The Innovation Hub

Team

Summer 2022

Leadership

Julia smiling against a white background

Julia Allworth - Manager, Innovation Projects

Julia is a leader, innovator and “intrapreneur” who specializes in design thinking, collaboration and related methodologies that strive to design programs with students. 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 in Global Leadership and a BA in Psychology. Julia has presented her work at various higher education conferences across North America. She is the co-author of a book, Design Thinking in Student Affairs, and delivered a TedX talk entitled Design yourself to change the world. Outside of her work, Julia is a single mom to neurodiverse school-aged twins Joshua and Victoria.

Paul smiling against the backdrop of a lake with rocks

Paul Kaita – Senior Project Assistant

Paul Kaita (he/him) is currently a graduate student at OISE in the Master of Education, Higher Education program. He previously completed his Honours Bachelor of Arts in Architecture and Visual Studies here at UofT. As Senior Project Assistant, Paul oversees communications, general administration, accessibility of design materials, and supports project teams. He is originally from British Columbia and really enjoyed making Toronto his new home. Paul is excited to translate his passions for art, design, and the student experience during his time at the Innovation Hub. 

Shankeri smiling in front of a gate outdoors

Shankeri Vijayakumar – Senior Research Assistant 

Shankeri recently completed her undergraduate degree in a Health Studies and Sociology double major in spring 2022. With a passion for qualitative research and empathetic storytelling, Shankeri values connecting with people to centre their voices to build inclusive spaces. Shankeri is enthusiastic about using community and empathy-based research methodologies to understand diverse and complex human experiences. Shankeri joined the Innovation Hub as a data analysis researcher working on several design thinking research projects. Currently, as Senior Research Assistant, Shankeri supports research teams as they gather students’ stories and translate them into insights to understand and strengthen the student experience at U of T. Outside of school and work, Shankeri enjoys spending time in nature and exploring food places in Toronto.  

Research

Transforming the Instructional Landscape

Anchana smiling while leaning against a wall

Anchana Kuganesan – Design Research Team Lead: Transforming the Instructional Landscape 

Anchana Kuganesan is currently a graduate student at the Institute of Biomedical Engineering in the Clinical stream at the University of Toronto. She completed her undergraduate degree at McMaster University in the Honours Life Sciences program. Anchana was introduced to design thinking through a course in her final year of undergrad, and really enjoyed it! She will be working at the Innovation Hub as a Design Research Team Lead for the Transforming the Instructional Landscape project. Anchana enjoys spending time with her family and friends, and exploring nature, and art. 

Ashley smiling against a backdrop of trees

Ashley Vadivelu - Design Researcher

Ashley is a third-year undergraduate student studying Criminology and Sociology. Her interest in sociological research motivated her to seek out similar opportunities, which led her to the Innovation Hub. She is thrilled to join the iHub as a design researcher on the Transforming the Instructional Landscape team! Ashley is passionate about amplifying students' voices, which she aims to do while improving in-person and virtual learning environments for students and instructors. In her free time, she enjoys exploring the city, trying picky-eater-friendly food spots, or staying in to watch true crime shows/movies.

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Cathy Li - Design Researcher

Cathy (she/her) is currently a graduate student at the iSchool in the Master of Information program. Coming from a background in Sociology and Market Research, Cathy hopes to do empathy focused research to improve the lives of suffering U of T students and is excited to sharpen her skills in qualitative research.  During her free time Cathy can be found going for long bike rides, eating, napping or stressing over pet projects in web development.

Garima smiling against a white background

Garima Sharma - Design Researcher

Garima is finishing her first year of Masters in Aerospace Engineering. She is working as a Design Researcher for the TIL project for the summer. She is excited to hone her design thinking skills during her work at Innovation hub and apply them to the field of Aerospace Engineering. She loves adventure activities or sports. She also loves exploring new places and is always down to trying out new cafés.

