Meet the Summer 2020 Team

Operations and
Communications Team

Julia Smeed – Manager, Innovation Projects

Julia SmeedJulia 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 and the Co-Chair of the Student Life Professionals community of practice at the University of Toronto.  She has presented her work at various higher education conferences across North America, and is currently writing a book about the application of design thinking in student affairs. Outside of her work, Julia is a single mom to 6-year-old twins Joshua and Victoria who are in first grade.

Kaitlyn Corlett – Senior Project Assistant 

Kaitlyn CorlettKaitlyn Corlett has a Master of Education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education in Adult Education and Community Development. As the Senior 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.

Philippa Gosine  – Senior Research Assistant

Philippa is a PhD candidate in biomedical engineering researching how the design of the built environment affects balance recovery, with the aim of reducing injuries on stairs. For the last five years she has been a teaching assistant with engineering design and communication courses and more recently a peer advisor with Accessibility Services. She is passionate about creating an environment where we can all learn and grow and is really excited to leverage her experience working with diverse students and apply and develop her design thinking and qualitative research skills with the Transforming the Instructional Landscape team! Outside of school, she loves hiking, dragon boat paddling, traveling, floral patterns, and trying new foods! 

Gianina Ramos – Digital Storyteller

Gianina Ramos is currently a first year Master of Information student at UofT’s Faculty of Information, concentrating in User Experience Design. She graduated with a BA, studying Architectural Design, Urban Studies and Human Geography, also at the University of Toronto. She is passionate about designing impactful solutions that go beyond the deliverables and is committed to her constant self-development. She hopes to bring her energy and student perspective into her work and roles at the Innovation Hub. As a Digital Storyteller, she contributes to communication elements, production of design deliverables and support to design projects at the Hub. Outside of school and work, Gianina enjoys sports and fitness, board games, illustration, and good food. 

Johanna Pokorny – Ethnography & Insights Team Lead

Johanna is an eighth-year PhD student in socio-cultural anthropology at the University of Toronto. She researches how neuroscience transforms our cultural ideas of personhood—as in, what does it mean to think our brains are hardwired or neuroplastic and changeable? This past year, Johanna joined the Innovation Hub as a design-thinking researcher for the Student Mental Health project for which she translated student experiences into insights about how to create a culture of caring at UofT. Through her involvement at the UofT Ethnography Lab, she has developed tools for training ethnographic inquiry, a methodology uniquely suited to understanding complex social issues. This summer, as the Ethnography and Insights Team Lead, Johanna will oversee the application of insight-driven analysis and ethnography to further strengthen UofT community experience. When she’s not working, you can find Johanna exploring Toronto’s ravines and learning the names of local wildlife. 

Terri-Lynn Langdon – Lead Writer & Editor

Terri-Lynn has a background sociology, political science and she has been a social worker for 15 years. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Social Justice Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in education in health equity research. At the Innovation Hub Terri-Lynn, is the Lead, Editor and Writer. She is well positioned for this role at the Innovation Hub because of her deep interest in human centered design and equity-driven research. She is also interested in making research content into accessible language and accessible formats for those with print-disabilities.  Terri-Lynn’s first name is derived from two ICU nurses that cared for her in the NICU. 


Data Analysis Team

Danielle Baillargeon – Data Analysis Team Lead

Danielle Baillargeon is a 7th 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 they use them to articulate their sense of identity and community. This is her second term at the iHub as the Data Analysis Team Lead. Danielle and her team will support the iHub team in the data analysis process.  The data analysis team will also take a deep dive into the data collected for previous iHub projects to gain new insights into the student experience at the UofT. Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Danielle loves houseplants and has turned her condo into a tropical jungle.

