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Planet in Focus festival features films, panel discussions about environment

The following was originally published in YFile on November 3rd, 2014.

The 15th annual Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival, designed to enlighten, engage and entertain with film about the world, will screen the documentary film Honour Your Wordat York University Friday.

A still from the film Honour Your World

Honour Your Word is written, directed and produced by Professor Martha Stiegman of York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES), which is one of the co-sponsors of the film festival. FES Dean Noël Sturgeon will introduce the film, which will screen Friday, Nov. 7, from 3 to 4:30pm, in the Nat Taylor Cinema, 102 North Ross Building, Keele campus.

Honour Your Word is an intimate portrait of life behind the barricades for the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, an inspiring First Nation whose dignity and courage contrast sharply with the political injustice they face. The title refers to their campaign slogan demanding Canada and Québec honour a precedent-setting conservation deal signed in 1991.

A still from the film Honour Your World

A panel discussion will follow the screening with the filmmaker along with Barriere Lake Community spokesperson Marylynn Poucachiche and Shiri Pasternak of Barriere Lake Solidarity. Stiegman spent four years shooting the film called poetic and heartfelt, and one that challenges stereotypes of “angry indians.” Honour Your Word juxtaposes starkly contrasting landscapes – the majesty of the bush, a dramatic highway standoff against a riot squad, daily life within the confines of the reserve – to reveal the spirit of a people for whom blockading has become an unfortunate part of their way of life, a life rooted in the piece of the Boreal Forest they are defending.

The film draws its audience into the lives of two young leaders: Marylynn Poucachiche, a mother of five, and Norman Matchewan, the soft-spoken son and grandson of traditional chiefs. Both spent their childhoods on the logging blockades their parents set up to win a sustainable development plan protecting their land. But it turns out signing the agreement was the easy part.

Now, 20 years later, Norman and Marylynn are taking up the struggle of their youth to force Canada and Québec to honour their word. Their fight may seem an impossible one, but as we spend time with Marylynn, Norman and the community they are so deeply a part of, the audience grows to identify with the impulse driving a struggle that spans generations. For these people, standing up is a necessity, not a choice – and they are compelled to do so, despite the odds.

A still shot from OFFSHORE

York cinema and media studies Professor Brenda Longfellow of the Faculty of Fine Arts will present her interactive, oil-drilling documentary OFFSHORE as the Industry Day “Case Study”Friday, Nov. 7, at 1:30pm at Toronto City Hall. OFFSHORE, co-directed with Glen Richards and Helios Design Lab, is an interactive web documentary about the next chapter of oil exploration. “Extreme Oil” or “Cowboy Drilling” takes place hundreds of miles offshore, thousands of feet beneath the ocean floor, in dangerous and risky conditions where the hazards are immense but the profits are bigger, and where the consequences of something going wrong are catastrophic.

OFFSHORE uses a virtual offshore oil rig as the central interface, combining an innovative mixture of virtual immersion and documentary elements. Beginning with stories from the Deepwater Horizon disaster and journeying to the Arctic, Brazil and Russia, the film probes the consequences and prospects of this new energy frontier.

From the film Trick or Treaty

Trick or Treaty, directed by Alanis Obomsawin, a member of the Abenaki First Nation and a documentary filmmaker, will screen Friday, Nov. 7, at 8pm at Jackman Hall, Art Gallery of Ontario. FES Associate Dean Ravi de Costa will introduce the film, which explores “Treaty 9” of 1905, a monumental document in the history of Canada’s First Nations tribes. Obomsawin will be in attendance. She will also be part of a Master Class earlier in the day with journalist/author Geoff Pevere, from 2:45 to 3:45pm, at Toronto City Hall.

Planet in Focus – Industry Day is organized by York grad student and alumnus Mark Terry(BA ’90). The day is devoted to providing creative and business content for filmmakers and opportunities to network with distinguished industry professionals. It will include a Green Screen Initiative Panel, from 11:30am to 12:30pm, discussing advances in environmentally sustainable production practices in film and television production. More information aboutIndustry Day can be found on the Planet in Focus website.

Osgoode Hall Law School PhD Candidate Michael John Long (BA ’04, MES ’08, LLM ’11), an alumnus of York’s Master in Environmental Studies program, is the academic programmer at Planet in Focus and an executive board member at York’s Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability, which is hosting the festival at York this year.

In addition, FES alumna Tzeporah Berman (MES ’95) will receive the Eco-Heroes Award at this year’s festival.

