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Four Canada Research Chairs renewed at York for $5.6 million

Four Canada Research Chairs renewed at York for $5.6 million

Four professors at York had their Canada Research Chairs (CRCs) renewed by the federal government yesterday, bringing $5.6 million to invest in their research at the University.

Tier 1 CRCs were renewed for professors Gordon FlettEric Hessels and John Tsotsos. Professor Leah Vosko was awarded an Advancement Chair, taking her from a Tier 2 to a Tier 1 CRC. Each Tier 1 CRC attracts $200,000 annually in federal funding, over a seven-year period, for a total of $1.4 million per chair.

The funding will allow Flett, Hessels, Tsotsos and Vosko to continue their respective research in personality and health, computational vision, atomic physics, and the political economy of gender and work.

“Federal government investment in research is crucial for Canadian universities because we are competing with the rest of the world to attract top researchers,” said Stan Shapson, vice-president research & innovation at York. “Through these investments, researchers at York are able to contribute significantly to new discoveries, public policy and economic development, and national and international dialogue across the full range of disciplines.”

York’s renewals were part of $275.6 million announced by Tony Clement, federal minister of Industry, to fund 310 new or renewed CRCs at 53 Canadian universities. “The Harper government is continuing its longstanding commitment to invest in science and technology to create jobs, strengthen the economy and improve the quality of life of Canadians,” said Clement. “For the past 10 years, the Canada Research Chairs Program has brought breakthroughs in clean energy, the control of infectious disease, business management, and digital technologies.This funding will help strengthen Canada’s capacity for leading-edge research while, at the same time, building economic opportunities for Canadians.”

Clement made the announcement at the start of a conference to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the CRC program. The conference, which began yesterday at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, continues today. Vosko took part in the “Thinking Ahead: A look at what the future holds for Canada” panel discussion on Wednesday. York Professor Janine Marchessault (right), Canada Research Chair in Art, Digital Media & Globalization, will participate in today's Art, Technology and Society panel.

York has 28 research chairs, including the four renewals announced yesterday. Here are details on the work of the four:

Gordon Flett (left), CRC in Personality and Health (Tier 1), examines personality as the key to many health problems stemming from chronic stress exposure. Certain aspects of the personality trait of perfectionism can be particularly harmful. His team studies risk and resilience factors across the lifespan. He and Paul Hewitt co-developed the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale, a model reconstruction of both the personal and interpersonal components of perfectionism. Research based on the model has firmly established that perfectionism has personal and interpersonal components and is associated with various forms of maladjustment, including health problems, depression, anxiety and suicidal tendencies. His research agenda also explores the relationship between perfectionism and psychological disorders, including eating disorders, postpartum depression and recovery from physical illnesses. A professor of psychology, Flett is associate dean, research and graduate education, in York’s Faculty of Health.

Eric Hessels (right), CRC in Atomic Physics (Tier 1), is researching the difference between matter and antimatter. His York University team is working with researchers from Harvard University on a method to trap the antiatoms long enough to conduct experiments. This work is being done in conjunction with the international ATRAP (Antihydrogen Trap) collaboration. Hessels’ research also involves measuring the energies and orbits of helium atoms to provide the most accurate measurement of the “fine structure constant,” which determines the strength of electric and magnetic forces between charged objects. He is a Distinguished Research Professor of Physics at York University.

John Tsotsos (left), CRC in Computational Vision (Tier 1), integrates the fields of visual psychology, computer vision, robotics and visual neuroscience to investigate new models of human visual mechanisms and how they may lead to intelligent seeing machines. His research falls into three main themes: visual attention in humans and computer systems, visually guided mobile robotics, and computer vision. He designed the first computerized motion recognition system, used in cardiology, and developed the Selective Tuning Model for visual attention, widely considered the leading model for consolidating current understanding of the process of visual attention. He has also designed an intelligent, visually guided wheelchair intended for physically disabled children. A past director of York’s internationally recognized Centre for Vision Research, Tsotsos is the Distinguished Research Professor of Vision Science in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at York.

Leah F. Vosko (right), CRC in the Political Economy of Gender and Work, examines the contours of precarious employment to foster new statistical, legal, political and economic understandings of this phenomenon. Two of the chair’s principal projects involve constructing a research database on gender, work and labour market insecurity in Canada in comparative perspective — the Comparative Perspectives on Precarious Employment Database — and overseeing a research alliance comprised of community and university researchers studying employment standards modernization in Canada and internationally. A professor of political science and a co-director of York’s Centre for Research on Work and Society, Vosko also teaches and supervises students in women’s studies, sociology, public policy administration and law, socio-legal studies, social and political thought, health equity, and communications & culture. Her most recent book, Managing the Margins: Gender, Citizenship and the International Regulation of Precarious Employment, was published earlier this year by Oxford University Press, UK.

By Janice Walls, media relations officer. Republished courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin