of sovereignty.

Nanibush is an Anishinaabe-kwe image and word warrior, curator, community animator/organizer, educator, and arts consultant from Beausoleil First Nation. Her curatorial credits include the exhibitions Toronto: Tributes + Tributaries, 1971-1989 (Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, September 2016 to May 2017); Sovereign Acts II (Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Ottawa, January to April 2017); and, KWE: The work of Rebecca Belmore (Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, Toronto, May to August 2014).

“From cultural dances to performance art, Indigenous artists are breaking the Eurocentric boundaries between art/culture, tradition/contemporary, humour/ethics, fiction/history, and resistance/creation,” said Nanibush. “In the process, new histories of performance are sought and performance becomes again the site of sovereignty enacted. Artists such as Rebecca Belmore, James Luna, Lori Blondeau, Adrian Stimson, and Shelley Niro, among many others, are our guides.”

Nanibush has worked with many other media arts institutions and initiatives over the past two decades, serving in a wide range of capacities from programmer and festival coordinator to Aboriginal arts officer and executive director. Arts organizations she has worked with include ImagineNATIVE, LIFT, Optic Nerve Film Festival, Reframe Film Festival, the Ontario Arts Council, Aboriginal Curatorial Collective, and the Association for Native Development in the Performing & Visual Arts (ANDPVA). She was the 2013/14 Dame Nita Barrow Distinguished Visitor at the University of Toronto, where she teaches graduate courses on history, politics and art.

Side by side images of the original Ishi photo and “Ishi Speaks” – both are digital inkjet prints (2011) from the performance work “ISHI” by James Luna

Nanibush’s publications include contributions to the books Women in a Globalizing World: Equality, Development, Diversity and Peace and This is an Honour Song: Twenty Years since the Blockades. She co-edited York University’s InTensions journal on “The Resurgence of Indigenous Women’s Knowledge and Resistance in Relation to Land and Territoriality”, as well as catalogue essays on Indigenous artists Jeff Thomas, Adrian Stimson, Rebecca Belmore and others.

She is currently completing two films and her first book, titled Violence No More: The Rise of Indigenous Women.

York University Professor Dan Adler, an art historian, is the organizer of this talk. Adler teaches courses in 19th- and 20th-century art, with particular interests in 19th-century European painting, French and German Dada, and the development and reception of the conceptual art movement. Adler’s areas of research include the history of art writing, German modernism, Frankfurt School theory, conceptual art, and the aesthetics and history of sculpture and installation art.

The lecture is free to attend, and runs from 6 to 7:30pm in room 312 Joan & Martin Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts.

The Goldfarb Lecture in Visual Arts is made possible through the generous support of Joan and Martin Goldfarb, longstanding benefactors of York University’s Department of Visual Art and Art History and AMPD.

For more information on this event, email visarts@yorku.ca.

Introducing Innovatus, a new teaching and learning edition of YFile

IT Communication – knowledge base, e-learning, e-book – concept

Welcome to the inaugural issue of Innovatus!

Innovatus is a special edition of YFile. Each month, Innovatus will explore how York University community members are expanding experiential learning, enhancing the student experience, inspiring innovation in technology-enhanced learning and embracing educational development.

Will Gage

“Great things in teaching and learning are happening across York University. But a challenge at an institution as large as York University is found in trying to communicate about and celebrate them. We hope that Innovatus helps our community bridge this challenge,” said Will Gage, associate vice-president, teaching & learning.

“In this and every issue to follow, you will read amazing stories about successes (and some challenges) in our teaching and learning. Faculty members are trying new approaches in their teaching, and you’ll read about how engaged the students are; you’ll read about a student whose internship resulted in a job before she even graduated! I hope you enjoy this inaugural issue of Innovatus and more, I hope that you find yourself inspired,” said Gage.

The first issue of Innovatus offers a compelling look into how a short story collection inspired a York University professor to offer her students a new perspective on chronic illness using the arts as a medium. There’s a newsworthy article that shows York University’s leadership role in launching the first-ever eLearning online community of practice website for educational developers in Ontario. A thought-provoking feature offers insight into one student’s internship experience. A candid first-person essay profiles the personal and professional transition that one professor made when she balanced her roles as an educational developer and professor.

Launched Feb. 24, going forward Innovatus will publish on the third Friday of every month during the academic year. The publication is produced by the Office of the Associate Vice-President Teaching & Learning in partnership with Communications & Public Affairs.

We are always looking for unique story ideas. Share your experience with us through the Innovatus story form, which is available at http://tl.apps01.yorku.ca/machform/view.php?id=16573/.

Thank you for reading!



Art opens a new window on chronic illness

chronic pain, man bedeviled by headache, historic image
chronic pain, man bedeviled by headache, historic image
Lucy Gagliese

It was a short story collection that inspired Professor Lucy Gagliese, a clinical psychologist teaching at York University’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science, to offer her students a new perspective on chronic illness using the arts as a medium.

“I’m a huge fan of fiction and write short stories myself,” said Gagliese. “As I read Ellen in Pieces by Caroline Adderson, a book of short stories that deals with health-related issues such as palliative care, I thought, ‘I wish my students could read this,’ and then I realized they could.

“I decided I had to figure out how to make it part of my course. Health humanities is a growing field at medical schools,” she said. “Narrative medicine is a way of learning through stories that increases empathy for others.”

Gagliese teaches a fourth-year, blended undergraduate course on the psychology of chronic illness in York University’s Faculty of Health, and in 2016, she chose to incorporate arts into the online section of the course. It is optional, supplementing the more scientific reading and assignments, but “an overwhelming majority” of her students participate. It has been so popular – with 80 per cent of students rating it as valuable – that Gagliese is planning to increase the course’s arts component beyond the original three weeks.

“The students who did participate really went for it,” she said proudly.

Poetry was the first medium the course tackled, using it to help students understand how people adjust to chronic illness and how it changes lives. Gagliese assigned students a TED talk given by Robin Morgan, a poet who is living with Parkinson’s disease, to watch and asked them to discuss how it reflected on the other course material. As part of the exercise, students could share poems online or write their own to share with classmates.

“They picked out lines in poems that reflected the different types of coping we studied and posted links to poems for other students to read,” Gagliese said. “It kind of exploded; they were really engaged with the material.”

During the week when pain was the topic of study, Gagliese asked her students to look at art created by people with chronic pain that is posted on the painexhibit.org website. She asked them how the art challenged or illustrated what they were learning.

“Visual art was scarier for them, because, as science students, they are accustomed to concrete answers and are afraid of getting things wrong,” Gagliese said.

Finally, during the week they studied Aboriginal health issues, Gagliese asked the students to read “War Dances,” a short story by Sherman Alexie that explores both traditional healing and family dynamics. She asked the class to use the story as a basis for generating testable hypotheses and received a variety of excellent suggestions.

“I feel subjectively that students developed more empathy toward chronic illness than they would have otherwise, and it’s something I hope to collect data about to see if this is borne out by research,” Gagliese said. “All of this reflective learning gives students a chance to practise what they’ve studied.”

By Elaine Smith, special contributing writer to Innovatus