President’s Impact Academy
Who is this for?
Laureates of the University of Toronto President’s Impact Awards are designated by the University as members of the President’s Impact Academy for a minimum period of five years. This page profiles the laureates and the activities of the Academy.
To read more about the process for submitting a nomination, please see Preparing a Nomination.
What is the President’s Impact Academy?
The President’s Impact Academy meets to discuss matters relevant to research impact, offers advice to the Vice President, Research and Innovation, and advocates for sustained excellence in research and innovation impact within and outside of the University. The Academy is comprised of laureates of the President’s Impact Awards, each of whom are designated a member of the Academy for a minimum period of five years.
Members of the President’s Impact Academy are also invited to participate in a range of university activities to increase the University’s profile on the impact of the research of its community.
How do I become a member of the President’s Impact Academy?
President’s Impact Academy members are selected via the nomination process for the President’s Impact Awards. For more information about the awards and process, visit President’s Impact Awards & Academy.
Members of the President’s Impact Academy
Read about past laureates in U of T News:
- U of T neurosurgeon among 2019 President’s Impact Award winners
- U of T honours seven researchers whose impact reaches beyond academia
- Manage nominations for the President’s Impact Awards
- Coordinate activities of the President’s Impact Academy
Manager, University Awards and Honours
Department of Surgery
Faculty of Medicine; St. Michael’s Hospital
Dr. Cusimano is also the recipient of the 2019 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Faculty of Law
Lisa Austin is a professor of law and the Chair in Law and Technology. She is cross-appointed to the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. She is a Connaught Scholar and co-founder of the Information Technology, Transparency, and Transformation (IT3) Lab, which seeks multidisciplinary solutions to problems involving privacy and transparency.
Professor Austin is Canada’s leading academic on privacy law and she has a strong international reputation for her work in the field, which focuses on the limits of existing privacy law frameworks and theoretical models to deal with the informational challenges of the 21st century. Her work has had a broad impact on the development of law and policy within Canada. Several core ideas in Professor Austin’s academic scholarship have had a major impact on prevailing legal views within Canada. These include arguments justifying a privacy interest in public spaces and in relation to public records; critiquing the role of consent in private sector privacy models; understanding the privacy interests in communications metadata; and outlining the constitutional dimensions to privacy interests in cross-border data flows—issues that have broad implications for the privacy of all Canadians and their personal information. Her work has been cited by many Canadian courts, including multiple times by the Supreme Court of Canada, and has had a major impact on prevailing legal views, influencing legislators and regulators. She was invited to co-write the Canadian Judicial Council’s policy on access to court records. This policy has influenced how courts manage access to their records and has been cited by the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and the Federal Court in a case dealing with the privacy interests raised by search engines indexing court records. Prof. Austin shares her work widely with the community, and in turn gains a stronger understanding of the needs of the community and the problems they face.
Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy
Zubin Austin is a professor and Koffler Research Chair at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy. He is an award winning educator, having received the Association of Faculties of Pharmacy of Canada Education Excellence Award, the province of Ontario’s leadership in Faculty Teaching Award, and has been named a 2016 Canadian Academic leader by pharmacy Business Magazine.
Professor Austin is an international leader in the area of bridging education for internationally educated health professionals (IEHPs). The central focus of Professor Austin’s work has been to support better integration of IEHPs into the workforces of Canada and other countries at a time of skills shortages in many parts of the world. His work has been recognized as a “best practice model” by the Conference Board of Canada, the Government of Ontario, and the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration (Government of Canada). In 2014, he was commissioned by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) in the UK (the largest regulatory body for health professionals in the world) to produce a report titled “Preventing small problems from becoming big problems in health and care.” His research has also been translated across disciplinary boundaries in work with national and provincial regulators in such fields as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, midwifery, nursing, and dietetics. He recently completed a report commissioned by the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario (CPO) focused on competency assessment that has been used nationally and internationally across diverse health and non-health professions. Thousands of IEHPs across more than a dozen health professions have completed educational programs and online modules that have been developed through Professor Austin’s research program, and these IEHPs in turn have provided care to tens of thousands of patients across Canada and around the world.
Faculty of Arts & Science
Ron Deibert is a professor of Political Science and Director of the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, which undertakes interdisciplinary research intersecting global security, information and communication technology, and human rights. He is a recipient of the Order of Ontario and was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal for being “among the first to recognize and take measures to mitigate growing threats to communication rights, openness, and security worldwide.”
For over 15 years, Citizen Lab has researched and documented information controls that impact the openness and security of the Internet and threaten human rights, and is unrivalled in its international reputation. Professor Deibert’s research has uncovered state surveillance and censorship threats around the world and has exposed corporations that have provided repressive regimes with technologies that allow them to conduct surveillance on citizens and censor its media. The impact of Professor Deibert’s research beyond academia can be seen in the extensive media coverage Citizen Lab receives, as well as the awards and honours he and Citizen Lab have garnered. The impact of Professor Deibert’s research has also played a key role in the development of technology that protects citizens’ rights to Internet freedom and privacy, including software that allows users to bypass Internet censorship and an online tool that helps users formally request access to personal information being stored by their service provider. He has made it a priority to ensure that his findings are communicated beyond academia. He authored the book Black Code: Privacy, Surveillance, and the Dark Side of the Internet (2013), which was adapted into a feature-length documentary film (“Black Code”) premiering at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival and playing at film festivals worldwide.
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
Kathleen Gallagher is a professor in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Professor Gallagher completed two terms as a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair (CRC), won a Tier 1 CRC at a competitor university and, remaining at U of T, earned the title Distinguished Professor in 2015. She helped found U of T’s Centre for Urban Schooling.