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Nia Spooner - Design Researcher

Nia is a Master of Education candidate in Educational Leadership and Policy at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). Her research interests are grounded in supporting student voice and equitable practices in education and leadership. She is specifically interested in learning about school leaders’ experiences and understandings of equity-oriented practice and how these perceptions connect to student success. As a Design Researcher for the Transforming the Instructional Landscape project, Nia hopes to utilize her qualitative research skills and teaching and leadership background to enhance student learning experiences. During her free time, Nia enjoys reading and exploring Toronto as she is new to the city.

Robarts Library 5th Floor Redesign

Spencer smiling in front of a wood wall

Spencer Ki – Design Research Team Lead: Robarts Library 

Spencer recently completed majors in Physics and Statistics, as well as a minor in Mathematics, at UofT. He is currently exploring coursework in the humanities before returning to science in graduate studies. As the Robarts Design Research Team Lead, he strives to discover the core of what students and staff need from the University’s main library. Previously the Innovation Hub’s Writer & Editor, he is wholeheartedly dedicated to the iHub’s mission “to improve campus life through student-centric design.” When not typing up iHub documents, Spencer can be found typing up news articles, satire pieces, short stories, and code to cheat at math puzzles with.

Gabrielle smiling while standing in front of a tree

Gabrielle David - Design Researcher

Gabrielle just concluded her first year in the Master of Information program, specializing in User Experience Design. She has an undergraduate degree in Cognitive Science and Digital Humanities, which ignited her passion for UX design. As an emerging information professional, she is eager to utilize her toolkit in human-centred and inclusive design to foster accessibility and inclusion within digital spaces. As a Design Researcher for the Robarts Library team, she is excited to collaborate and generate innovative and meaningful solutions for digital scholarship! Outside of school and work, you can find Gabrielle playing video games (mostly Valorant at the moment), running or at the gym, and cooking plant-based recipes.

Martha smiling against a white background

Martha Khoshabeh - Design Researcher

Martha is a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in Architecture and Visual Studies. As a design researcher, she believes in a university experience designed by and for students. She is excited to be part of an initiative where she can contribute to improving campus life by prioritizing student experiences and ‘empathy-based approach’ as a mode of redesign in university spaces. Outside of work, Martha enjoys reading ancient myths and playing sports like soccer and volleyball.

Tiago smiling against a white background

Tiago Martins - Design Researcher

Tiago is a fourth-year undergraduate student in the Bachelor of Information program. He enrolled in the University of Toronto in 2021 after studying for two years at the University of Guelph-Humber's Justice Studies program. He is excited to work at the Innovation Hub as part of their Robarts Library 5th Floor Redesign project, and further develop skills in the field of qualitative research. Outside of the University, Tiago teaches swimming and piano, and spends his time reading and writing poetry.

University College Spaces: Redefining the Student Experience

Rion Levy – Design Research Team Lead: University College 

Rion is a third-year undergraduate student specializing in Literature and Critical Theory at UofT. His research focuses on discovering and analyzing overlooked writers to understand what the stories we forget say about those we choose to remember. As the Research Lead on the University College Spaces: Redefining the Student Experience, he leads a group of researchers to enhance the college’s accessibility. He spends most of his free time reading, cooking, and photographing his surroundings.

Amar smiling while standing outdoors

Amar Krupalija - Design Researcher

Amar is heading into the fourth year of his bachelor of arts degree, majoring in international relations with minors in anthropology and political science. As a design researcher, he is excited to help share student perspectives regarding the redesign of University College spaces and contribute to improving the overall student experience at the University of Toronto. Outside of school Amar enjoys taking trips around the city on his bicycle and cheering on Manchester United.

Reese smiling while sitting outdoors

Reese Halfyard - Design Researcher

Reese is a third year undergraduate student studying information technology and user experience design in the Bachelor of Information program at UofT’s iSchool. She is extremely excited to collaboratively develop University College’s student life and campus environment as a Design Researcher for the Innovation Hub. Through use of human centered design methods, Reese will uplift student voices and establish a safe community that prioritizes inclusivity, diversity, and accessibility. Outside of school and work, Reese is extremely passionate about graphic design, sewing, and sustainable fashion.

