Graduate Associates

  • Michelle Amri

  • Michelle Amri is a public health and public policy specialist. Her initial introduction in global health was at the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Regional Office for the Western Pacific in Manila, Philippines, primarily working on smoke-free cities and health promotion leadership and financing. Michelle later returned to the WHO as a Health Promotion Consultant working on evaluating urban health for the region and again to help develop the Lao PDR national action plan on antimicrobial resistance. She holds degrees of Honors Bachelor of Health Sciences (Specialization in Health Promotion) from the University of Western Ontario and a Master of Public Administration from Queen’s University. She is currently a PhD student in Public Health at the University of Toronto.

  • Sabrien Amrov

  • Sabrien Amrov is pursuing her Ph.D. in Human Geography at the University of Toronto. In 2013, she earned her master’s degree in International Relations, with Honours, from the University of Ottawa. Her MA thesis on the Security Sector Reform in the West Bank was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. In 2011, she earned her Honours Bachelors in Conflict Studies and Human Rights with a Minor in Arabic Language and Culture from the same university. Sabrien is a broadly published author who writes on topics such as security sector reform, security logic(s), international development and Canadian foreign policy in the Middle East.  Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Middle East Monitor, Rabble and al-Shabaka Policy Network. She has done fieldwork in South Africa, Palestine, Israel, Jordan and Turkey.  Her research currently focuses on fear, intimacy and everyday security practices in the Arab world.

  • Zach Anderson

  • Zachary Anderson is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto. His doctoral research investigates the emergence of the 'green economy' and the politics of green growth in the province of East Kalimantan, Indonesia. He is particularly interested in the way that different actors are enrolled into projects of green growth leading to the creation of new social relations, including forms of land tenure and resource control. Before beginning his graduate work Zach worked as a research consultant for the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and as part of the Advancing Conservation in a Social Context (ACSC) initiative.

  • Joaquín Bardallo Bandera

  • Joaquín Bardallo Bandera is a second year PhD student in the Department of Political Science and the School of the Environment at the University of Toronto. His areas of focus are comparative politics and international development. His main research area is natural resource dependence and its significance for the Latin American region. Joaquín is the co-founder and current president of the Latin American Political Science Students Association (LAPSSA), the vice-president for the Youth Canadian Association for International Development (YCAID), the vice-president of the Graduate Environmental Students’ Association (GESA), as well as, the head representative for the Comparative Politics Section of the Graduate Association of Students of Political Science (GASPS).

    He received the Human Rights Research and Education Center’s Gordon F. Henderson Scholarship at the master level for 2013-2014. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Alberta in Political Science and Combined Languages, as well as, a Certificate in Globalization and Governance from the same university. He received a Full International Scholarship from the University of Ottawa to complete his master’s degree that focused in the strengths and weaknesses of the Rule of Law in Latin America. He has also been closely involved in several projects regarding human rights issues including PORVENIR, Amnesty International, as well as, being part and parcel of the Environmental Governance Lab here at the University of Toronto. 

  • Kira Borden

  • I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography & Planning and hold an MSc degree in Forestry. My research interests pertain to the ecology of agricultural landscapes that feature trees (agroforestry). I have carried out research on agroforestry systems in Canada, the Caribbean, and West Africa.

    My current research is based in Ghana where one of the main export crops, cocoa, is produced from trees (Theobroma cacao) that are often grown below the canopy of larger shade trees. These more diversified agroecosystems can provide additional sources of income for (typically small-holder) farmers and there are increasing efforts to financially compensate farmers who enhance or maintain certain ecological services on their farms (e.g. biodiversity protection) through the planting of shade trees. While my research specifically focuses on plant-soil dynamics in Ghanaian cocoa agroforestry systems, I am very interested in how these ecological understandings relate to concepts and questions of rural livelihoods and sustainable development for the region.

