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2023 Annual Review

Rui Wang

A Message from Dean Rui Wang

I feel intensely proud to look back on 2023 and reflect on what we achieved together as a Faculty. There were many special moments and accomplishments for us.

We continued to create a culture in the Faculty of Science where we supported and listened to each other, worked together to solve challenges, encouraged diversity, and celebrated our individual and collective achievements.

In this Annual Review, I am excited to share some of those achievements.

We are developing new programming to meet the demands of today’s world in science and technology. In fall 2024, we will be launching two biotechnology programs at York University’s Markham Campus, as well as introducing new micro-credentials for science students and professionals to upskill for career success. We are also continuing to advance global engagement by strengthening our international partnerships and creating meaningful opportunities for students at York and abroad to connect and learn from one another.

We have been working to enhance decolonization, equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts in our teaching, research, operations and community outreach. For instance, our Science Engagement Programs collaborated with Skills for Change to deliver a series of online and in-person STEM workshops for black high school youth.

Our researchers continued their pursuit of advancing knowledge through discovery, including solving a longstanding antimatter mystery, measuring the city's air pollution in collaboration with NASA, improving AI machine learning algorithms for healthcare applications, and more. Collectively our faculty members were awarded $20.2 million to continue advancing scientific innovation.

Our faculty members and staff worked diligently to engage and support our Science instructors in enhancing excellence in teaching and learning, including equity, diversity, and inclusion in the classroom. As well, our instructors pursued projects to enhance accessibility and student experience in labs and classrooms.

Our Faculty is committed to fostering scientific discovery and tackling global challenges to create positive change in our world. And we are so lucky to have talented researchers, teachers and staff on our team to help us achieve this. Together, we are all building science for the future and making York Science a great place to learn and conduct research.

Rui Wang
Dean, Faculty of Science
York University


Updates from our Department Chairs

Robert Tsushima
Robert Tsushima

The department welcomed Professors Gordon Fitch, Eryn McFarlane, Luz Puentes Jácome and Yuqing Feng. Over 300 Biology undergraduate students, 11 MSc students, and 28 PhD students convocated in 2023. At the June convocation ceremony, Biology undergraduate students Areeba Chaudhry and Sarah Pullano received the Faculty of Science Gold Medal; as well, PhD graduate Farwa Sajadi received the President’s University-Wide Teaching Award. Mustafa Abdulkadhim and Arman Sadr were awarded the Robert J. Tiffin Student Leadership Award. PhD graduate Kathleen Dogantzis was awarded the Doctoral Dissertation Prize for “Understanding the evolutionary origin and ancestral composition of honey bee (Apis mellifera) populations” and a Governor General’s Gold Medal for her scholastic achievements as a graduate student.

Two Biology faculty members received Faculty of Science awards: Professor Charlotte de Araujo received the Excellence in Teaching Award (Contract Faculty category) and Professor Elizabeth Clare received the Early Career Research Award. Professor Amro Zayed also received the Postdoctoral Supervisor Award from the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Professor Laurence Packer published “Bees of the World: A Guide to Every Family,” and Professor Beth Clare received the Gizmodo Science Fair award for her study “How Airborne DNA Could Revolutionize Conservation,” published in Current Biology. Professor Peter Backx was elected as a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences in recognition of his research on cardiac arrhythmias, and Professor Sapna Sharma was named York Research Chair in Global Change Biology.

The Biology department received over $6 million in research funding, including $780,000 from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to Professor Chun Peng for her research on pre-eclampsia. Postdoctoral Fellow Hyekyong Sung was the first York community member to receive the CIHR Research Excellence, Diversity, and Independence Early Career Transition Award.

Professor Robert Tsushima, Chair of the Department of Biology

Patrick Hall
Patrick Hall

The department welcomed new Professors Rahul Kannan, Paul Scholz, Nikita Blinov, and Charles-Édouard Boukaré. Professors Patrick Hall, Deborah Harris and Marko Horbatsch, and Adjunct Professor Junwu Huang were NSERC Discovery Grant recipients.

Thanks to a generous donation from alumnus Itay Yavin, ten undergraduates in the department competed for prize money in a Fall Campus Day problem-solving competition organized by Professors Chris Bergevin, Sarah Rugheimer, and Patrick Hall.

