Research & Innovation http://research.info.yorku.ca Tue, 22 May 2018 13:14:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.5 New Markham Centre Campus receives $25M investment from York Regional Council http://research.info.yorku.ca/2018/05/new-markham-centre-campus-receives-25m-investment-from-york-regional-council/ Tue, 22 May 2018 13:14:34 +0000 http://research.info.yorku.ca/?p=11382 On Thursday, May 17, York University welcomed York Regional Council’s authorization of a $25-million contribution toward the new Markham Centre Campus. The University has approved the $253-million design and build budget with construction set to begin this fall. The new campus will include a collaboration with Seneca College, and is expected to open in fall 2021.

An artist’s concept drawing of York University’s new Markham Centre Campus

“York’s new campus will be an integral part of Markham’s city centre and an innovative education hub for students, families and businesses across the fast-growing York Region,” said York University’s President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton. “York Regional Council’s generous commitment brings us closer to realizing our shared vision for this new state-of-the-art campus. The Markham Centre Campus will support our goal of ensuring students have increased access to a high-quality, research-intensive university education in the region, and will enhance our local and global connectedness and impact.”

Located in Markham near the corner of Enterprise Boulevard and Rivis Road and the Markham Pan Am Centre, the Markham Centre Campus is already serviced by 15 transit routes and is anticipated to accommodate up to 10,000 students in future phases.

“York University’s Markham Centre Campus is a significant milestone for York Region’s academic and economic future,” said York Region Chairman and CEO Wayne Emmerson. “When complete, the new campus will play an essential role in our economic growth by attracting new residents and businesses. Our business sector will also benefit from the number of students available to the workforce for work placements and internships.”

Last year, the Ontario government committed $127.3 million toward the cost of the new campus, which will be built on approximately five acres of land contributed by the City of Markham. York is also raising funds for this important project from its alumni and friends as part of Impact – The Campaign for York University.

Courtesy of YFile.

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Ethics workshop calls for transforming research with Indigenous knowledge http://research.info.yorku.ca/2018/05/ethics-workshop-calls-for-transforming-research-with-indigenous-knowledge/ Thu, 17 May 2018 12:48:28 +0000 http://research.info.yorku.ca/?p=11378 York University anthropology professors organized a workshop recently to examine how Indigenous knowledge transforms research.

The Ethics in Indigenous Research Workshop, run by Professors Christianne Stephens and Naomi Adelson, was hosted at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto. It brought together Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars, faculty, and undergraduate and graduate students to discuss ethics and responsibilities when conducting research in and with Indigenous communities.

Deborah McGregor, Naomi Adelson, Amy Desjarlais, Christianne Stephens, Julie Bull

Deborah McGregor, Naomi Adelson, Amy Desjarlais, Christianne Stephens, Julie Bull

The goal of the workshop was to create a safe space where researchers at various levels of experience could come together to think about and actively engage with thought-provoking ethical issues in diverse areas of Indigenous research.

It was developed on the premise that incorporating Indigenous knowledge and values at every stage of the research process transforms the ways in which ethical research is defined, articulated, regulated and operationalized.

“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada’s call for ‘reconciliation research’ requires us to educate ourselves about the dark legacy of our colonial history and work toward forging more ethical and equitable relationships with Indigenous communities,” said Stephens. “Given that we are in a transformative moment in research engagement, we felt that a workshop of this nature was both timely and necessary.”

Organizers were thrilled with the response to the event, which surpassed its original goal of 40 participants.

“The positive response reflects a desire on the part of faculty and student researchers alike to reflect deeply and critically on these issues,” said Adelson. “We were eager to engage them in the investigation of a number of interrelated questions.”

Some of these questions address how to effectively decolonize ethics protocols and Indigenize research paradigms and toolkits; how to develop productive research spaces where Indigenous and non-Indigenous colleagues collaborate and engage in respectful, meaningful and equitable relationships; how to balance community priorities with Indigenous research principles; what it means to be a good ally; what are the ethical challenges facing advocate and activist scholars who pursue social justice research; and how to move forward together to develop strategies and best practices for navigating the real-world research contexts.

The event, which took place March 16, opened with a prayer and welcome from Amy Desjarlais, guest knowledge keeper, author, research scholar and member of the Elders on Campus program that is available through York University’s Centre for Aboriginal Student Services.

“Allies need to take on more leadership roles, where established best practices and successful working partnerships with Indigenous communities is concerned, so Indigenous communities are not always the ones educating the public and creating awareness of issues,” said Desjarlais.