The Planet in Focus film festival was started by FES alumnus Mark Haslam.

To find out what other films and panel discussions are taking place in the Nat Taylor Cinema, check the Planet in Focus schedule. For more information on the festival, visit the Planet in Focus website.

Leading ecologists to speak at York University Oct. 2

The following was originally published in YFile on September 25, 2014.

Harvard University Professor Aaron Ellison and Elizabeth Farnsworth, a senior research ecologist with the New England Wild Flower Society, widely regarded as the power couple of ecology, will be speaking at York University on Oct. 2.Aaron Ellison

Ellison will lecture about his experiences working and teaching in the Harvard Forest at Harvard University. The Harvard Forest is the University’s 1,500-hectare outdoor classroom and a living laboratory for ecological research. At 10:30am, he will deliver a talk titled, “Identifying, anticipating and intervening in ecological regime shifts”. The talk will take place in 306 Lumbers Building on the Keele Campus and is part of the Biology Department Research Talks. It is free and open to members of the York community.

Then at 2pm in 009 Accolade West, Ellison will deliver another lecture titled, “Short and long-term impacts of undergraduate research experiences at the Harvard Forest” to the members of the Faculty of Science Committee on Teaching and Learning.

Ellison is the Senior Research Fellow in Ecology at the Harvard Forest, and an Adjunct Research Professor in the departments of Biology and Environmental Conservation at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. In 1992, he received the National Science Foundation’s Presidential Faculty Fellow award for “demonstrated excellence and continued promise both in scientific and engineering research and in teaching future generations of students to extend and apply human knowledge.”

“Harvard Forest is a fantastic example of ecological research,” says York biology Professor Dawn Bazely, one of the organizers of the talks. “Aaron Ellison is not only one of the top ecology researchers in the world, but he’s also a leader in teaching undergraduates about science, through the National Science Foundation’s Undergraduate Research Experience program, which brings about 30 undergrads from across the USA to Harvard Forest to do research, each summer.”

In his role as a senior research fellow at the Harvard Forest, Ellison studies food web dynamics and community ecology of wetlands and forests, evolutionary ecology of carnivorous plants, the response of plants and ants to global climate change, and the application of Bayesian statistical inference to ecological research and environmental decision-making. He has authored or co-authored more than 100 scientific papers, dozens of book reviews and software reviews, and the books A Primer of Ecological Statistics (2004) and A Field Guide to the Ants of New England (2012). He is the editor-in-chief of Ecological Monographs and in 2012, was elected a Fellow of the Ecological Society of America. At home in Roylaston, Massachusetts, a rural town of 1,000 people, Ellison is a member of the Conservation Commission.

At 7pm on Oct. 2, Farnsworth will deliver a public lecture titled, “Conserving the Rich Flora of Eastern North America”. The talk is co-sponsored by the Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability at York University, the Department of Biology and the North American Native Plant Society. Admission to this public lecture is free for university students who bring their identification, otherwise there is a $12 admission fee.

Elizabeth Farnsworth

“Elizabeth Farnsworth is a multi-talented biologist, whose work with the New England Wildflower Society builds bridges between the public and researchers in conservation Biology,” says Bazely.

Farnsworth is Senior Research Ecologist with the New England Wild Flower Society, and a biologist, educator, and scientific illustrator. She is also editor-in-chief of the botanical journal, Rhodora. At the society, she co-led the award-winning National Science Foundation-funded project, Go Botany, to develop an online guide to the regional flora for teaching botany. She previously coordinated planning for the conservation and management of over 100 species of rare plants. She has illustrated the Flora Novae Angliae, the Natural Communities of New Hampshire by the NH Natural Heritage Bureau, and three other books, and illustrated and co-wrote the A Field Guide to the Ants of New England (Yale University Press). She is co-author of the Connecticut River Boating Guide: Source to Sea and the Peterson Field Guide to the Ferns.

Farnsworth is a member of the graduate faculties of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the University of Rhode Island, and has taught at Smith College, Hampshire College, and the Conway School of Landscape Design. She formerly served as ecologist with the Connecticut Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. She has conducted scientific research on many ecosystems throughout the world, focusing on restoration, conservation, plant physiology, mangroves, and climate change. She was awarded a Bullard Research Fellowship by Harvard University in 2005 and a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in 1999. She has been a scientific consultant to the National Park Service, The Trustees of Reservations, US Forest Service, Massachusetts and Connecticut Natural Heritage Programs, United Nations and the Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust.

