Research at York University: Impact on a global scale

Robert Haché
Vice-President Research & Innovation
York University

Through our research, York University aspires to employ the knowledge we gain in the service of society. Four projects illustrate how research at York is making an impact on a global scale.

Vision: Science to Applications (VISTA) Program

Funded by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (2016-2023), VISTA is a collaborative program that builds on York’s world-leading interdisciplinary expertise in biological and computer vision. In collaboration with over 50 academic, public and for-profit partners from around the world, VISTA will propel Canada as a global leader in the vision sciences by integrating visual neuroscience with computer vision to drive innovation. The aim is to advance visual science through research that spans computational and biological perspectives and results in real-world applications.

One VISTA-funded project by Health Professor Shayna Rosenbaum looks at how the brain transforms early visual information into memories. The findings of this research may be used to help individuals with memory difficulties.

International research collaborations to advance scholarship on a global scale

Related to VISTA, York is collaborating with two German universities: the Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen and the Philipps-Universität Marburg. This partnership began with the International Research Training Group, established via a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada CREATE grant in 2013, undertaken by Health Professor Denise Henriques. It also involves Queen’s and Western Universities in addition to the two German partner institutions. The relationship was formalized in a 2014 Memo of Understanding (MOU).

This collaboration fosters international research excellence, increases global engagement, facilitates more graduate student co-supervision and allows for more international exposure to York research. VISTA offers foreign students and researchers access to advanced, world-leading research. VISTA will prepare the next generation of industry-ready, highly qualified vision research personnel on a global scale.

Professor Dr. Michael Bölker, Philipps-Universität Marburg (left), and Dr. Robert Haché (right), York University, signing the MOU.

Borderless Higher Education for Refugees (BHER) Project

Professors Wenona Giles (Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies or LA&PS) and Don Dippo (Faculty of Education) co-lead the BHER Project, which seeks to improve equity in higher education, prepare local uncertified refugee teachers, improve teaching practices, and provide a number of university degree programs in and around the Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya.

The project, which began in 2013, received funding from the Canadian International Development Agency. Today, it serves as a model in other marginalized communities throughout the world.

In 2015, 59 students in the Dadaab refugee camps graduated from the York University Certificate of Completion in Educational Studies program. Two thirds of the 59 students already work as teachers in the camps’ schools.

Clockwise from top left: Professors Shayna Rosenbaum, Wenona Giles, Don Dippo and Carla Lipsig-Mummé.

Work & Climate Change (WCC) Network Partnership

Professor Carla Lipsig-Mummé, LA&PS, has spent two decades spearheading the WCC network partnership. The core questions include how the world of work, which is a major producer of greenhouse gases, can increasingly and effectively contribute to the struggle to slow climate change and, within this context, the role that social science can play.

This network has grown from five partners and eight researchers in the 1990s to 52 partners today, including researchers, trade unionists, engineers, health workers, policy-makers and environmental advocacy groups. This group has produced research on green initiatives in the workplace, collaboratively developed programs for green education and training, and initiated the creation and implementation of green plans.

Lipsig-Mummé was awarded the prestigious Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Impact Award, in the Partnership category, for this work in 2018.