  • Michael Braun

  • Michael is interested in how popular politics and activism influence government policies,  particularly with regards to reducing inequality and increasing opportunities for young people.  His dissertation research project looks at how social movement activists and political parties are mobilizing around these issues in contemporary South Africa. 

  • Karol Czuba

  • Karol Czuba is a doctoral candidate (ABD) in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto. His PhD project explores the microfoundations of state-making through the lens of the strategic interactions between political agents involved in the process of expansion of state power in the dryland areas of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda.
    Karol’s substantive research focuses on state-making, African politics (especially East Africa and the Horn), and agropastoralist and pastoralist societies. His methodological interests include experiments, game theory, causal mechanisms, and microfoundations.

    Karol was previously a development professional and worked for BRAC and the International Organization for Migration in Uganda and for the International Growth Centre in South Sudan.

  • Aden Dur-e-Aden

  • Aden is a PhD student in the Department of Political Science at University of Toronto. Her research interests are in the field of ethnic and civil wars, with a focus on South Asia and the Middle East. Her current research is focused on understanding the recruitment of western foreign fighters, including both men and women, within ISIS. She obtained her MA in Political Science from UBC, and her MA thesis was titled: “To drone or not to drone: A comparative analysis of the effectiveness of the US’s drone policy of targeted killing in the contexts of Pakistan and Yemen.” 

  • Kevin Edmonds

  • Kevin Edmonds is a PhD student in Political Science, whose research examines the connection between trade liberalization, the decline of the banana trade and the rise of marijuana cultivation/trafficking in the Eastern Caribbean islands of St. Lucia and St. Vincent. His other areas of interest include the political economy of the Caribbean and the drug trade, agricultural policy, alternative development strategies and the history of military intervention and economic destabilization in the Caribbean.

  • Nadia Fazal

  • Nadia Fazal is a PhD Candidate in Social and Behavioural Health Sciences at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, and is part of the Collaborative Doctoral Program in Global Health at the University of Toronto. Nadia identifies as a researcher, activist, artist, community development worker, health promoter, and global health practitioner. Her doctoral research explores the role of community arts engagement in health promotion in the context of Goma, Eastern Congo. As part of her research, Nadia is conducting a secondary data analysis of the qualitative data that were generated for the purposes of the film ‘Art, For What?’; Nadia directed and co-produced this film with a Congolese non-governmental organization (NGO) called Yole!Africa. In this secondary analysis she explores the perceptions of local artists in Goma about how they are negotiating the content of their artistic expression with international NGOs, and the ways in which this is influencing the capacity of local communities to effect positive change. In the second part of her doctoral research, Nadia is conducting a secondary data analysis of qualitative data that were generated from a community art project with adolescent girls in Goma, which was implemented by an international NGO called Colors of Connection (CC). In this case study analysis, Nadia focuses on CC’s participatory and assets-focused approaches to community arts engagement, exploring how these approaches play a role in the negotiations of the content of artistic expression between CC and the local community, and how this can influence the local community to effect positive change.

  • Marie Gagné

  • Marie Gagné is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto, specializing in comparative politics and development studies. Her dissertation examines domestic factors that influence how large-scale land acquisitions unfold in Senegal with a focus on regional variations. Her other research interests include determinants of political violence, consequences of natural resource extraction, and rights of indigenous peoples. Her doctoral work has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) Program, and the International Development Research Center (IDRC).

    Marie is a research affiliate at Initiative Prospective Agricole et Rurale (IPAR) in Dakar while conducting fieldwork in Senegal. She has previously carried out a comprehensive study on the cooperative movement in Senegal financed by the former Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). This experience was fundamental in stimulating her interest in African politics and questions of development. Prior to her stay in Senegal, Marie earned a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sociology from Laval University in Quebec City. 