The morning and afternoon keynote speakers were scholars of Indigenous research ethics, Osgoode law Professor Deborah MacGregor, with “Research, Truth and Reconciliation”; and Dr. Julie Bull from CAMH, with “From Policies to Actions: Emerging Solutions in Promoting and Practicing Ethical Research with Indigenous Peoples.”

“This workshop so fundamentally changed the way I understand research,” said Larissa Crawford, York University student in International Development Studies and Communications. “As an Indigenous person, much of my research in my undergraduate degree has been done through an Indigenous lens. This workshop provided the practical training I needed to complement my more theoretical education, and because of it my opportunities to pursue research through employment and with funding have increased exponentially.”

Crawford encapsulates the workshop’s main themes in her post “Ethics in Indigenous Research Workshop: Key Take-Away Points.”

The workshop provided a forum for participants to broach their own questions, such as how to address inequities or silences in the research setting and what qualifies as valuable research, among other topics.

“The issues surrounding the evolving nature of research ethics in a post-TRC environment are central to the promotion of and engagement with the highest standard of research practices and this event and its associated media – website, resources document, networking opportunities – will positively strengthen and continue to build on our profile in critically engaged research with Indigenous peoples and communities,” said Stephens.

Organizers believe they were able to meet their workshop goals.

“We realize, however, that the real success of this workshop will only be through the research practices of the participants,” said Adelson. “We recognize that the challenge will be to create and foster this kind of productive and constructive engagement with the broader issues of research ethics on an ongoing basis.”

The Ethics in Indigenous Research Workshop was funded by the provost’s Indigenizing the Academy Initiative, the Office of the Vice-President Research and Innovation (Events Fund), the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (Research Events Fund) and the Department of Anthropology, York University.

Courtesy of YFile.

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York U study finds minority children develop implicit racial bias in early childhood http://research.info.yorku.ca/2018/05/york-u-study-finds-minority-children-develop-implicit-racial-bias-in-early-childhood/ Thu, 17 May 2018 12:46:45 +0000 http://research.info.yorku.ca/?p=11375 New research from York University suggests that minority children as young as six years old show an implicit pro-white racial bias when exposed to images of both white and black children. But how ingrained these biases become, and whether they persist into late childhood and adulthood, might depend on their social environment.

Jennifer Steele

Jennifer Steele

Faculty of Health Professor Jennifer Steele conducted two studies with graduate student Meghan George and her former PhD student Amanda Williams, now at the School of Education, University of Bristol. They were interested in looking at implicit racial bias in traditionally understudied populations. The goal of the research was to gain a better understanding of children’s automatic racial attitudes.

In both studies children were asked to complete a child-friendly Implicit Association Test (IAT), which measures automatic associations that children may have toward different races. In this computer task, children were asked to pair pictures of people with positive or negative images as quickly as possible.

The first study was conducted in the large urban city of Toronto and included 162 South Asian, East Asian, Southeast Asian, as well as black minority children; children were divided into younger and older age groups with average ages of seven and nine respectively. Children were recruited from racially diverse areas with a large black population within their schools and local community.

“We found that non-black minority children living in a racially diverse part of Toronto showed an implicit pro-white bias from six years of age,” said Steele. “However, what was interesting was that older children, who were on average nine years of age, showed less pro-white bias than younger children. This suggests to us that racial biases might not be as stable across development as researchers first thought. In this case, there could be factors in their racially diverse environment that are leading older children to show less bias, such as cross-race friends, mentors, positive black role models or a more Afrocentric curriculum that are helping to reinforce positive associations with this racial group.”

In contrast, the second study was conducted in the urban city of Bandar Seri Begawan, in the small Southeast Asian country of Brunei Darussalam, and included Malay majority and Chinese minority children and adults. These children had limited opportunities for direct contact with members of either white or black out-groups in both their immediate environment as well as the larger Southeast Asian cultural context of Brunei.

In this study, younger children, older children and adults were quicker to pair positive pictures with white faces and negative pictures with black faces on the IAT. However, the magnitude of bias was greater for adults.

Steele believes this could be because they have had more time and opportunity than children to develop positive associations with people from white racial outgroups, due to their depiction and over-representation in high-status roles in the news and online.

More research will be needed to determine what exactly led to these age differences in implicit racial bias. However, the results point to the role that the environment can play in shaping implicit racial attitudes. These results, combined with other research, indicate the importance of giving children the opportunity to connect with people from diverse groups early in life in order to challenge racial biases, said Steele.