A leading scholar of social inequality, youth, and schooling, Professor Gallagher has committed herself over the past two decades to research with and for the benefit of young people in marginalized communities—including low-income, poverty-stricken and homeless populations, refugee communities, and communities in which girls and women have been historically discriminated against. Through her pioneering research in drama education and schooling, which engages with questions around the arts, pedagogy, classroom relations, and wider social contexts, she has profoundly changed the lens through which young people are thought about and valued in societies. As a result of sustained and creative efforts to mobilize research findings beyond academia – via, for example, community-based research and outreach, public workshops, policy briefs, high-level networking, influential partnerships and collaborations with artists – Professor Gallagher’s timely work has been taken up across professional, practitioner, governmental and non-governmental organizations and civil society communities, both in Canada and around the world. In particular, her expertise on youth, gender and schooling is regularly seized upon by national and international media outlets, educational associations, schools and institutions, legislative and policy organizations, and think tanks, as these bodies look to build effective strategies for improving the lives of disenfranchised youth. As such, her work has responded to issues affecting some of the most marginalized communities across the globe and here at home, impacting girls in India, girls/women and LGBTQ communities in Taiwan, refugees in Greece, together with socio-economically disadvantaged, homeless, and educationally struggling young people in the GTA and in other low-income regions across Ontario. Perhaps most importantly, Professor Gallagher has forged collaborative and enduring links between university research and community-based organizations, artists, and local, national and international non-profits, government agencies, and think tanks.
Faculty of Medicine; St. Michael’s Hospital
Prof. Laupacis is also the recipient of the 2018 Carolyn Tuohy Impact on Public Policy Award
Andreas Laupacis is a professor in the Department of Medicine and the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation. He is also a general internist and the Executive Director of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael’s Hospital. Dr. Laupacis is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and, among other awards, was the inaugural recipient of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Barer-Flood Prize in Health Services and Policy Research.
Dr. Laupacis is an internationally recognized health services researcher who has made a fundamental impact in a number of areas including clinical, health services, health economics, and health policy research. His impact is demonstrated in a numbers of firsts: he introduced the concept of “number needed to treat”; he introduced research that prevented strokes worldwide; he was one of the first physicians in Canada to advocate for cost-effectiveness studies in health care decision-making and has thereby changed the way governments integrate science into policymaking; and he advocated for the inclusion of patients’ voices. As a general internist and palliative care physician, Dr. Laupacis’ research and health policy work has always been grounded in an understanding of the needs of patients. As such, he was one of the first to articulate the need for greater involvement of patients in research and health policy making, which is now increasingly common. In academic and non-academic settings, Dr. Laupacis has advocated for the use of research evidence in crafting health care policy, and for greater patient and public involvement in the setting of research and health policy priorities. Most recently, he has elevated the level of public discourse about health policy in Canada with two widely read websites that are used by those working within the health care system, in medical education, and by students, journalists, and the general public (healthydebate.ca).
Faculty of Dentistry
Paul Santerre is a professor of Dentistry with a cross-appointment at the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering (IBBME). Professor Santerre’s research and innovation activities have been recognized by numerous awards, including the NSERC Synergy Award for Innovation in Partnerships of Small and Medium Sized Companies, the Governor General’s Award for Innovation, and the Ernest C. Manning Principal Award for Entrepreneurship.
Professor Santerre is sought after internationally for his expertise in polymeric biomaterial design and biostability of implant materials. This work has led to the development of novel technologies that established startup Interface Biologics (IBI), and more recently, Polumiros Inc. His entrepreneurial activities beyond academia are guided by the urgent need to translate scientific discoveries and innovations into tangible health care benefits, and have culminated in 60 awarded patents to date with 38 patents in progress. Professor Santerre’s inventions cover a very broad range in the area of regenerative biomaterials, including cardiovascular and musculoskeletal applications, as well as novel dental materials and tissue fillers for women undergoing lumpectomies after cancer surgery. Another key example of the impact of these inventions is Interface Biologics’s clot reduction technology, which is now pivotal to the successful use of catheter products in the medical field. This innovation has gone on to transform the lives of many tens of thousands of people around the world who depend on blood catheter technologies. Professor Santerre’s innovative research is impacting life-science jobs, healthcare and quality of life, commercial innovation, and experiential learning.
University of Toronto Scarborough
Zindel Segal is Distinguished Professor of Psychology in Mood Disorders and a Senior Scientist in the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. He is the recipient of several awards, including the Douglas Utting Research Prize and the Mood Disorder Association of Ontario’s Hope Award.
Professor Segal is the creator and developer of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), a novel treatment that prevents relapse in clinical depression. His work is already having an important impact on the treatment of mental health in North American and the U.K., and will soon be extended globally through the training of mindfulness-based therapists and the launch of online MBCT treatment programs. Professor Zindel’s relatively low-cost therapeutic technique has been shown to be as effective as antidepressant medication for preventing relapse of depression, without the serious side effects. MBCT can be delivered in person or online by trained therapists, reducing burdens on national health care systems in multiple ways, and the treatment is couched in the language of mindfulness and resilience which has been found to be significantly less stigmatizing than the languages of psychotherapy or psychopathology, promoting uptake in treatment. Globally, national health systems have adopted MBCT because it is both effective, and with its group structure, often significantly cheaper than the alternatives. MBCT is recommended in a number of national (USA, Canadian, UK) Depression Treatment Guidelines as a first line intervention for preventing depression relapse. Prof. Zindel’s work has reached the general public in impressive numbers. His 10 books, including The Mindful Way Through Depression and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, have sold over 350,000 copies worldwide and have been translated into 15 languages.