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Meet the Peer Mentors: 2020

Urban Leaders: Fellows and Academy Members

Laura Minet

Laura Minet is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Earth Sciences passionate by the issues related to the environment. She works on a variety of projects ranging from the presence of chemical compounds in food packaging to the impacts of traffic emissions on urban air quality. Laura has recently collaborated with the NGO Environmental Defence as well as Ontario Public Health Association to highlight how electric vehicles and cleaner trucks can help reduce pollution, improve health and save lives in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

Learn more about Laura's latest research and scholarship in "Marking Clean Air Day with Clearing the Air", a video with report insights with the latest findings of - "CLEARING THE AIR: How Electric Vehicles and Cleaner Trucks Can Help Reduce Pollution, Improve Health and Save Lives in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area", a research study supported by OPHA & Environment Defence.

Joanna Kocsis is a participatory research methods specialist and PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. Her research has inquired into the international development project from many angles, ranging from the learning practices of large international grant-makers, to the role of affect in the lived experiences of marginalized urban youth. Generally, her work focuses on helping to empower members of vulnerable communities through transformative, participatory research, by offering opportunities for reflection, capacity development and social learning. Kocsis worked at the International Development Research Centre in 2012 and 2014 and as the Evaluation Specialist for the UCRSEA Partnership since 2014.

Nushrat Jahan

Nushrat is currently studying a PhD in Planning program at the University of Toronto. Nushrat has a background in Urban Planning, development, and Geography. Her areas of interest are social justice, urbanization in the Global South, climate change, and activism in cities. In the past, she has worked with NGOs, local government, and academic research projects in Canada and Bangladesh. Through her work experiences, she gained intimate knowledge of community resilience, climate change adaptation, and community development. Apart from her academic pursuit, Nushrat is actively engaged with the School of Cities, the Innovation Hub, the Centre for International Experience and the Student Family Housing at the University of Toronto.

Jennifer is a PhD candidate in the Department of Leadership, Higher & Adult Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto. Jennifer's doctoral research is focused on understanding family (parent) involvement in relation to student success in education. Jennifer&'s research is an extension of community outreach she began in association with the Toronto District School Board and the Ontario Ministry of Education to encourage first-generation students to apply to and succeed in post-secondary education in Ontario. Through her research, Jennifer endeavours to expand scholarly understandings of the supports that contribute to student success in post-secondary education. In recognition of her research contributions and community involvement, Jennifer received the Michael Skolnik Award in Community College Studies. Jennifer's work has been featured in the Canadian Journal for New Scholars in Education.

Linxi Mytkolli

Linxi is a daughter, sister, best friend, Albanian-Canadian, student, and above all, a complex, unapologetic and proud woman. She graduated in 2019 with an MSc. Sustainability Management and focused on applying the learnings from her degree to the field of healthcare. She believes that sustainability is the capacity to endure over time and healthcare is the field that aims to maintain and improve health. Her passion for equality and change has led her to work with uOttawa, the University of Toronto, the United Way, SickKids Hospital, and the Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care. Linxi hopes to keep learning about how to better use her voice and platform to ensure that we work towards a future that is inclusive, representative and empathetic. 

Drishya is recent graduate student University of Toronto's Master of Engineering in Cities Engineering and Management. She finished her undergraduate studies in Civil Engineering from Gujarat Technological University. Her final year project on the proposal of a skyway in congested central area of Ahmedabad was awarded one of the best projects of the year 2017-18. She also worked as a research associate, for two key projects at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. Her area of primary interest in the CEM program is a mix of urban policy and resilient cities. She keeps exploring how can we leverage inclusivity to make our cities more appealing, more livable.

Rebecca McMillan

A PhD Candidate in Geography, Rebecca is interested in urban governance and environmental politics in the global South, particularly in contexts of rapid social and environmental change. She is especially curious about how everyday practices in the city– like accessing water– articulate with broader political and economic processes. Rebecca’s PhD project examines participatory water management in low-income and informal settlements in Caracas, Venezuela. The goal of this research is to better understand how to achieve water equity, while promoting democracy and gender justice. Rebecca works part-time with the 
Urban Climate Resilience in Southeast Asia Partnership, and has taught in the Human Geography and City Studies programs at UTSC. She holds a BA in Environmental Studies and a Master’s in
 International Development and Globalization Studies. She has previous professional experience in the areas of environment, community development, and food sovereignty.

Keisha is a Master of Science in Planning candidate in the Department in Geography and Planning. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies and Political Science from the University of Toronto and is currently the President of the Graduate Geography and Planning Student Society (GGAPSS). Her academic honours include a Canada Graduate Scholarship and her research focuses on the role professional planners play in protecting and advancing the interests of equity-seeking and marginalized communities when engaging with new technologies and platforms that perpetuate systemic inequities in cities. Keisha was previously the Co-President of the Urban Studies Student Union (URSSU) and has held roles with Social Planning Toronto, Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs, and the Ontario Cabinet Office.


Lubna Alli has her Honours Bachelor of Arts with a focus on City Planning and Public Policy from the University of Toronto. In her time at UofT, she has lived and studied in Italy, Czech Republic, and Spain. In 2019, she was awarded a scholarship to join Masters of Planning students in Tokyo, Japan for a collaborative urban design seminar at the University of Tsukuba. That same year, she was also selected to be a Daughter of the Vote and join 337 other womxn in Ottawa for a historic womxn only seating in the Parliament of Canada, representing the riding of Ajax for The Honourable MP Mark Holland. Prior to this, Lubna placed 1st in the UTSC: 50 Years Later Case Competition for her redesign of the proposed University of Toronto Scarborough Campus Master Plan. In her time as a Parks Planning Intern with The Town of Whitby she was put on three major projects: to write the Terms of Reference for the redesign of Cullen Central Park and Brooklin Memorial Park, to conduct tree canopy level and park asset analysis at a Town wide scale, and to run public consultations in partnership with PROCESS for the Town's first ever Culture Plan. In 2019, Lubna was also granted a $2,000 Urban Research Fellowship with the School of Cities as a Student Academy Fellow, where her research on housing injustice in the City of Toronto won the School of Cities Award for Impact and Innovation. Lubna now serves as a Peer Mentor at the Academy and feels the responsibility that each city-builder has to be hyper aware of the anti-oppression framework when shaping the cities of tomorrow.

Hear more about Lubna's thoughts and journey in her Students in the Spotlight feature. "Students in the Spotlight" is a conversation series with members of the SofC Student Academy and Urban Leadership Fellowship program.