2022-2023 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. Graduate Student Fellows are leading innovative and impactful projects this term.

Meet our 2022-2023 Fellows:

Taneea Agrawaal headshotTaneea Agrawaal

Taneea Agrawaal is a second-year PhD student in Computer Science at University of Toronto, co-advised by Dr Robert Soden and Dr Steve Easterbrook. Her main research interests lie in mixed methods Human-Computer Interaction for climate adaptation and mitigation. She’s currently working on projects relating to mobility justice, and incorporating social values in climate science. In a past life, she worked as a software engineer. Taneea pursued her Bachelors at IIIT-Delhi, is an alumnus of Rails Girls Summer of Code and was profoundly influenced by the open source community. She has worked extensively with many initiatives like Indian Women in Engineering, and Rails Girls. Taneea is passionate about diversity in technology. 



titi aiyegbusi headshotTiti Aiyegbusi

Titi Aiyegbusi is a doctoral student in the English department at the University of Toronto. Her research interest is in African Canadian literature. Specifically, she examines the life narratives of Black Canadian women. Her main goal is to explore how these narratives have shaped, and continue to shape, Black consciousness in Canada. 





nil basdurak headshotNil Basdurak

Nil Basdurak is a Ph.D. candidate in Ethnomusicology at the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto. Her interdisciplinary research interests revolve around sound studies, urban space, neoliberal Islam, and everyday injustices and violence that women, children, ethnic minorities and refugees are exposed to in contemporary Turkey. Her work is published in the journals Sound Effects and Sound Studies. Nil is currently a research assistant and project manager for the Kensington Market Soundscape Study, a community-engaged research and knowledge mobilization project focusing on sound, music, and noise in Toronto’s Kensington Market neighbourhood.  



Hernan Bianchi Benguria HeadshotHernan Bianchi Benguria

Hernan Bianchi Benguria is an architect and urban planner with experience in the private and public sectors in Chile, and a PhD student in Human Geography at UofT. He collaborates as a board member in the non-profit Open Systems in independent publications and exhibitions on landscape urbanism, territory, and colonialism. Hernan's work aims to uncover how the electromobility industry—facilitated by the Chilean state and sustainable development policy—drives urbanization narratives that obscure ongoing territorial and ecological dispossession in the Atacama Desert; as well as exploring broader inequalities and power struggles associated with the political ecology and economy of lithium.  



sabrina teng-io chung headshotSabrina Chung

Sabrina Chung is Ph.D. candidate in East Asian Studies at the University of Toronto. Her research interests include transpacific studies, critical military studies, critical infrastructure studies, and Cold War historiography. Her dissertation traces the infrastructural reconfiguration of U.S. military power from the 1970s to 2000s, focusing on the ways in which Taiwan, Okinawa, and Guam became logistically interconnected through the historical development of and decolonial struggles against militarism across the Pacific. From 2020 to 2022, she served as the Editor-in-Chief of The Taiwan Gazette, a translation initiative housed at the Global Taiwan Studies Initiative, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. She has translated investigative reporting articles on urban development, social movements, and international student migration from independent Chinese-language news outlets including The Reporter and Initium Media.


Brad DeMatteo HeadshotBrad DeMatteo

Brad DeMatteo is a Ph.D. student in ethnomusicology. His dissertation explores Cambodian and Cambodian American conceptualizations of voice spanning song, speech, and silence among individuals in the Cambodian diaspora of Lowell, Massachusetts. Brad’s primary field site is Clemente Park, a social epicenter for many who comprise Lowell’s Cambodian population. There, he considers voices as they sound across borders and claim Cambodian space in Lowell, now over 40 years since Cambodians first arrived in the city as refugees. In addition to this research, Brad is engaged with the Cambodian diaspora as a volunteer for the Cambodian American Literary Arts Association. 

Bradley Dunseith is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology. His research follows the ways in which food vendors in Mumbai, India dispose of wasted and rotten food items. This work explores questions of labour, waste, human-animal relationships, infrastructure, access to public space, and urban ecology.  