The talks are well worthwhile attending, says Bazely. “Both Harvard Forest and the New England Wildflower Society have adopted a hugely interdisciplinary collaborative approach to research and engagement with multiple groups in society.”

Students and professionals unite to create eco-village design on campus

The following was originally published in YFile on August 1, 2014.

What will an eco-village on the York University campus look like? That’s what students enrolled in the Design for Sustainability Workshop course in the Faculty of Environmental Studies were investigating.

The course was created by the Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability (IRIS) in 2009 to help explore the topic of sustainability and rethinking public spaces on campus. A part of this course analyzed the mapping of future development on campus and conducted design audits.

Arlene Gould explains concepts to her class

Arlene Gould explains concepts to her class

Course instructor, Arlene Gould, said the course is designed to “train and prepare the next generation of leaders.” Gould explained that the course participants demonstrated hard work and completed much research throughout it. The course is co-sponsored by the York University Development Corporation (YUDC) and Regenesis, an environmental and social justice organization on campus.

This year, the course and its participants focused on a co-housing design charrette and building a community eco-village at York University. Co-housing is a concept that originates from Denmark and pertains to communities and housing. Eco-villages are planned communities that foster social interaction. Equally important are eco-villages that are sustainable communities.

There were five student groups which examined various themes surrounding eco-villages. The groups’ respective topics of exploration included social model for co-housing, shared spaces, green technology, closing the loop (food and water education) and outreach.

Students engage in one of the break out sessions

Students engage in one of the breakout sessions

Participants had the opportunity to listen to guest lecturers and visit sustainable buildings around the Greater Toronto Area throughout this course. YUDC visited the classroom to inform the students about future development plans on campus and to discuss Lands for Learning. Anam Sultan, who spoke on behalf of YUDC, explained that Lands for Learning will provide a vision for potential opportunities that exist on the edge of campus. She notes that York University is looking for “balanced and well-designed planning.”

In the past, the Design for Sustainability Workshop explored the topics of green building strategies and sustainable housing models.

Various industry professionals and community members provided input and imparted their knowledge to the student groups to assist with their projects. During the breakout session, the Green Technology group shared ideas with Martin Liefhebber, an architect with Breathe Architects. Liefhebber provided the group with information regarding green technology and design.

Anam Sultan of YUDC talks about Lands for Learning

Anam Sultan of YUDC talks about Lands for Learning

After the breakout session and interacting with the industry professionals and community members, the groups were able to present their research a second time, incorporating the new information they had gathered during the session. This provided a more realistic view of what an eco-village on York’s campus could look like.

One of the workshop participants, Adam, mentioned, “The course was very informative and a very good application of knowledge. [It] drew in people from the community of green development.”

Another participant, Sherlock, commented, "I see the benefits of the eco-village especially in this day and age. It’s a good change from the monotonous. It also creates a place for people that need a stable environment, while at the same time creating diversity.”

By Kurt Reid, MES student and communications assistant in the Faculty of Environmental Studies











Moose spit fights toxic fungus in plants

IRIS Core Faculty member Dawn Bazely publishes with Mark Vicari and Andrew J. Tanentzap. Journal reference: Biology Letters, DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2014.0460

York University researchers investigate new element of the predator/prey relationship

CBC News Posted: Jul 23, 2014 12:14 PM ETLast Updated: Jul 23, 2014 12:55 PM ET

Researchers have discovered that moose saliva may help the animal control potentially toxic vegetation in the bush.

Researchers have discovered that moose saliva may help the animal control potentially toxic vegetation in the bush. (Dawn Bazely)

LISTEN: Dawn's Radio interview "Moose spit fights fungus in plants" 7:56

Researchers at York University have discovered that moose saliva may help the animals control a potential dangerous toxin found in the grass they frequently eat.

A professor of biology at York University said biologists at the university enlisted the help of the Toronto Zoo in collecting spit samples from the captive animals.

Dawn Bazely said the saliva was then applied to a grass which hosts the toxic fungus.

The fungus in the grass that was coated with moose drool grew more slowly and produced less toxins than the control grass.

Dawn Bazely

York University biologist Dawn Bazely says a study of moose saliva is the first evidence that a herbivore encountering toxic plants can actually fight back. (Dawn Bazely )

"If you think about moose they have home ranges. So they may actually be re-encountering the same plants [and] they may get a benefit," Bazely said.

