Peer Mentors

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 2021 Peer Mentors

 

Adam El-Masri

Adam El-Masri 

Adam is a graduating student in Computer Science and Indigenous Studies at the University of Toronto with over 7 years’ experience in the field of software engineering including social innovation, autonomous vehicles, cryptocurrency, finance, education and health technologies. He is a software development instructor at Carleton University and a head teaching assistant within the Department of Computer Science where he co-developed a social impact partnership program pairing student software development teams with research groups, medical institutions and non-profits. He has been actively involved in civic engagement and community building for over 4 years focusing on poverty alleviation, access to education and social impact as a volunteer and leader of numerous non-profit projects through Engineers Without Borders and Civic Tech TO. He is the founder and lead of the UofT Emergency Food Bank (utfoodbank.tech), a food security initiative that integrates emergency food relief and social justice community organizing. He is a former School of Cities Fellow, Jackman Scholar-in-Residence, and Future City Builder, and has received numerous awards for his leadership in community service. Above all else, Adam is a long-time and passionate Torontonian who is fixated on leveraging technology, community activism and academia for the purposes of improving our society. 

 

Atif Khan

Atif Khan

Atif Khan is a researcher, writer and curator exploring text, image and curatorial practice based in what is currently called Rexdale, Toronto. Khan’s research driven practice intersects key themes of critical security, surveillance, science, technology, and visual studies. Khan's current SSHRC-funded MA dissertation works through the American and Pakistani use of militarized drone systems across national and planetary scales of (what is currently called) the United States, Afghanistan & Pakistan. Through critical theoretical and visual methods, I work alongside two key theorists – Jamaican philosopher Sylvia Wynter and Pakistani printmaker Zarina Hashmi. Other theoretical interests include the built environment and human warfare, political and social philosophy, and critiques of European liberal humanism.

 

 

Christine Balt

Christine Balt

​Christine Balt is a doctoral candidate at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. She has worked as a performer, an applied theatre facilitator and practitioner, and a high school drama teacher. She has taught in classrooms across South Africa, Japan, South Korea, and China before settling in Toronto, where she graduated from the Master of Teaching program at OISE. Her current doctoral research uses drama as a research tool to explore the attitudes, feelings, and experiences of young people amid urban change, development, and gentrification in the city of Toronto. Using site-specific and place-based performance as tools for teaching and research, this project aims to examine how young people find and make ‘place’ in destabilizing urban environments. 

 

 

Drishya Nair

Drishya Nair

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. 

 

 

Elisabetta Campagola 

Elisabetta Campagnola

Elisabetta is a PhD candidate in Sociocultural Anthropology with research interests that include political anthropology, the anthropology of work, and the anthropology of transport in East Africa. As an Academy student within the School of Cities, Elisabetta contributed to a collective project titled “Accessing Toronto in Shutdown. A Comparison between Two Neighbourhoods” that measured the access to mobility in Trinity Bellwoods and Morningside. In this project, the access to mobility indicated the level of membership to the city in its full right.Elisabetta has been drawn to the School of Cities because of the possibility of bringing into productive conversations junior scholars from the social sciences, the humanities and the engineering programs enhancing, in this way, a sense of expertise as a movable, collective, and open endeavour. For this reason, along with cultivating research interests in the ethnographic approaches to transport and its technologies, she remains curious to explore further how it is possible to translate concretely such an idea of expertise at the methodological level.  

 

Hikmat Jamal Headshot

Hikmat Jamal

Hikmat Jamal is a second-year student with an interest in urbanism, sustainability, and growth, particularly in the Global South. His education in philosophy and geography equips him with an interdisciplinary approach to urban issues, exploring the ethical and metaphysical assumptions that undergird our cities.

