Recipients of the 2018 President’s Impact Awards and Carolyn Tuohy Impact on Public Policy Award

Michael Cusimano

Department of Surgery
Faculty of Medicine; St. Michael’s Hospital

Dr. Cusimano is also the recipient of the 2018 Carolyn Tuohy Impact on Public Policy Award.

For his significant contributions to the prevention of traumatic brain injury and development of neurosurgery, and for his professional and public education and advocacy.

Michael Cusimano is a Professor in the Department of Surgery, an internationally recognized neurosurgeon at St. Michael’s Hospital, and a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. He is founding director of the Injury Prevention Research Office at St. Michael’s Hospital, where he leads an innovative research program and knowledge translation activities that have had an enormous impact in the field of traumatic brain injury and sport concussions.

Dr. Cusimano’s work, translated by a variety of means to wide public and scientific audiences, has contributed substantially to the shift in knowledge, attitudes and awareness surrounding the causes and consequences of concussions and head injuries. Following his landmark 2003 publication on the risks of body-checking in hockey, his ongoing research and advocacy at local, national and international levels has stimulated immense public and community engagement, catalyzed further academic research and debate, and ultimately informed changes in national and international sports policy, including rule changes and laws to reduce concussion in youth and elite sports such as hockey, baseball, soccer and football. Beyond his work on injury prevention, Dr. Cusimano’s creativity has also led to significant innovations in skull base and endoscopic neurosurgery that have been adopted globally. The development of new surgical techniques have changed the face of neurosurgery for skull base lesions and improved quality of life for people around the world.

Kamran Khan

Department of Medicine
Faculty of Medicine; St. Michael’s Hospital; BlueDot

For pioneering research on the globalization of infectious diseases that has informed international policy, and for founding BlueDot, a Toronto-based tech company that protects people around the world from infectious diseases with data-driven technologies.

Kamran Khan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, and a Clinician-Scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael’s Hospital. He is an internationally recognized scientist who has pioneered novel areas of research on the globalization of infectious diseases, including real-time tracking and predicting of infectious disease risks using big data, artificial intelligence, and disease modelling.

Dr. Khan’s research has influenced international policy during global health emergencies. For example, during the 2016 Zika outbreak in the Americas, he advised the World Health Organization’s Emergency Committee on key policy decisions, including possible cancellation or postponement of the Brazil Summer Olympic Games. During the same outbreak, his research – conducted under time-sensitive conditions with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – informed travellers’ health policy, identifying specific geographic areas where people could safely travel with minimal risk from Zika virus infection.

An innovator-entrepreneur, Dr. Khan founded BlueDot in 2013, a social benefit corporation that created the world’s first global early warning system for infectious diseases. Through BlueDot Dr. Khan has supported numerous national and multi-national organizations, including the CDC, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and Global Affairs Canada. He holds four patents, with five pending. He has received multiple accolades for his work transcending clinical medicine, academic research, and entrepreneurship, including the Governor General’s Innovation Award, the Ernest C. Manning Innovation Award, Techvibes’ Canadian Innovation Award, and the Canadian Medical Association’s Joule Innovation Grant.

Tania Li

Department of Anthropology
Faculty of Arts and Science

For research that has demonstrated fatal flaws in growth-promoting development policies and outlined more equitable alternatives, shaping rural development research and policy internationally.

Tania Li is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and a world-recognized scholar with extraordinary impact both within and beyond academia. A socio-cultural anthropologist, her research concerns the challenges of equitable and sustainable rural development, with a particular focus on Indonesia.

Professor Li’s research is rigorously empirical, as she conducts multi-year, primary fieldwork in rural sites where villagers wrestle with market pressures and state directives, as well as growth-oriented development schemes. She examines the fate of people who are squeezed off their land but cannot find paid work, and the predicament of educated, unemployed youth who desperately seek pathways to modern lives. Her research punctures myths about the effectiveness of high growth agriculture to bring benefits to all, and promotes serious, grounded debate about how rural poverty can be reduced, and new forms of impoverishment avoided. Over two decades, Professor Li’s work has definitively shaped both research and policy in the fields of transnational farmland investment, food sovereignty, indigenous land rights, labour displacement, rural livelihoods and land grabbing. Global Affairs Canada, the European Parliament, and official development policy agencies in France and Indonesia have sought her expert advice. Development scholars, practitioners and advocacy groups in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas draw on her powerful, accessible, widely translated, readily-usable knowledge to devise practical solutions for the complex development challenges they encounter in diverse sites. Professor Li’s impactful research was recently recognized with the 2018 Insight Award from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and her appointment to the prestigious rank of University Professor.

Jeffrey Rosenthal

Department of Statistical Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Science

For contributions to public discourse about the importance of quantitative reasoning, and efforts to improve a variety of societal problems through application of statistical analysis.

Jeffrey Rosenthal is a Professor in the Department of Statistical Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. An internationally renowned statistician, his outstanding academic career has included several top honours for excellence in research and teaching, including the prestigious President’s Award from the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS).

Professor Rosenthal’s bestselling 2005 book Struck By Lightning: The Curious World of Probabilities, published in 16 editions and 10 languages, introduced an understanding of probability and statistics to lay readers around the world. His tireless public efforts to provide reasoned, quantitative analysis of many important social issues have enhanced the numerical literacy and logical thinking of thousands of Canadians, opening the door to inclusion in important social dialogues. His statistical analysis demonstrating the improbability of lottery “insider wins” became front-page news, subsequently driving the Ontario Ombudsman’s investigation and significant lottery policy reforms, and ultimately leading to criminal investigations and to payments of more than twenty million dollars. His novel application of statistical textual analysis to the writing styles of U.S. Supreme Court Decisions demonstrated that these decisions are increasingly drafted by law clerks, exemplifying the potential of statistics to provide quantitative insights into legal practice. Professor Rosenthal continues his unique application of statistical analysis in his 2018 book Knock on Wood: Luck, Chance, and the Meaning of Everything, which examines the concept of “luck” in its various senses, from the perspective of a professor of statistics.

Karan Singh

Department of Computer Science
Faculty of Arts and Science

For contributions in computer graphics, design and animation, through the creation of commercial software, companies and the Oscar winning animation “Ryan”.

Karan Singh is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science and co-director of the Dynamic Graphics Project Lab. Professor Singh’s research in interactive computer graphics has had profound impact beyond academia, in the graphics industry and creative community, through commercial software tools, start-ups, and animated films.

His contributions include Academy Award winning industry software for animation, Maya (Technical Oscar 2003), and reverse engineering, Paraform. He was the Software R&D Director for the 2004 Oscar winning animation film Ryan, and has contributed significantly to other award winning animations. He has co-founded a number of start-ups including Sketch-2, software for real estate planning and leasing (now FindSpace); MeshMixer, design software for 3D printing (acquired by Autodesk in 2011); Flatfab, software for rapid prototyping using laser-cutters (University of Toronto Inventor of the Year Award 2015); and most recently JALI Inc., tools for expressive facial animation, and JanusVR, an immersive web browsing platform for AR/VR and immersive web community with over 150,000 users. MeshMixer, Flatfab and JanusVR are free, open source software, benefiting the 3D printing and laser-cutting maker community of creative professionals, and immersive web experience community respectively. These pieces of software have active user bases and have been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times worldwide. The research behind Professor Singh’s creative software tools is highly innovative, having been published at the very top venues in Computer Graphics and Human Computer Interaction, and protected by numerous patents.

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