../Morning Post
Posted November 6, 2009
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Distinguished Honour

Professor John Tsotsos receives President’s Research Excellence Award

TORONTO - John Tsotsos, Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering, Faculty of Science & Engineering, has been named the winner of the York University President’s Research Excellence Award.

The award, introduced during York’s 50th year, recognizes outstanding research achievement and significant contributions to advance the University’s international reputation for research excellence. Distinguished Research Professors Ellen Bialystok of the Faculty of Health and Paul Lovejoy of the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies will each receive the Research Award of Merit.

Tsotsos is well known as a pioneer in vision science research. “His great accomplishment for the University was advancing the development of the Centre for Vision Research,” said Amir Asif, chair of the Department of Computer Science & Engineering, and Tsotsos’ nominator. “Under his directorship, the centre blossomed into a world-leading research centre in the area of vision research, and is clearly one of York’s most important research centres.”

A Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Computational Vision and Distinguished Research Professor of Vision Science, Tsotsos has received numerous accolades and awards. He has published more than 300 papers in prestigious journals over the last three decades. As a scientist, Tsotsos’ work is recognized for its innovative development of computational models of visual attention. He was the first to prove the Selective Tuning (ST) theory, modelling visual attention, in 1990. Integrating the fields of visual psychology, computer vision, robotics and visual neuroscience, he is also known for the development of PlayBOT, a visually guided robot to assist physically disabled children in play.

Tsotsos’ ability to bring together a diverse group of people is reflected in his leadership role in forming ICAST, the Intelligent Computational Assistive Science & Technology Research & Development Network. The theme of collaboration as an integral part of his research emerges in the many letters of support accompanying his nomination, from his colleagues across Canada. York computer science & engineering Professor Nick Cercone said that not only is John Tsotsos’ “academic achievement and leadership in artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision without peer in Canada,” but that the “AI community owes John a debt of gratitude for his tireless promotion of the discipline worldwide.”

York psychology Professor Ellen Bialystok, recipient of the Research Merit Award, is a Distinguished Research Professor in Psychology and a leading global researcher in bilingualism and its effects on the aging brain. Bialystok’s six books and over 100 papers in scientific journals extend her research beyond themes and geographical boundaries. “She has investigated bilingualism and literacy from a number of angles and across a number of languages and language learners,” said her nominator, Professor Martha Crago of Dalhousie University.

York history Professor Paul Lovejoy, a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in African Diaspora History, is also a recipient of the Research Merit Award. As director of the Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migrations of African Peoples, Lovejoy is a leading scholar who has pioneered the study of the history and dynamics of the African diaspora from an African perspective. Through his research, he traces the history of migration from Africa into diaspora, following individual enslaved Africans to their destinations in the Americas. Lovejoy collaborates with an international network of researchers in Canada, the United States, the Caribbean, Brazil, Latin America, Africa and Europe, creating digitized historical data for his unique research. Lovejoy has “revolutionized his field through the innovative use of technology,” according to his nominator, York political science Professor Robert Drummond. "Lovejoy is an internationally active public intellectual in regard to issues of contemporary slavery and reparations.”

Stan Shapson, York vice-president research & innovation, said: “The nominations and letters that poured in supporting these distinguished researchers overwhelmingly spoke about the excellent work of Professors Tsotsos, Bialystok and Lovejoy as thought leaders and innovators in their fields. Each of the nominees for the award presented a strong record of sustained research achievement and many contributions towards enriching York’s research reputation.”

“I want to congratulate the winners of these awards and thank them for advancing York University’s reputation,” said York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri. “Their ingenuity and contribution to invention and innovation are a testament to York University’s research excellence.”

A ceremony to honour the recipients of the President’s Research Excellence Award and Research Awards of Merit will be held Nov. 24 as part of celebrations marking York’s inaugural Research Month.

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