 

 

 

Jigme Lhamo

Jigme Lhamo Tsering

Jigme Lhamo Tsering is a Tibetan-Canadian immigrant currently finishing her bachelor’s in Psychology and Human Exceptionality in Learning at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Jigme is passionate about advocacy, social justice, and is an active member of Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) Canada. Jigme’s involvement with SFT has given her the opportunity to grow as an activist and learn the importance of grassroots movements, representation and intersectionality. She hopes to study the effects of diaspora on mental health and service utilization among the Tibetan Community in attempts to establish a diverse range of representation in research and academia.

 

 

Judy Perpose

Judy Perpose

Judy Perpose is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in International Affairs at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University with a specialization in diplomacy and foreign policy. She recently completed her BA from the University of Toronto – Scarborough Campus in Public Policy, Global Asia Studies and Urban Governance. Her research interests include trade policy, subnational foreign relations, and the political economy of the Asia-Pacific region. While studying, Judy has worked in the offices of Toronto Deputy Mayor De Baeremaeker (2015-2018) and Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (2018-2020). While a U of T School of Cities 2020 Undergraduate Student Fellow, Judy published a policy brief on reimagining social policy at the municipal level to address the needs of vulnerable workers in the gig economy.

 

Mohamed Ali  

Mohamed Ali 

Mohamed Ali is a graduate from Victoria College with double majors in Physical and Environmental Geography and African Studies, with a minor in Political Science. His research interests include urbanization trends, their intersections with climate and energy science and policy, and inequality in the African context. He has been the Social Equity Committee Chair of the City of Edmonton Youth Council and Community Outreach Coordinator for the Somali Canadian Cultural Society of Edmonton. Outside of school, his interests include creative writing, involving himself in community work, and enjoying his summers back home in Edmonton, Alberta.

 

 

Rebecca McMillan

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.

 

 

Rushay Naik

Rushay Naik

Rushay is an MSc student in Health Services Research (Collaborative Specialization in Global Health) at the Institute for Health Policy, Management & Evaluation (IHPME) within the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health. Named a Global Scholar by the University of Toronto, and a Junior Fellow at Massey College, Rushay’s current research centres on health systems governance in fragile and conflict-affected states. He previously conducted research in Greece on refugee health and the austerity crisis, in Mongolia on the solar electrification of rural nomadic herder communities for the Reach Alliance at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, and in Geneva, Switzerland on its role as the “infrastructure” of the global peacemaking system. Rushay graduated from UofT in 2020 with an Honours Bachelor of Science, double-majoring in Human Biology – Global Health and Peace, Conflict & Justice at the Munk School’s Trudeau Centre. He has been a Fellow at UofT's School of Cities, the Center for the Study of the Presidency & the Congress in Washington, D.C., and is currently a Research Fellow with the University of Oxford's COVID-19 Government Response Tracker (OxCGRT) hosted at the Blavatnik School of Government.

 

Ryan Khurana

Ryan Khurana

Rushay is an MSc student in Health Services Research (Collaborative Specialization in Global Health) at the Institute for Health Policy, Management & Evaluation (IHPME) within the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health. Named a Global Scholar by the University of Toronto, and a Junior Fellow at Massey College, Rushay’s current research centres on health systems governance in fragile and conflict-affected states. He previously conducted research in Greece on refugee health and the austerity crisis, in Mongolia on the solar electrification of rural nomadic herder communities for the Reach Alliance at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, and in Geneva, Switzerland on its role as the “infrastructure” of the global peacemaking system. Rushay graduated from UofT in 2020 with an Honours Bachelor of Science, double-majoring in Human Biology – Global Health and Peace, Conflict & Justice at the Munk School’s Trudeau Centre. He has been a Fellow at UofT's School of Cities, the Center for the Study of the Presidency & the Congress in Washington, D.C., and is currently a Research Fellow with the University of Oxford's COVID-19 Government Response Tracker (OxCGRT) hosted at the Blavatnik School of Government.

 


 2020 Peer Mentors

 

Laura Minet

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

Joanna Kocsis

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 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.

 

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Jennifer Sparks

​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 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 Nair

Drishya Nair

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

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 St Loius-McBurnie

Keisha St Loius-McBurnie

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

Lubna Alli

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.