Meet Our Team!

 Headshot of smiling young woman with curly black hairBy Apefa Adjivon, Innovation Hub Connector

Hello! My Name is Apefa Adjivon, and I am the current connector for the Innovation Hub. I have the great privilege of introducing myself and the I-hub team to you! Since August, we’ve all been spending time getting to know each other and working with one another to improve the student experience. Everyone on the team is extremely dedicated to their work, and excited to serve their peers and the greater UofT community.

So, starting with myself…

Connector – Me

I’m Apefa! 2nd Year undergraduate student studying Peace, Conflict & Justice with a minor in Women & Gender Studies

In everything I do, I have dedicated myself  to promoting the voices of those who might not otherwise have the platform to do so. I’ve been involved in initiatives such as the Because I am a Girl initiative where I speak publicly about her experience as a refugee and the impact that the tradition of denying girls education has had on my family. I’m also involved on campus in various capacities such as her current role as the Equity Co-Chair for Victoria University and the Vice President of the Trek for Teens club. I served as a Youth Delegate to the United Nations and have won the UN’s social venture challenge where I was awarded for my proposal of the Pearl Project, a social initiative for girls in low-income communities. This semester, I will lead the Innovation Hub’s Connections team to build and deepen relationships between the Innovation Hub and key partners.  

“As a student at UofT, I know that I am in a community full of some of the brightest, most innovative minds in the country.  I also know that on such a huge campus, it’s easy to feel small and alone.  Innovation Hub works to solve this issue by finding ways to connect everyone on campus and develop programs that support student comfort and success from first year and beyond”

  • Coming into I-hub I was extremely nervous. I was afraid I wouldn’t get along with other on the team, or that I wouldn’t be able to contribute much because i’m one of the youngest team members. That is not at all the case! Everyone is extremely supportive and kind, and I can already say that I’ve learned enormously from interacting with everyone on the team. We’re like a little family, and I know i can reach out to anyone for help with anything at all.

Ethnographer/Insights Expert – Isabel Carlin

Smiling young person with short hair and glasses in overalls standing in a field

4th Year undergraduate student studying Indigenous Studies with a double minor in History and French

This is Isabel, our Ethnographer/Insights Expert. They are currently the Executive Director of the University of Toronto Sexual Education Centre, and they have also worked with Planned Parenthood Toronto to design resources and workshops for queer and trans youth. Throughout their program, Isabel has been recognized on the dean’s list and has received many scholarships and awards. Isabel’s studies have focused on Indigenous research methodologies and ethical uses of Western research methodologies in Indigenous contexts. Additionally, Isabel completed a scholars-in-residence program through the Jackman Humanities Institute where they conducted and analyzed interviews on the topic of estrogen use. Isabel will lead the Innovation Hub’s Ethnographic Research team to conduct and analyze interviews with the goal of understanding life from others’ perspectives.  

“I have seen from both a participant and a researcher perspective how meaningful and transformative good research can be.”

  • Isabel is a firecracker! They’re full of fun and interesting stories and extremely approachable. Every time I speak to them, I have a little laugh and learn something new. They also lead the largest team in I-hub! The ethnography team is full of enthusiastic individuals who are interested in hearing the stories and experiences of students – i’m really excited to see their work.

(Design and Integrative) Thinking Expert – Nick Feinig

Headshot of smiling young man with short brown hair in a suit4th Year PhD student studying Socio-Cultural Anthropology

Meet Nick, our Thinking Team Leader. He has just returned from an 18-month ethnographic study of parenting non-profits in suburban Tokyo where he focused on studying fathers and what factors determined the extent of their participation in child-rearing. Nick has been an active member of the University of Toronto community since 2007, completing his undergraduate and graduate degrees in Socio-Cultural Anthropology here, prior to starting his doctoral work. He has held several research assistant, project management and committee roles in both the Munk School of Global Affairs and the Department of Anthropology. Nick has acted as a Teaching Assistant for various Anthropology courses and was an Adjunct Professor at Rikkyo University teaching a course in the Ethnography of Japan. Nick will lead the Innovation Hub’s Design & Integrative Thinking team to apply these methodologies to analyze complex problems, tensions and challenges based on insights from the Ethnographic Research team.  

“I share the Innovation Hub’s interest in understanding the student experience.  I’ve designed and completed short and long term ethnographic research projects with a community collaboration approach.”