Postdoctoral fellow Tejin Cai and Professor Deborah Harris spoke to Scientific American about their discovery of a new way to investigate the structure of protons using neutrinos. Professor Adam Muzzin, newly appointed as Graduate Program Director, was awarded a 44-hour program on the James Webb Space Telescope, the second-largest amount of time granted to a Canadian program. Professor Ozzy Mermut and collaborators, including Adjunct Professor Christopher Barrett, were awarded a grant to study algal blooms in Indigenous lakes of Tkaronto and Six Nations.

Undergraduate student Sarah Powell and Professor Randy Lewis were instructors at the Quantum Computing Boot Camp held at Jefferson Lab, Virginia. Research led by PhD student Nelson Nunes and supervised by Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus and Senior Scholar Norbert Bartel verified Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity and the Einstein equivalence principle by measuring Earth's gravitational redshift. PhD student Jordan Krywonos (supervised by Professor Matthew Johnson) received a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship. And, congratulations to biophysics graduate students Rohith Kaiyum and Coral Hillel, who received prizes for their presentations at the 2023 Canadian Association of Physicists Congress.

Professor Patrick Hall, Chair of the Department of Physics & Astronomy

Vera Pavri
Vera Pavri
Robin Metcalfe
Robin Metcalfe

Our department was thrilled to re-open the Science, Technology & Society program to major and minor students in fall 2023, with a new course titled Science, Technology and Racial Social Justice launching in winter 2024. We also welcomed a new faculty member, Jeremy Webb, as an assistant professor, teaching stream.

A number of our faculty members led national and international efforts that are worth noting. Professor Hélène Mialet proposed a new program named “Future Flourishing” that won the international “Future of Being Human” competition held by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. Professor James Elwick was Program Chair for the meeting of the Canadian Society for History and Philosophy of Science, which included a discussion by Frédéric Bouchard (Université de Montréal) on his “Bouchard Report,” which called for changes to how science is funded in Canada. Professor Conor Douglas was centrally involved in the organization and delivery of a number of events at the intersection of drugs, rare diseases and society; for instance, he developed and launched the international Global Pharmaceutical & Society Studies Network and its associated webinar series, and co-organized and led the Global Conference on Advancing Social Pharmaceutical Innovation in Utrecht, Netherlands.

The Division of Natural Science (NATS) continued to work to expand its course offerings with fascinating and topical curricula. Professors Ian Lumb, Jeremy Webb and Stephanie Domenikos successfully proposed and are developing new courses entitled Understanding AI, Introduction to Astrobiology, and Natural Hazards. NATS faculty also continued to be active in public outreach. Professors Robin Metcalfe and Mary-Helen Armour participated in the 2023 Astronomers in Residence program hosted by the Allan I. Carswell Observatory and Killarney Park. Professor Jesse Rogerson had numerous media appearances pertaining to a variety of astronomical events. And, Professor Robin Kingsburgh was an active contributor to innovations in colour education as a means for removing educational barriers between science and art.

Professor Vera Pavri, Chair of the Department of Science, Technology & Society
Professor Robin Metcalfe, Director of the Division of Natural Science

Michael Haslam
Michael Haslam

In 2023, the Department of Mathematics & Statistics welcomed four new full-time faculty members: Professors Miles Couchman (PhD MIT), Mohamed Omar (PhD UC Davis), Dongchen Li (PhD Waterloo) and Kaiqiong Zhao (PhD McGill). The department now has 52 full-time professors, 26 part-time faculty, 24 postdoctoral fellows and many visiting graduate students and professors. It is the fifth largest department at York University.

The department launched a new undergraduate degree program in Data Science that in its first year achieved enrollments of approximately one hundred students, making it the second largest undergraduate program in the Faculty of Science.

Last year, our faculty members contributed to internationally recognized and NSERC-funded research in industrial mathematics, mathematical finance, scientific computing, mathematical biology, disease modeling, vaccine mathematics, actuarial science, data science, biostatistics, statistical machine learning, statistical methodology and theory, algebraic combinatorics, analysis, number theory, probability theory, set theory, and the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Amongst many excellent honours and awards given to our faculty members, Professor Jane Heffernan was inducted into the Royal Society of Canada as a member of the College in a ceremony in 2023. She also began her term as President of the Society for Mathematical Biology and was appointed co-lead of the Canadian Immunization Research Network.