Kosta Diochnos HeadshotKosta Diochnos

Kosta Diochnos is a second-year graduate student in the Master of Science in Planning program at the University of Toronto. Originally from Calgary, he spent the past seven years in Ottawa where he completed a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at Carleton University and worked in the federal public service (as is the way in Ottawa). His research interests range from public transportation, to cultural geography, to municipal governance, and everywhere in-between. Above all he is interested in helping cities be enjoyable and fulfilling places to live.




bradley dunseith headshotBradley Dunseith

Bradley Dunseith is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology. His research follows the ways in which food vendors in Mumbai, India dispose of wasted and rotten food items. This work explores questions of labour, waste, human-animal relationships, infrastructure, access to public space, and urban ecology.  




Ari Finnsson HeadshotAri Finnsson

Ari Finnsson is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at the University of Toronto. His research interests include the history of law, biopolitics, political economy, as well as social and historical theory. His dissertation project focuses on the historical links between property law and citizenship rights in the French and British empires. He is also interested in exploring diverse ways of presenting research, including digital humanities, film, and experimental prose. 




catherine grant-wata headshotCatherine Grant-Wata

Catherine Grant-Wata is a PhD student in the Department of History at the University of Toronto. Her dissertation focuses on the history of Jamaican culture and placemaking in Toronto, Canada and Birmingham, England 1962-1981. Catherine completed her MA at York University, The Darkside of the Canadian Dream: A History of Housing Discrimination in Toronto 1961-1977 in August2020. Catherine writes poetry and collects reggae records in her free time.   




Abdul-Salam Ibrahim HeadshotAbdul Ibrahim

Abdul Ibrahim is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on urban planning and environmental governance through the lens of indigenous political ecology. He studied MPhil. Development Management and BSc. Planning at the University for Development Studies, Ghana. He is a member of the Young African Researchers in Agriculture (YARA), a networking space where early-career African researchers work together through research partnerships/collaboration to provide an up-to-date database on agrarian change in Africa.    




Joe Kawalec HeadshotJoe Kawalec

Joe Kawalec grew up in New Jersey, U.S.A., and completed his undergrad at Princeton University, where he majored in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and minored in Environmental Studies. His senior thesis was on distance-dependent coloration in the downy woodpecker, and he is starting his second year of the Environmental Science PhD program at UTSC in Fall 2022. His research focuses on how urban mammals may be transmitting parasites between one another across Toronto’s ravine system, and considering the risk posed to humans. He enjoys spending time outdoors through his extracurriculars, including birdwatching and fossil hunting. 



robert kleinman headshotRobert Kleinman

Robert Kleinman is a psychiatrist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and a graduate student in the Clinical Epidemiology program at the Institute of Health Policy Management and Evaluation. He is a graduate of Queen’s University School of Medicine (2015), psychiatry residency at Stanford University (2020), and addiction psychiatry fellowship at Harvard Medical School (2021). His research interests focus on reducing the complications of substance use among people who use drugs, reducing barriers to treatment, and using big-data approaches to improve treatments for people with substance use disorders.  



Luc Kortenaar HeadshotLuc Kortenaar

Luc Kortenaar is a PhD student in Epidemiology at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. Drawing on complex systems theory, Jean-Luc's research focuses on identifying city characteristics that predict urban health indicators. Prior to entering the PhD program, Jean-Luc was a research analyst at the Centre for Global Child Health at the Hospital for Sick Children, where he has worked on the monitoring and evaluation of international health programs, automating systematic reviews, and geospatial analyses.  




Amrita Kumar-Ratta (she/her)headshotAmrita Kumar-Ratta

Amrita Kumar-Ratta (she/her) is a storyteller, educator, mobilizer, and a strategist who is passionate about creating socially inclusive, anti-oppressive, and creatively expressed societies driven by the values and principles of intersectional feminism. She is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto and is cross-affiliated with  the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. Additionally, Amrita is the Founder & Creator of Shades of Brown Girl, a global platform for creative storytelling and community healing for diverse South Asian-identifying women. She is passionate about social justice-informed research and community engaged and arts-based methodologies. Her scholarship as well as her creative work is focused on issues of gender justice, global migration, and community wellbeing. Specifically, her doctoral work looks at the transnational politics of reproductive control and creatively engages with the everyday experiences of reproductive agency of Punjabi women in Canada. Amrita holds 15 years of experiences across the public, non-profit, and post-secondary education sectors in Ontario, across Canada, and internationally.  