Shiqi smiling in a selfie outdoors

Shiqi Wang - Design Researcher

Shiqi is a third-year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto specializing in Psychology. She is interested in the field of user experience design and is willing to use her creativity to make positive social changes in the real world. As a Design Research Assistant for the UC Spaces: Redefining the Student Experience project, she is passionate about using empathy-based and human-centered approaches to facilitate the imagination of University College spaces that embrace equity, diversity, and inclusion to improve the student experience in the U of T community. Outside of school and work, she enjoys painting, cooking, and exploring new cafes with her friends.

Sidney Smith Redevelopment

Justin standing outdoors in a forest with snow

Justin (YunLong) Feng – Design Research Team Lead: Sidney Smith 

Justin is an incoming Master of Information, studying User Experience Design and Human-Centred Data Science at the iSchool. He holds an Honours Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the UofT. As a student and a UX researcher, he is passionate about the student experience and accessibility. Justin is very excited to work within a cross-functional team at the Innovation Hub. Outside of work, you will always find him on the tennis court during the summer, and snowboarding during the winter. 

Emily smiling against a white background

Emily Tchong - Design Researcher

Emily Ha Tchong is currently a first-year student in the Humanities stream. As a design researcher for the Sidney Smith Hall Redevelopment, she aspires to use her expertise for the project to ensure that every Arts & Science student will feel like part of a community. Emily is dedicated in using her skills to serve the student community the best she can. During her free time, she enjoys cooking, reading, and watching sitcoms!

Faith smiling while standing in a park

Faith Dong - Design Researcher

Faith is a fourth year undergraduate student pursuing a double major in computational cognitive science and neuroscience. Previously, she has been involved in the Campus Safety Services and the TIL team at the Innovation Hub, and she is excited to return to apply her empathetic research skills to help improve the university experience for UofT students. In this role, she hopes to explore ways in which stories and experiences can be used to generate profound insights that can help enrich student life on campus. Outside of school and work, she loves rewatching her favourite comfort shows and trying all kinds of new foods in the city.

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Iris Shao - Design Researcher

Iris Shao has a Bachelor of Science in Statistics and Digital Humanities. She is passionate about using meaningful data and human-centric design principles to enhance teaching and learning experiences. This summer, Iris will join the Sidney Smith Redevelopment Project team as a Design Researcher. In her spare time, Iris enjoys reading biographies and playing board games.

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Lakshya - Design Researcher

Lakshya is a Master of Information student at UofT, specialising in User Experience Design. He is a Design Researcher working on the Sid Smith Redevelopment Project. Architecture intrigues him, and uncovering interactions between spaces and inhabitants makes him excited to be working on this project. Coming from an engineering background where he explored in depth the realms of Electronics and Artificial Intelligence, he felt at home in the field of UX where he can channel his passion for both people and technology through a creative and impactful outlet. Lakshya grounds himself by engaging in urban and natural exploration, playing instruments, and riding his single speed as far and as fast as he can. He's also mononymous.

Food Services

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Eli Rose - Design Research Team Lead: Food Services

Eli is a fourth-year undergraduate student specializing in Political Science. His research interests center on social mobility and design thinking and hopes to use his experiences and skills to design and advocate for programs and policies that address social and economic barriers for marginalized Canadians. Eli greatly values the benefits of building community and strives to be an authentic and empathetic community member, mentor, and leader. With a business background and seven years of leadership and project management experience, he enjoys challenging projects that allow him to empower and inspire fellow team members, youth, and all others. Eli proudly identifies as a Black mature student, and thoroughly enjoys spending time with his family, going on road trips, and watching basketball during his downtime.

Bo smiling while sitting in front of a window

Bo Phi - Design Researcher

Bo Phi is a third year undergraduate student at Faculty of Information in the Bachelor of Information program. His interests are in human-computer interaction and user-interface design. Prior to coming to the University of Toronto, Bo pursued his undergraduate degree at the University of Washington where he studies human-computer interaction and architecture. He has a passion for designing interactive systems that are intuitive to use along with helping users reach their goals. Outside of work and school, he enjoys film photography, gaming, and making custom keyboards. And ramen.