"We certainly know the animals remember plants they encounter and they eat a small amount of the plant, and if it makes them feel ill they might avoid it in the future."

She said the experiment grew from research looking at how grazing by moose affects plants. Over thousands of year,s plants have developed anti-herbivore defences like spines, thorns and bitter berries.

Plants also reach out to a third party for assistance in deterring animals from eating them.

"They can phone a friend to help them with defences," Bazely said.

"And one of the friends they can phone is a fungus. Many plants have hidden inside them a fungus that is living entirely within the plant."

Bazely said the next phase of research is to determine the benefit of the fungus-inhibiting drool.

She said the spit acts quite quickly on the fungus, with noticeable results appearing in 12 to 36 hours.

Original Story:

PEASE Project Welcomes New Post-Doctoral Visitor!

PEASE is pleased to welcome Philip Vaughter from the United States as its new postdoctoral visitor!

Born in the state of Minnesota in the United States, Philip was educated at Iowa State University and graduated with a Bachelors degree in Biology in 2004 before leaving to live and work in New Zealand where he attended the University of Victoria at Wellington. Following a Masters program at Victoria in 2008, Philip returned to his home state of Minnesota in the USA to complete a PhD program in Conservation Biology at the University of Minnesota. Upon completion, he took a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Saskatchewan. Philip’s research has focused on the creation and implementation of sustainability and environmental policy, the contention between biodiversity and energy policy, and the role of coalition building in environmental policy and movements.

IRIS hosts Canada/South Sudan Roundtable: Responding to the Crisis

Deeply concerned by the widespread political violence that has racked Africa’s newest nation since mid-­‐December 2013, Canadian South Sudanese community members and leaders met in Toronto on March 26, 2014 to share information on the crisis, build peaceful relationships across the Canadian South Sudanese diaspora, generate options for bringing an end to the violence and for coming to grips with its underlying causes.

DSCN0398The day-­‐long meeting was hosted by York University’s Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability (IRIS), with organizational support from the SubSahara Centre, Peacemedia-­‐ paixmédia, Peacebuild – The Canadian Peacebuilding Network and South Sudanese community activists and opinion leaders. Discussion initially focused on sharing personal experiences of the crisis among the approximately 30 participants. It then turned to identifying the range of options available for short-­‐term peacemaking and long-­‐term peacebuilding, including tackling the country’s glaring governance deficit.

While strong tensions within the South Sudanese community in Canada and elsewhere were acknowledged, roundtable participants, representing a broad cross-­‐section of the South Sudanese community in Canada, pursued discussion in a spirit of solidarity and respect for all and their opinions. No insults or verbal abuse of individuals or specific groups were expressed, despite the depth of anger and sorrow. Each participant had the opportunity to voice their feelings and views on the crisis without interruption. Compassionate listening was encouraged.DSCN0423b

This report highlights the multiple common perceptions of the disastrous direct and indirect impacts of the violence on South Sudanese in their home country and in the diaspora, regardless of ethnic or religious background, age group, gender or educational attainment. It also sets out suggested collective responses to the crisis for urgent further consideration and action both in South Sudan and in Canada.

To encourage open discussion during the roundtable, it was agreed that comments by individuals would not be attributed in this report, and a very few asked that their names not be included in the list of participants attached.

View the full report from the Roundtable.

York’s Earth Day celebration will honour sustainability champions and achievements

On Tuesday, April 22 at 2pm, the York University community is invited to join York President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri and Vice-President Finance and Administration Gary Brewer for an Earth Day Celebration in the Life Sciences Building.

The Life Sciences Building terrace on York U's Keele campus

The Earth Day event, which will take place in the lobby of the Life Sciences Building, will pay tribute to a number of sustainability champions and achievements across York’s campuses. The occasion will include the unveiling of a plaque to commemorate the LEED Silver certification of the Life Sciences Building, and an announcement about sustainability at York University. The event will also feature the presentation of the inaugural President’s Sustainability Leadership Awards.

Created to celebrate the many champions of sustainability at York, these new awards recognize students, faculty and staff who are contributing to making the University a leader in sustainability among postsecondary institutions. The President’s Sustainability Leadership Awards are intended to raise awareness of the important work that sustainability champions are doing at York, to provide much-deserved recognition of their work, and to encourage others to get involved in sustainability initiatives on our campuses. Up to five awards will be given out each year.

