By Amanda Groulx
Successful graduates aren’t the only thing Ryerson professors are producing. They are also doing all kinds of academic research and studies that give the university prominence outside of campus.
According to Ryerson’s newly-appointed vice-president of research and innovation Anastasios Venetsanopoulos, the school has 651 externally funded research grants held by 263 different researchers.
“Over the last decade, research funding at Ryerson has grown from $2.4 million to $12.2 million last year,” she said.
However, Ryerson is still falling behind other universities.
In 2005 the school was ranked 37th for receiving research grants. The University of Toronto topped the list at $708 Million. Still, Ryerson’s internal growth indicates the beginning of a commitment to improving the university’s public academic image — which president Sheldon Levy made a priority by introducing Venetsanopoulos’ position.
“Any university that calls itself a university has to be engaged in research and scholarship,” Levy said. “To leave it out is not to be a university.” Venetsanopoulos said that when faculty members engage in cutting edge research, “the passion they feel for their area of research infects their students.”
Associate professor of aerospace engineering, Dr. Krishna Kumar is one such professor whose passion is contagious. He led a team of students to take first place at the 2006 space science CanSat competition.
There, the Canadian Design Engineering Network reported, Ryerson was the only Canadian university to “design and develop a can-size Satellite (35mm), and it’s launch by a rocket (provided by the organizer) to a sub orbital altitude.”
Kumar specializes in miniature satellites. These instruments, which are cheaper to deploy than large satellites, will be a good way to test new technologies and may be useful with remote sensing environmental monitoring and communication.
In the field of traditional communication, Dr. Gene Allen, associate professor at Ryerson’s school of journalism, is studying how different newspapers conveyed news to Canadian cities over time. Starting in 1890 and ending in 1930, he’s looking at the development of the telegraph and how it affected the reporting of national news.
“To what extent were newspaper readers in different parts of the country getting the same national news or not?” he is asking. “Did it change? Were they concentrating more on Ottawa? Was news becoming more national or were there big differences?”
He hopes to answer these questions as he analyses his database of about 7,000 articles.
“A lot of people who study nationalism say that the media has a great deal to do with people’s sense of what the nation is,” Allen, who holds a PhD in history, said. “It’s the first time that anybody, anywhere has done this sort of thing.”
Allen’s research is part of a larger project about the history of the Canadian Press news agency. He will be releasing an academic paper on the subject at the Canadian Historical Association’s annual meeting in Saskatoon in May.
And while Allen’s project is approaching its end, others are just beginning. Associate professors of physics, Dr. Michael Kolios and Dr. Bill Whelan have been granted money for various large infrastructure projects, funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation.
The two professors have also received $327,440 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. With the money they will look into new ultrasound imaging technology used to treat cancer patients. As their project continues, its results may have and affect on radiation and thermal therapies for cancer patients.