Mitchell Palmer, Lassonde grad awarded the Bergeron Medal

Each year, a top student graduating from the Lassonde School of Engineering is selected to receive the Bergeron Medal in recognition of their academic and entrepreneurial achievements in the Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology (BEST) program at York University.

Mitchell Palmer shows off his BEST award

This year, the Bergeron Medal has been awarded to Mitchell Palmer who has just graduated with a degree in geomatics engineering. Palmer was recognized for his academic achievements and participation in innovative and challenging projects such as the first Engineers Without Borders offered by Lassonde in conjunction with Technion Institute of Technology in Israel.

While studying at Lassonde, Palmer participated in both Hack Lassonde and the 2019 National Geomatics Competition in Calgary, AB. In addition to these activities, Palmer undertook research with geomatics engineering Professor Baoxin Hu where he focused on artificial intelligence and remote sensing.

He is also one of the first three students to complete the new BEST certificate – which involves completing relevant courses at Lassonde, the Schulich School of Business and Osgoode Hall Law School –and winning a pitch competition. This experience Palmer said helped him prepare for his successful capstone project where he developed an automated functioning machine learning application for identifying hydro poles and other road assets.

The BEST program is a unique interdisciplinary initiative offered at York University and supported by Doug Bergeron, a York alumnus and successful technology entrepreneur (Verifone). BEST offers in-class, experiential and international opportunities to help develop Canada’s next generation of technology entrepreneurs, through a combination of curricular and co-curricular activities and real-world experiences to aspiring student-entrepreneurs.

Lassonde PhD student, Athina Peidou, wins award for research paper

Third-year Earth and Space Science and Engineering PhD student Athina Peidou has been awarded with the International Association of Geodesy Young Authors Award for her work on the paper titled “On the feasibility of using satellite gravity observations for detecting large-scale solid mass transfer events,” published in the Journal of Geodesy.

         Athina Peidou

The focus of her research paper involved assessing whether satellite gravity measurements can detect large scale landslides, with emphasis on submarine landslides. Satellite gravity measurements provide an excellent source of information for mass movements and Peidou’s research uses this information to better understand the Earth’s processes.

“While most people are aware of the 2011 earthquake and the subsequent tsunami in Tohoku, Japan, it took a couple years to detect the massive submarine landslide offshore Japan that was induced by the earthquake,” said Peidou.

Due to limited information on oceanic environments, most submarine landslides still remain unknown. With satellite gravity measurements’ continuous availability, submarine events can be detected practically. The news has documented many of the detrimental effects of landslides on societies where in some cases, the events have taken human lives. This research is an important contribution toward understanding Earth’s mechanisms.

“The more we know about the dynamic Earth system, the more prepared we can be as a society to deal with certain phenomena,” said Peidou.

This award recognizes the value of satellite gravity missions and Peidou said she is honoured to have made such an important contribution to the field. “The Lassonde School of Engineering is definitely a big supporter of my research. The school not only provides the proper resources, but also gives me spirit to advance my research,” said Peidou.

Peidou said the exposure to different ways of thinking was key to her success, with the school offering an interdisciplinary approach to research, which allows her to explore a variety of engineering disciplines.

“She is a true influential leader, a go-getter, a congenial personality, a creative and positive thinker, solution-oriented visionary and an amazing communicator,” said her supervisor, Professor Spiros Pagiatakis.

In addition to her academic responsibilities, Peidou is active in professional associations. She serves as a student member in the Canadian Geophysical Union Executive and is the president of the Earth & Space Science & Engineering Department’s Graduate Student Association.

Peidou will attend an award ceremony at the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics’ 27th General Assembly Award’s Evening, which will take place in Montreal in July.

Congratulations Athina !!.

Governor General Gold Medal, Dr. Ebrahim Ghaderpour for superior academic accomplishments

Dr. Ebrahim Ghaderpour: Received the Governor General Gold Medal for “Demonstrated superior academic accomplishments”. The award will be bestowed upon him at the June 14, 2019 Convocation Ceremony.

Congratulations, Dr. Ebrahim !!.

Geomatics PhD Student, Sowmya Natesan, takes home Enbridge Graduate Student Award

Fourth Year PhD student, Sowmya Natesan, has been selected as the recipient of York University’s Enbridge Graduate Student Award for her research on tree species identification.

The Enbridge Graduate Student Award supports students at York University pursuing research in sustainability and the environment.

After completing her masters in Remote Sensing at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Sowmya joined Lassonde’s Geomatics Engineering PhD program as an International student, attracted by the endless career opportunities Canada offered her field of study.