“It is important for children to be exposed to diversity in their lives and for them to learn to appreciate this diversity. That can include reading stories with main characters from different backgrounds when people live in more racially homogeneous environments, or through positive experiences in multicultural cities,” said Steele. “In our educational system, it is important that our materials reflect our increasingly diverse communities, and that children have the opportunity to learn about successful, contributing members of society from all walks of life. This can help to challenge racial biases and can help to contribute to a more equitable society for everyone.”

The study is published in Developmental Science.

Watch Professor Jennifer Steele explain the findings in this video:

Courtesy of YFile.

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Professors Doug Crawford and Sapna Sharma honoured with President’s Research Awards http://research.info.yorku.ca/2018/05/professors-doug-crawford-and-sapna-sharma-honoured-with-presidents-research-awards/ Thu, 17 May 2018 12:43:42 +0000 http://research.info.yorku.ca/?p=11372 Faculty of Health Professor Doug Crawford and Faculty of Science Professor Sapna Sharma have been named recipients of 2018 President’s Research Excellence Awards. Crawford received the 2018 York University President’s Research Excellence Award and Sharma was the recipient fo the 2018 President’s Emerging Research Leadership Award.

“It is my great pleasure to acknowledge these two truly outstanding researchers—Professor Doug Crawford, recipient of the President’s Research Excellence Award, and Professor Sapna Sharma, recipient of the President’s Emerging Research Leadership Award,” said York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton. “Both Doug and Sapna are extremely committed to the University’s mission and vision to advance academic and research excellence for the benefit of all, and at the same time, they are helping to establish York among the country’s leading research-intensive universities through their visionary research, leadership and mentorship.”

Doug Crawford

Doug Crawford

Crawford is Distinguished Research Professor in Neuroscience and Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Visual-Motor Neuroscience at York University. He is being honoured for his career contributions toward understanding the neural mechanisms for visual memory and control of eye, head and hand motion.

Crawford is also recognized for his research leadership contributions, in particular, his continuing work as scientific director of the Vision: Science to Applications (VISTA) Program, which was awarded the largest research grant in York’s history. VISTA integrates the biological and computational vision research of five York faculties, seven research centres and more than 50 partners to produce technologies that will help people live healthier, safer and more productive lives.

Sapna Sharma

Sapna Sharma

A Tier 2 York Research Chair in Global Change Biology, Sharma is being recognized for her leadership in understanding the impacts of climate change, invasive species and habitat alteration on lakes. Her research focuses on predicting the effects of environmental stressors on lakes at broad spatial and temporal scales, and improving the scientific approaches used to generate these predictions.

Sharma is also committed to science outreach through her work with the Royal Canadian Institute for Science and is the founder of a science outreach program for refugee families called SEEDS (Science Enrichment and Educational Development for Syrians & Refugees).

“We are deeply committed to supporting and recognizing the success of our researchers and scholars,” said Robert Haché, York University’s vice-president research and innovation. “We wish to extend our warmest congratulations and best wishes to Professors Crawford and Sharma for their continued success.”

The York University President’s Research Excellence Award recognizes senior established, full-time, active faculty members at the rank of professor, with distinguished scholarly achievements who have had a notable impact on their field(s) and made a substantial contribution to advancing the University’s international reputation for research excellence while significantly and positively contributing to one or more aspects of the York community’s intellectual life.

The York University President’s Emerging Research Leadership Award recognizes full-time faculty members within 10 years of their first academic appointment, who have had a notable impact on their field(s) and made a substantial contribution to advancing the University’s international reputation for research excellence while significantly and positively contributing to one or more aspects of the York community’s intellectual life.

Courtesy of YFile.

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York University President and VPRI acknowledge research leaders http://research.info.yorku.ca/2018/05/york-university-president-and-vpri-acknowledge-research-leaders/ Thu, 10 May 2018 12:49:06 +0000 http://research.info.yorku.ca/?p=11354 The following is a joint statement from York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton, and Vice-President Research and Innovation Robert Haché:

 

Research excellence and innovation at York University are flourishing. York University’s researchers − recognized leaders and pioneers in their fields − are deeply committed to advancing innovative research projects across the vast spectrum of disciplines for the social, economic, cultural, environmental and other well-being of society.

Each spring, the President and the Vice-President Research & Innovation of York University take the opportunity to acknowledge York’s research leaders, and recognize the remarkable achievements of York’s community over the past year.

We are deeply committed to supporting our researchers and scholars, and wish to extend our warmest congratulations and best wishes to all our research leaders for their continued success.

