The York Research Chairs program is envisioned as York University's internal counterpart for the national Canada Research Chairs (CRC) program and recognizes outstanding researchers at York. The level of support and recognition provided to York Research Chairs is expected to be aligned with supports and recognition provided through the CRC program.
York Research Chairs are available at two levels analogous to CRC chairs. Tier I York Research Chairs are open to established research leaders at the rank of full professor. Tier II York Research Chairs are aimed at emerging research leaders within 15 years of their first academic appointment at the rank of Associate or Assistant Professor. Both have five-year terms that are renewable in the context of open-competition based on peer review and the continuing availability of resources.
Tier I Chairs
Isabella Bakker, Department of Political Science, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS), received a Tier 1 York Research Chair in Global Economic Governance, Gender and Human Rights. Bakker’s research places a critical lens on global economic policy and governance practices. She is also examining reproductive healthcare, education, and welfare policies, in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis with the central aim of supporting the development of progressive, human-centred economic theories and policies.
Nantel Bergeron, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Faculty of Science, was awarded a Tier 1 York Research Chair in Applied Algebra. Bergeron is one of the pioneers in the development of the theory of combinatorial Hopf algebras that serve as a conceptual laboratory in which researchers can understand and solve complex problems from other areas of science and mathematics. His research program will help to better understand the complexity of algorithms in computer science and mathematics and bring further insights into super-symmetry of nature.
Ellen Bialystok, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health, has received a Tier 1 Walter Gordon York Research Chair in Lifespan Cognitive Development. Her research examines the effects of experience on cognitive function and brain organization across the lifespan, with a particular focus on bilingualism as an example of an intense and prevalent experience. The award will support studies of patients with early Alzheimer’s disease to provide a more complete description of these dynamic changes and develop a training protocol based on compensation that will improve cognitive function for all patients.
Deborah Britzman, Faculty of Education, has received a Tier 1 York Research Chair in Pedagogy and Psycho-Social Transformations. Britzman's research interests are in psychoanalysis with education and studies of learning as psychosocial transformation. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a Psychoanalyst, she is the author of 100 articles and eight books.
James Elder has received a Tier 1 York Research Chair in Human and Computer Vision. Elder is a member of the Centre for Vision Research and a professor in the Departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Psychology at York University, and is appointed as a joint Lassonde School of Engineering/Faculty of Health Tier I Chair. His research interests include the development of novel and useful computer vision algorithms and machine vision systems through a better understanding of visual processing in biological systems.
Laurence Harris, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health, was awarded a Tier 1 York Research Chair in Multisensory Integration. Harris investigates how we integrate information from our different senses to create the perception of our own body, and our sense of position and movement in the world. He is the Director of the Centre for Vision Research at York, an international leader in biological and machine vision research and a core member of the Vision: Science to Applications (VISTA) program.
Eric Hessels, is a York University Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and a Tier 1 York Research Chair in Atomic Physics. He is part of a collaboration whose goal is to hold antihydrogen (the antimatter version of the hydrogen atoms) in a magnetic trap and use them to conduct precise tests of the symmetries and physics of antimatter. He is also working on using precision measurements of atomic helium to make a 3-part-per-billion determination of the fine-structure constant, and a precise measurement in atomic hydrogen to determine the size of the proton.
Lesley Jacobs has received a Tier 1 York Research Chair in Human Rights and Access to Justice. Jacobs is professor and director of the Institute for Social Research at York University where he teaches political science and law and society in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, as well as in the graduate program of Law at Osgoode Hall Law School and the graduate program in socio-legal studies. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2017 for his contributions in Canada and abroad to human rights and access to justice. Appointed as a Tier I Chair, he will focus his research on establishing an innovative Access to Justice Research Lab, which will serve as an incubator for the most impactful primary empirical research on access to justice in Canada.
Roger Keil, Faculty of Environmental Studies, was awarded a Tier 1 York Research Chair in Global Sub/Urban Studies in recognition of his research contributions to the field of urban and environmental research. Keil’s research examines suburbanization, which is now a global phenomenon and a defining feature of the “urban century” we have just entered. His work will add to a greater understanding of our suburban futures, as new forms of work, housing, mobility and governance, as well as how human/non-human nature relationships take shape.
Sergey Krylov, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, was awarded an inaugural Tier 1 York Research Chair in Bioanalytical Chemistry. The appointment supports the development of new technologies for understanding, diagnosing and treating cancer. As the director of the Centre for Research on Biomolecular Chemistry, Krylov’s lab will work collaboratively with hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and instrumentation companies on the development of personalized approaches to cancer medicine.
