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Announcing York U’s new associate director research security

Announcing York U’s new associate director research security

Rebecca Irwin is York University’s first associate director research security, effective October 10. 

Prior to joining York, Irwin worked for the Government of Canada, both in Ottawa and Toronto, on national security priorities. In her 16 years with the federal government, she managed teams and projects in the national security space and has experience on issues impacting research security.

“Ms. Irwin has the vital skills and experience to safeguard York University’s growing research and innovation enterprise and serve as its key liaison to government and agency officials on risk management and compliance,” said Jennifer MacLean, assistant vice-president innovation and research partnerships. “Her direction on security issues will ensure York researchers are well-protected in their international collaborations and are well-equipped to fulfill all government funding requirements.”

In her new role in the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation (VPRI), Irwin will lead the development and implementation of the University’s research security strategy related to funding, partnerships, commercialization, data governance, cybersecurity and associated policies, procedures and programs.

She will advise York faculty on security best practices, oversee the review of select research agreements and support the research community with adherence to rules and regulations related to the legal protection of intellectual property and export control.

“I am delighted to join York University and support its community of changemakers navigate the evolving landscape of research security protocols,” said Irwin, who holds a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Warwick and a bachelor’s degree in history from Western University. “I welcome the opportunity to champion the University’s interests in global research partnerships, strengthen institutional safety and security, and empower York’s innovative researchers to excel in their work.”

Recently, in the face of new geopolitical realities, safeguarding the international research activities of Canadian universities has become more and more of a government priority, at both the federal and provincial level. Research-intensive universities across the country are in consultation with government funding agencies, Public Safety Canada, and groups like the Ontario Council of Ontario Research (OCUR) to establish greater alignment and coordination on new and emerging security guidelines.

“York University is dedicated to ensuring the safety and security of its researchers and their research partnerships. As an institution, we are known for our global engagement and our collaborative approach, which makes safeguarding research even more of a top priority for York,” said Amir Asif, vice-president research & innovation. “I am pleased to welcome Ms. Irwin to her new role as VPRI is committed to streamlining the funding process for our researchers and facilitating the ease of collaborations as much as possible. Our support enables our researchers to focus on what they do best: conduct purposeful research that advances knowledge and creates positive change.”  

The appointment of an associate director research security is part of the University’s ongoing efforts to meet new government funding requirements and enhance the security of York research.

Researchers with a security question or concern can contact Rebecca Irwin at