— Professor Michael Haslam, Chair of the Department of Mathematics & Statistics

Jennifer van Wijngaarden
Jennifer van Wijngaarden

We welcomed two new faculty members, Professors Lana Hébert and Y. Bill Kim, and celebrated the tremendous achievements of our faculty, staff and students.

Undergraduate students Pariya Rastegar and Nhu (Angela) Nguyen received national recognition with silver medals from the Canadian Society for Chemistry (CSC) for high academic standing in the biochemistry and chemistry programs, respectively. Graduate students Na-Yung Seoh and Dusty Cadwallader received NSERC Alexander Graham Bell scholarships, and our inaugural teaching assistant awards celebrated the exceptional contributions of Victor Flores, Charley Garrard and Andrea Angelucci.

Professor Christine Le and her students were recognized globally with the 2023 Journal of Organic Chemistry Outstanding Publication of the Year Award for their innovative approach to the synthesis of fluorinated intermediates that will be widely useful in medicinal chemistry. Professor Ryan Hili was honoured with the Melanie O’Neil award from the CSC for distinguished contributions to biological chemistry, while Professor Y. Bill Kim received the 2023 Petro-Canada Young Innovator Award that will allow him to develop new methods of creating genetic mutations in cells to better understand and treat diseases.

Professors Kyle Belozerov and Derek Jackson were recognized by the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities with an award of excellence for their design of virtual reality classroom activities to help chemistry students build “3D literacy” to mentally manipulate complex molecules. Professors Trevor VandenBoer and Cora Young hosted a team of international researchers for a four-week intensive air quality measurement campaign called THE CIX, while Professor Christopher Caputo was invited to join the “Science Meets Parliament” organizing committee to strengthen the connection between the science and policy communities in Canada.

Professor Jennifer van Wijngaarden, Chair of the Department of Chemistry

By the Numbers


Faculty members


Staff members


Undergraduate programs


Graduate programs


Postdoctoral fellows
and visitors


Undergraduate students
64% Canadian
36% International
(full-time and part-time)


Graduate students
62% Canadian
38% International
(full-time and part-time)


Physics & Astronomy
Mathematics & Statistics
Science, Technology & Society


Natural Science


Undergraduate students to whom Faculty of Science provides service teaching


Fellows and College members of Royal Society of Canada
(current and emeriti)


Bethune College-affiliated student clubs

$76.6 million

Total annual budget

$4.0 million

Total fundraising amount
Annualized results since the time of the 2022 Annual Review report (as of April 15, 2024)

$20.2 million

Total research funding revenue


Canada Research Chairs, York Research Chairs, and Endowed Chairs


Organized Research Units based in or led by the Faculty of Science:
Centre for Bee Ecology, Evolution and Conservation
Centre for Research on Biomolecular Interactions
Risk and Insurance Studies Centre
Emergency Mitigation, Engagement, Response, and Governance Institute


Research facilities and equipment centres based in the Faculty of Science:
1 Core Analytical Facility (NMR Spectroscopy, Microscopy, and Mass Spectrometry)
2 Technical Shops
1 Science Store


Partnerships with international institutions for academic and research collaboration

More Highlights


Peter Backx
Peter Backx

Professor Peter Backx, Department of Biology, was elected as a Fellow to the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, considered one of the highest honours for individuals in the Canadian health sciences community. Backx holds the Canada Research Chair in Cardiovascular Biology. He has been at the forefront of research designed to better understand the molecular and ionic underpinnings of the heart’s electrical and contraction properties, particularly in relationship to disease. His work has bridged information gaps related to cardiac arrhythmias, particularly atrial fibrillation, and led to new treatments for these conditions.

Christine Le
Christine Le

A research paper led by Professor Christine Le, Department of Chemistry, was honoured with the 2023 Outstanding Publication of the Year Award from The Journal of Organic Chemistry. The award recognizes a paper from the previous year that demonstrates creativity and impact in the field of organic chemistry, with a focus on early-career researchers. Le’s study, titled “Synthesis of Carbamoyl Fluorides Using a Difluorophosgene Surrogate Derived from Difluorocarbene and Pyridine N-Oxides,” presented an innovative approach to making molecules called carbamoyl fluorides in an efficient way that avoids the use of light-, moisture-, temperature-, and shock-sensitive reagents. Co-authors included York doctoral student Dusty Cadwallader, MSc graduate Tristan R. Tiburcio, and undergraduate student George A. Cieszynski.

