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June 2013

Mitacs Accelerate Professor Profile – Dr. Stephen Chen, York University

For Dr. Stephen Chen, Mitacs-Accelerate has helped him turn theoretical, academic research into commercial benefits.

After completing his PhD in Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, he worked at IBM before moving to York University to take up a position at the School of Information Technology in 2001 where he is now an Associate Professor.

Dr. Chen has supervised three post-doctoral fellows through Mitacs-Accelerate internships, each lasting for at least 12 months, and is in the process of applying for two more.  He credits Mitacs for helping him secure more funding for his diverse research goals.

“It has been important in furthering my career as I’ve been able to use my work with Mitacs-Accelerate to strengthen my research profile when I’m seeking research funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).”

“The program is a great way to show the value of my research and the benefits it can have for industry partners.  My core research is more theoretical, but with Mitacs, I can demonstrate its applicability to tangible, real-world challenges with industry for an outcome that has commercial and financial benefits.”

Dr. Chen is currently supervising Mitacs-Accelerate intern, Dr. Dominic Dotterrer, who is helping Toronto software company SyncBASE Inc. develop a new product for companies that compensate their employees with stock options to improve their financial projections.

He says Mitacs has not only helped him foster stronger links with industry but has also helped attract more recent PhDs to work with him at York University as post-doctoral fellows.

“Companies are more willing to agree to a research project if Mitacs is involved as you are bringing something to the table for them.  The internship co-funding means I’m able to offer them leverage on their budget and that along with the research expertise they are getting makes the program very attractive."

“It also makes it much easier to attract post-doctoral fellows to do research with me as they are getting an experience which is both academic and industrial – something that can benefit any future career path.”

Mitacs gratefully acknowledges the Government of Canada, the Networks of Centres of Excellence's Industrial Research and Development Internship program and the Government of Ontario for their support of Mitacs-Accelerate in the province.