She has since found the expertise and breadth of experience of Lassonde’s professors extremely helpful in driving her research forward, continuously impressed with the high-level, multi-disciplinary research being conducted across the School.

“I am particularly grateful to my supervisor Professor Costas Armenakis for his incredible support and encouragement,” Sowmya notes.

Sowmya’s research focuses on individual tree species identification in forests using cutting-edge technologies such as unmanned aerial vehicles and Deep Learning, with the goal of introducing a cost-effective method to automatically identify tree species in forests.

Precise tree species classification will play an important role in the monitoring of biodiversity, forest health, wildlife habitat modelling, hazard management and climate change studies helping to ensure the sustainability of Canada’s publicly owned forests.

Canada is home to 9 per cent of the world’s overall forest cover, making the country’s resources essential to future environment, communities and economy.

“Efficient management of Canadian forests provide critical contributions to the conservation of the global ecosystem.

Canada is committed to sustainably managed forests,” says Sowmya, whose work is contributing to this goal through cutting-edge applications like robotization in forestry.

“As a mother of a two-year-old, this award gives me great confidence in my abilities. It’s been challenging juggling studies and motherhood but I’m motivated to work even harder. This award helps me work toward my degree without the financial worry.”

Congratulations Sowmya!

Students from Lassonde head to Canadian Space Agency to design and build satellite

As part of the Canadian CubeSat Project, PhD student Chonggang Du, master’s student Vidushi Jain and David Dobrzanski, a fourth-year undergraduate student from the Lassonde School of Engineering at York University, visited the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) from May 6 to 10 to take part in training workshops to learn about designing a miniature satellite, known as a CubeSat.

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Professor John Moores, announced as York Research Chair in Space Exploration

York University announces nine York Research Chair appointments

Nine emerging and established researchers across the University will join the York Research Chairs (YRC) program, York University’s internal counterpart to the national Canada Research Chairs (CRC) program, which recognizes outstanding researchers. The newly appointed YRCs belong to the sixth cohort of researchers to be appointed since the establishment of the program in 2015. The new YRC’s terms start July 1.

Rhonda L. Lenton

“Our new YRCs are leading scholars and mentors in their fields,” said President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton. “York is committed to ensuring that our research, scholarship and creative activities are of the highest quality and connected to the needs of the communities we serve. The YRC program is central to that commitment, and we are proud to support the ongoing excellence of our outstanding researchers through this initiative.”

This program, launched by Vice-President Research and Innovation Robert Haché, seeks to build research recognition and capacity, with excellence in research, scholarship and associated creative activity serving as selection criteria.

Robert Haché

“The YRC program mirrors the federal CRC program, to broaden and deepen the impact of research chairs at York in building and intensifying world-renowned research across the institution. These new YRCs are undertaking visionary work that has local, national and international impact,” said Haché.

Tier I YRCs are open to established research leaders at the rank of full professor. Tier II YRCs are aimed at emerging research leaders within 15 years of their first academic appointment. Both have five-year terms that are renewable in the context of open competition, based on peer review and the continuing availability of resources.


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Third-year Geomatics student, Victoria Donko, wins new AOLS award in honour of Henriette Verhoef

A third-year geomatics engineering student from York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering is the first recipient of the newest student award from the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors (AOLS) – the AOLS Educational Foundation Henriette Verhoef Award.

Victoria Donko

Victoria Donko was announced the winner during a luncheon event with AOLS and Lassonde in March.

The award is named after Henriette Verhoef, who followed in her father’s footsteps and was licensed in August 1997 as one of very few female land surveyors in Ontario. The award aims to recognize a student who embodies the supportive and fervent nature Verhoef was known for within the surveying community.

Like Verhoef, Donko grew up in a family of surveyors. Her grandfather Vladimir Krcmar, her mother and her two uncles are all professional surveyors. During the summer months, Donko worked part-time in her family’s survey office, which exposed her to the day-to-day life of a surveyor. Over time, survey plans piqued her interest, particularly historical survey plans of Toronto.

After high school, Donko decided to continue the family legacy and accepted an offer from the Lassonde School of Engineering’s geomatics program.

In addition to focusing on academics, Donko is the sole female member of the Lassonde Geomatics Club and takes every opportunity she can to encourage female peers to learn more about engineering and consider a post-secondary education in geomatics.

“This award is special because it makes me feel respected in my field of study,” said Donko. “I would love to bring awareness to the importance of women as land surveyors, and this AOLS award lets other young women know about opportunities in the field of geomatics.”