Kyle Belozerov and Derek Jackson
Kyle Belozerov and Derek Jackson

Professors Kyle Belozerov and Derek Jackson, Department of Chemistry, received a Minister’s Award of Excellence in the Future-Proofing Ontario’s Students category. Sponsored by Ontario’s Ministry of Colleges and Universities, the Minister’s Awards of Excellence highlight the incredible work of professors, instructors, staff and graduate students on campus, in the community and beyond. They received the award for their work with virtual reality (VR) in chemistry courses. Motivated by the desire to help students learn the structure and behaviour of complex molecules, they developed a variety of interactive VR activities designed to help students manipulate molecules and research crucial aspects of the structure underlying their reactivity and biological function.

Ryan Hili
Ryan Hili

Professor Ryan Hili, Department of Chemistry, received the 2023 Melanie O'Neill Young Investigator Award in Biological Chemistry from the Canadian Society for Chemistry. The award is presented to a scientist residing in Canada who has made a distinguished contribution to biological chemistry while working in Canada. Hili is the York Research Chair in Molecular Evolution. His research interests focus on using DNA to program and encode the synthesis of molecular libraries ranging from small molecules to synthetic biopolymers. By using the principles of Darwinian evolution, his lab can evolve these molecular libraries for desired function, yielding small molecule drugs to treat human disease or antibody mimetics for use in medical diagnostics.


Amenda Chow
Amenda Chow


Professor Amenda Chow, Department of Mathematics & Statistics: Her commitment to experiential learning led her to develop the Experimental Math Space at York. She also led major curricular developments, re-designing large first-year courses and developing the first math course with a formal lab component.

Vera Pavri
Vera Pavri


Professor and Chair Vera Pavri, Department of Science, Technology & Society: She led major program reforms in the department that led to refreshed undergraduate programs re-launching in fall 2023, including new courses focused on equity, diversity and inclusion.

Laura Keane
Laura Keane


PhD student Laura Keane, Department of Mathematics & Statistics: She demonstrated leadership through her activities with the Association for Women in Mathematics, her participation in the Faculty of Graduate Studies’ Academic Policy, Planning and Research Committee, and her continuous efforts to improve teaching and learning in mathematics and statistics.

York University Life Sciences Building


PhD student Yohana Solomon, Department of Mathematics & Statistics: She created opportunities and communities for others, from organizing SummerUp for black high school students to founding the Math in Black community to starting the Association for Women in Mathematics Student Chapter at York University. This created initiatives that directly supported equity, diversity and inclusion in STEM.


Stephanie Domenikos
Stephanie Domenikos


Professor Stephanie Domenikos, Department of Science, Technology & Society: Students described her courses as being challenging but exciting, having a vibrant classroom environment, being highly organized, and offering an elevated learning experience. She also co-developed the University Experience first-year modules, and has led the NATS-Aid Peer Tutoring program since 2019.

Charlotte de Araujo
Charlotte de Araujo


Professor Charlotte de Araujo, Department of Biology: Her students and colleagues describe her as a passionate, engaging, and skilled educator. Students repeatedly comment on her ability to create safe learning spaces conducive to open discussion. In addition, her work in advocating for Open Educational Resources (OER) has led York University to join the OER Rangers Network in Ontario.

Amanvir Virdi
Amanvir Virdi


MSc graduate Amanvir Virdi, Department of Biology: She met the challenges of the pandemic with dedication and initiative. She found creative ways to engage students on Zoom and created Teams platforms for students that fostered an active, engaged student community. When in-person labs returned, she provided resources and feedback to support students in lab protocols and reports.


Elizabeth Clare
Elizabeth Clare


Professor Elizabeth Clare, Department of Biology: Her groundbreaking technique for extracting DNA from air has been widely recognized and publicized globally, establishing her as a leading international scientist on biodiversity monitoring. The impact of her research is evidenced by her prolific record of publications in top tier journals, numerous citations, and ability to secure multimillion-dollar research grants.

Randy Lewis
Randy Lewis


Professor Randy Lewis, Department of Physics & Astronomy: He is internationally renowned in the field of lattice quantum chromodynamics, and best known for his calculations that predict the properties of heavy unstable particles years prior to their experimental discovery in particle accelerators such as the Large Hadron Collider at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).

