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Computer science researcher becomes Dalhousie’s second global young academy member

Posted by Becca Rawcliffe on March 4, 2022 in Research, Faculty, Awards, HCI, Visualization, Graphics, Women in Tech
Rita Orji, Canada Research Chair in Persuasive Technology, is one of 39 new Global Young Academy members this year. (Danny Abriel photos)
Rita Orji, Canada Research Chair in Persuasive Technology, is one of 39 new Global Young Academy members this year. (Danny Abriel photos)

A Computer Science researcher has been announced as only the second Dalhousie faculty member to be accepted into the prestigious Global Young Academy.

Rita Orji, Canada Research Chair in Persuasive Technology and an associate professor in the Faculty of Computer Science, is one of 39 new Global Young Academy members. The 2022 cohort includes individuals from 24 countries and 27 nationalities. Dr. Orji is one of two new members from a Canadian institution.

“I am thrilled to be admitted into the prestigious Global Young Academy. Joining the world’s top young researchers and professors from around the world who are dedicated to contributing their expertise to solving global issues, I feel honored and humbled,” says Dr. Orji. “It feels special to be recognized for doing what I love to do — working on high-impact research that contributes to making the world a better place by contributing to solving societal issues.”

Two hundred members strong, the Global Young Academy (GYA) develops, connects and mobilises young talent from six continents, and empowers young researchers to lead international, interdisciplinary and intergenerational dialogue. Members serve a five-year term and are selected first and foremost, based on the excellence of their scientific research, as well as on their demonstrated societal engagement.

GYA members engage in working groups, strategic projects and collaborations with international partner organisations. These activities, all relevant to societal and scientific debate, are clustered into 4 thematic areas: Science and Society; GYA & the SDGs; Research Environment; and Science Education & Outreach. The GYA publishes statements on pressing global issues, trains young scientists in cross-cutting skills such as science advice and science communication and provides a platform for blue-sky ideas to form and unfold.

Through membership in the GYA, Dr. Orji is looking forward to the collaboration that this opportunity will afford. Enabling her to take her research and passion to the global stage.

“Collaboration often leads to the greatest impact. GYA provides the opportunity for me to become a part of a global network of researchers who are passionate about making a difference in society,” says Dr. Orji. “The interdisciplinary nature of my research lends itself to collaboration with people across disciplines and the globe. It also provides the opportunity for me to take my passion for promoting diversity in STEM to the global stage via the GYA Science Ambassadorship and Science Education of Youths working group.”

Related reading: Global Young Academy welcomes Chemistry's Mita Dasog as member

An impressive track record

Dr. Orji’s research in persuasive and behaviour change technologies deals with designing interactive technologies for social and public good. Her Persuasive Computing Lab is focused on developing technologies to empower people, improve lives, and contribute to solving societal problems. She applies her work to tackle real-life challenges in various domains including health and wellness issues such as mental health, healthy eating, physical activity, smoking cessation, sexual and other health risk behaviours.

In her relatively short career, to date Dr. Orji has been honoured with a long list of national and international awards and recognitions. Since 2020, she has been announced as a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Persuasive Technology, admitted as a Member of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists through the Royal Society of Canada, received the CS-Can|Info-Can Outstanding Early Career Researcher Award and the Emerging Professional Discovery Award, and named among Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women for contributions to science and technology, to name a few. She is also a passionate STEM ambassador and determined advocate for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility (EDIA) in STEM, especially for people from under-resourced, marginalized, or traditionally underrepresented groups.

Dr. Orji is hopeful that GYA will equip her and her team with the network and collaborations to enhance their work even further.

“I look forward to expanding the scope of my scholarship in digital intervention for social and public good and beyond by collaborating with other members of GYA from multiple disciplines. I am excited to contribute my expertise in multidisciplinary research towards solving problems with high impact as well as participating in Science Outreach on a global scale.”