We encourage everyone to read this year’s research leaders booklet on the VPRI website.

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York professor awarded Killam Research Fellowship to study girls’ roles in early English theatre http://research.info.yorku.ca/2018/05/york-professor-awarded-killam-research-fellowship-to-study-girls-roles-in-early-english-theatre/ Thu, 10 May 2018 12:47:43 +0000 http://research.info.yorku.ca/?p=11351

York University Professor Deanne Williams has been awarded a 2018 Killam Research Fellowship by the Canada Council for the Arts, to undertake the first-ever study devoted to the history of the girl actor from the Middle Ages to the English Revolution.

Deanne Williams

Deanne Williams (image: Brian Carey)

The Canada Council for the Arts announced the recipients of the 2018 Killam Prizes and Fellowships May 8. Killam fellowships provide $70,000 in funding annually for two years so six outstanding scholars can focus their time and energy on groundbreaking projects in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, health sciences, engineering and interdisciplinary studies.

Williams, who is a professor in York’s Department of English, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies (LAPS), has been awarded the fellowship for humanities for her project “The Girl on Stage in Early Modern England”. Williams is a scholar of Medieval and Renaissance literature, and in 2014 published Shakespeare and the Performance of Girlhood, the first scholarly study devoted entirely to the subject of girls and girlhood in Shakespeare.

Her Killam Fellowship study will challenge long-held assumptions about when girls first took to the stage, demonstrating that from the earliest English dramatic culture, girls took speaking parts and performed as dancers, singers, and musicians.

“The Killam Research Fellowship is a wonderful recognition of the value of research that can change the way we look at history and the world today,” said Robert Haché, vice-president Research & Innovation at York University. “We’re very proud of Professor Williams’ contributions to the humanities, one of the core strengths of York University.”

In 2014 Williams won a five-year Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Grant for her new project, Girls and their Books in Early Modern England. Late last year she was inducted to the Royal Society of Canada as a 2017 New College Inductee in the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists.

Williams speaks about her research projects in this video:

Courtesy of YFile.

 

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York U researcher identifies 15 new species of stealthy cuckoo bees http://research.info.yorku.ca/2018/05/york-u-researcher-identifies-15-new-species-of-stealthy-cuckoo-bees/ Thu, 10 May 2018 12:45:27 +0000 http://research.info.yorku.ca/?p=11348 Cuckoo bees sneakily lay their eggs in the nests of other bee species, after which their newly hatched prodigies kill the host egg or larva, and then feed on the stored pollen. The host, a solitary bee, never knows anything is awry. Nine new species of these clandestine bees have been found hiding in collections and museums across North America by York University PhD Candidate Thomas Onuferko, as well as another six unpublished in a decades-old academic thesis.

cuckoo bees female male

Cuckoo bees: female (left) and male (right)

More closely resembling wasps in appearance, cuckoo bees lack the typical fuzzy look usually attributed to bees, as they don’t need those hairs to collect pollen for their young. Although not much is known about them, cuckoo bees are named after cuckoo birds which exhibit the same cleptoparasitic behaviour.

There are now a total of 43 known cuckoo bees in the genus Epeolus (pronounced ee-pee-oh-lus) in North America, many of which go unnoticed hovering low to the ground in backyards or “sleeping” on leaves, as they don’t have nests of their own. They are only 5.5 to 10 mm in length, smaller and rarer than the polyester bees whose nests they invade.

“It may seem surprising to some that in well-researched places like Canada and the United States there is still the potential for the discovery of new species,” said Onuferko, a York University PhD candidate in the Faculty of Science. “People have been aware of a few of the new species that I’m describing, but they’ve never been formerly named. There is a whole bunch of other species, however, that no one knew about.”

Part of the reason it’s taken so long to identify these new cuckoo bees is that they are small, uncommonly collected and can be difficult to tell apart. Onuferko visited collections across North America and had specimens sent to the Packer Lab at York University for examination.

Many of the newly described cuckoo bees, including one Onuferko named after well-known British broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough – Epeolus attenboroughi, possess very short black, white, red and yellow hairs that form attractive patterns.

Onuferko named another cuckoo bee after York University bee expert and thesis adviser Professor Laurence Packer – Epeolus packeri.

 Where did the name “Epeolus” come from? Onuferko thinks it’s likely a diminutive of Epeus/Epeius, the name of the soldier in Greek mythology who is attributed with coming up with the Trojan horse war strategy.

All 15 new species are now formally described, which will allow other researchers and bee enthusiasts to keep a lookout for them.

