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3 Concordians to join the ranks of the Royal Society of Canada

Jason Edward Lewis, Kathleen Vaughan and Thanh Dang-Vu are on the 2021 list of inductees
September 7, 2021
Three portraits of a woman with long blonde hair, a bald man with a beard, and a younger man with short, dark hair.
Kathleen Vaughan, Jason Edward Lewis and Thanh Dang-Vu have been invited to join the Royal Society of Canada.

The Royal Society of Canada (RSC) has invited three Concordia faculty to join their prestigious ranks, representing a national recognition for their outstanding research and career achievements.

Design and computation arts professor Jason Edward Lewis, art education professor Kathleen Vaughan and Thanh Dang-Vu, professor in the Department of Health, Kinesiology and Applied Physiology, will be recognized alongside the rest of the 2021 class at a November event held by the RSC, where Concordia President Graham Carr will also speak. The society is a non-profit organization that recognizes Canadian research and scholarly accomplishments, as well as academic and artistic excellence.

Paula Wood-Adams, interim vice-president of research and graduate studies, says Concordia faculty are having an impact across disciplines and the diversity of this year’s inductees is a testament to the calibre of their work.

“Though the Concordia community may already have been familiar with Jason, Kathleen and Thanh’s impressive careers and growing list of achievements thus far, it is wonderful to see them being recognized on a national scale by the Royal Society of Canada.”

Two Concordia alumni are also among this year’s fellows: Greg Matlashewski (BSc 78), professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, and John W. Berry (BA 63), professor emeritus of psychology at Queen’s University.

Jason Edward Lewis: ‘It sends a signal about the true extent of where knowledge is generated in Canada’

Lewis is a digital media theorist, poet and software designer. He was invited to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a position that recognizes “distinguished Canadians from all branches of learning who have made remarkable contributions in the arts, the humanities and the sciences, as well as in Canadian public life.”

Lewis holds the Concordia University Research Chair in Computational Media and the Indigenous Future Imaginary (Tier 1), and he is director of the Initiative for Indigenous Futures and co-director of the Indigenous Futures Research Centre.

He’s also a member of Hexagram-Concordia, the Technoculture, Art and Games (TAG) research centre and the Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Institute for Studies in Canadian Art.

Lewis’s research takes place at the intersection of media theory, computational technology and art making. He focuses on how Indigenous communities use digital technologies as part of their knowledge-making practices, and how to build capacity so they can take control of those technologies.

Given the diverse scope of his work, Lewis says it’s gratifying to have peers recognize the unique research he has conducted.

“It’s particularly satisfying because the profile I have is cross-disciplinary. It can be a struggle for organizations that take a more traditional view of academia to see the breadth and depth of the work and, most importantly, how it all fits together,” he says.

Lewis collaborates with Indigenous artists, academics, activists and technologists through several projects he co-directs, including the Indigenous Protocol and AI Working Groupthe Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace research network and the Skins Workshops on Aboriginal Storytelling and Digital Media.

He is also special advisor to the provost on Indigenous spaces and says he’d like to continue to see more women and Indigenous, Black and people of colour represented in such honours as the RSC.

“I think it sends a signal about the true extent of where knowledge is generated from in Canada.”

Kathleen Vaughan: ‘By expanding what counts for knowledge, we discover anew what we value’

Like Lewis, Vaughan’s work is transdisciplinary. On her personal website she describes it as examining “questions of home, belonging and spirit of place, with a particular reference to the environmental and other-than-human components of the post-industrial city-scape.”

Vaughan is a visual artist, writer, scholar and educator and holds the Concordia University Research Chair in Art + Education for Sustainable and Just Futures (Tier 1), home to Studio Re-Imagine. Vaughan also co-directs the Textiles and Materiality cluster at Concordia’s Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology, and she is a core member of the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling.

She’s also a member of the Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Institute for Studies in Canadian Art and works with Concordia’s Next-Generation Cities Institute.

Vaughan says she’s honoured to have been invited to become a member of the RSC’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, “Canada’s first national system of multidisciplinary recognition for the emerging generation of Canadian intellectual leadership.”

“It’s exceptional for me to have this opportunity and to see myself with people I respect so much. I very much look forward to the collaborations, conversations and further research to come from this,” Vaughan says, adding that she is interested in the role that Concordia and the RSC can also play with engaging students, given their imagination, will to change and real capacities.

She says that through her work she hopes to expand what counts for knowledge in society, especially post-pandemic.

“I firmly believe that we really need to count on the arts to help provoke imaginative new solutions to our continuing problems and to facilitate more breakthroughs that will allow people and policy to enact change,” Vaughan says.

“I think by expanding what counts for knowledge, we discover anew what we value, via the information, ideas and inspiration that can come through the arts, particularly in collaboration with science.”

Thanh Dang-Vu: ‘Through this nomination, the field of sleep research will gain more visibility’

As the Canadian Sleep Society’s vice-president of research, among numerous other titles, neurologist Dang-Vu knows a lot about sleep.

In addition to holding the Concordia University Research Chair in Sleep, Neuroimaging and Cognitive Health (Tier 1), he is a researcher with the Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology, chair of the Scientific Engagement and Advisory Committee at Concordia’s PERFORM Centre, and leader of the Health, Wellbeing and Life Course cluster at the university’s Centre for Research on Aging (engAGE), where he also sits on the governing board.

Dang-Vu directs the Sleep, Cognition and Neuroimaging Laboratory and is also associate director for clinical research at the Centre de recherche de l’Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal and an associate member of the Centre for Clinical Research in Health at Concordia.

Like Vaughan, Dang-Vu was invited to become a member of the RSC’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists and says it’s an honour. He is grateful for the support he has received and the dedicated contributions of his students, lab members and collaborators.

“I am glad that through this nomination the field of sleep research will gain more visibility at the RSC,” he says.

Dang-Vu’s research focuses on sleep, brain oscillations, EEG, neuroimaging, cognition, insomnia and aging, and his work has garnered the attention of media including the Montreal Gazette. He says he hopes that that this work will increase public awareness on the importance of sleep and the effective strategies to help maintain it.

“The goal is to elucidate the links between sleep and cognitive functions and to develop and test innovative interventions that will promote sleep and brain health in those who are vulnerable to sleep and memory difficulties.”

The Indigenous Futures Research Centre, Hexagram-Concordia, the Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Institute for Studies in Canadian Art, Technoculture, Art and Games (TAG), the Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology, the Centre for Clinical Research in Health, the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling and the Concordia Centre for Research on Aging (engAGE) are all university-recognized research units.

Learn more about the 
Royal Society of Canada and research at Concordia.



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