AOLS has been a longtime partner and supporter of the Lassonde School of Engineering and its students, and it provides the highest number of student awards; it offers nine awards in total and recognizes 14 students each year.

“In our pursuit of building a diverse and inclusive school, it is so important to provide support and recognition to deserving students, especially those historically underrepresented in the fields of engineering and science,” said Jane Goodyer, dean, Lassonde School of Engineering. “Awards like this one are crucial to achieving that and we are honoured to have the AOLS’s continued support.”

About Henriette Verhoef

Verhoef died in October 2017, and soon after a group of her colleagues from the Northwestern Regional Group of Ontario Land Surveyors sought to establish an AOLS award in her honour.

Of the namesake award, Verhoef’s sister, Monique Ibey, says her notoriously humble sister would have been bashful, but grateful.

“Henri was not one to draw attention to herself, but she would have been thrilled to know she was supporting other women entering the field of surveying. She was the type of person who would have made the time to help and mentor a young student or professional in any way she could.”

The AOLS Educational Foundation Henriette Verhoef Award marks the ninth annual award given out by AOLS.

Learn more about the AOLS here.

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Lassonde Professor opens new lab focused on Autonomous systems research

Jinjun Shan, Professor and Chair of the Department of Earth & Space Science at the Lassonde School of Engineering, is among one of the researchers across Canada to earn a prestigious Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) grant and Ontario Research Fund grant to pursue groundbreaking research that focuses on autonomous systems.

Injun Jordan Abel

                Jinjun Shan

Shan is the principal investigator on this research project with Costas Armenakis, associate professor of geomatics engineering at Lassonde, serving as co-investigator.

With this grant, Shan has opened a lab facility in the Petrie Building at the Keele Campus, which is the first of its kind at York University, to serve as a critical platform for emerging research on co-operative control of multi-agent systems. The facility is geared to be an experimental platform for collaboration between academia and industry. It will bring more revenue to the Canadian autonomous unmanned vehicles (AUV) industry. This in turn will create more job opportunities for Canadians in addition to providing additional study opportunities for students.

“With this infrastructure, we can advance key technologies in cooperative control of multi-agent systems, particularly in navigation and control system design,” said Shan. “This advancement is made possible only through this world-class infrastructure, since it will provide a unique way to validate the effectiveness of the developed technologies.”

          Costas Armenakis

AUVs have a growing number of potential applications for Canada in civilian, military and security areas. For example, defence patrol duties, agricultural activities, forest fire monitoring and control, grid monitoring, border control, search, surveillance and rescue. Canada’s large uninhabited land, large forest are, and longest international border in the world can also greatly benefit from AUVs.

“This lab will serve as the foundation for the application-oriented research we are planning to undertake, which includes high-resolution, real-time navigation and collaborative mobile mapping,” said Shan.

The CFI funding supports the world-class infrastructure to be built to enable research on autonomous systems, unmanned vehicles, artificial intelligence and more. It builds a unique facility in the Canadian university environment that will serve as a critical platform for emerging research on co-operative control of autonomous systems and their applications, including remote sensing and mapping.

“There are similar labs at other Canadian universities, though these institutions lack the required combination of autonomous vehicles and available test-beds for candidates to carry out the research programs effectively,” explained Shan.

To learn more, see the Aug. 16, 2017 YFile story.

Lassonde Professor contributes to new book ‘Unmanned Vehicle Systems for Geomatics’

York University geomatics engineering Professor Costas Armenakis adds textbook editor and author to his resumé with the release of the book Unmanned Vehicle Systems for Geomatics: Towards Robotic Mapping.

Along with Petros Patias, Armenakis contributed as a co-editor and chapter author to the text, published by Whittles Publishing.

The book contributes to the transformative and revolutionary use of small, unmanned vehicle systems for 3D geospatial data acquisition and mapping, which is considered to be a paradigm shift in the science and technology of geomatics.

The text provides a breadth of knowledge on the subject, including:

  • a systematic and comprehensive approach for the use of small, mobile unmanned systems for robotic geomatics research and applications;
  • the state-of-the-art use of low-cost unmanned vehicle systems, with emphasis on the unmanned aerial systems for geomatics technologies and practices; and
  • the most recent developments in methods, systems and innovative applications.

To order a copy, visit the Whittles Publishing website or contact the publisher directly at

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Megan Gran, Space Engineering Student, Fly a Rocket ! program

Megan Gran, Space Engineering student in the Lassonde School of Engineering, launching her dreams in April. Gran is one of 24 students in the world who has been selected to participate in the Fly a Rocket! program offered by the European Space Agency at the Andøya Space Center in Norway.

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