Kimberly smiling against the backdrop of a forest

Kimberly Mak - Design Researcher

Kimberly is a first-year master's student in the Department of Physiology under the Faculty of Medicine. Coming from a multicultural background, she values the creation of an inclusive framework and strives to approach a problem from different perspectives. While she was conducting her undergraduate studies at UofT, she was supported by amazing mentors and peers through the participation of various academic and professional development opportunities. She would like to pay it forward by getting involved in student-led initiatives and to ensure opportunities are accessible to all students regardless of their backgrounds. She takes advantage of her free time to explore TO, try out new restaurants, and stay active (mostly by playing volleyball!).

Yin smiling against a white background

Yin Chen Wan - Design Researcher

Yin Chen is currently in her second year of PhD in the department of Molecular Genetics. Interested in generating creative ideas to improve student experience, she joined the Innovation Hub as a design researcher in food services. Outside of research and academics, she loves to travel and cook.

General

Delphine smiling against a backdrop of cacti and trees

Delphine Ji – Design Research Team Lead: Central Projects 

Delphine Ji (She/Her) is currently a graduate student in Physiology at the Faculty of Medicine. She previously completed a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and Physiology at UofT. She is originally from British Columbia and loves the city of Toronto for its unique culture, activity, and amazing restaurants. As a research lead, Delphine is passionate about making the student experience as good as possible, as well as analyzing and strategizing from data. Delphine is passionate about exercise, wellness, and connecting with students. 

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Austin Go - Design Researcher

Austin is a Master of Information student specializing in User Experience Design. Her curiosity in understanding human's behaviors and thoughts, and her passion in creating arts previously led her to do her undergraduate in psychology and further worked in the digital marketing field. As a design researcher, she is excited to take part in Innovation Hub’s initiative of improving campus experience especially given that design thinking and students are involved in the process! During her free time, you can find her bullet journaling using her hundreds of markers and or doing outdoor activities when the weather permits.

Hong slightly smiling while standing in front of a door

Hong Shu - Design Researcher

Hong Shu is a current first-year Master of Education student at OISE. She is passionate about creating data-driven and aesthetically appealing learning solutions in different formats. She has worked and volunteered as a curriculum developer in Higher Ed and NGOs where she can apply design thinking skills and empathy-based approach to curate riveting learning experiences for target learners. She feels the magic power of being a designer is that she could address learners’ unarticulated needs and make them feel comfortable to be who they are. In her free time, she is a full time plant step mom and enjoys both long walks with friends, and a little bit me time to recharge social batteries.

Izzy standing outdoors smiling

Izzy Friesen - Design Researcher

Izzy (they/them) is a rising third year undergraduate studying Classics, Classical Civilization, and Science, Technology and Society at the University of Toronto. They are beyond excited to be back at the Innovation Hub this summer as a Design Researcher with the Central Projects Team. They look forward to applying their interdisciplinary skillset and passion for research to the iHub's innovative design thinking work, as well as the opportunity to hear and uplift U of T students' stories. In their free time, Izzy enjoys playing video games, reading good books, and walking around Toronto (especially when accompanied by their adorable goldendoodle Sadie!).

Ting smiling standing against a backdrop of trees

Ting Bai - Design Researcher

Ting Bai is a first-year Master of Information student specializing in User Experience Design. She is excited to join the Innovation Hub as a design researcher. She is passionate about using qualitative research and creative thinking to understand and improve the student experience in the UofT community. Her interests are in user research and interaction design, and use empathy and curiosity to craft meaningful, innovative human-centric solutions. Outside of work, Ting enjoys dancing, travelling,and learning about new cultures.

