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Professor George Zhu awarded the President’s Research Excellence Award (PREA)

The York University Research Awards Celebration recognizes the contributions of researchers from all faculties and schools, and in areas including Indigenous knowledge, Black scholarship, global health, vision science, and space exploration, among others. Researchers were recognized for their prominent role in better understanding the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, while York’s community of creators and scholars were praised for their contributions to art, and for mobilizing research to effect change in their communities.

George Zhu, Lassonde School of Engineering, is recognized with the President’s Research Excellence Award (PREA).  Zhu has demonstrated outstanding research achievements and leadership as a visionary researcher in the field of space technology. Zhu’s research pushes the boundaries of space technology across multiple frontiers: propellent-less propulsion technologies using electrodynamic tethers and electric solar wind sail, multiphysics modeling and dynamic control of space tether systems, space debris removal for sustainable use of outer space, space robotics, and made-in-space 3D printing technology. In November 2020, he launched an electrodynamic tether satellite to test his model in space, the first electrodynamic tether mission in Canada. His leadership has shaped and continues to shape the international research agenda in space technology in Canada and internationally and is advancing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. He is a Tier 1 York Research Chair in Space Technology.

Currently, Zhu is leading a second York satellite mission as Principal Investigator. This mission is to train a team of interinstitutional undergraduate students to design, build and operate a cube satellite to monitor permafrost thawing in northern Canada from space using a low-cost CubeSat, which will be launched in late 2022. If successful, the technology will lower the access barrier for communities in remote areas to monitor the effects of global climate change on the thaw of permafrost and the associated impact on infrastructure such as roads, bridges, powerlines, and buildings in Indigenous communities. Zhu’s research on space technology has been highly regarded by funding agencies nationally and internationally with over $15.2 million in research grants. The most significant one is the $3.6M grant from Canada Foundation for Innovation for the research of made-in-space by 3D printing technology, the first of its kind in Canada. Zhu is also the recipient of 2021 W. Angus Medal of Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering and the 2019 Engineering Medal – Research and Development of Ontario Professional Engineers & Ontario Society of Professional Engineers.