  • Miriam Hird-Younger

  • Miriam is a researcher and practitioner in the field of international development with a focus on participatory development, food and agricultural systems, gender and youth leadership. She is a PhD student in the Anthropology Department at the University of Toronto. Miriam’s research examines the production, manifestation and circulation of trust within the participation of local communities and institutions in development projects in Ghana. From 2011-2014, Miriam worked with Engineers Without Borders Canada (EWB), managing a development program that partnered with Ghana’s agricultural colleges to strengthen the experiential and practical education opportunities that they offered. Miriam graduated with a Bachelor Honours from the University of Ottawa’s International Development and Global Studies program in 2011 and with a Masters in Sociology from York University in 2016.

  • Joanna Kocsis

  • Joanna Kocsis specializes in participatory research methods and innovative program evaluation. She is currently a PhD student in the department of Planning at the University of Toronto and the Evaluation Specialist for the Urban Climate Resilience in Southeast Asia project (IDRC/SSHRC). Her research inquires into the world of international development from many angles, from the learning practices of grantmakers to the psychological impacts of programming on target ‘beneficiaries’. She is currently focused on learning from participatory research with marginalized groups, offering opportunities for reflection and supporting social learning. Kocsis was selected as the Research Award Recipient for the International Development Research Centre’s (IDRC) Innovation for Inclusive Growth Program in 2012 and worked as the Professional Development Awardee for IDRC’s Evaluation team in 2014. Both her MSc. in International Rural Planning and Development at the University of Guelph, and her PhD. in Planning at U of T’s St. George Campus were awarded SSHRC funding.

  • Lazar Konforti

  • Working in the non-profit sector since 2009, I have conducted research on sustainable local food systems and public policy in Canada with Montreal-based non-profit Équiterre and worked as consultant on value chain analysis and food security projects in Nicaragua and Honduras with international NGO Solidarité, Union, Coopération (SUCO). Building on my interest in globalised markets and local outcomes, I entered the PhD programme at University of Toronto in the fall of 2013. My research interests include new commercial pressures on land, agrarian transformation, and the political economy and ecology of rural development.

    My doctoral research asks how local power dynamics and global forces combine to produce agrarian change. Specifically, I am looking at the expansion of two sugar plantations in Central America owned by the same company but that have produced vastly different outcomes for local livelihoods - land grabbing, dispossession, and violent conflict in one case; gradual class differentiation and labour struggles in the other. 

  • Chi Kwok

  • I am interested in normative political theory, especially regarding justice in the workplace. The workplace connects people together; it is a place where people cultivate themselves and learn to interact with others. The arrangement in the workplace, thus, would unavoidably have an impact on the society’s basic political structure as a whole. My interest is to figure out, on the one hand, the proper normative principles that should guide the arrangement of the workplace, and, on the other hand, possible and practical alternative arrangements of the workplace that could live up to ideal principles.

  • Jennifer Langill

  • Jennifer Langill is an MA student in the Department of Geography in Planning. Her current research focuses on livelihood vulnerability and adaptation to environmental shock in the Peruvian Amazon. Through both qualitative and quantitative analysis, her research questions what coping mechanisms and social networks are available in times of environmental shock and why local populations choose to leverage certain responses. She examines how these processes are differentially experienced within communities and households and between males and females. 

     Jennifer has an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Global Development Studies from Queen's University, with a Certificate in International Studies and a Certificate of Intermediate Competence in Spanish. She has extensive experience doing fieldwork and community development in Laos since 2010. Her work in Laos primarily focuses on financial literacy and strategizing; livelihood diversification; and reducing vulnerability to environmental, health and economic shocks.

  • Emma Mew

  • Emma is a second year student in the Master of Public Health Epidemiology program at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and is part of the Aboriginal Health Collaborative Program and the Global Health Emphasis.  She is interested in social justice through the promotion of global health equity.  Prior to her graduate training, she completed a six-month internship with the World Health Organization working on global suicide prevention and also worked in Tanzania assisting the Maasai Women Development Organization develop a culturally-sensitive and community-run reproductive health program.  More recently, she has been interested in health equity among Canadian Indigenous peoples and has had the privilege to collaborate with First Nations, Inuit and Métis on a variety of Indigenous-led epidemiological projects, including those in the field of mental health and emergency medical service delivery.  For a list of publications, please visit her Google Scholar profile.