Research Support

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Gianluca Mandarino - Qualitative Data Archivist

Gianluca is a fourth-year undergraduate student double majoring in Sociology and Philosophy. As the qualitative data archivist, Gianluca is responsible for managing the Innovation Hub's current database as well as coding new data and ensuring it is readily accessible to team members. As a research assistant in the Department of Sociology, he is thrilled to apply the skills he has gained in coding and transcription to projects at the Innovation Hub. He is also very excited to be building a stronger student experience and helping to create safer spaces for students. Outside of work, Gianluca loves to play sports, read, and enjoy nature.

Communication

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Anushka Saini – Digital Communications Team Lead

Anushka (she/her) is a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in Economics (focus in data analytics) and double-minoring in Computer Science and Statistics. She is pursuing user experience (UX) design, melding her passions in technology, design, research, and communication. Anushka values the forum that the Innovation Hub provides to bring together like-minded individuals inspired by making positive changes to campus life. As the Digital Communications Lead, Anushka is excited to integrate design, marketing, and strategy elements to advance the insightful student-centered projects at the Innovation hub. Apart from work and school, Anushka enjoys creating digital illustrations, travelling, cooking, and exploring cafes in Toronto 

Mika smiling while sitting on top of a staircase

Mika Vyas - Community Animation Team Lead

Mika is a third year student at the University of Toronto pursuing a double major in Peace, Conflict and Justice and Human Geography with a minor in Geographic Information Systems. As the Community Animation Team Lead, Mika supports community engagement in the Innovation Hub through organizing socials, curating grassroots strategies for outreach, creating means to animate iHub’s work space and supporting on-site events. Mika also enjoys art, reading, deep sea diving and considers herself a coffee connoisseur. Her favorite coffee creamer is Irish cream!

Anagha smiling against a colourful background

Anagha Patwardhan - Digital Storyteller

Anagha is a second-year Master of Information (MI) student at the U of T’s iSchool, specializing in User Experience Design. She believes in improving the student life at the U of T and with a previous academic and professional background in visual design, she is excited to collaborate with an incredible team and to be able to apply the design thinking and empathy-based approach to create digital communications content that visually illustrates stories highlighted by and for the student community, with the Innovation Hub tribe. Outside of school and work, Anagha is found trying out new recipes, gardening and spending time with her family.

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Christina Kim - Digital Storyteller

Christina Kim is a second-year undergraduate student majoring in Cognitive Science and Psychology with a minor in Visual Studies. She is a UI/UX designer who is passionate about solving everyday problems by creating human-centred design experiences that are delightful, helpful and meaningful. As a Digital Storyteller, Christina is excited to apply her skills with an empathy-based, human-centred design thinking approach to contribute to the student experience at the University of Toronto. A little more about her: Christina is from the beautiful city of Vancouver. She enjoys learning new ideas, watching films, playing video games and going out on hikes!

Leyla smiling against a backdrop of a brown and white wall

Leyla Memiguven - Digital Storyteller

Leyla is an international student from Turkey studying Digital Enterprise Management at the University of Toronto. She likes to help new students and especially international students like her adjust to the university and feel more at home. In her free time she enjoys drawing, writing and finding plot holes in every book, show or movie ever created.

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Tehseen Sarwar - Digital Storyteller

Tehseen is going into her third year as an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto. She is specializing in Architectural Design and majoring in Environmental Studies. As an architecture student, Tehseen understands the importance of relaying important information visually, and wishes to use her skills to excel in her position as a digital storyteller. Tehseen is passionate about helping undergraduate students navigate and optimize their university experience as much as possible. This is especially as many undergraduate students including herself started university remotely during the pandemic. Outside of school and work, Tehseen enjoys watching tv shows and documentaries.

Katherine slightly smiling in a selfie outdoors

Katherine Zheng - Digital Content Writer

Katherine (they/she) is a fourth-year undergraduate student, majoring in English and double minoring in Women & Gender Studies and Creative Expression & Society. With experience in curating thrilling content for students, and a passion for writing, they are excited to join the Innovation Hub as a Digital Content Writer. In their free time they love creating digital art, listening to podcasts, and cooking for their friends.