Meet the Team

Headshot of smiling woman with short red-brown hair in a blue blazerJulia 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 teams of over 150 students 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 mom to 4-year-old twins Joshua and Victoria who just started junior kindergarten.

Student Leadership Team

Headshot of smiling young woman with shoulder-length brown hairMargaryta Ignatenko – Project Coordinator

Margaryta has been been involved in the Innovation Hub since last fall, after being introduced to the worlds of design thinking and integrative thinking through her school’s involvement with Rotman’s I-Think program. She was later hired as an intern at I-Think, and continues to work with the organization. Last summer, Margaryta sat on a panel with Roger Martin and Minister of Education, Mitzie Hunter, where she spoke 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.

Headshot of smiling young woman with long brown hair and purple topClara Luca – Project Coordinator

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 in Directing theatre programs. Clara will support all teams this year in her Innovation Hub Assistant role.

Smiling young person with short hair and glasses in overalls standing in a fieldIsabel Carlin – Ethnography/Insights Team Lead

Isabel is 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. 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. 


Lucinda Qu  4th Year Undergrad, Equity and Health Studies

Katy Klein —  1st Year Grad, Faculty of Information, Culture & Technology

Cathy Li — 4th Year Undergrad, Sociology and Environmental Science

Emily Kuzan — 4th Year Undergrad, Mathematical Applications in Economics and Finance

Lilian Lin — 1st Year Grad, Institute of Health Policy, Management & Evaluation

Andrew Murphy — 1st Year Grad, Faculty of Information, Archives & Records Management

Anne Michaela Brodaric — 3rd Year Undergrad, Criminology and History

Lana Tran — 1st Year Grad, Faculty of Information, Masters of Museum Studies

Elisha Bauer-Maison — 4th Year Undergrad, Political Science and European Union Studies

Qingyu (Juanita) Xiong — 1st Year Undergrad, Psychology and Linguistics

Rija Chishty — 5th Year Undergrad, Animal Physiology and Health & Disease

Caroline Park — 1st Year Grad, Institute of Medical Science

Aiman Farheen — 2nd Year Undergrad, Molecular Bio & Biotechnology

Elena Djordjic

Kevin Leung — 1st Year Grad, Institute of Health Policy

Olivia Dogged — 2nd Year Grad, Faculty of Information, User Experience Design

Baeta Beyene — 3rd Year Undergrad, Statistics and African Studies

Xueqi (Anna) Ma — 1st Year Grad, Materials Science and Engineering

Ammarah Naseer — 2nd Year Undergrad, Molecular Biology & Biotechnology

Lisa Howard — PhD in Pharmacology

Tayyaba Shahzad — 4th Year Undergrad, Political Science and Criminology

Robyn Forman

Jamie Danaf — 1st Year Grad, Institute of Medical Science

Taha Tanjeem — 4th Year Undergrad, Neuroscience and Mental Health

Alex (Nina) Alferiev — 4th Year Undergrad, Political Science and Anthropology


Headshot of smiling young man with short brown hair, a beard, and glassesIgor Samardzic – Events Team Lead

Igor has worked extensively with UTSU and within various roles in Student Life. 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. 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.


Meghan Costa  4th Year Undergrad, Equity and Health Studies

Justin Raie — 1st Year Undergrad, Kinesiology and Physical Education

Margaryta Koniashyna — 4th Year Undergrad, Management and Economics

Erin Rooney — 1st Year Grad, Masters of Information

Isobel McEwen — 2nd Year Grad, Pharmaceutical Chemistry

Xue (Sunny) Xiang — 2nd Year Undergrad, Management and Italian

Jonelle Whyte — 2nd Year Grad, Child Study and Education


Headshot of smiling young woman with curly black hairApeja Adjivon – Connections Team Lead

Apefa has always dedicated herself to promoting the voices of those who might not otherwise have the platform to do so. She’s an advocate for Because I Am a Girl, the Equity Co-Chair for Victoria College, and the Vice President of the Trek for Teens club. Apefa has also served as a Youth Delegate to the United Nations, and 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 in the community.


Maureen T’O

Jose Maria Escajadillo — 2nd Year Undergrad, Math and Philosophy

Parm Thind — 1st Year Grad, Management of Innovation

Tianyi Liu


Headshot of smiling young woman with blonde shoulder-length hair in a black shirtMichelle Johnstone – Informations Design Team Lead

Michelle is as a returning member of the Innovation Hub team who spearheaded the programs, services and resources data collection project. Michelle completed her undergraduate studies in Philosophy at the University of King’s 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. 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.


Zhixian (Maggie) Chen —1st Year Grad, Faculty of Information, Information Systems and Design 

Li Quan Soh — 2nd Year Undergrad, Neuroscience and Statistics

Weiqi Liu — 2nd Year Grad, Faculty of Information, Information Systems & Design 

Vinit Jogani — 1st Year Undergrad, Computer Science 

Pranal Bhansali — 1st Year Undergrad, Rotman Commerce

Jessica Miao — 1st year Grad,Faculty of Information, Information Systems and Design 


Headshot of smiling young man with dark brown hair in a suitNick Feinig – Integrative & Design Thinking Team Lead

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.  


Sihan Yang — 4th Year PhD, Mechanical & Industrial Engineering

Piyapong Buahom — 3rd Year Undergrad, Rotman Commerce

Aishwarya Babu — 1st Year Grad, Sustainability Development

Simmy Saini — 1st Year Grad, Planning

Sarah Dolman — 1st Year Grad, Higher Education, Student Development & Student Services

Adi Poddar — 1st Year Grad, Rotman Commerce

Noha Siddiqui — 3rd Year Undergrad, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology

Tom Omboke — 2nd Year Undergrad, Industrial Engineering


Mia Sanders – Storytelling Team LeadHeadshot of smiling young woman with short brown hair in dark blue shirt

Mia is 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 their 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. 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.


Theo Arbez — 2nd Year Undergrad, Political Sciences

Charis Lam — 4th Year PhD, Chemistry

Sneha Dasgupta — 3rd Year Undergrad, Mathematics and Statistics

Teddy Xiong — 3rd Year Undegrad, Cognitive Science and Computer Science

Erika Martinez — 3rd Year Undergrad, Architecture


Headshot of smiling young woman with medium-length brown hair and glasses in a blue blazerAmanda Pasqualini – UX Prototyping Team Lead

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. 


Nancy Zhao  1st Year Undegrad, Computer Science

Jessen Lee —4th Year Undergrad, Economics

Deus Bajaj — 3rd Year Undergrad, Bioinformatics and Computer Science

Mengyao (Miranda) Shi — 3rd Year Grad, Immunology 

Samra Ebadi — 1st Year Grad, Information-UXD

April Cheng — 1st Year Grad, Information-UXD

Jing Lu — 1st Year Grad, Information-UXD

Yingxue Zhang — 3rd Year Grad, Human Factors

Aki Kim — 3rd Year Undergrad, Physics and Economics

Saad Benameur — 1st Year Grad, Information-UXD

Ziyi (Vicky) Su — 1st Year Grad, Information-UXD

Nadine Adelaar — 1st Year Grad, Information-UXD

Barron Pan — 4th Year Undergrad, Psychology and Employment Relations

Seungae Sim — 2nd Year Undergrad, Electrical & Computer Engineering


→  Meet the Summer 2017 Team

→  Meet the Fall/Winter Team 2016-2017


What is an Innovation Hub?

Vision & Values

Domains of Innovation