The paper, “A revision of the cleptoparasitic bee genus Epeolus Latreille for Nearctic species, north of Mexico (Hymenoptera, Apidae)“, is published in the open access journal ZooKeys.

Courtesy of YFile.

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Landmark project brings to light crimes against humanity in African war zones http://research.info.yorku.ca/2018/05/landmark-project-brings-to-light-crimes-against-humanity-in-african-war-zones/ Mon, 07 May 2018 13:28:30 +0000 http://research.info.yorku.ca/?p=11266 SSHRC-funded project documents conjugal slavery in conflict regions of Africa. With high-profile partners, this pioneering research team is now sharing its work with a global audience thanks to the guidance of York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit.

For seven years, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies Professor Annie Bunting has been working on a ground-breaking project, “Conjugal Slavery in War (CSiW): Partnerships for the study of enslavement, marriage and masculinities.” This venture seeks to document cases of forced marriage in conflict situations in Africa, to place this data in historical context and to impact the international prosecution of crimes against humanity as well as local reparations programs for survivors of violence.

Bunting has awarded a progression of major funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to support this work; she won a Partnership Development Grant (2011-2015), then a Partnership Grant (2015-2020).

Women’s Advocacy Network members, Gulu, Uganda 2012. Photo credit: Annie Bunting

 

Pressing themes have now emerged from this work, as well as gaps in knowledge, such as men’s experiences of being ordered to be violent and children’s experiences of being stigmatized for being born as the result of sexual violence.

“This project will strengthen an individual’s and an organization's capacity to prevent violence and advance understanding of the use of conjugal slavery as a tool of war through evidence-based research,” Bunting explains.

Annie Bunting (left). The “Conjugal Slavery in War (CSiW)” project documents cases of forced marriage in conflict situations in Africa

Annie Bunting (left). The “Conjugal Slavery in War (CSiW)” project documents cases of forced marriage in conflict situations in Africa.

 

York’s Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) Unit is working with the project organizers to help them spread the word about this vital project.

Interdisciplinary team includes 10 partners, 25 collaborators across 10 countries

Bunting’s project has grown exponentially and attracted, to date, 10 partners and 25 collaborators and graduate students across ten countries. High-profile partners include Solidarité Féminine pour la paix et le développement Intégral (SOFEPADI), PLAN International, the Liu Institute for Global Issues, and the Harriet Tubman Institute.

This interdisciplinary team of researchers and partners explores the social and legal meaning of conjugal slavery or servile marriage during war, and the implications of this gender violence in post-conflict situations. Through archival, qualitative and legal research, this project examines the experiences of women and men who were subject to or participated in enslavement in the conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Liberia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Sudan and Uganda.

Gulu, Uganda 2012. Photo credit: Annie Bunting

Gulu, Uganda 2012. Photo credit: Annie Bunting

 

More specifically, since monitoring the prosecution of gender violence at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the partners have been working in Sierra Leone, Uganda and DRC to track the developments of international criminal law, national laws and local reparations programs. Bunting and her colleagues submitted a brief on forced marriage as a crime against humanity to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia in 2016.

Project offers 250 powerful interviews with survivors

In addition to legal monitoring, the researchers have gathered over 250 interviews with survivors of abduction and forced marriage. In February 2018, CSiW coproduced “Life of the Law,” a four-part podcast in a series on Uganda by Gladys Oroma. This follows the lives of Beatrice Ocwee and Samuel Akena, two of the thousands of children who were abducted in northern Uganda and held captive by LRA rebels from the 1980s to 2008. This podcast series was downloaded almost 80,000 times across 60 countries throughout the two months of the series in 2018.

Equally compelling material includes powerful advocacy documentaries, such as:

  • “They Slept with Me,” by the Refugee Law Project, which features an interview with a father of seven who was attacked and raped by government soldiers in northern Uganda;
  • “Parenting the Missing,” also by the Refugee Law Project, which contains an interview with a mother whose only daughter was captured by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA, the rebel group in Uganda) and has never returned; and
  • “I am not who they think I am,” by the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), which features an interview with a young Ugandan woman, born as the result of sexual violence, who sees herself as a burden to society. This video, provided below with permission from ICTJ, also contains interviews with mothers, abducted and raped, who were rejected by their community when they beat the odds and returned from captivity.

CSiW has been gaining attention. CBC’s “The Current” recently aired an interview with one of the project’s collaborators, Grace Acan from Uganda.

