Meet the Summer 2019 Team

Operations and
Communications Team

Julia Smeed – Innovation Hub Project Leader

Julia is a leader, innovator and “intrapreneur” who specializes in design thinking, collaboration and related methodologies that strive to design programs with students rather than for them. As the Leader of the Innovation Hub at the University of Toronto, she works with hundreds of students, faculty and staff on campus to improve the community’s campus experience.  Julia holds an MBA from the University of Fredericton in Global Leadership and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Western University.  Julia is also the Secretary of the Council on Student Services at the University of Toronto, and has presented at various conferences including the Canadian Association of College & University Student Services and the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers.  Outside of her work, Julia is a single mom to 5-year-old twins Joshua and Victoria.

Jessika Tremblay – Senior Project Assistant

Jessika Tremblay is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto. As the Senior Project Assistant, Jessika uses her ethnographic experience to act as a right-hand to the Project Officer and supports the strategic and operational planning for the Innovation Hub, as well as providing leadership and support to student research teams. Jessika is also the coordinator for the UofT Ethnography Lab and a fellow at the UofT School of Cities. When she’s not writing her dissertation or working, Jessika likes to look at cat memes on the internet, and has recently taken up knitting as a fun and productive hobby. 

Kaitlyn Corlett – Project Assistant 

Kaitlyn Corlett is a Master of Education student at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education in Adult Education and Community Development. As the Project Assistant, Kaitlyn supports the communication elements at the Hub, develops design materials, and supports Team Leads in their unique research processes. Her collaborative specialization in Workplace Learning and Social Change helps to strategize how the Innovation Hub can continue to develop innovate ways to engage in projects by students, for students. Originally from Vancouver, B.C., Kaitlyn likes to be in nature as much as she can. She also loves engaging in new experiences by taking beginners dance classes, going to local arts spaces, and working on her design and visual arts practice. 

Charis Lam – Writer

Charis Lam is a PhD candidate in Chemistry. As the Writer, she helps with communications strategy, including creating style guidelines and curating website content. Whether it’s the Innovation Hub’s qualitative, human-centred research, or her subfield of analytical chemistry, she believes the exciting knowledge being created at the University of Toronto should be shared, so others can build upon it. When she’s not in the lab or writing for work, she enjoys writing for fun, reading fantasy novels, and sewing.

Operations and
Communications Team

Sujaya Devi – Design Research Team Lead

Sujaya Devi is a Master of Information candidate at the Faculty of Information. As a Design Thinking Team Lead, Sujaya implements an empathetic approach to her work on the Division of Student Life Strategic Planning Project. She previously worked with students as a Design Thinking Teaching Assistant for the Institute for Communications, Culture, Information, and Technology at the University of Toronto and as an Instructor for the Faculty of Animation, Arts and Design at Sheridan College. Sujaya is a creative from Mississauga, Ontario. She’s an author, poet, photographer, and designer. She’s the author of “Write Left,” a memoir about her experiences as a Canadian Trinidadian woman published by Life Rattle Press, Toronto. 

Alex – Design Research Team Lead

Alex is a graduate student in the department of Pharmcology and Toxicology at the UofT. On a day to day basis, she curates and project manages focused experiments. Her passion for research and relevant applications is reflected through her in-lab research experience and extracurricular activities. This is her second year working with the Innovation Hub as a Design Thinking Team Lead and she is excited to apply all her previous experience to the new project this upcoming summer. In her spare time she enjoys watching Friends reruns, eating good food and spending time with friends and family. 

Shirin Gerami – Design Research Team Lead

Shirin Gerami is a fifth-year PhD student in Socio-Cultural Anthropology at the University of Toronto. Shirin obtained her Master’s degree from New York University and her Bachelor degree from McGill University. Shirin’s PhD dissertation concerns emergent notions of normative heterosexuality in contemporary Iran by examining the ways in which changes in patterns of marriage and divorce in Iran has been framed as a crisis. Shirin has been a Teaching Assistant in the Anthropology Department for the past 5 years. As one of the Innovation Hub’s Team Leads, Shirin and her team work with the Family Care Office at U of T to conduct a qualitative research concerning the experiences of students with family responsibilities at University of Toronto

Design Research Assistants

Natasha Cuneo – Design Research Assistant

Natasha is currently completing her first-year as a Master of Arts candidate in Social Cultural Anthropology at the University of Toronto.  Her research explores the usage and impacts of social media platforms such as YouTube, through the intersection of YouTuber experience, personas, performance and community.  Natasha completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto, with studies in Anthropology, Italian and Classical Civilization.  As a design research assistant her role will involve supporting projects through data collection and analysis.  Her studies in anthropology have given her experience with ethnographic methods, empathy and data analysis which she will bring to her team.  In her spare time, Natasha enjoys travelling, reading a good fiction book and watching movies. 

Allie Dainow – Design Research Assistant

Allie is a graduate student in the Applied Psychology and Human Development department at OISE. She previously completed a Master’s degree in Applied Social Psychology, where she conducted research on relationship authenticity and gained experience working in program evaluation. As a Design Research Assistant at the Innovation Hub, she works with the Family Care Office to explore how the University of Toronto can meet the needs of students with family responsibilities. Outside of school she likes art, listening to 70s/80s/90s music and coming up with ideas for plays that she never actually ends up writing!

Rhea Makund – Design Research Assistant

Rhea is going into her second year of her Master’s program at the iSchoolcompleting two concentrations: User Experience Design and Human-Centred Data Science. She completed her Undergrad in Anthropology. In her role as a Design Research Assistant at the Innovation Hub, she conducts empathy-based research to gain insight into how we can redesign campus learning spaces to optimize knowledge uptake and retention, while at the same time making them inviting and fun. This design work bridges two things that she loves – people and design! In her spare time, Rhea loves to stay active. She plays rec soccer in the spring/summer, and she plays volleyball on the SGS Faculty of Information team during the school year. She also loves rollerblading! 

