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World-class Ryerson experts named Canada Research Chairs

June 15, 2021
Professors Rupa Banerjee, Atefeh (Atty) Mashatan, Anton de Ruiter, Umberto Berardi and Ebrahim Bagheri

From left to right, professors Rupa Banerjee, Atefeh (Atty) Mashatan, Anton de Ruiter, Umberto Berardi and Ebrahim Bagheri are all beginning new five-year terms as Canada Research Chairs.

Three Ryerson University faculty members have been named new Canada Research Chairs (CRCs) to support their world-leading work in the fields of migration, architecture and cybersecurity. Two faculty members have also had their CRC programs on spacecraft design and social media analytics renewed for a second term.

The new chairs were awarded to professor Rupa Banerjee from the Department of Human Resource Management and Organizational Behaviour, professor Umberto Berardi from the Department of Architectural Science, and professor Atefeh (Atty) Mashatan from the Department of Information Technology Management. Their terms will each last five years.

Professor Ebrahim Bagheri from the Department of Electrical, Computer, and Biomedical Engineering and professor Anton de Ruiter from the Department of Aerospace Engineering, both from the Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science, had their chairs renewed for additional five-year terms.

Meeting new challenges in migration, architecture and cybersecurity

Professor Banerjee from the Ted Rogers School of Management is the new Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Economic Inclusion, Employment and Entrepreneurship of Canada’s Immigrants. Her research will explore the significant role that non-state actors, such as universities and employers, play in Canada’s immigration system. Professor Banerjee aims to increase our understanding of newcomers’ experiences, discover more about how institutions approach this issue and provide insights that can be used to guide policy. With many migrants now temporarily working or studying in Canada before pursuing permanent residency, professor Banerjee is particularly interested in how this shift has affected the migration system in the country.

“The implications of having decision-makers other than government policy-makers having a significant say in who comes to the country and what their experiences are afterwards haven’t really been looked at in a lot of detail before, especially in a Canadian context,” she said. “Canada is an immigrant society, so understanding these processes is crucial for making sure that we are handling migration in the most optimal way and that it’s to the benefit to the country as well as the individuals who are coming.”

Professor Berardi from the Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science was named the Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Building Science. He will develop and test new, state-of-the art construction materials that will help to reduce the energy demand of buildings and increase their resilience against climate change. Professor Berardi will scale up his previous research by using materials he has developed in his lab to create physical samples. Examples of these substances include wall insulation that is similar to materials in an astronaut’s space suit and coatings for windows that reflect sunlight to keep buildings cool.

“Buildings are major consumers of resources. Typically, 40 per cent of the energy globally is consumed by buildings,” said professor Berardi. “Recognizing the need to fight against climate change, emissions from Canadian buildings must be reduced by nearly half in the next 10 years. The CRC will enable us to conduct applied research with the building sector that will drastically reduce the energy demand of buildings and increase the resiliency of buildings against climate change.”

Professor Mashatan from the Ted Rogers School of Management was named the Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Quality of Security (QoS) Framework for Internet-of-Things (IoT), which refers to networks of connected digital devices in our homes and businesses – from fridges and lights, to printers and webcams. She will address new threats that have arisen with the widespread adoption of IoT, create new security systems for these networks, and recommend best practices for users, technical audiences and policy-makers.

“Many smart devices are very small and are limited in terms of their memory, power or battery. This means that traditional cybersecurity mechanisms that were designed for more powerful devices, such as laptops or servers, just don’t apply,” said professor Mashatan. “This has unfortunately resulted in an all-or-nothing security approach, despite the fact that these devices can be very attractive to attackers given how much sensitive data they accumulate about our daily lives. My CRC program is about enhancing the quality of security of these devices in the specific context in which they are being deployed. With this approach, we will make a device as secure as possible, given the parameters and limitations that we have based on the context of its use-case.”

In addition to the CRC program funding, professor Mashatan will receive infrastructure support for her work through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund.

Expanding the scope of research

Professor Bagheri’s renewed Tier 2 Canada Research Chair is in Social Information Retrieval. By combining his expertise in the fields of social media analytics and information retrieval, professor Bagheri will create technology that presents internet users with the most relevant and trustworthy information during their browsing experience. The essence of his work will rely on proactively determining what users need to know, even if they are not able to effectively express their information needs using appropriate search terms. Professor Bagheri will also look at how to present information in a convincing manner, as this can help with the effective communication and uptake of information.

Professor de Ruiter’s renewed Tier 2 Canada Research Chair is in Spacecraft Dynamics and Control. Building on the accomplishments of his first CRC term, professor de Ruiter will continue to develop next-generation control systems for spacecraft that orbit asteroids. He will also advance his research on trajectory design for low-thrust spacecraft. In a new component of his CRC program, professor de Ruiter will work from a recently completed, state-of-the-art facility on the development of autonomous spacecraft that can assemble, inspect and repair large space structures.

“Many congratulations to professors Bagheri, Banerjee, Berardi, de Ruiter and Mashatan,” said Steven N. Liss, Ryerson’s vice-president, research and innovation. “As leading experts in their fields, these Ryerson faculty members are pursuing innovative new solutions to both current and emerging challenges, and applying their significant achievements in research to the real world. The Canada Research Chair program will enable our researchers to broaden societal understanding of critical issues and accelerate the development of new technologies and policies affecting Canadians’ everyday lives.”

The five Ryerson researchers are among the 156 chairs at 36 post-secondary institutions across Canada who were announced as new or renewed appointments by the federal government on June 15., external link, opens in new window This represents an investment of more than $125 million.

Related links:

Ryerson University researchers named Canada Research Chairs, December 2020.

Read about Ryerson’s Canada Research Chairs