CSiW participants, Stella Lanam and Grace Acan. Gulu, Uganda 2012. Photo credit: Annie Bunting

CSiW participants, Stella Lanam and Grace Acan. Gulu, Uganda 2012. Photo credit: Annie Bunting

Themes brought to the fore, important knowledge gaps identified

Several key themes have emerged from this research, which need further attention and study. The team aims to fill the following gaps in knowledge:

  • Research on men’s experiences of forced marriage – this includes being ordered to be violent;
  • The post-conflict impact of stigma on children born as the result of sexual violence;
  • Research on the relationship between wartime violence and existing and historical gender norms; and
  • The ongoing debates about the effectiveness of the tribunals and commissions, including government and international reparations programs.

Knowledge Mobilization Unit helps project team connect with global audience

For the past three years, Bunting and Project Coordinator Véronique Bourget, have worked closely with York’s KMb Unit. Michael Johnny, manager of the KMb Unit, explains: “Our team presented to the project’s partners on KMb principles and recommended activities for the project team to consider. We sought to engage and help connect the research and research findings with global audiences.”

One key planning tool was the creation of a five-year plan for KMb.

Five-year plan for this project’s knowledge mobilization

Five-year plan for this project’s knowledge mobilization

 

Consultations with the KMb Unit have also led to the creation of a four-part podcast series to engage audiences around important issues. Additionally, Bunting and her project team are developing plans to exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg this fall.

To learn more about Bunting, visit her faculty profile. For more information on CSiW, visit the website. To watch the videos, see resources. To listen to the Uganda podcast, visit the website.  To read the brief on forced marriage as a crime against humanity, visit the website. To see “Life of the Law,” visit the website. To watch “The Current” interview with Acan, visit the website.

To learn more about Research & Innovation at York University, follow us at @YUResearch, watch the York Research Impact Story and see the snapshot infographic.

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

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York professor and alumna contributes to world’s largest LGBTQ+ archives http://research.info.yorku.ca/2018/05/york-professor-and-alumna-contributes-to-worlds-largest-lgbtq-archives/ Mon, 07 May 2018 13:19:40 +0000 http://research.info.yorku.ca/?p=11260 Professor Nancy Nicol donates her collection of original footage from her documentaries to the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives. This “moving history charged with optimism” will be preserved for generations to come.

Portrait of Nancy Nicol by her partner, Phyllis Waugh. This portrait was commissioned for the induction of Nicol into the CLGA's National Portrait Gallery. Credit: Courtesy of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives

Portrait of Nancy Nicol by her partner, Phyllis Waugh. This portrait was commissioned for the induction of Nicol into the CLGA’s National Portrait Gallery. Credit: Courtesy of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives

Talk about legacy. In spring of last year, York Professor Emeritus Nancy Nicol, documentary filmmaker and activist in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD), donated her collection to the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives (CLGA). The archives then established the Nancy Nicol Collection.

Based in downtown Toronto, the CLGA maintains the world’s largest independent LGBTQ+ archives. Its acquisition of Nicol’s collection is part of a long-term strategy to become a more active resource for the Canadian and LGBTQ+ communities.

Nicol, a York University alumna, describes her body of work, which documents a period of intense change in lesbian and gay rights in Canada between 1969-2009, as “a moving history, charged with optimism and resilience in the face of prejudice and ignorance.”

She hopes her contribution to the Archives will be a way of remembering and celebrating this history, will provide vital materials for queer history students and researchers and will inspire future generations.

Nicol’s work reflects 40 years of lesbian and gay movement in Canada

Nicol, active in visual arts, video art, participatory documentary, research and writing since the late 1970s, taught in the Visual Arts Department at York from 1989 to 2016. Here, she assisted in the founding of the University’s Sexuality Studies and the Community Art Certificate programs.

Her contribution to filmmaking and social activism is vast, and it digs deeply into issues of human rights, social justice and struggles for social change. In her compelling documentaries, she interviewed many human rights lawyers, activists and community leaders. As a result, her work brings to life four decades of the history of the lesbian and gay movement in Canada.

Still from The End of Second Class (2006), Supreme Court hearing on equal marriage case. Credit: Courtesy of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives

Still from The End of Second Class (2006), Supreme Court hearing on equal marriage case. Credit: Courtesy of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives

Began in 1980s with a series on pro-choice movement

Nicol’s first ground-breaking documentary series was The Struggle for Choice (1986), which depicted the history of the pro-choice movement in Canada. She followed this up with films on women and work, labour struggles, reproductive rights, migrant workers’ rights in Canada and human rights in Northern Ireland.