Iain Moyles
Iain Moyles


Professor Iain Moyles, Department of Mathematics & Statistics: He has contributed extensively to the PhD program steering committee and the Teaching Assistant training program. He is a dedicated mentor and supervisor, known for his accessibility to his trainees and his commitment to ensuring their progress in research undertakings with individualized success.


By the Numbers

$20.2 million

Total funding awarded in 2023

$9.1 million

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

$3.8 million

Canada Research Chairs

$1.9 million

Canadian Institutes of Health Research

$1.5 million

Contracts and industry

$1.3 million

Mitacs and other fellowships

$797 thousand

Provincial, national and international Agencies

$526 thousand

Foundations, societies, and not-for-profits

$380 thousand

Canada Foundation for Innovation, and Ontario Research Fund

$365 thousand

Fields Institute

$350 thousand


$226 thousand

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

Research Funding Highlights

Our researchers received more than $8.4M in grants from NSERC through the Discovery Grants, Discovery Launch Supplements, Research Tools and Instruments, Alliance, and Collaborative Research and Training Experience programs. These grants enable them to pursue discovery-driven research programs, conduct innovative research activities, train highly qualified personnel, and establish and strengthen diverse partnerships and interdisciplinary collaborations.

Our Discovery Grants recipients included Jingyi Cao, Patrick Hall, Deborah Harris, Ryan Hili, Marko Horbatsch, Huaxiong Huang, Junwu Huang, Patrick Ingram, Dongchen Li, Seyed Moghadas, Kelly Ramsay, Emanuel Rosonina, Thomas Salisbury, Rui Wang, Woldegebriel Assefa Woldegerima, Yuehua Wu and Mike Zabrocki. The Discovery Launch Supplements recipients included Jingyi Cao, Dongchen Li, Kelly Ramsay, and Woldegebriel Assefa Woldegerima. And, the Research Tools and Instruments recipients included Mark Bayfield, Jennifer Chen, Sergey Krylov and Raymond Kwong.

Deborah Harris
Deborah Harris

Professors Ryan Hili, Department of Chemistry, and Deborah Harris, Department of Physics & Astronomy, received the largest NSERC Discovery Grants in the Faculty with more than $570K for the project “Exploring the Chemical Diversity of Nucleic Acids” and $480K for the sub-atomic physics project, “Neutrino Oscillations at T2K: New Avenues to Explore,” respectively.

Ed Furman
Edward Furman

Five researchers received NSERC Alliance grants totaling $2.6M, including Professors Thomas Baumgartner, Elizabeth Clare, Edward Furman, John McDermott, and Cora Young. Professor Edward Furman, Department of Mathematics & Statistics, received more than $11M through the NSERC Alliance-Mitacs Accelerate program and from industrial partners for a project called “New Order of Risk Management (NORM): Theory and Applications in the Era of Systemic Risk.” The project is focused on developing better ways to manage risk and protect Canadians from increasing threats, including financial and geopolitical crises, pandemics and natural disasters.

Sergey Krylov
Sergey Krylov

Professor Sergey Krylov, Department of Chemistry, received an NSERC Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) grant. This initiative will provide approximately $8.6M ($1.65M from NSERC) to lead a team of researchers and industrial leaders in training the next generation of technologically advanced graduates. The “Technology-Enhanced Pharmaceutical Discovery” program will train master’s and PhD students with the technical and managerial skills to capitalize on disruptive technologies that aim to impact Canada’s research and development in the pharmaceutical industry.

Our researchers received a total of $1.9M from CIHR. A few projects are highlighted below and include co-applicants.

Chun Peng

Professor Chun Peng, Department of Biology, received $780K from CIHR to fund a new project associated with her ongoing research into pre-eclampsia, a serious pregnancy disorder characterized by high blood pressure. Peng’s project, titled “NLRC5 isoforms in placental development and pathogenesis of pre-eclampsia,” builds on findings from a previous project where her team identified two truncated isoforms of a protein called NLRC5 in human placenta. Preliminary results suggest that these NLRC5 isoforms play important roles in regulating placental development and may also contribute to the development of pre-eclampsia.