  • Nick is a huge source of knowledge. His research and teaching experience provides him with a phenomenal scope and view of the world, and every time he speaks, I listen very closely. His team works closely with Isabel’s, and they have one of the most fun jobs at the I-hub – listening to the stories of students.

Storyteller – Mia Sanders

Smiling young woman with short brown hair and glasses sitting at a booth

1st Year undergraduate student – Vic One Pearson Stream

This is Mia, the Innovation Hub Storyteller. She’s just starting her first year at UofT but has been a member of the community through her work over the last year at Rotman’s I-Think program, telling I-Think’s story through web design, graphic design, and video production. Mia also works part time for Groundswell projects, a design research and strategy firm focusing on the future of STEM education in Canada and is on the editorial board for In:cite – an OISE youth journal that is guided by critical race, decolonial, feminist, queer and intersectional approaches. She does freelance design work and is currently developing a narrative audiovisual site to tell the stories of young Zambian women orphaned by AIDS funded by the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Mia will lead the Innovation Hub’s Storytelling team to curate and generate content through a variety of channels to capture the story of the Innovation Hub and engage with the UofT community.

“As an incoming student and existing member of the UofT community, creating a seamless experience for students resonates with me on a personal level. I have witnessed the barriers — cultural, socio-emotional, physical, financial, and so on — that students face while navigating an institution as vast as UofT, and I am inspired and energized by the work the Innovation Hub is doing to solve some of these problems.”

  • Mia and I work very closely, strategizing on how to engage students in the I-hub’s work. She’s also my go-to with= anything I-hub related, as we have a lot of similar interests. She has a lot of amazing ideas of ways to show the UofT community what I-hub is, and her team works to inform, disrupt, and illustrate I-hub at UofT.

Event Strategist – Igor Samardzic

Headshot of smiling young man with short brown hair and glasses in a brown jacket

Masters Student – Urban Planning

Many of you will recognize Igor from his extensive work with UTSU as well as within various roles in Student Life. Igor has been involved in a variety of initiatives at UofT from large scale events, to conferences and clubs. An advocate for students with disabilities, Igor is a Board Member for Students for Barrier Free Access and sits on the TTC Committee on Accessible Transit. With UTSU, Igor played a key role in designing the vision for the UTSU street festival and supported a re-design of the Clubs & Summer Job Fair. His experience with event planning for large-scale events, his support of orientation coordination and his ability to lead large teams of volunteers will help him as he leads the events team to plan and coordinate engaging and highly-creative Innovation Hub events. Igor will lead the Innovation Hub’s Events and Animation teams to collaboratively plan and coordinate dynamic, engaging and highly creative Innovation Hub events and community engagement experiences.

“Coming back to UofT pursuing graduate studies in Urban Planning and having a physical disability myself, it is sometimes difficult to navigate this campus to its fullest capacity. The Innovation Hub is on a course to change that, by working to eliminate barriers to access for students, staff, faculty and the UofT community. As the Event Strategist I hope to create events that inspire, influence and impact students!”

  • Igor is extremely kind, supportive, and organized. He’s especially focused on giving students a space to voice their opinions on UofT, and work with them to develop solutions. He has a lot of experience in improving the way events are organized and facilitated at UofT – and I’m extremely excited to see this years events come to fruition.

Information Design Specialist – Michelle Johnstone

Headshot of smiling young woman with shoulder-length blonde hair in a black shirt2nd Year Masters of Information Student

Meet Michelle, our Information Design Specialist. Some of you may recognize Michelle as a returning member of the team and you may have connected with her about the programs, services and resources data collection project. Michelle completed her undergraduate studies in Philosophy at the University of Kings College in Halifax, and brings with her the perspective of a student who has made the transition from a very small school to a very large, decentralized institution. She also brings a wealth of knowledge of user experience design, and knowledge management from both her coursework and practical experiences. Michelle will lead the Innovation Hub’s Information Design team to provide strategic input from a student perspective on information systems designed to support students in finding programs, services and resources to support their career.

“As an advocate for design research, I hope to inspire an interested group of volunteers to continue work on current projects as well as to tackle new information-based issues that are shaping student experience.”

  • Michelle brings enthusiasm and positivity to the team. It doesn’t matter how I’m feeling prior to coming into the meeting, seeing Michelle and her smile lifts my spirits. Her and the Information Design team will use input from students on information systems to help you  find the right programs, services, and resources to support your academic and future career. So basically, they make your life a little easier – and we all need a helping hand from time to time.