“I am very pleased to announce the first winners of the President’s Sustainability Leadership Awards,” said York President Mamdouh Shoukri. “These awards honour members of the York community who have demonstrated outstanding and ongoing commitment to making ours one of the greenest universities in Canada, and indeed, the world. We are incredibly proud of their achievements, and I look forward to the opportunity to honour them in person at next week’s event.”

This year’s winners of the President’s Sustainability Leadership Awards are:

Brad Cochrane
Director, Energy Management, Campus Services & Business Operations (CSBO)

Cochrane oversees York University’s Energy Management program, focusing on ensuring efficient heating, cooling and power for York’s 115 buildings and eight-million square feet of space. He has steered York’s five-year energy renewal plan, aimed at a 25 per cent reduction in utility consumption. His tenacious pursuit of energy rebates has provided dramatically more energy improvements than originally thought possible, specifically resulting in doubling financial incentive grants to the University. This has resulted in more than $1.5 million in additional funds, which are being further invested in new energy conservation measures. An outstanding professional and true steward of sustainability planning and practices, Cochrane is deeply involved with York faculty and researchers from Environmental Studies, Engineering and Science to explore common goals and potential partnerships. 

Tim Haagsma
Manager, Grounds, CSBO

A long serving York employee, Haagsma epitomizes sustainability in action. He is educated as an entomologist, a branch of zoology focusing of insects. This has served him well in his capacity as grounds manager, given the challenges that this area has faced with infestations, including the Asian Long Horn Beetle and more recently the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). Haagsma was quick to act at the first evidence of EAB, developing a management plan to save as many Ash trees as possible. His work on the Ash tree inventory and audit led to a full tree inventory of both campuses. Haagsma is also an advocate for conscientious waste behavior, and has been a key player in the roll out of a comprehensive recycling program and organic waste collection program that has achieved a landfill diversion rate of over 65 per cent. He was an early advocate for sustainable landscapes, including xeriscaping. Haagsma has fostered excellent relationships with faculty, staff and students, and is a constant volunteer for initiatives to improve the campus environment.

Helen Psathas
Senior Manager, Environmental Design and Sustainability, CSBO
Senior Fellow, Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability (IRIS) 

Psathas works with many CSBO and York departments and divisions, and is a committed champion of the importance of sustainability in all development projects—from campus greening to reuse and recycling of material, energy conservation, and renewable energy concepts. She has contributed significantly to York’s corporate sustainability profile by participating in various committees and institutes, including the President’s Sustainability Council and IRIS Executive Board. Her participation in the York Master Planning and Facilities Committee allows her to ensure that the need for sustainable development is recognized and respected at the highest level of the institution. Psathas also stewards and supports environmental initiatives such as Lights Out, Campus Cleaning, YorkWise! and Res Race to Zero. She has personally managed a number of projects related to improving the greening of the campus, including Osgoode Green, the University Tree Inventory, and improvements within the Glendon forest. Her management of various sustainable transportation initiatives has resulted in York’s ZipCars and Smart Commute programs. Psathas has also been a champion of accessibility on campus, ensuring that new development projects recognize and respect the need to remove barriers to accessibility.

Osgoode Sustainability Committee

As a subset of Osgoode’s Environmental Law Society, the Sustainability Committee is run entirely through committed student volunteers who have gone well above the call of duty to create a more sustainable campus. The committee established five sub-groups to tackle the challenges that mattered most to students, and as such, has a very wide breadth and has significantly improved sustainability at Osgoode and the wider York community. The committee initiated a Food Advisory Group to discuss food sustainability and waste management with on-campus food providers, resulting in the reintroduction of Fair Trade coffee, reusable mugs and cups, and promotion of Aramark’s Vegan Mondays initiative. The committee also developed an Osgoode Campus Group, which led a to Lighting Efficiency signature campaign, established an e-waste bin in the Osgoode building, and created a double-sided printing poster beside Osgoode library printers to encourage students to save paper. Their events group has also worked to involve all students in programs to make campus more sustainable, including their Lug-A-Mug campaign and Fork Drive, in which students returned/donated metal forks, spoons and knives to the bistro. Overall, the Osgoode Sustainability Committee has made considerable contributions to the sustainability of Osgoode and the greater York Community over the past year. 