Woldegebriel Assefa
Woldegebriel Assefa Woldegerima

Professor Woldegebriel Assefa Woldegerima, Department of Mathematics & Statistics, received $480K from CIHR for his project entitled “Modelling, predicting and risk assessment of mpox and other (re)emerging zoonotic threats to inform decision-making and public health actions.” Woldegerima is using epidemiological and geospatial models including mathematical and artificial intelligence-based models to study epidemiology, transmission dynamics, and immunology and intervention strategies to forecast the effectiveness of prevention and control strategies for mpox and other zoonotic diseases in Canada and around the world.

Biology Professor Elizabeth Clare and co-applicants received $223K from the New Frontiers in Research Fund (Exploration stream). Her project, titled “The ethical challenge to non-invasive environmental (e)DNA technology” attempts to adapt the novel discovery of airborne eDNA to diagnose animal health, with the potential for far-reaching impacts. The team is employing untested prototypes for eDNA collection while simultaneously assessing the ethical implications of the technology and potential for misuse.



Supporting excellence in teaching and learning

In 2023, our faculty members and staff worked diligently to engage and support our Science instructors in enhancing excellence in teaching and learning, including decolonization, equity, diversity, and inclusion (DEDI) in the classroom.

Associate Dean of Curriculum and Pedagogy Hovig Kouyoumdjian launched a new monthly Teaching & Learning Bulletin for the Faculty of Science community that shares ideas and best practices related to teaching and learning, recent workshops, and upcoming events.

For the 2023-24 academic year, Biology Professor and Pedagogical Innovation Chair in Science Education Tamara Kelly and Educational Development Specialist Ashley Nahornick continued to refine and assess the EDI syllabus/course outline template for instructors that was launched in 2022; the template aims to help instructors enhance EDI and accessibility in the classroom and welcome students into their courses. Kelly and Nahornick provided one-on-one support and training to numerous instructors on adopting the syllabus, and surveyed instructors on their use of it.

The Faculty of Science hosted nearly a dozen events dedicated to teaching and learning in conjunction with the Faculty’s Committee on Teaching & Learning (CoTL), chaired by Professor Robin Marushia in the Department of Science, Technology & Society. These events included a full-day, hybrid Teaching & Learning Symposium featuring an Indigenous speaker, Professor Michelle Hogue (University of Lethbridge), for all Science instructors and graduate students; an “Open Education Mini-Course for Faculty,” presented by Director of Open Scholarship Stephanie Quail and Professor Charlotte de Araujo, Department of Biology; and “Empowering Educators: Strategies for Enhancing Mathematical Literacy among Students,” presented by Professor Andrew Skelton, Department of Mathematics & Statistics. As well, we increased opportunities for our instructors to engage in professional development and learn more about the resources offered through the Faculty; these opportunities included drop-in office hours with Nahornick, informal drop-in lunch sessions with members of CoTL, informal chat sessions for faculty members and graduate students with Kelly and Nahornick, and more.

Together with CoTL and the Committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Kelly and Nahornick hosted an EDI Science Book Club, where instructors came together to discuss the book “Inclusive Teaching-Strategies for Promoting Equity in the College Classroom.” They also organized EDI Science Reading Group meetings for instructors to read and unpack academic articles on topics of EDI and science.

As well, CoTL introduced a new stream of teaching and learning awards called the Excellence in Educational Leadership Awards, with categories for faculty members and graduate students (read more under Internal Highlights).

Hovig Kouyoumdjian
Hovig Kouyoumdjian
Tamara Kelly
Tamara Kelly
Ashley Nahornick
Ashley Nahornick
Robin Marushia
Robin Marushia

Enhancing accessibility and student experience in labs and classrooms

Thanks to funding from the York University Academic Innovation Fund, our faculty members launched projects focused on improving accessibility in teaching labs and making chemistry courses more engaging.

One project, led by Biology Professor Tamara Kelly and other faculty members from the Departments of Physics & Astronomy and Biology, aims to reduce inequities in laboratories across York University for students with disabilities. Some Science students are registered with Student Accessibility Services and have accommodation in their courses; however, most recommendations are related to lectures and not laboratories. Kelly’s project aims to set the groundwork, and ultimately a framework, for creating more accessible experiential laboratory experiences through a Universal Design for Learning lens, such that all students can engage in positive learning in laboratories.