In the 1990s, Nicol began what became a long-term project that traced decades of lesbian and gay rights organizing in Canada from decriminalization (in 1969) through the battles for human rights, relationship recognition and equal marriage up to 2009.

Her influential work extends beyond the border of Canada. In 2011, Nicol led an international research and participatory documentary project, “Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights,” collaborating with 31 community partners based in Canada, Africa, the Caribbean and India.

The Envisioning project resulted in many outcomes, including publications and participatory documentaries. These works include No Easy Walk To Freedom (2014), which documents the struggle for decriminalization in India, as well as And Still We Rise (2015, co-directed with Richard Lusimbo) on resistance to the anti-homosexuality act in Uganda.

A forthcoming anthology, Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights: (Neo)colonialism, Neoliberalism, Resistance and Hope, will be launched in June, 2018. It is edited by N. Nicol, A. Jjuuko, R. Lusimbo, N. J. Mulé, S. Ursel, A. Wahab and P. Waugh, School of Advanced Study, University of London.

Collection features footage and interviews of From Criminality to Equality series

The Nancy Nicol Collection is compiled of the filmmaker’s work between 1994 and 2009, including uncut footage and full-length interviews that were used in several of her documentaries. The collection features the award-winning documentary series From Criminality to Equality, which is comprised of four films: Stand Together (2002), Politics of the Heart / La Politique du Coeur (2005), The End of Second Class (2006) and The Queer Nineties (2009).

The collection also offers shorts and excerpts from documentaries by Nicol, such as Gay Pride and Prejudice (1994), Proud Lives: George Hislop (2005), Making the Political Appear, Black Queer Histories of Organizing (2006), Proud Lives: Chris Bearchell (2007), From Russia, in Love (2009), One Summer in New Paltz, A Cautionary Tale (2008) and Dykes Planning Tykes: Queering the Family Tree (2011, co-directed by Nicol and M. J. Daniel).

Still from Nicol’s From Russia, in Love (2009). Credit: Courtesy of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives

Still from Nicol’s From Russia, in Love (2009). Credit: Courtesy of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives

Collection documents key moments in Canadian history

The Nancy Nicol Collection documents many watershed moments in the nation’s history, including:

  • The birth of gay liberation in the 1970s;
  • The struggle for human rights protection, provincially and nationally;
  • The AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) and HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) crisis;
  • Opposition to gay rights, spanning from the 1970s to the 1990s;
  • The growth and increasing diversity of LGBT organizing;
  • The labour movement’s role in queer rights;
  • Struggles for relationship recognition including the Ontario’s Campaign for Equal Families and the Lesbian Mothers’ Association battle, in Quebec, for queer parenting rights; and
  • Key Charter rights cases that sought to advance relationship recognition, same-sex marriage, parenting and pensions.

This collection will form a lasting legacy, for both the LGBTQ+ community and all Canadians.

To read a related article published by AMPD, visit the website. For more on the Nancy Nicol Collection, view the website. To learn more about Nancy Nicol’s work, see her faculty profile. For more information on the “Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights” project, visit the blog. To learn more about the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, view the website.

To learn more about Research & Innovation at York University, follow us at @YUResearch, watch the York Research Impact Story and see the snapshot infographic.

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

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Mathematics research offers new ways to control West Nile transmission http://research.info.yorku.ca/2018/05/mathematics-research-offers-new-ways-to-control-west-nile-transmission/ Mon, 07 May 2018 13:16:04 +0000 http://research.info.yorku.ca/?p=11263 CIHR- and NSERC-funded research identifies possible measures to control the mosquito population and the transmission of the West Nile virus in artificial ponds around the GTA. The findings could be used to guide programs in local health units.

The West Nile virus is the most widely distributed virus in the world and it is transmitted by mosquitoes. Exactly how it spreads is complex because it is influenced by factors including weather conditions and urban environmental settings such as storm water management ponds (SWMP).

Huaiping Zhu

Huaiping Zhu

Professor Huaiping Zhu, professor of mathematics and director of the Laboratory of Mathematical Parallel Systems at York University and Tier 1 York Research Chair in Applied Mathematics (commencing July 1, 2018), looked at the impact of these two factors on the transmission of West Nile virus.

Using mathematical modelling, Zhu led a study in conjunction with Peel Public Health and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). The study, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), discovered some ways to reduce the spread of the virus. The findings, published in Royal Society (August 2017), could inform local health units.