Rebecca Lennox HeadshotRebecca Lennox

Rebecca Lennox is a Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology at the University of Toronto. Her doctoral research investigates cis and trans women’s fears of violent crime in urban public places. Rebecca has published on street harassment, gendered public safety, and qualitative research methods. She holds a Master of Arts in Sociology from Simon Fraser University and a Bachelor of Arts (High Honors) in Sociology and Social Studies from the University of Regina.   




wenxi liao headshotWenxi Liao

Wenxi Liao is a third-year PhD Candidate (direct entry) co-supervised by Dr. Sean Thomas and Dr. Jennifer Drake in the Institute of Forestry and Conservation at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on vegetation assessment for green infrastructure using aerial imagery and applications of novel substrate additives, such as biochar, to improve hydrological and vegetation performance on green roofs. The objective of Wenxi’s research is to build resilient and sustainable green infrastructure to solve environmental problems resulting from urbanization and climate change. 



Liwen Liu HeadshotLiwen Liu

Liwen Liu is a PhD candidate in the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto. Being trained as an Indologist, she is interested in Hindu ritual studies, Sanskrit intellectual history, and Tantric Studies. Her dissertation investigates ritual killings and intellectual discussion on violence in Hinduism. Her published papers include “Killing as Orthodoxy, Exegesis as Apologetics: The Animal Sacrifice in the Manubhāṣya of Medhātithi”. 




madison mackley headshotMadison Mackley

Madison is a Ph.D. student at the Faculty of Information where she also completed her MI in Critical Information Policy Studies. Her research examines how emerging technologies act as sociotechnical systems, focusing on citizen and government responses to digital infrastructures. Currently, she is interested in exploring community-centered data governance models. Professionally, Madison has worked across multiple Ministries within the Ontario Public Service, gaining hands-on experience in policy development and facilitating public consultations. 




Hannah MacRae HeadshotHannah MacRae

Hannah MacRae is a student in the Master of Science in Sustainability Management program at the University of Toronto. She graduated from the University of Guelph in 2021 with a Bachelor of Science in zoology and ecology. Hannah has also recently completed a summer internship at Rally Assets, an impact investing firm in Toronto, where she applied her biology and sustainability background to conduct research on private investment opportunities that generate positive social and environmental impact. Through her Master’s project, Hannah aims to combine her understanding of sustainability and finance to research the applications of green bonds in retrofit projects.   



Sneha Mandhan headshotSneha Mandhan

Sneha Mandhan (she/her) has an interdisciplinary practice in planning, urban design, architecture, design research, and community engagement. She collaborates on city building and engagement projects with Monumental Projects, People Design Co-operative, and the Department of Words and Deeds. She teaches graduate courses in urban design at the University of Toronto, and holds a Master in City Planning from MIT, and an undergraduate degree in architecture from NIT, Bhopal. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Planning at the University of Toronto, and her work focuses on unearthing and incorporating culture into the planning and design of cities. 



Janine Noorloos Headshot


Janine Noorloos

Janine Noorloos is currently pursuing a Master of Health Science in Translational Research after completing a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance. Janine has held a variety of leadership positions within social and healthcare organizations. Through these experiences, Janine became interested in program evaluation, knowledge mobilization, and design thinking within human services.  




sarah robertshaw

Sarah Robertshaw

Sarah Robertshaw is a Ph.D. candidate in the Dept. of Geography and Planning. Her research looks at the precarious nature of successful sites of Canadian supervised consumption facilities in regards to land zoning, city bylaws, public council meetings, and the interaction of the three levels of government alongside the role of the city planner. She is interested in looking at the larger societal issues like NIMBYism and neoliberalism, that are causing the pushback to and the erosion of social services like harm reduction sites and how we can dismantle and combat these in order to maintain and create these life-saving services.  




