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05.08.12 – Zeynep Çelik Alexander and Liat Margolis win Connaught New Researcher Awards

Congratulations to Assistant Professors
Çelik Alexander and Liat Margolis for winning
Connaught New Researcher Awards!

The Connaught New Researcher Program is
designed to foster excellence in research and innovation by providing support
for researchers at the assistant professor level who are within the first five
years of their first academic appointment at the University of Toronto. The
awards are intended to help these early-career researchers establish a strong
research program, thereby increasing their competitiveness for external
Both Alexander and Margolis were selected to receive $10,000
in a competitive process that included 74 eligible applications.

Margolis will use the funds received from the award to support
the design, preparation, and implementation of Phase II of Daniels’ Green Roof
Innovation Testing Laboratory (GRIT Lab)
. Phase I of the GRIT Lab compared the
City of Toronto’s Green Roof Bylaw’s construction sepecifications to
alternative approaches. The lab is located on the roof of the Daniels
Faculty building at 230 College Street.

Phase II will focus on evaluating the relationship between
green roofs and photovoltaic (PV) arrays (i.e. groups of solar panels). The
hypothesis is that green roofs reduce local air temperature and thus improve
the performance and lifespan of PV arrays. Integrating PV technology with green
roofs will help reduce environmental impacts such as climate change and urban
heat island effect by simultaneously providing renewable energy, evaporative
cooling, and stormwater retention on rooftops.

The green roof lab at 230 College is a state-of-the-art
facility for testing the relationship between green roofs and PV technology in
realistic conditions in an urban environment. Only three comparable facilities
exist in the world and none of of them operate in the Canadian climate.

Alexander will use the Connaught award to further her work on her book An
Epistemological History of Aesthetic Modernism
, which explores the
epistemological underpinnings of twentieth-century modernism in the visual arts
by examining a late-nineteenth-century discourse known as “psychological
aesthetics.” She plans to examine how nineteenth-century psychophysical thinking
survived and persisted in institutions such as the Bauhaus.

In this new
project, Alexander will conduct archival research on some of the artifacts produced
by students at the Bauhaus and compare them to instruments used at experimental
psychology laboratories at the turn of the century. Her goal is to
understand the ways in which design pedagogy borrowed from experimental
psychology techniques, practices, and concepts that helped define the
particular kind of knowledge and disciplines that we associate with the design
fields today. 

Founded in 1972, the Connaught Fund was
created from the sale of Connaught Laboratories, which first mass-produced
insulin, the Nobel award-winning discovery of U of T researchers Frederick
Banting, Charles Best, J.J.R. Macleod and James Collip. The University has
stewarded the fund in the years since, awarding more than $100 million to U of
T researchers. Today, the fund invests nearly $4 million annually in emerging
and established scholars.