The West Nile virus is transmitted when female mosquitoes are infected by feeding on the blood of birds carrying the virus, these mosquitos then transmit the virus to humans and other animals.

The West Nile virus is transmitted when female mosquitoes are infected by feeding on the blood of birds carrying the virus, these mosquitos then transmit the virus to humans and other animals

“We discovered that moderate temperature and precipitation will increase the mosquito population and the potential for an outbreak of West Nile virus. However, excess precipitation could reduce the mosquito population,” Zhu explains. “This information is valuable because it could identify measures to control larval abundance in these ponds and, subsequently, control the transmission of West Nile,” he adds.

Zhu is an expert in developing mathematical models, theories, methodologies and tools for the prevention and control of vector-borne diseases.

West Nile virus spread rapidly after first occurrence in 1999

The West Nile virus is transmitted when female mosquitoes are infected by feeding on the blood of birds carrying the virus, these mosquitos then transmit the virus to humans and other animals. There are no vaccines or treatments to date.

The first case was recorded in New York City in 1999. From there, the virus spread rapidly. It reached Ontario only two years later. Since 2001, human infections in this province have occurred yearly. The figure below illustrates the human infections in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), June to October, 2002 to 2011. Midway, week 34 (July), marks the virus’ peak.

Human infections in the GTA, June to October (2002 to 2011). Data from Public Health Ontario

Human infections in the GTA, June to October, 2002 to 2011. Data from Public Health Ontario

 

Mosquitos breed in stationary water, like ponds and swamps. SWMPs are artificial ponds designed to collect, retain and filter storm water run-off. Ontario municipalities started building them in the 1980s. Today, there are more than 1,000 in the GTA. They’re not supposed to retain stagnant water, but they do when they’re improperly designed or maintained.

The authorities are aware of this risk. In fact, TRCA has been running a mosquito larval monitoring and surveillance program in natural wetlands and SWMP on TRCA lands in the GTA since 2003. Their results showed that the mosquitoes collected from these SWMP were principally West Nile vector species. SWMP can be used to predict adult mosquito emergence and the potential for human infections.

This is where Zhu’s research began. His study sought to explore the impacts of SWMP, temperature and precipitation on West Nile vector abundance and the transmission of the virus between mosquito and bird populations. The mathematical model he developed was used to analyse how weather conditions and SWMP can influence an outbreak, to predict or control the virus with greater accuracy.

“Having a better understanding of the mechanism of an outbreak and, in turn, a more reliable evaluation of transmission risk will greatly help to control the spread of the virus and human infections,” Zhu explains.

Storm water management ponds are artificial ponds designed to collect, retain and filter storm water run-off. They’re not supposed to retain stagnant water, but they do when they’re improperly designed or maintained.

Storm water management ponds are artificial ponds designed to collect, retain and filter storm water run-off. They’re not supposed to retain stagnant water, but they do when they’re improperly designed or maintained

Research team factored in weather from data collected at Pearson Airport

Zhu’s research team split the mosquito population in two stages, then considered the intraspecific competition of mosquitos in the aquatic stage. (Intraspecific competition occurs when members of the same species compete for limited resources.)

They found that (1) the abundance of pre-adults was closely related to intraspecific competition and (2) intraspecific competition was associated with standing water developed from the water in SWMP.

The researchers also factored in weather, where SWMP in conjunction with precipitation determines the water habitat for mosquito larvae. They used weather data from June to October gathered from Toronto Pearson International Airport Station, as well as weather data from Meteorological Service of Canada (EC), in particular, the Ontario Climate Data Portal (OCDP). “The OCDP, established by continuous funding support by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change since 2011, serves as a platform for the impact studies of climate change in Ontario,” Zhu explains.

Findings have application for local health units

The researchers discovered that moderate temperature and precipitation increases the potential for an outbreak of West Nile because these factors increase the mosquito population. Of particular interest, they found that excess precipitation could reduce mosquito population, which would lead to fewer infectious mosquitoes and birds, and fewer outbreaks.

This new knowledge can help to identify measures to control larval abundance in SWMP and the transmission of West Nile. “This work can be used to guide programs in local health units where monitoring standing water is used to control mosquito populations and the spread of West Nile virus,” says Zhu.

Future work may involve other factors such as land use, wildlife species distribution, wind patterns and elevation on the abundance of mosquitoes and the transmission of West Nile virus.

To read the article, go to the Royal Society website. To learn more about Zhu’s research, visit his faculty profile.

To learn more about Research & Innovation at York University, follow us at @YUResearch, watch the York Research Impact Story and see the snapshot infographic.

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

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