The Innovation Hub

Previous Events: Stories Through Research

As our community grows we aim to connect different individuals in the UofT community together, and to foster dialogue about the important work that is happening on campus and beyond! While our first Stories Through Research series has ended, the blog posts and insights from this series are still available below! Subscribe to our blog for updates on upcoming events and more.


Logo with a spotlight and colourful speech bubble.Learning from UofT Researchers on how Students are Impacted by COVID-19

Our Stories Through Research Series highlights three UofT research projects helping us understand student experiences and challenges in these unprecedented times. This is an incredible opportunity for UofT community members to learn about how students are being impacted by COVID, focusing on three important areas in the UofT student community. Each spotlight includes a blog post and scheduled zoom session for individuals from all areas of the University to come together as we listen, learn, and share important elements that must be engaged through conversation. This will include:

  1. Stories Through Research Blog Series – August 17th – 21stthese posts will be highlighting a unique area of these research projects to engage in dialogues to support students and their needs in times of COVID-19: Subscribe to our blog for updates on this series!
  2. Stories Through Research Zoom Sessions – August 25th – 27thJoin one (or all!) of our Stories Through Research Zoom Sessions! These one-hour sessions are open spaces to e-meet with the researchers that drive this work, to ask questions, and to consider our collective futures ahead. Free registration required to receive access to our Zoom sessions. Registration links available below for each research topic.

This august our spotlight series includes…

Icon of a hand holding up an icon of an individual with a heart to convey support and trust

Going Viral: Impact of COVID-19 on Canadians

In the first of this series this project asks: Where are young adults getting information about COVID-19? Do they trust the information they’re finding? Do students feel they are at risk of catching COVID-19? How has social distancing affected their lives? Through serial surveys and interviews, this project is inquiring how perceptions of COVID-19 are changing as the pandemic rapidly unfolds.

Going viral: Impact of COVID-19 on Canadians

By joining this spotlight, participants can engage in important conversations to consider how we can support our communities on (and off) campus as we move forward in these times. It will also be highlighting how important trust is when communicating information that will help public health agencies and community spaces in Canada and beyond. Through this, we can develop better ways of providing health information to the public, support students as they navigate their lives “on campus”, and continue to capture the evolving responses to this event in real-time.

View the blog post here

Project Team: Dr. Madeleine Mant (UTM), Dr. Alyson Holland (McMaster), and Dr. Andrew Prine (Groves Memorial Community Hospital) 


Two speech bubbles overlapping with an icon of a globe in the top right-hand corner

Our Languages, Our Lives, & the Global Pandemic

This project includes researchers from Rochester and Toronto who are interested in how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected a diverse population of students. They are particularly interested in hearing about the experiences of multilingual students whose living situations and communication patterns have changed as a result of the lockdown. Some important questions driving the research include: Blue illustration with "Our Languages, Our Lives and the Global Pandemic" with an individual sitting in front of a laptop

  • What kinds of changes have you experienced in your own life since schools and universities closed in March 2020?
  • Who are you talking to now?
  • Where are you living?
  • How are you taking classes?
  • Are you using a different language or languages in your daily life?  

Questions like these aim to contribute to research about language use practices in unusual circumstances.

Interested in contributing to this research?

This team has made a brief survey (less than 10 minutes) asking some questions about how your life has changed. There is also an option for you to upload an audio recording describing how life has changed for you during the lockdown and as restrictions start to ease.

This is a chance for you to reflect on what’s happening, and to contribute to a community documenting effort about what happens to our languages when social mobility is restricted.

You are encouraged to respond to this survey if you are a bilingual or multilingual university student, at least 18 years old. If you are interested in responding to the survey, please click on this link:

Contribute to this research here

View the Blog Post

Engaging in this spotlight series will not only be a space to share insights, experiences, and learn about some needs of students, but it will also contribute to important research about language use practices in unusual circumstances.  This is an important intersection between lived experiences and language, and will be incredibly valuable to ensure community members can support students as they navigate the realities this spotlight will highlight.

Project Team: Dr. Maya Abtahian (University of Rochester’s Department of Linguistics) and Dr. Naomi Nagy (University of Toronto’s Department of Linguistics) 


Icon resembling communitity with the colours and designs inspired by the LGBTQ+ flag.Impact of COVID-19 on the Mental Health and Vulnerability of Sexual and Gender Minorities Living in Toronto

From re-closeting and renewed stigma to further marginalization and experiences of violence, there have been many difficult stories circulating that because of COVID-19’s rearrangements of homes, regulations, and borders, many people in the sexual and gender minority (SGM) community are unsafe for more reasons than the virus. A group of researchers have committed to better understanding and supporting the SGM community through a new research project at the University of Toronto.

In the final spotlight of our series, professor Jessica Fields, James K Gibb, and Sarah Williams are co-leading a mixed methods research initiative investigating the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of sexual and gender minorities living in Toronto. With collaborators in Anthropology, Women and Gender Studies, Geography, Public Health, and Medicine, the team will gather quantitative and qualitative data as to health behaviours and mental health status of sexual and gender minorities during the pandemic. Through its focus on SGM communities, this research project does the crucial work necessary for ensuring that all members of our society, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, are receiving culturally appropriate and inclusive modes of care.

Join this spotlight to contribute in important conversations, shared experiences, and an opportunity to learn and connect with many important insights from this research!

View the Blog Post

Project Team: Jessica Fields (UofT), James Gibb (UofT), Sarah Williams (UofT), Ali Greery (UofT), Leela McKinnon (UofT)