In 2023, the team completed a review of existing literature in two major areas: accommodations in laboratories, and the experiences of students with disabilities in STEM and supporting students with accommodation. In consultation with accessibility experts, they designed and developed survey questions to assess for student experiences and instructors’ attitudes towards accommodations, and they prepared focus group questions to learn more about accessibility in laboratories from students and instructors. As well, the team created a laboratory accessibility checklist and conducted assessments of the first-year Biology, Chemistry, and Physics laboratory spaces to identify barriers and what was missing to make accommodation easier.

Another project, led by Chemistry Professors Tihana Mirkovic and Hovig Kouyoumdjian, who is also Associate Dean of Curriculum and Pedagogy, is aimed at improving students’ learning and engagement in chemistry classes. The team is focused on using a powerful e-learning tool called Adobe Captivate to transform conventional components in courses to more versatile and dynamic modules that create an interactive learning environment.

“Our goal is to allow students to integrate their conceptual and procedural understanding of their labs through active learning opportunities. We hope that the newly developed modules featuring slides, videos, hotspots, 360° navigation, software simulations and knowledge check assessments will provide a learning environment that motivates our students and maximizes their learning potential,” said Mirkovic.

They are piloting the tool in Introductory Organic Chemistry I (CHEM2020) and Experimental Chemistry II (CHEM3001) and plan to expand its use in other courses in the Department of Chemistry and Faculty of Science.

Math instructors pilot open-access homework platform for students

Supported by the Dean’s Office, including the Faculty of Science IT team, and the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, Professor Andrew McEachern and other instructors began piloting the use WeBWorK – an online, open educational resource – in all sections of a first-year Applied Linear Algebra course (MATH 1025). WeBWorK allows students to practice solving challenging problems as often as they’d like and provides instantaneous feedback. WeBWorK is open source and very customizable; this means it can be downloaded for free, although there are significant costs associated with the server and staff resources. The Faculty of Science is covering these costs to provide the software free of charge to students. A thorough evaluation is set to start after the conclusion of the course.

Andrew McEachern
Andrew McEachern


Faculty of Science medals for high achievement

Undergraduate students Areeba Chaudhry, Sarah Pullano and Nicole Frias received the Faculty of Science Gold and Silver Medals at the Spring Convocation Ceremony in 2023. Pullano and Chaudhry received a Gold Medal, which is presented to Science students graduating with the highest GPA, and Frias received the Silver Medal, which goes to a Science student who has combined the highest degree of academic achievement with the greatest contribution to undergraduate student life at York.

Areeba Chaudhry
Areeba Chaudhry
Sarah Pullano
Sarah Pullano
Nicole Frias
Nicole Frias

Thesis and dissertation prizes

MSc graduate Melodie Lao and PhD graduate Kathleen Dogantzis received thesis and dissertation prizes from the Faculty of Graduate Studies for their outstanding scholarly work.

Lao received a Master’s Thesis Prize for “Developing an Automated Nitrous Acid (HONO) Platform to Detect Emerging Pollutants in a Commercial and Domestic Environment.”

Dogantzis received a Doctoral Dissertation Prize for “Understanding the Evolutionary Origin and Ancestral Complexity of Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) Populations.” She was also among three York University graduates who received the 2023 Governor General Gold Medals, which recognize the outstanding scholastic achievements of graduate students in Canada.

Melodie Lao
Melodie Lao
Kathleen Dogantzis
Kathleen Dogantzis

President’s University-Wide Teaching Award

PhD student Farwa Sajadi received the President’s University-Wide Teaching Award (Teaching Assistant category) for enhancing the quality of learning and demonstrating innovation in teaching. She was honoured for being a TA who fosters an academically enriched environment for learning, advancing student critical thinking and implementing creative approaches to promote student scholarship and engagement.

Farwa Sajadi
Farwa Sajadi


Empowering youth to experience and explore the sciences

Our Science Engagement Programs office delivers engaging programs for youth to explore topics in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Our programs include march break, summer, and PA Day camps that take place within the Faculty of Science at the Keele Campus of York University, as well as programs and workshops in community centres, schools and other educational institutions.

In 2023, more than 8,100 students and teachers engaged in our youth programs – a more than 75 percent increase compared to the previous year:

  • 800+ students participated in on-campus programming, including camps and workshops.
  • 1,250+ students participated in off-campus programming in libraries, schools, and virtually.
  • 2,100+ people attended York University’s Science Rendezvous.
  • 3,875+ students participated in CanCode Digital Literacy workshops, a fully-subsidized program offered in partnership with the Government of Canada and Actua.