Planning and Renovations Unit, CSBO 

The CSBO Planning and Renovations Unit has a longstanding commitment to green building as evidenced through early citations and awards. This 20-plus member group includes six LEED Accredited Professionals. Annually, the group undertakes approximately 200 projects ranging in scale, complexity and cost. Projects are undertaken with consideration to sustainable practices, starting with the most efficient means of delivering the project, including the reuse of existing materials, including lighting, as well as other passive green design strategies. Solutions include practices in energy efficient building systems to reduce energy consumption and minimize York’s carbon foot print, minimize waste and maximize resource deployment by focusing on every opportunity for reuse. There are many examples of the unit’s innovative thinking and practice on sustainable building, including the development of the Sherman Health Sciences Building, which saw the adaptive reuse of York’s old ice rink into a state-of-the-art, world-class research facility through sustainable strategies such as bringing natural light into the interior for energy savings, incorporating a high-albedo roof, landscaping with drought-resistant native plants and storm water runoff management. By re-purposing the arena, an incredible York facility was created, adding value to the campus and bringing new life to an old structure.

York University celebrates sustainability and Earth Hour

The following is from the March 25, 2014 edition of YFile.

The Seeds of Hope poster exhibit

This coming Saturday will mark Earth Hour around the world, but every hour is earth hour at York University. So in the days leading up to Earth Hour, the York University community will be celebrating sustainability with events in Vari Hall and York Lanes.

On Thursday and Friday, York University will host the Seeds of Hope poster exhibit from 10 am to 4pm in Vari Hall. Based on a simple premise – “it starts with one” – the Seeds of Hope exhibit conveys the importance of individual action for community sustainability. Through a series of 24 panels, it focuses on the themes of interconnectedness, social justice and peace to show how one idea can inspire and transform an entire community towards sustainable living. The exhibit offers examples of how individuals and small groups inspired by the Earth Charter have taken simple actions to create more sustainable communities.

Seeds of Hope

In addition to Seeds of Hope, the President’s Sustainability Council, the Institute for Research & Innovation in Sustainability (IRIS), and students in ENVS 3505 Business and Sustainability will be hosting information tables for anyone interested in learning more about the many ideas and opportunities for getting involved in sustainability at York. Student clubs, campus organizations and businesses focusing on sustainability will be tabling throughout both days.

Along with the activities in Vari Hall, IRIS will be hosting its annual Earth Hour Every Hour events in York Lanes. This year’s lineup includes an updated version of the climate change “Inconvenient Truth” presentation, created by Former Vice President Al Gore’s, which will be presented by Julie Strilesky, who received training from Al Gore and his Climate Reality Leadership Corps in July 2013.

The IRIS event will also feature the Word Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) very own Panda Band – led by Senior Officer of Species, Pete Ewins as well as WWF staff and volunteers. The band will perform a mix of original songs and covers.

For more information, please contact or

Explore health research, from elite athletes to impacts of oil and gas

From YFile's story, Explore health research Friday, from elite athletes to impacts of oil and gas, published March 5, 2014.

Explore health, environmental studies and science based-research at a celebration highlighting Healthy Individuals, Healthy Communities and Global Health. The celebration is being co-hosted by three of York’s Faculties and Glendon College, in collaboration with the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation Friday, March 7.

Robert Hache

The event will highlight the research of five York scholars, on topics ranging from healthy aged-care in long-term care settings to how human security provided a chart for assessing the impacts of oil and gas development in the northwestern Canadian Arctic. It will also delve into what elite athletes can tell us about maximizing health and changes in long-term care witnessed in Ontario over the years and more.

“The Healthy Individuals, Healthy Communities and Global Health celebration highlights the range and diversity of health research at York and its connections to other disciplines including science and environmental studies research. It also gives a glimpse into the health research taking place on both the Keele and Glendon campuses,” said Robert Haché, vice-president research & innovation. “All York students, staff and faculty are invited to attend.”

The celebration will take place from 2 to 4pm in the Life Sciences Building Lobby. The event will feature mini-research byte presentations followed by Q&As from the audience.

Featured presenters will include: Professor Joe Baker of the School of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Health; Professor Dawn Bazely of the Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, who is also the director of the Institute for Research & Innovation in Sustainability; Professor Martin Bunch, associate dean research of the Faculty of Environmental Studies; Professor Tamara Daly of the School of Health Policy & Management, Faculty of Health; and Professor Guy Bernard Proulx, CIHR Research Chair in Gender, Work and Health, of the Department of Psychology, Glendon College.

The event will be available for viewing online.