Jeremy Chu – Data Analysis Researcher for Applied Learning Project

Jeremy Chu is currently a Master of Information student, specializing in Critical Information Policy Studies at the iSchool. He has also completed a Master of History, specializing in postcolonial studies, at Queen’s University. He is passionate about data ethics and hopes to create a data-driven environment that does not sacrifice inclusivity for efficiency. At the Innovation Hub, Jeremy is working as a data analysis researcher on the Applied Learning Project. He is excited to apply his knowledge and research skills in an analytical capacity by using data to help create a better student experience. In his free time Jeremy is an avid home cook and loves recreating recipes from cooking videos on YouTube.   

Sara Hormozi-Nejad – Data Analysis Researcher for Applied Learning Project

Sara Hormozi-Nejad has a background in Sociocultural Anthropology and is currently pursuing a PhD in Sociology at the University of Toronto. She has held a diverse range of teaching and project management roles prior to joining the U of T community. At the Innovation Hub, Sara is working as a data analysis researcher on the Applied Learning Project. Being part of the Data Analysis Team allows Sara to apply and expand her knowledge of ethnographic research and to pursue the Innovation Hub’s mission of improving campus life through student-centric design. A language enthusiast, Sara enjoys learning languages in her free time and currently speaks four languages. 

Nicole Anderson – Data Analysis Researcher for Existing Data

Nicole Anderson is completing a Master’s degree in Social Justice Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education also has a Master’s degree in Social Anthropology. She is joining the Innovation Hub Team as a Data Analysis Researcher this summer. In this role she hopes to extend her experience of working with ethnographic data in a practical, institutional context whilst also expanding her knowledge of empathy-based research. Originally from Scotland, Nicole enjoys hiking, photography and making textile-based art in her spare time.  

Anshika Seth – Data Analysis Researcher for Existing Data


Community, Social Connection & Support for Students Team

Ayaan Hagar – Design Researcher

Ayaan is in her final year in the Bachelor of Information program, where she studies how the interactions between information technologies and the social world shape our lives. She is passionate about human-centered design and leveraging technology to tackle complex problems and bring about a more caring, empathetic world. At the Innovation Hub, Ayaan works on the Community, Social Connection & Support for Students project, focused on understanding and combating isolation and loneliness amongst students during the pandemic. She is excited to use design thinking and her student  perspective to improve the UofT experience. Outside of school and work, she enjoys reading, experimenting with new recipes, and exploring the city.  

Mehak Manwani – Design Researcher

Mehak Manwani is currently pursuing a Master of Information in User Experience Design at the iSchoolMehak works with the Community, Social Connection & Support for Students project team at the Innovation Hub. She recognizes the issues surrounding loneliness and isolation, and its effects on students. Mehak wants to leverage her student experience, along with her design thinking skills to help foster social connections. She was previously also a part of the Design Thinking Experience Program at the Innovation Hub. Mehak is passionate about designing systems that are useful, usable, desirable, and wants to contribute to improve the UofT student experience. Outside of school and work, Mehak enjoys being in nature, cooking, dancing, playing badminton, and listening to music. 


Redefining Traditional: Making Higher Education Family-Friendly Team

Shamim Ahmed – Design Researcher

Shamim Ahmed in a blue shirtShamim is a PhD Candidate at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. His research is focused on Social and Behavioral Health Sciences. At the innovation hub, Shamim is working with Redefining Traditional: Making Higher Education Family Friendly team. Shamim has a twelve-year-old daughter and they moved to Toronto three years back. It was a huge cultural shift for his daughter and Shamim and his wife are still dealing with the changes everyday. As a student parent he is facing cultural and social changes, change in child’s upbringing atmosphere, which made him interested to know more about the work of Innovation Hub to explore further and to contribute with his own positioning in this situation. Outside of school and work, Shamim is a published author in Bengali language. He writes short stories, poems and newspaper articles.  

Heather Watts – Design Researcher

Heather is a PhD student at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education in the Social Justice Education program. Her work centers reconciliation and reclamation of Indigenous ways of knowing in modern-day education systems. She is Mohawk and Anishinaabe from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. At the Innovation Hub, Heather serves on the Redefining Traditional: Making Higher Education Family Friendly team. As a mother to five-year-old Nico, she is passionate to engage with other students who have family responsibilities in order to imagine and advocate for a more equitable and inclusive higher education experience. Outside of school and workHeather enjoys fitness, 80’s movies, puzzles, and baking/consuming large amounts of banana bread. 