Obiora Okafor, Osgoode Hall Law School, is the inaugural Tier 1 York Research Chair in International and Transnational Legal Studies. Building on an ongoing research project about Canadian/Nigerian cooperation on human rights (including in the sub-areas of economic and social rights, judicial strengthening, institution building, democratization and poverty alleviation), and other research projects, the award supports the expansion of Okafor’s research to include a focus on the study of Canadian human rights cooperation initiatives with all of the countries in Anglophone West Africa.
Chun Peng, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, was awarded a Tier 1 York Research Chair in Women's Reproductive Health. Peng’s long-term goal for her research program is to understand the regulation of female reproduction and the mechanisms underlying the development of ovarian cancer and preeclampsia. Her proposed research will enhance the overall understanding of female reproductive health and reveal novel biomarkers for preeclampsia and therapeutic targets for ovarian cancer.
Lauren Sergio has received a Tier 1 York Research Chair in Brain Health and Skilled Performance. Sergio is a professor in the Faculty of Health’s School of Kinesiology and Health Science. She is appointed as a Tier I Chair. Her research investigates the effects of age, sex, neurological disease, head injury and experience (elite versus non-elite athletes) on the brain’s control of complex movement. Sergio works with a wide range of adult populations, including NHL draft prospects and Alzheimer’s disease patients, using behavioural and brain imaging techniques. She is a member of the Centre for Vision Research, a research affiliate at Southlake Regional Health Centre and a member of the York Lions Sport Medicine Team.
Richard Wildes has received a Tier 1 York Research Chair in Computational Vision. Wildes is associate director of the Vision: Science to Applications (VISTA) project, a member of the Centre for Vision Research and an associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science of the Lassonde School of Engineering. He is appointed as a Tier I Chair. He is the recipient of a Sarnoff Corporation Technical Achievement Award, the IEEE D.G. Fink Prize Paper Award for his Proceedings of the IEEE publication “Iris Recognition: An Emerging Biometric Technology.” He has twice been invited to present lectures to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. His research interests include computer vision, video understanding, machine vision applications and artificial intelligence.
Dan Zhang has received a Tier 1 York Research Chair in Advanced Robotics and Mechatronics. Zhang is a professor and Kaneff Research Chair in Advanced Robotics and Mechatronics in the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the Lassonde School of Engineering. He is appointed as a Tier I Chair. From 2004 to 2015, Zhang was an assistant/associate professor/full professor and Canada Research Chair in Advanced Robotics and Automation, and was a founding Chair of the Department of Automotive, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering with the Faculty of Engineering & Applied Science at University of Ontario Institute of Technology. Zhang’s research interests include robotics and mechatronics, high performance parallel robotic machine development, micro/nano manipulation and MEMS devices, and rehabilitation robots and rescue robots.
Huaiping Zhu has received a Tier 1 York Research Chair in Applied Mathematics. Zhu is a professor of mathematics in the Faculty of Science and director of the Laboratory of Mathematical Parallel Systems (LAMPS) at York University. Appointed as a Tier I Chair, he has research interests that include dynamical systems and differential equations; bifurcation theory and applications; Hilbert’s sixteenth problem; mathematical ecology and epidemiology; climate change modelling and impact studies; and developing mathematical models, theories, methodologies and tools for the prevention and control of vector-borne diseases.
Zheng Hong (George) Zhu, Department of Earth & Space Science & Engineering in the Lassonde School of Engineering, was awarded a Tier 1 York Research Chair in Space Technology. Zhu is the Director of the Space Engineering Design Laboratory at the Lassonde School of Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering. His research interests touch on a number of topics including the dynamics and control of tethered spacecraft systems, electrodynamic tether propulsion and space debris removal, space robotics and advanced spacecraft materials.
Tier II Chairs
Robert Allison, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, School of Engineering and a member of the VISTA program, is interested in human perceptual responses in virtual environments and the study of stereoscopic visions. He is also interested in the measurement and analysis of eye movements and the applications of this technology.
Kristin Andrews, Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, was awarded a Tier 2 York Research Chair in Animal Minds. Andrews' interests are in animal and child social cognition and moral development. She has worked with dolphins in Hawaii and orangutans in Borneo. Her research area is in the philosophy of psychology. Her first book, Do Apes Read Minds?, was published by MIT Press in 2012.
Jacob Beck has received a Tier 2 York Research Chair in Philosophy of Visual Perception. Beck is an associate professor of philosophy in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, and is also a member of the Cognitive Science Program, the Centre for Vision Research and the Vision: Science to Applications (VISTA) program. Appointed as a Tier II Chair, he has research interests that include the study of mental representation and consciousness from an empirically informed philosophical perspective. Most of his current research centres on three issues: the format of mental representation, the perception–cognition boundary, and how consciousness and representation interrelate.