User Experience Prototyper – Amanda PasqualiniHeadshot of smiling young woman with medium-length brown hair and glasses in a blue blazer

2nd Year undergraduate student – Materials Science & Engineering

Meet Amanda, our UX Prototyper. Amanda worked with the Innovation Hub last year where she was the project manager for her Engineering Strategies and Practice course who created a full design proposal for the Chill Spots idea. Amanda was also part of a team of Engineers who designed a temporary housing solution to support Toronto’s homeless population. Amanda has been involved with Enactus UofT and the Sustainable Engineers Association. Amanda will lead the Innovation Hub’s UX Prototyping team to support the Innovation Hub’s rapid prototyping process of creating multiple minimum viable products to test out different versions of an idea.  

“Through the Engineering Strategies & Practice project with the Innovation Hub’s Chill Spots idea, I developed a deep interest in contributing to the University of Toronto student population and in making it a more enjoyable and student friendly community.”

  • Amanda and her team work to quickly prototype the ideas that come out of the I-hub. Drawing from her insight with the sustainable engineers association and her leadership experience with Enactus UofT, she tests out the best ways to make UofT more accessible, more inclusive, and easier for students to navigate.

Innovation Hub Assistant – Margaryta Ignatenko

Headshot of smiling young woman with light brown hair in a blue and white blouse

2nd Year undergraduate student studying Journalism at UTSC

Many of you will recognize Margaryta, who has been involved in the Innovation Hub since last fall. Margaryta first connected with design thinking and integrative thinking during her school’s involvement with Rotman’s I-Think program. She was later hired as an intern, and worked on several communications and design thinking projects for I-Think and continues working with the organization. Through her time at the Innovation Hub we’ve seen Margaryta’s leadership skills blossom and she’s a tremendous asset to the team. A self-proclaimed student who would never ‘get involved’ on campus, Margaryta is now participating in several Student Life programs and services in addition to her Innovation Hub work. She also had the opportunity to sit on a panel with Roger Martin and Minister of Education Mitzie Hunter earlier this summer where she spoke eloquently about the impact of learning Integrative Thinking in the classroom on students. Margaryta will continue to support all aspects of the Innovation Hub project as one of two Innovation Hub Assistants.

“UofT is a hodgepodge of complex and intersectional people.This is part of what makes it both a beautiful and challenging community. Everyone is facing some type of barrier, will have to overcome some kind of obstacle. I’ve had first-hand experience witnessing the Innovation Hub help break down some of those barriers and it energizes me.”

  • Margaryta is an I-hub veteran. She’s seen I-hub grow enormously and is a wealth of knowledge to everyone on the team regarding what has been tried in the past, what we do well, and what we need to improve on. She’s not afraid to let us know if any of us are taking an idea off course or thinking of a concept too narrowly, and is a huge help to me especially in navigating my work. She’s also extremely kind, fashionable, and understanding.

Innovation Hub Assistant – Clara Luca

Headshot of smiling young woman with brown hair and glasses in a purple top 2nd Year Masters of Information Student

This is Clara Luca, our second Innovation Hub Assistant. Clara was a member of the Innovation Hub’s summer work study team and also participated in the Re-Imagining Leadership Retreat in the summer. A second year i-School student, Clara is on the Masters of Information Student Council (MISC) as a social co-chair, and a member of the iSchool’s book club. An avid reader, Clara aspires to read 50 books in 2017. She also writes fantasy novels. Clara completed her undergraduate work at UBC where she was heavily involved with the campus’ theatre club.  Clara will support all teams this year in her Innovation Hub Assistant role.

“My time with the Innovation Hub summer team has helped excite me about student affairs and I look forward to continuing working with Student Life. I hope to use my experiences to create a hospitable environment for the student community, and to continue my learning in the workplace.”

  • Clara seems to always have a book in one hand and a bullet journal in the other. She is a calming, positive force in I-hub and I think she keeps us all grounded. She’s the gentle push in the right direction I need when working with a big idea, is extremely approachable and easy to talk to, and is always willing to lend a helping hand.

Group photo of smiling young people

Well, that’s the core team! I get to work with extremely accomplished and amazing people, and I’m happy I’ve had the chance to share a little bit about them with you. I am so excited for what’s to come at the Innovation Hub, and especially excited to continue to get to know the team, and work with everyone to make UofT better.  


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