2021-2022 Urban Graduate Student Fellowship

As part of its mission, the School of Cities Graduate Student Fellowship Award provides a forum for urban-focused interdisciplinary and collaborative learning.

SofC Graduate Student Fellows are current U of T students with a strong interest in and passion for urban issues and critical challenges and are leading an innovative and impactful project this term.

Meet our 2022 Fellows:

James Ankers

James Ankers

James Ankers is a PhD student at the University of Toronto in the Department of Political Science. He was most recently Blanche and Sandy van Ginkel Graduate Fellow in Municipal Finance and Governance at IMFG. His research focuses on the politics and the governance of the welfare state at a local level: how governance arrangements, local politics and institutions, federal and provincial policy implementation, and place in the city intersect and shape the welfare state experience.




Garcia Ashdown-Franks

Garcia Ashdown-Franks

Garcia Ashdown-Franks is a 4th year PhD candidate in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education. She is also a visiting student in the Department of Psychological Medicine at King's College London, UK. Her research interests include mental health and illness, stigma, and physical activity and sport.





Diana M. Barrero Jaramillo Diana Barrero Jaramillo

Diana M. Barrero Jaramillo is a feminist researcher, educator, and community organizer completing her doctoral degree in education at the University of Toronto. In her research, Diana examines how Colombian women use textile-based narratives to visibilize their individual and collective demands for truth and justice. Her work draws from transnational feminist approaches to memorialization of violence in post-conflict societies. In the past, she has worked as a research assistant on a participatory action research project with Latinx and Urban Indigenous youth in the Toronto District school Board, and a peacebuilding citizenship learning comparative project between Mexico and Canada. Her active participation with various Toronto-based Latinx organizations has opened the door for transnational collaborations with artists, activists and scholars interested in human rights. Currently, she is part of the Curriculum Inquiry editorial team and a teaching assistant for the Centre for Critical Development Studies.


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Frida Cerna Neri

Frida Cerna Neri is a first year graduate student at the School of Information, studying Critical Information Policy and Library Science, with a specialization in Environmental Studies. Her interdisciplinary research interests lie in environmental decision-making processes that are positioned in the nexus of Urban Indigenity and Sustainable Smart Cities, and she is passionate about Indigenous worldviews of healing with the land. Frida is also an executive member of the Graduate Environmental Student Association, working as a UTGSU representative to create a liaison between graduate student politics and sustainability measures on campus.



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Cheryl Cheung

Cheryl Cheung is a fourth-year undergraduate student who is double-majoring in political science and in American studies. She is also a visual artist whose work has appeared at venues such as Myseum, OCAD's Ada Slaight Gallery, and Arts Etobicoke. Previously, she was a Fulbright Killam Fellow on exchange at American University in Washington, D.C. Currently, she is also an Undergraduate Fellow in the Ethics of AI at the University of Toronto's Centre for Ethics. There, she is exploring the moral limitations of computerization. Here at the School of Cities, Cheryl will be opting for the film as a medium to share how residents interact with community resources in Toronto's inner suburbs.




headshot of Bronwyn ClementBronwyn Clement

Bronwyn Clement is a PhD student in the Dept. of Geography and Planning where she also obtained her MA. Drawing on urban political ecology and more-than-human geographies, her research explores the transformation of urban waterways. Emphasizing the ‘re-naturalisation’ of the Don River’s mouth, her work examines how efforts to transform this urban river entail political and environmental re-imaginings of the city itself. Bronwyn is currently a research assistant for a project on community engagement and Indigenous place-keeping in the Highland Creek watershed as well as for a project on planning climate resilient water infrastructure in Canadian cities. 




headshot of Amber Dejohn

Amber DeJohn

Amber DeJohn is a Human Geography PhD Candidate in the Department of Geography & Planning. She works with aging adults, employing a multiple method approach that integrates semi-structured interviews and time use data. Amber’s research investigates the nexus of technology use, mobility, and social connectedness among aging migrants. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Economic Geography and Political Theory & Constitutional Democracy from Michigan State University and a Human Geography master’s degree from UofT. Professionally, Amber has contributed to transportation planning and policy development in various roles for the Michigan Department of Transportation, Michigan House of Representatives, and City of Toronto.