Andrea Roman Alfaro Headshot

Andrea Roman Alfaro

Andrea Roman Alfaro is a Peruvian Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of Toronto. She is a Vanier CGS scholar, a Mary H. Beatty fellow, and a Connaught Public Impact Fellow. She holds an M.A. in Sociology from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú and a B.A. in sociology and government from Skidmore College. Currently, Andrea is working on her dissertation, which focuses on mothering experiences in the context of violence. Andrea’s work has been published in journals such as Social Justice and Curriculum Inquiry. Her current areas of interest are the sociology of violence, punishment, gender, and healing. 




sara torbatian headshotSara Torbatian

Sara Torbatian is currently perusing her Ph.D. studies at the Department of Civil and Mineral Engineering. She has a background in atmospheric science and is primarily passionate about air quality analysis. The majority of her research interests are focused on developing air quality modeling capabilities to assess the impacts of emission reduction policies on the transportation sector. Her particular interest lies in greening goods movement and determining the health and air quality impacts of different mitigation plans targeting diesel-fueled vehicles. Furthermore, she aims to understand the disparities in exposure to truck-related air pollutants across different communities. 



Travis Van Wyck headshotTravis Van Wyck

Travis Van Wyck is a MSc Planning student interested in the intersections between planning, building community economies, and the placemaking practices of do-it-yourself (DIY) scenes and spaces. His research looks at DIY communities in Toronto, Berlin, and Amsterdam to consider potential avenues for establishing equitable artistic, cultural, and nighttime policies without instrumentalizing, displacing, or marginalizing alternative cultures, scenes, and spaces. In this work, Travis looks to DIY spaces as transformative sites with the capacity to produce non-capitalist subjectivities, imagine post-capitalist futures, and cultivate a renewed, non-instrumental understanding of urban creativity. 



Laura Vaz-Jones headshotLaura Vaz-Jones

Laura Vaz-Jones is a Vanier Scholar and PhD candidate in Human Geography at the University of Toronto, where she also holds an MA. Laura’s doctoral work examines how urban space and life were constituted through anti-black patriarchy in the nineteenth-century urbanization of Salvador da Bahia, one of the oldest and most important colonial outposts in the Americas. It investigates how women contested dominant power structures and carved out their own spaces of freedom, fugitivity and life-making in the city as domestic workers.  




alex kachun won headshotAlex Wong

Alex Wong is a PhD student at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto. He has obtained degrees previously at Columbia University and the University of Hong Kong. He has worked at the Urban Ecologies Design Lab, Solomonoff Architecture Studio, and Wong Tung & Partners. His work was published at CRIT Architectural Journal, Rossi & Rossi, Barnard College, The Architect’s Newspaper, ARCH2O, and China Machine Press. His current PhD project looks at informal urbanism, building code, (post)colonialism in the Global South, Hong Kong and Chinese Studies, design anthropology, social and critical theory.  




Yuxing Zhang (Yolanda) headshot


Yolanda Zhang

Yolanda Zhang is a PhD candidate in Information Studies at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto. Yuxing's research interests include media theory, critical data studies, precision agriculture and biotechnology, ethics of AI, environmental humanities, and more-than-human ethnography. Her work has been published in Media, Culture & Society, Roadsides, and Canadian Journal of Communication. She has taught courses on critical approaches to information technology and practice at both undergraduate and graduate levels at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto.  



Hanlin Zhou HeadshotHanlin Zhou

Hanlin Zhou is a second-year PhD student at the University of Toronto. His Supervisors are Dr. Jue Wang and Dr. Kathleen Wilson affiliated with the Department of Geography, Geomatics and Environment, University of Toronto Mississauga. Hanlin likes to link Geographical Information Science, Remote Sensing Data, and Computer Science techniques or data to understand how the built environment affect human behaviors and crime problems. So far, Hanlin has published 16 articles in international top journals. Besides, Hanlin has made 12 research presentations in international/national/university-level/department-level meetings. Hanlin has also won 1 funding award, 7 research awards, and 21 academic performance awards.