< News | Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Kola Ijasan joins the Black Research Network as new program lead

Kola Ijasan News Overlay
(Photo by: Eve Smith Productions)

Kola Ijasan, an academic research leader whose work explores housing regeneration and urbanization, has been named the Black Research Network’s (BRN) new program lead. 

On May 1, Ijasan will join the BRN from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he was an associate professor in the School of Construction Economics and Management. 

“I am happy to be joining the BRN community to foster Black brilliance at the University of Toronto and enhance the research capabilities of Black academics both within the university and beyond,” Ijasan says.

Ijasan has been at the University of the Witwatersrand for the past 11 years, where he first joined as a senior lecturer and project lead. His research explores the actions and effects of individuals, small businesses, corporate organizations and government policies on the built environment, primarily in the context of Africa.

With 15 years of specialized knowledge in overseeing research projects related to the built and human environment, Ijasan has also collaborated with various universities and research institutes to tackle regulatory and policy challenges in the fields of research and education, most notably in homelessness research with the City of Johannesburg. 

A certified project management specialist, he has successfully developed numerous academic research initiatives at the University of the Witwatersrand, which involved community members and industry experts. He was the postgraduate research coordinator for the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, and has supervised more then 20 master of science and PhD students to date.

“I’m delighted to welcome Kola to the BRN,” says Rhonda McEwen, president and vice-chancellor of Victoria University and the BRN’s interim director. “Kola’s diverse international experience and enthusiasm for advancing research opportunities through strong and creative partnerships will guide us steadily as we build upon the BRN’s momentum from the past three years.”

An Institutional Strategic Initiative (ISI) housed at U of T Mississauga, the BRN has made significant advances in promoting Black research excellence since its launch in 2021. 

In keeping with its promise of facilitating robust research engagements, the BRN partnered with the Connaught Fund to establish a $250,000 Connaught Major Research Challenge for Black Researchers award. Furthermore, a total of $178,000 has been awarded through the BRN’s IGNITE grant, its flagship initiative to support researchers, librarians and clinical scientists with research project needs.

Ijasan will work to deepen the BRN’s strategic vision with a focus on mentorship – a strategic pillar – and will also grow the network through international partnerships. He will lead the continuation of BRN programming, created with the goal of enhancing the research capacity of Black scholars through tailored and accessible research and career development training workshops. 

Along with advancing the BRN’s goals, Ijasan looks forward to connecting with interdisciplinary researchers across the tri-campus for innovative research projects.

“I am interested in forming collaborations and relationships with other scholars and professionals at U of T to incorporate diverse perspectives from other disciplines into their work,” Ijasan says.

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