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Source: York University

Two York profs receive Early Researcher Awards

November 9, 2006

TORONTO, November 9, 2006 -- York University professors Denise Henriques and Stephen Wright have been awarded funding under the Ontario government’s Early Researcher Award program for their work in two important fields: the brain’s use of sensory information to control action, and genome research related to Canadian plants.

They will each receive up to $100,000 of Ontario government funding under the second round of the program. The awards will be matched by $50,000 in research investment by York University. The second round of the program was announced Tuesday on behalf of Premier and Minister of Research and Innovation Dalton McGuinty, and will invest $14 million to support 104 leading researchers at 22 institutions in Ontario.

Dr. Denise Henriques, an assistant professor in York University’s School of Kinesiology and Health Science and a member of York’s Centre for Vision Research, will study the role of sensory information in shaping and guiding movements. These sensorimotor processes are central to brain function, and Henriques and her colleagues study two central aspects of sensorimotor function: how the brain represents and processes spatial information at different stages of an action; and how the brain integrates and interprets information from multiple senses to drive motor learning. Understanding these processes would have potentially profound implications for many common and debilitating neurological disorders, and possibly also for robotics, for physical education, and for teleoperations such as remote surgery.

Dr. Stephen Wright, an assistant professor in the Department of Biology at York University, will examine the interaction between demography and genetics in plant evolution, investigating how plant populations evolve and adapt at the molecular level. This genome research could lead to improvements in important Canadian crops such as canola, swede and turnip. It is also expected to produce important tools for the management of endangered species and provide other information for use in agriculture, health and environmental protection.

Under the Early Researcher Award program, the Ontario government has committed to investing $51 million over five years to support outstanding researchers in Ontario and to encourage the recruitment of other talented young researchers.

"The Early Researcher Award program is a critical investment in the globally-competitive research being done at the University," said Stan Shapson, York University’s Vice-President Research & Innovation. "These awards recognize the excellent work being done by researchers early in their careers, and the significant contributions they are making."

York University is the leading interdisciplinary research and teaching university in Canada. York offers a modern, academic experience at the undergraduate and graduate level in Toronto, Canada’s most international city. The third largest university in the country, York is host to a dynamic academic community of 50,000 students and 7,000 faculty and staff, as well as 190,000 alumni worldwide. York’s 11 faculties and 23 research centres conduct ambitious, groundbreaking research that is interdisciplinary, cutting across traditional academic boundaries. This distinctive and collaborative approach is preparing students for the future and bringing fresh insights and solutions to real-world challenges. York University is an autonomous, not-for-profit corporation.


For more information, contact:

Janice Walls, Media Relations, York University, 416-736-2100 x22101/



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