Rui Wang, dean of York University’s Faculty of Science, has been named one of the Top 25 Canadian Immigrants of 2022.
The award program, now in its 14th year, recognizes inspirational immigrants who have made a positive impact on their communities since arriving in Canada. This year’s winners were chosen from a list of 75 finalists nominated by the Canadian public, through a combination of online votes and scores from a judging panel made up of past winners.
“I’m both humbled and inspired to be a recipient of this award,” says Wang. “It speaks to my own journey and mission here within Canada and academia, and in particular, my work at York University.”
The overarching goal of the Faculty of Science, says Wang, is to educate the next generation of scientists who will be our changemakers, leaders and global citizens.
“Immigrants are an integral part of our success story – across Canada and here in our Faculty,” Wang says. “We take so much pride in the diversity within our community and our strong international student component. I was so incredibly pleased to see, in our most recent graduating class, students walk across our convocation stage from 32 countries spanning five continents. We have international partnerships and research taking place around the globe as we speak. This is truly science for the future – connected, collaborative, cross cultural, and inclusive, and I could not be prouder of our collective success.”
Wang first came to Canada from China in 1986 to pursue a PhD degree at the University of Alberta. His own journey as an immigrant served up its fair share of challenges. And it serves as a reminder of the importance of individual tenacity, along with the need to uphold inclusive learning practices that help level the playing field for everyone.
“During my first meeting with my supervisor, I could not catch a word of what he said in English. I asked him to write the key words on the blackboard because my reading level was much better,” Wang told Canadian Immigrant Magazine. His supervisor would not comply with his request.
“In the following months, day and night, I read, listened and talked in English,” he says. “Not backing away from my language barrier, or any barrier, was where my immigration journey started and continues.”
Wang has been the dean of the Faculty of Science at York University since January 2020. Previously, he was interim vice-president of research and innovation and inaugural deputy provost Markham at York University. Before joining York, he served as vice-president of research at Laurentian University, vice-president of research, economic development and innovation at Lakehead University, and led the Cardiovascular Research Group and Cardiovascular and Respiratory Network at the University of Saskatchewan.
Wang is an international leader in the biomedical study of a group of small molecules of gas known as gasotransmitters, a category which includes nitric oxide, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen sulfide (H2S). His publications on H2S biology and medicine have received the highest total citations in this field in the world. He is among the World’s Top 2 per cent Scientists for career impact. Wang was recently elected president of the Canadian Council of Deans of Science (CCDS). He is past-president of the Canadian Physiology Society and has been a member of more than 20 board of directors for research, innovation, and economic development organizations.
In accepting his award, Wang offered the following advice to fellow immigrants: “Treat Canada as your real home and all Canadians as equal family members. Take the responsibility and efforts to make your home better.”