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Arina Dmitrenko

Arina is an M.A. candidate at the Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, and previously completed her undergraduate studies in Political Science at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on urban policy development, perceptions of aid, and energy infrastructure in the post-Soviet space. Arina’s research project focuses on urban policy development and perceptions in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in relation to the Belt and Road initiative.



headshot of Marina Dumont-Gauthier

Marina Dumont-Gauthier

Marina Dumont-Gauthier is a PhD candidate in the Graduate Department of Art History. Her current research investigates the impact of the great exodus of artists and intellectuals from Europe, in the wake of rising anti-Semitism and the onset of the Second World War, to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the resulting developments within this Latin American photo scene. Focusing on the role played by female photographers in the emergence of Buenos Aires’ photographic modernity and its evolution, her dissertation examines the works of German-born photographers Annemarie Heinrich, Grete Stern, and Gisèle Freund, who all emigrated to Argentina between the mid-1920s and early 1940s.  

Since starting her PhD, Marina was a Graduate Intern in the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum (2019–20). She also completed a research internship in the Department of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (2017). Her doctoral research is funded by the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2016–2017, 2020–2021) and the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Doctoral Award (2017–20).


headshot of Roxana Escobar Nanez

Roxana Escobar Ñañez

Roxana Escobar Ñañez is an Afro-Peruvian Ph.D. candidate in Human Geography. She also holds a B.A. in Philosophy and a M.A. in Political Science by the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, and M.Ed in Social Justice Education from OISE-UofT. Roxana’s research focuses on the places Afro-Peruvian women hold in Lima’s sonic landscapes. With her project, Roxana seeks to contribute to the geographic knowledge production about black womanhood in Latin America.




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Emily Farrar

Emily is a second year PhD student in Civil & Mineral Engineering at the University of Toronto. Her research interests revolve around the intersection of climate change mitigation, the transport sector, and public health. She is excited to investigate strategies to reduce public exposure to air pollutants from traffic sources. Prior to entering the PhD program, Emily worked on topics such as shared mobility and emerging technologies at UC Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center. She is currently a volunteer with the University of Toronto’s Graduate Society of Women Engineers, where she serves as the VP of Communications.




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Tua Hytönen

Tua is a graduate student in the Master of Urban Innovation program. She moved to Toronto from Helsinki, Finland, for her undergraduate studies in Human Geography, Urban Studies, and Cinema Studies, which initially led to interests in city building and youth engagement. Tua has experience working with marginalized and diverse communities in the city and attempts to bring an intersectional lens to her work. With her professional, academic, and personal experiences, she continues to be invested in researching equitable city building, the changing nature of the labor market, and technology and policy. Tua currently works for the School of Cities as a Research & Programs Assistant and serves as the Senior Representative of the MUI Program on the Institute for Management and Innovation Graduate Student Committee.


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Felix Lambrecht

Felix is a Vanier Scholar and PhD Candidate with primary research interests in political philosophy, legal philosophy, and ethics. His dissertation investigates reparative justice for historical injustices (such as colonialism, slavery, and genocide). It develops a group-based theory of reparative justice and defends a broader scope of reparative duties than offered by previous philosophical models. Felix also maintains strong research interests in feminist philosophy, philosophy of race, and social ontology. When not thinking about how to overcome wrongdoings of the past, Felix can be found trying to overcome large mountains with his bicycle or climbing rope.




headshot of emily power

Emily Power

Emily Power is a student in the Master of Science in Planning program in the Department of Geography and Planning. Her research interests include planning and social justice, gentrification, financialization of housing, and tenant struggles. Her recent projects have focused on state-led transit-induced gentrification, Canadian pension fund investments in rental housing, and the expansion of landlord property technologies in Canada. She is a research assistant with the U Of T Affordable Housing Challenge Project. She lives in Hamilton and has volunteered with the Hamilton Tenants Solidarity Network and the Hamilton Community Land Trust.