Mike Daly, Department of Earth and Space Science and Engineering, Lassonde School of Engineering, was awarded a Tier 2 York Research Chair in Planetary Science in recognition of his outstanding contribution to space-flight instrumentation research at York. The York Research Chair will enable Daly’s participation in NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission to the near-Earth asteroid Bennu and the return of Canada’s first sample of material from another solar system.
Jane Heffernan, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Faculty of Science, is an inaugural Tier 2 York Research Chair in Multi-Scale Quantitative Methods for Evidence-Based Health Policy. Heffernan’s research responds to the pressing need for new statistical, mathematical, and computational methods of mapping, understanding and controlling infectious diseases and aims to influence the development of new evidence-based public health policies. Heffernan is also the director of the Centre for Disease Modelling, and is involved in global health initiatives.
Jimmy Huang, School of Information Technology, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, received a Tier 2 York Research Chair in Big Data Analytics. Huang’s research focuses on the areas of information retrieval, big data and their applications to the web and medical healthcare. The objective of his research program is to overcome limitations of existing information retrieval methods and to formally develop a new retrieval paradigm called context-sensitive and task-aware information search for big data.
Anna Hudson, Department of Visual Arts and Art History, School of Arts, Media, Performance and Design, is the new Tier 2 York Research Chair in Inuit Cultural Mobilization, which will advance research into Inuit cultural globalization by exploring contemporary fusions of Indigenous storytelling with hip-hop, performance, game design, and videography. Supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Partnership Grant, the Chair will promote the development of a more equitable information and communication technology infrastructure and greater participation by Inuvialuit, Nunavut, Nunavik, and Nunatsiavut artists in global cultural dialogue, exchange, and digital preservation of Inuit art and cultural heritage.
Fuyuki Kurasawa, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, is an inaugural Tier 2 York Research Chair in Global Digital Citizenship. His research will examine how the rise of digital culture is enabling laypeople and experts to collaborate in tackling some of the world’s most pressing problems. Kurasawa will also examine how new technologies are reshaping practices of creation, evaluation, and dissemination of knowledge about such global problems.
R. Shayna Rosenbaum, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health and core member of the Vision: Science to Applications (VISTA) program is a Tier 2 VISTA York Research Chair in the Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory. Combining the study of brain-damaged patients with brain imaging and innovative cognitive tests, she has shown how different forms of memory are represented in the brain and how they contribute to other functions from decision making to social interaction. She is harnessing this knowledge to develop strategies to help healthy older adults and patients overcome memory loss.
Dayna Nadine Scott has received a Tier 2 York Research Chair in Environmental Law and Justice in the Green Economy. Scott joined the Faculty at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School in 2006. She is cross-appointed to York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies. Appointed as a Tier II Chair, she has a teaching focus on environmental law and justice, risk regulation and international environmental governance. She is a co-director of Osgoode’s Environmental Justice and Sustainability Clinic, with research interests that focus on contestation over extraction, the distribution of pollution burdens affecting marginalized communities and vulnerable populations, and the justice dimensions of the transition to a greener economy.
Sapna Sharma, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science was awarded a Tier 2 York Research Chair in Global Change Biology. Sharma is interested in predicting the effects of environmental stressors, such as climate change, invasive species, land use change, and habitat alteration, on ecosystems and improving the use of quantitative approaches used to generate these predictions.
Jonathan Weiss has received a Tier 2 York Research Chair in Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disability. Weiss is a clinical psychologist and associate professor in the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health. Appointed as a Tier II Chair, he has research foci on the prevention and treatment of mental health problems in people with autism and/or intellectual disabilities across the lifespan. Weiss also holds the CIHR Chair in Autism Spectrum Disorders Treatment and Care Research. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Dual Diagnosis Program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and was a research fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto.
Derek Wilson has received a Tier 2 York Research Chair in Molecular Mechanisms of Disease. Wilson is an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, at York University. He holds the position of director of the Centre for Research in Mass Spectrometry (CRMS). Appointed as a Tier II Chair, he specializes in developing novel mass-spectrometry methods to investigate biomedical problems at a molecular level. He has a Krembil Foundation-funded project that focuses on the causes of Alzheimer’s, a neurodegenerative disease affecting an estimated 44 million patients worldwide, and with a global disease burden of more than $600 billion. His program is highly collaborative with industry for the accelerated development of anti-neurodegenerative drugs.
Amro Zayed, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, was awarded a Tier 2 York Research Chair in Genomics. Zayed’s research group sequences the genomes of thousands of bees to identify mutations that influence their economically and ecologically relevant traits. Zayed’s program aims to improve the health of Canadian honey bees, which will increase the sustainability and security of Canada’s food supply.