Tamara Daly

Tamara Daly: Healthy Public Policy for Living and Working in Long-term Care Daly will discuss how an ethos of care must inform public debate about healthy aged care, drawing on her local and international research in long-term care settings. She will highlight some challenges in long-term care settings and raise questions about how to create healthy care communities that include a focus on the needs of residents, families and workers.

Dawn Bazely

Dawn Bazely: Navigating the waters of transdisciplinarity and interdisciplinary collaboration Bazely’s presentation will explore how human security provided a chart for assessing the impacts of oil and gas development in the northwestern Canadian Arctic.  She will also discuss how human security has provided a map for supporting local peoples, both in Canada and elsewhere in the world, who are facing the consequences of climate change. Her presentation will briefly highlight the lessons learned and exported from the IPY GAPS project: International Polar Year, Gas, Arctic Peoples and Security (2006-11).

Martin Bunch

Martin Bunch: Ecohealth: Using complexity science to inform an adaptive ecosystem approach to environment and health in informal settlements in Chennai, India Informal settlements (“slums” in Asian and United Nations parlance) are characterized by extremely poor living conditions. They are located on marginal and often dangerous sites; lack urban amenities; housing is dense and substandard; residents almost always lack tenure and are subject to eviction; and they are the location of poor, vulnerable and marginalized populations. Unfortunately, attempts to address problems of slums demonstrate that slum settlements are resilient and resistant to change.  In May 2004 a Canadian and Indian project team began working with NGOs and two community partners to explore the efficacy of applying an adaptive ecosystem approach, which draws upon complexity theory and resilience thinking, to environment and health in those communities. Bunch will discuss how the perspective of complexity and self-organization helped to understand why these communities can be so perversely resilient, and identify key relationships and processes that should be either undermined or promoted to encourage this social-ecological system to evolve to more desirable configurations.

Joe Baker

Joe Baker: Optimal function and optimal health: What elite athletes can tell us about maximizing health Elite athletes can inform our understanding of the limits of human potential, which may have particular relevance for older adults. Masters athletes typically show exceptional maintenance of cognitive and physical function compared to the normal aging population and challenge our notions of what older adults are capable of doing.

Guy Proulx

Guy Proulx:  The Shifting Borders of Cognitive Aging The field of cognitive aging is changing rapidly. Half of Canadians born in 2012 can expect to live to 100 years and the hope is that their “health expectancy” could be as long. The presentation will contrast changes in long term care witnessed in Ontario the last decades and the need for more applied research addressing the wide variability within the normal aging population.

Dawn Bazely: From biology to sustainability

The following is an excerpt from University Affair's article, Meet 5 academics who have switched disciplines mid-career, published February 12, 2014 by Daniel Drolet.

Dawn Bazely: From biology to sustainability

Director, Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability 
York University

With degrees in botany and zoology, Dawn Bazely was content working in her field as a biology professor with a specialty in ecology, particularly forest and grassland ecology. But when she was recruited in 2006 as director of York University’s Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability (known as IRIS), she encountered a whole new discipline – and a steep learning curve.

“I have learned to feel uncomfortable,” says Dr. Bazely. “But I get to be a student every day. How awesome is that?” She says that the chief editor of Ecological Monographs tells her “that I have done a de facto PhD in sustainability, science policy and environmental security.”

IRIS has a tradition of breaking down barriers: Its first director was a political science professor, its second came from York’s Schulich School of Business. When the position opened up again, Dr. Bazely was asked to apply. “At first I was terrified,” she confides.

“I can’t begin to tell you how different it is from what I did as an ecologist. It’s publishing in completely different journals, it’s science policy. The most important thing I have learned is that social scientists generally believe that researchers in science and engineering don’t understand the history of our own field.”

She also has learned that scientists don’t understand how they damage their own credibility because they insist on being “super-neutral” and not speaking up about policy or political issues. (The most popular research seminar she gives in science faculties is on “Why don’t scientists get more respect?”)

With her new insights, Dr. Bazely now believes this is because scientists fool themselves in thinking science is above the fray. “Being in sustainability has exposed me to the humanities and social sciences and ethics. It has caused me to question my own assumptions.”

She now understands that there are different kinds of knowledge, “and sometimes academic knowledge might take primacy and sometimes it will not. It’s situating that knowledge in the broader human landscape.”

Taking positions on topics of the day is something she is now comfortable doing. “I don’t think doing that damages my standing as a scientist.”