Ali Kazmi – Design Research Volunteer

Ali Kazmi is a volunteer for the Innovation Hub, with an extensive background in student services at University of Toronto. He is a University of Toronto graduate in History and Political Science. He has served at Accessibility Services in a student mentorship and advising capacity and is keen to bring that specialty to inform the projects of Innovation Hub. Ali has also been heavily involved in Accessibility Committees at the Career Exploration center, and as a facilitator for Peer and Mentorship programming. A tried and true student leader, Ali is very interested in working in an extensive research capacity to help hone his skills as part of an integrated team.

In his spare time, Ali walks his dog, Ziggy.

Transforming the Instructional Landscape Team

Nick Smith – Design Research Team Lead

Nick Smith is a PhD student in Anthropology at the U of T. His research engages with creative forms of ethnography to explore issues of politics and media. He is particularly interested in sensorial studies and the experiences of using and creating media. His background in teaching and using media in the classroom foreground critical engagements with pedagogy and learning environments, a focus he brings to the Transforming the Instructional Landscape project. He enjoys reading, writing, and lying on the couch watching Raptors games in his free time.

Margaret (Meg) Clare – Design Research Assistant

Meg is a second year undergraduate student in the Architecture program. She began her journey at the Innovation Hub as a volunteer in the Design Thinking Experience Program, and she has joined the Transforming the Instructional Landscape this summer as a Design Research Assistant. In her studies, Meg is particularly interested in the human aspect of architecture, and explores how people relate to and access built spaces. She is excited to apply her architectural training to the university landscape through this project. Meg is curious about many different subjects, and loves to learn from other people. She can often be found exploring Toronto on her bike, and she is very well-acquainted with navigating the city. Some of her hobbies include photography, cooking, and science fiction movies. 

Polina Kabakova – Design Research Assistant

Polina Kabakova is a second-year master’s student at the Faculty of Information in the user experience design concentration. She is a Design Research Assistant for the Transforming the Instructional Landscape project. Her master’s thesis research is focused on community-engaged learning within the domain of user experience design. In her research, she is investigating the impacts of community-engaged learning courses on community partners and UXD students involved. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, rock climbing and helping organize an ethics-centered meetup called iMPACT. 

Sicily Shi – Design Research Assistant

Sicily is a second-year graduate student at the Faculty of Information studying User Experience Design. She had a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at U of T and has always been passionate about understanding human emotions, motivations and cognition. She started as a volunteered at the Innovation Hub in the 2018/2019 term, helping with empathy-based interviews and classroom observations. Now she works as the Design Research Assistant for the Transforming the Instructional Landscape Project, hoping to provide a better learning experience for students through human-centered research and design. She loves Disney animations, reading and traveling, and Siracusa is her favorite place. 

Cassie Yang – Design Research Assistant

Cassie is a second-year student in the Master of Information program. Her major is in User Experience Design. She is passionate about design. She studied architecture for her bachelor’s degree. After graduation, She went to New York City and studied interior design. She is not satisfied with merely designing traditional buildings. She wants to create digital products and interactive environments that spark engagement and have compelling virtual experiences that inspire and connect with people.  She is excited to meet all the team members and looking forward to working with creative minds.   

Data Analysis Research Team

Danielle Baillargeon – Data Analysis Team Lead

Danielle Baillargeon is a 6th year PhD student in the Department of the Study of Religion, whose research focuses on grief and bereavement in ancient religions. Danielle is fascinated by how individuals understand emotions, how they express them, and how people use them to articulate their sense of belonging to a community. This is her second year at the iHub and she will be taking on the Data Analysis Team Lead position. Danielle and her team will analyse the ethnographic research data collected by the iHub to help understand the challenges faced by students at UofT. Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Danielle loves to cook and gather friends and family together for meals and conviviality. 

Maryama Ahmed – Data Analysis Assistant

Maryama Ahmed is a fourth-year undergraduate student specializing in political science. Her role at the Innovation Hub is as the Data Analysis Assistant for the Data Analysis Team, where she is excited to enhance her empathy-based analytical skills and become adept in productive team collaboration.  On her spare time, Maryama enjoys engaging in discourse and discussion with friends on social, political and pop culture issues, biking around downtown Toronto, and indulging in dystopian sci-fi fiction and film. 

Jason Batten-Carew – Data Analysis Assistant

Jason is a first year Masters of Information student, focusing on User Experience Design and Human-Centred Data Science. Prior to starting his M.I., Jason received a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy at Carleton University in Ottawa and worked at Apple as a Specialist. Jason works as a Data Analysis Assistant for the Innovation Hub, combining his interest in design thinking and understanding patterns in data.

Beyond studying information and working with data, Jason is interested in game studies, technology and narrative design. Because of a passion for Japanese media and thinking, he is learning Japanese as a second language in his spare time. His life philosophy is ‘everything is connected’.

Jenna Fu – Data Analysis Assistant

Jenna Fu is an Applied Statistics and Economics student going into her fourth year of undergraduate in the Faculty of Arts & Science. Jenna was a volunteer with the Innovation Hub Trademark and Licensing project in the 2018-2019 academic year. In the summer of 2019, she takes on the role of Data Analysis Assistant, supporting the Innovation Hub research process by working with the research teams to conduct analyses of the ethnographic research data. Jenna has a keen interest in data science especially in the discipline of Natural Language Processing (NLP). She is interested to see how the discipline can be applied in the education and healthcare sectors. In her spare time, Jenna likes to explore the city and find good coffee spots all over town.