Ecology, Health, and Environment

Picture of Rachel Rigden.

Rachel Rigden

Program of Study: PhD in Physical and Environmental Sciences

Project Title: Urban Ecology, Species Invasion, and Arthropods: an Interdisciplinary Approach to Community Outreach, Engagement, and Involvement

Rachel is a second year Environmental Sciences Ph.D. student interested in the effects of human disturbance, specifically plant invasion, on ground-level arthropods and ecosystem functioning in urban systems. She is currently a coordinator for the New Frontiers’ Seminar Series and values interdisciplinary work and collaboration. Rachel aims to increase public awareness about the anthropogenic threats to biodiversity and share her enthusiasm for ground arthropod communities. She is passionate about changing the public perspective on insects and arachnids that wander the grounds of the GTA through public outreach, engagement, and involvement.


Picture of Keerat Dhami.

Keerat Dhami

Program of Study: Bachelor's of Arts in Environmental Geography, Human Geography, and Diaspora & Transnational Studies

Project Title: The Characteristics and Consequences of City Sprawl in Punjab, India: How Persistent Development Patterns Pollute India's Breadbasket

Keerat is an aspiring community builder and climate change communicator, with an attention for comprehensive community-based climate action. At U of T, Keerat is specializing in Environmental Geography and double minoring in Human Geography and Diaspora & Transnational Studies. In her School of Cities Multidisciplinary Urban Capstone Project, Keerat is advancing awareness and appreciation for Toronto's Go Green Youth Centre's biophysical environment and programs centred on the ethos of environmental sustainability and stewardship. Keerat's work with multiple environmental non-governmental organizations informs her passion for planning climate resilient cities centred on inclusion. This includes communicating urban environmental challenges to communities in Toronto with the Toronto Environmental Alliance, and advancing climate action campaigns centred on climate justice in Peel Region with the Community Climate Council. Lately, Keerat has liaised with Youth Challenge International, Evergreen, and Environmental Defence to lead a local team of climate action catalysts to plan and implement a project addressing climate change challenges facing the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. Keerat also operates Our Climate Café, a safe and supportive cyberspace she found for communities to convene to chat about climate change and its impact on our psyche.


Picture of Ashwini Selvakumaran.

Ashwini Selvakumaran

Program of Study: Bachelor's of Arts in Peace, Conflict, & Justice, Diaspora & Transnational Studies, and English

Project Title: Examining the Impacts of COVID-19 on Malaysia's Urban Leadership

Ashwini Selvakumaran is an undergraduate student working towards an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Peace, Conflict and Justice Studies with a Double Minor in English and Diaspora and Transnational Studies at the University of Toronto. She has lived in Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Yemen, New York and Canada. These experiences have allowed her to observe and learn about urban poverty, urban inequality, and climate change. These lived experiences solidified her passion to mobilize youth into tangible action and become a lifelong advocate for these issues.


Picture of Randa Higazy.

Randa Higazy

Program of Study: Bachelor's of Science in Physiology and Cell & Systems Biology

Project Title: Supporting Long-Term Care Residents’ Ethno-cultural Needs in Times of Crisis

Randa is a third-year undergraduate student majoring in Physiology and Cell & Systems Biology at Trinity College, University of Toronto. Her research focuses on neurodegenerative diseases, which she witnesses the effects of in her roles as a Restorative Care Aide at Hawthorne Place Care Centre and as an in-patient support volunteer at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. Randa is interested in working in health policy to make health services and health care delivery more inclusive and equitable.



Picture of Konrad Samsel.

Konrad Samsel

Program of Study: Bachelor's of Science in Immunology and Nutritional Sciences

Project Title: Perspectives in Patient Health Outcome Measurements: Examining its Impact on Patient Care and Health Services Research

Konrad Samsel is a 4th year undergraduate student at Victoria College in The University of Toronto. He is passionate about health services research and the impact of technology on healthcare. His studies and experiences reflect his interests in medicine and innovation. He previously held a summer fellowship at the UofT Engineering Hatchery, examining how health-IT could improve the quality of life in diabetic patients. He has also been a research assistant at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Division of Urology, and a Laboratory Instructor at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine. He hopes to gather perspectives surrounding health outcomes measurement, and how healthcare systems can improve data collection to better engage patients in their care.