headshot of nadia qureshi

Nadia Qureshi

Nadia Qureshi in a PhD candidate in Curriculum & Pedagogy at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). Her general research interests include inequities in education and access to post-secondary studies. Her doctoral research uses Critical Race Theory to centre the experiences of excluded and oppressed voices in education in the field of STEM. She has been a teacher for 13 years, and works as the managing editor for CJSMTE. She also holds a Masters in Education, Bachelor of Education, and Bachelor of Science in biology.




headshot of Bud Roach


Bud Roach

Tenor and theorbist Bud Roach (Year II, Doctor of Musical Arts program, Historical Performance) maintains a busy schedule of performances from the Baroque to the contemporary, with solo recordings for the Boston-based Musica Omnia label recognized internationally as ground-breaking achievements in historically informed performance practice. Research into digital intervention as a means of rhetorical persuasion in live performance has led to concert appearances in Venice, New York, Boston, Berkeley, Columbus, and Hamilton (Hammer Baroque). His work has been consistently supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the City of Hamilton.


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Chandan Sejekan

Chandan Sejekan is currently an MBA Candidate at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. He is a licensed Professional Engineer with over 5 years of experience working with multidisciplinary engineering teams to design safety-critical systems for multi-billion-dollar subway infrastructure projects. With this prior experience within the subway infrastructure space and as a passionate researcher, he is interested to learn about the future of Canada’s public transit infrastructure, covering the big-picture of urban planning, construction, pandemic impact, and societal implications.




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Alexis Zecua Burunat

Alexis Zecua Burunat is an MBA Candidate at Rotman School of Management. Before joining Rotman, Alexis worked as a Real Estate Development Manager for 7 years in Mexico City and Barcelona. Alexis holds a Bachelor´s Degree in Architecture with a specialization in Real Estate Development from the National University of Mexico and a Master´s Degree in Urban Planning and Sustainability from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (Barcelona Tech). 

His thesis is that an optimal integration between real estate development, urban planning, and sustainable finance can potentialize social inclusion and economic growth in a society. Alexis is currently completing his internship at SE Future, where he is working to develop Affordable Housing projects, and he hopes to further contribute to the sustainable and inclusionary development of the Real Estate industry as his career progresses. 

Through his fellowship at the School of Cities, Alexis will be researching the financial viability, architectural design, construction challenges, sustainability, and social inclusion of Affordable Housing for Seniors. As a base for the project, Alexis is developing a sustainable and financially viable housing prototype for faster development of Affordable Housing for Seniors in Canada.


headshot of jane zhao

Jane Zhao

Jane Zhao is a Health Services Research PhD student with Dr. Andrew Pinto and the Upstream lab. Forever compelled by the nuance of story, her work lies at the intersection of health policy and health equity. Using a social determinants of health approach, she investigates the impact of primary care access on health, particularly on people with complex conditions in rural and remote Ontario. She is a settler, first generation immigrant, writer, and climber. She is a graduate of the Narrative Medicine Masters at Columbia University and neuroscience at McGill University. Talk to her about Donna Haraway, comics, and climate change.




headshot of yunshun zhong


Yunshun Zhong

Yunshun is a first-year Ph.D. student in Civil Engineering. He has a M.S. degree in Civil Engineering and minor in Data Science from University of California, Berkeley. His research interests lie in the application of machine learning and artificial intelligence in infrastructure asset management. In particular, he is trying to develop an automated shoreline erosion detection and monitoring system based on aerial images by unmanned aerial vehicles using machine learning algorithms. Cities with long shoreline such as Toronto is highly vulnerable to natural hazards of flooding and erosion of shoreline. Therefore, identification and remediation of shoreline hazards is a significant task in urban development and urban environment protection, in which, shoreline erosion monitoring plays a fundamental role.