When research and everyday life coalesce

Ron Buliung and his daughter

Professor Ron Buliung, pictured here with his daughter, is this year’s Micky Milner International Professorship recipient. Photo by Angela Lewis (from UofT Magazine).

UofT Mississauga prof awarded prestigious professorship

Two of Ron Buliung’s great passions – advocacy for disability justice and his research – are intrinsically woven together to form the fabric of his scholarly career, and as an unexpected but most auspicious feather in his cap, his efforts have been recognized with an exceptional honour.

The full professor in UTM’s Department of Geography, Geomatics, and Environment, and Graduate Chair of Geography and Planning at UofT was selected as this year’s recipient of the Micky Milner International Professorship.

As part of this award, Buliung will present the keynote at Holland Bloorview’s 16th annual Bloorview Research Institute’s (BRI) symposium on November 15.

“The committee feels your research, collaborations, and lived experience resonate with this year’s symposium theme, Building Up and Building Out: Elevating and Expanding Childhood Disability Research,” the citation by the symposium committee reads.

“Your work is relevant to much of what we do here at Holland Bloorview, both in terms of the care we provide and the research we conduct.”

Buliung is a transportation geographer with a particular focus on improving access to transportation and education for children with disabilities. Much of his motivation in his work is formed by his own experiences raising his ten-year-old daughter, who has a genetic neuromuscular disease called spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) type 2, and relies on a wheelchair to move around in the world.

The BRI expressed that, in addition to hearing about Buliung’s research, they also want him to share his views about how to foster healthier futures for all youth and families living with disability.

For the keynote, Buliung will present “Will this Place Always Be Like This?”

Drawing on his family’s everyday-life experiences and his research and advocacy related to childhood disability, this talk will highlight, among other matters, barriers to education and food insecurity for people with disabilities.

“I will be addressing the problematic absence of disability justice, and some of the inner workings of places and spaces that are difficult to navigate for a child who is disabled – or the parent of one – as well as the obstacles that we encounter to social participation,” says Buliung.

The annual BRI Symposium is Canada’s largest hospital-based, pediatric disability health-research conference that combines research and the family perspective.

The professorship was established to host a scientist of international stature, and is named in honour of Dr. Mickey Milner, a renowned pioneer in the field of childhood disability with a stellar career as a scientist in biomedical engineering, professor, entrepreneur, and advocate for children and youth with disability.

“I’m honoured and humbled to have my experiences as a parent and a scholar recognized by Holland Bloorview in this way,” says Buliung.


This article by Carla DeMarco was originally published by University of Toronto Mississauga Research News, October 12, 2021.


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