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Six Canada Research Chairs renewed at York for $5.7 million

Six Canada Research Chairs renewed at York for $5.7 million

York University has received $5.7 million to renew six of its Canada Research Chairs (CRC).

Professors Caitlin Fisher, David Hood, Joel Katz, Steve Mason, Wendy Taylor and Peer Zumbansen will continue their respective research in digital culture, cell physiology, health psychology, Greco-Roman cultural interaction, experimental particle physics, and transnational economic governance and legal theory.

With the renewals, York maintains its total of 28 research chairs. “Federal research investments are crucial to attracting and retaining the world's best researchers,” said Stan Shapson, vice-president research & innovation. “The Canada Research Chairs program allows us to sustain York’s globally competitive research across health, the sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities. Our researchers’ findings help improve the quality of life, economic, and social well-being of Canadians and people around the world.”

Caitlin Fisher, Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Digital Culture and film professor in the Faculty of Fine Arts, investigates the future of narrative, interactive storytelling, and interactive cinema in the emerging area of virtual reality research. Her research develops techniques and narrative strategies for use in augmented reality (AR) environments, which is increasingly important for Canada's culture and entertainment industries as AR and associated technologies like smart phones become more commonplace.

Left: Caitlin Fisher

Under her direction, York’s AR Lab, part of the Future Cinema Lab in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, is conducting research at the forefront of art and science collaborations. The lab makes use of both established and emerging technologies to produce innovative research methods, expressive tools for artists and award-winning content that challenges cinematic and literary conventions while enhancing the ways in which people interact with their physical environment and with each other.

David Hood, CRC in Cell Physiology and kinesiology & health science professor in the Faculty of Health, is an internationally-recognized authority in muscle health, exercise and mitochondria. His publications have expanded on the important role that mitochondria play in muscle, and the beneficial effect of exercise in enhancing energy production, preventing cell death and attenuating disease processes.

Right: David Hood

Hood operates one of the world’s most advanced laboratories in the cellular physiology of mitochondria. In January 2010, he became the first director of the newly opened York Muscle Health Research Centre (MHRC), which is unique in Canada. The MHRC integrates research in mitochondria with biomedical research across the University.

Joel Katz, CRC in Health Psychology and psychology professor in the Faculty of Health, is a world-class researcher in the study of pain. His research has significant impact on the way pain is understood and managed in both preventative and rehabilitative medicine.

Left: Joel Katz

His major accomplishments include using a preventative approach to advance the treatment of acute post-operative pain, increasing our understanding of neonatal pain and how to manage it, identifying factors that predict the transition of acute to chronic pain, and discovering previously unrecognized gender differences in the experience of pain. Katz is coordinator of the York University health psychology Graduate Diploma Program, the only program in Canada offering specialized training in health psychology leading to a diploma.

Steve Mason, CRC in Greco-Roman Cultural Interaction and history professor in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, explores issues of cultural identity among the peoples of the eastern Mediterranean under Hellenistic and Roman rule (200 BCE to 300 CE). He focuses on Judea and the Jewish Mediterranean diaspora in the context of other diasporas.

Right: Steve Mason

The most important literary sources for these questions are 30 surviving volumes by the first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37 - c. 100 CE), and Mason is at the forefront of research into these works. He leads an international team of 14 scholars in supplying Josephus with a new translation and the first comprehensive literary, historical and archaeological commentary. He has published five books and many articles on related subjects while editing and co-authoring another seven. He manages the popular online database, Project on Ancient Cultural Engagement, and is completing a volume on the fateful Judean-Roman War of 66 to 74 CE.

Wendy Taylor, CRC in Experimental Particle Physics and physics professor in the Faculty of Science & Engineering, studies the high-energy particle collisions at the CERN Large Hadron Collider and at the Fermilab Tevatron accelerator. Her research aims to understand matter’s smallest indivisible components and the forces of interaction between them. Taylor is recognized by her peers as an expert in b-quark physics analysis and particle detector electronics development.

Left: Wendy Taylor

Her primary analysis found the first evidence of spontaneous matter-antimatter transitions of B0s mesons, composite particles that contain both a b-quark and an anti-s quark. She contributed to developing a new calorimeter trigger, which allows high-rate data collection. She is now developing low-noise radiation-hard readout electronics for a new particle detector and algorithms to search for the Higgs boson, the particle believed to be responsible for why matter in the universe has mass.

Peer Zumbansen, CRC in Transnational Economic Governance & Legal Theory and professor in Osgoode Hall Law School, explores globalization’s impact on national political economies, concentrating on changing forms of production and on the politics of privatization and deregulation.

Right: Peer Zumbansen

Zumbansen's research is advancing the development of both a comparative and methodological perspective of globalization on national political economies. His work also explores broader questions concerning political sovereignty and the changing relationship between the state and the market, particularly in the European Union, Canada and the United States. Widely published in both German and English, Zumbansen is the co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of the German Law Journal.

Gary Goodyear, minister of state (science & technology), announced the nationwide renewals in Ottawa on March 26. “Our government is investing in science and technology to create jobs, strengthen the economy and improve Canadians’ quality of life,” said Goodyear. “The Canada Research Chairs program is helping our universities develop and attract talented people, strengthening our capacity for leading-edge research, while creating jobs and economic opportunities for Canadians now and in the future."

The CRC program attracts the best talent from Canada and around the world, helping universities achieve research excellence in natural sciences and engineering, health sciences and social sciences and humanities.

For more information, visit the Canada Research Chairs Web site.

By Elizabeth Monier-Williams, research communications officer.