As well, in 2023, our Science Engagement Programs office collaborated with the Skills for Change - Black Community Access Program to deliver a series of online and in-person STEM workshops for black high school youth. This afterschool program was designed to empower and support Black youth in underserved communities in Toronto who are interested in pursuing careers in STEM. Students engaged in topics including environmental sustainability, biomedical science, space engineering, wearable technology, and more.

Student in grade 3/4 Space Adventures camp
Student in grade 3/4 Space Adventures camp

My child was excitedly going through the kits before the program, and each day, concentrated on the experiment at hand with a focus I hardly see during the summer, all the while having fun! She has developed an enthusiasm for science experiments and plans to continue using the kits on her own.”


“My kid had enrolled in the Mini Med program with York University and it was the best experience ever! What stands out, is how much of hands on learning the kids get. It is the practical and experiential learning that made it memorable, valuable and a fun learning for the kids. My daughter has a new sense of appreciation for science. If your kid is a science enthusiast, definitely a camp worth trying out.”


Observatory creates opportunities for local and global engagement

In September 2023, the York University Allan I. Carswell Observatory, directed by Professor Elaina Hyde, officially re-opened for in-person business and outreach again after the completion of a renovation project that featured installing two new robotic domes over its telescopes. It resumed its in-person public tours, which were hugely popular before the pandemic, along with the continuation of its online programming. In 2023, the Observatory hosted eight local high school tours, 22 new public viewing astronomy evenings, 18 grade-school and high-school tour groups, and other special events like Haunted Hydrogen Halloween, which saw over 100 participants. As well, the Observatory held its second annual Astronomer in Residence program in collaboration with Killarney Park, hosting seven residents from May to October 2023.

The facility also launched a new online proposal system in November 2023 that allows researchers, students, and others to apply for time to use its telescopes. They held their first collaborative observation with the European-led Lucky Star team, which studies trans-neptunian objects.

Allan I. Carswell Observatory
Allan I. Carswell Observatory

Science graduates among York U's Top 30 Alumni Under 30

Science alumni Batool Barodi (BSc ’19), Clarelle Gonsalves (BSc ’18) and Shalini Iyer (BSc ’20) were named among York University’s 2023 Top 30 Alumni Under 30.

Upon graduation from York, Barodi was selected to represent Canada as a youth delegate at the Open Government Partnership Global Summit 2019. She is now a medical student at Central Michigan University, where she focuses her research on heart transplant surgeries. Barodi also creates videos documenting her journey of becoming a doctor and supporting students who don’t have access to mentorship opportunities.

Gonsalves is a paediatrics resident at the University of Toronto based out of The Hospital for Sick Children. She is dedicated to standardizing and optimizing health outcomes for children who do not readily have access to specialized care. She completed her MD at McMaster University, where she co-developed a workshop for health professionals and trainees aimed at recognizing and speaking up against racism in healthcare and medical education.

One of Iyer’s goals is to help break down systemic biases and barriers in science. At York, she was dedicated to increasing accessibility to STEM education for youth through her work with Let's Talk Science. She has also been actively involved in increasing science accessibility for Black youth in the Jane and Finch community through STEM and career workshops. She is now a PhD student in Neuroscience at the University of British Columbia.

Batool Barodi, Clarelle Gonsalves, Shalini Iyer
Left to right: Batool Barodi, Clarelle Gonsalves, Shalini Iyer.

Digital Engagement

In 2023, our Faculty saw positive growth and engagement across its social media and networking channels, including LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and X, as well as growth in website traffic across all of our Science sites.

Comparing 2023 to 2022:

21% growth

Social media engagement rate

81% growth

Social media post link clicks

19% growth

Total audience on social media

35% growth

Total website visitors

41% growth

Total webpage views

Top performing social media posts in terms of engagement included:

Top performing social media posts in terms of engagement
Top performing social media posts in terms of engagement
Top performing social media posts in terms of engagement
Top performing social media posts in terms of engagement

In our internal newsletter, the Dean’s Round-up, +470 highlights were shared in 2023, including faculty, staff and student honours and awards, presentations, new research, new partnerships, media outreach, events and more.