Stories from a Distance Team

Psalm Tesalona – Stories from a Distance Team

Psalm Tesalona is an upper-year undergraduate student majoring in Criminology and Socio-legal Studies, and specializing in Women and Gender Studies. She is a proud Filipina-Canadian, passionate about transnational feminism and transformative justice. Psalm yields strengths from research, community service, and program coordination experiences within the nonprofit sector. The Stories from a Distance project is a reflection of her commitment to developing inclusive and equitable programs that cultivate cultures of radical empathy and community empowerment. In these unprecedented times, Psalm is humbled by the opportunity to serve her campus through the I-Hub’s anti-oppressive methodologies and design-thinking strategies. Psalm is an ardent bibliophile, a Filipino food fanatic, and a lover of people. She embraces any opportunity to make a new friend with whom she can share a warm meal and exchange good music.  

Carly Thrower – Stories from a Distance Team

Carly is an MHSc candidate in the Translational Research Program studying how research can be mobilized to improve health. She is passionate about improving health in the holistic sense, encompassing the psychological and social aspects as well as the physical. She recognizes the importance of social connection for well-being, and this drives her work on the Stories From a Distance Team. She is excited to leverage her experience in design thinking and student mentorship to help build on online community for students looking to connect. Outside of school and work, Carly loves being in the outdoors, and goes camping multiple times a year! She also enjoys reading, running, and playing with her cat Skyler.  

Gillian Shi – Stories from a Distance Team

Gillian Shi is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Information Science at the University of Toronto, focusing on User Experience Design. At the Innovation Hub, Gillian works on the Stories from a Distance project with her amazing teammates. She wants to leverage her student engagement experience and research skills to create an online community that uplifts students and fosters meaningful relationships. In her spare time, Gillian loves making wontons, sharing memes with her friends, and taking pictures of her cat, Tofu. 

Vatsal Bhushan – Stories from a Distance Team

Vatsal is a curious and self-motivated millennial who brings in his passion and commitment to work every single day! He is currently pursuing his masters in User Experience Design at the iSchool. Prior to joining University of Toronto, Vatsal was working as a UX Consultant for over 5 years. He has been a part of Innovation Hub since Jan 2020, when he started as a volunteer at the Design Thinking Experience Program. As an international student, living in a new country and given the current pandemic, he understands the importance of ‘being together while apart’. This motivated him to be a part of the Innovation Hub and work with the Stories from a distance project team contributing to building and expanding the program to foster connectedness amongst students. Outside of school and work, he loves being in nature, traveling and capturing beautiful memories! He is also a big-time foodie and these days is exploring the art of cooking! 


Transforming the Instructional Landscape Team

Nick Smith  – Design Researcher

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.

Janet Lai  – Design Researcher

Janet is a Master of Information student at the Faculty of Information, specializing in User Experience Design. She is passionate about using design thinking to develop positive, welcoming environments in educational institutions for diverse users. As part of the Transforming the Instructional Landscape project team at the Innovation Hub, her work involves redefining and improving the current classroom experiences for students as well as staff and faculty across departments and disciplines. In her spare time, she enjoys camping, travelling, playing video games and exploring new food and music. 

Veronica Grigio  – Design Researcher

Veronica Grigio is currently a PhD Candidate in Medical Anthropology researching practices of cultural translation and knowledge production. She has experience working with a wide variety of audiences thanks to her background in community building and international development. At the Innovation Hub, Veronica is part of the Transforming the Instructional Landscape team and interested in applying the insights garnered through her research to design thinking processes. An avid indoor gardener, she spends most of her free time conjuring with plants tactics to improve food security in urban areas. To this end, she has recently developed a curiosity for distributed ledger technologies and the physics of sound.