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Ryerson professors recognized with Early Researcher Awards

June 30, 2021
Professors Cheryl Thompson, Karl Szpunar, Miranda Kirby and April Khademi

Professors Cheryl Thompson (top left), Karl Szpunar (top right), Miranda Kirby (bottom left) and April Khademi (bottom right) have been selected to receive Early Research Awards.

Four Ryerson professors have been selected to receive prestigious Ontario-wide Early Researcher Awards (ERA). These awards from the provincial government will support emerging researchers in building teams to pursue projects addressing topics such as medical imaging analysis, Black Canadian archives and combating inattention during learning. 

The Ryerson recipients of this initiative are professors April Khademi (Electrical, Computer and Biomedical Engineering), Miranda Kirby (Physics), Karl Szpunar (Psychology) and Cheryl Thompson (Creative Industries). 

“This support will aid in building capacity for impactful research at Ryerson that will benefit people across Ontario and Canada,” said Steven N. Liss, vice-president, research and innovation at Ryerson. “Congratulations to professors Khademi, Kirby, Szpunar and Thompson for securing these awards, which highlight their outstanding work.”  

Professor Khademi will lead the development of an automated software tool that will analyze magnetic resonance images (MRI) of the brain together with clinical data to investigate causes of neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia. These image analysis and machine learning tools will be designed to operate on clinical and research datasets from multiple institutions to further our understanding of the risks, causes and progression of neurodegenerative disease.

Professor Kirby and her team will work to create innovative medical imaging analysis tools that can be applied to assess patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and be used to predict which patients are at greatest risk of disease progression and hospitalization. The project will also seek to translate these tools for use with other lung diseases. 

Professor Szpunar will train personnel and advance his novel research into reducing bouts of inattention during learning from video-based materials by interspersing opportunities for people to express what they’ve learned. The cognitive and neural mechanisms of this intervention will be examined using controlled behavioral and neuroimaging techniques to aid optimization for application in real world settings.  

Professor Thompson’s study will create a comprehensive inventory of Ontario’s Black archives, addressing a challenge in Black Canadian Studies when dealing with archives that are sometimes hidden, incomplete or scattered. The project includes the development of a framework for the collection, description, curation and cataloguing of these collections, as well as bridging a knowledge gap between archival collections and oral history. 

Learn more about the Early Researcher Awards. (external link, opens in new window) 

Related links: 

Four Ryerson professors receive Early Researcher Awards (October, 2019)