  • Sarah O'Sullivan

  • Sarah is pursuing a PhD within the Department of Anthropology, specializing in medical anthropology. She conducts research about new forms of HIV-related stigma in northern Uganda, where she has been conducting fieldwork since 2011. As HIV has become chronic thanks to widely available anti-retroviral medication, Sarah is interested in the changing relationship between the subjectivities of people living with HIV and development discourses and practices in post-conflict northern Uganda.

  • Kristen Pue

  • Kristen Pue is pursuing a PhD in Political Science at the University of Toronto, and is driven by an interest in the intersection between social protection and business – both in terms of the social role played by multinational enterprise and the turn toward ‘philanthrocapitalism’ of charities, development agencies, and non-profits. Kristen additionally researches non-state market-driven governance and social innovation. In 2014 Kristen completed her Master of Global Affairs degree at the University of Toronto, during which time she was a SSHRC CGS Masters Scholar and a Lupina Foundation CPHS Social Determinants of Health Master’s Fellow. Kristen earned her B.A. (Honours) in Political Science from the University of Alberta in 2012.

  • Shozab Raza

  • Shozab Raza is a first-year PhD student in anthropology. His research interests include capitalism, agrarian political economy, social & political movements, and social theory. His PhD research proposes to examine the relationship between agrarian transformations, ideology and politics in central Punjab, Pakistan. He can be reached at:

  • E-mail:
  • Sarah Rich-Zendel

  • I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Political Science department at the University of Toronto. My dissertation research looks at the interaction between local and global articulations of sexual norms with a focus on Nepal. In addition to completing my dissertation, I am also managing a research project in Nepal on human trafficking and unsafe migration with Vanderbilt University and the Stanford Centre on Democracy, Development and Rule of Law.

  • E-mail:
  • Nicolas Saldias

  • Nicolas Saldias is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on the political economy of postneoliberalism, with a particular emphasis on labour policy and income inequality. His dissertation focuses on redistributive labour policies in Argentina and Uruguay after the financial crisis of 2001, and the election of progressive governments in 2003-04. He recently completed fieldwork in Argentina and Uruguay and is currently in the process of writing his dissertation. Nicolas is also a co-founder and vice president of the Latin American Political Science Student Association (LAPSSA) that promotes Latin American politics at the University of Toronto and in the broader Canadian context. You can visit his personal website here:

  • Maïka Sondarjee

  • Maïka Sondarjee is a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of Toronto. She holds a Master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Montreal, and a BA in Journalism from l’UQAM. She also participated in international summer schools at the University of Geneva and at the Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences (BGSS). Her research interests concern international development and human rights’ norms, the SAPs and the PRSPs, international organizations, IR theory, international practices, and development issues in Latin America and India. She published multiple academic book chapters, op-eds and articles. After working for Radio-Canada as a journalist, Maïka worked as an international consultant in Burkina Faso with Oxfam Québec (2010), in Bolivia with the Canadian NGO Socodevi (2012), and in India with the Mother Teresa Missionaries of Charity (2014). Her doctoral research is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

  • Lahoma Thomas

  • Lahoma Thomas is a doctoral student in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto.  Her dissertation examines how criminal organizations acquire and sustain social authority and legitimacy at the local level by investigating the relationship between criminal organizations and residents. Her research and related publications have covered a broad range of topics including the expression of sexual and gender-based violence in settings of post-conflict, anti-oppression, anti-racism, and human rights. Prior to arriving at U of T Lahoma worked as a social worker and consultant, her work concentrated on addressing these issues at the systemic, community and individual level through policy development, advocacy, training, and counselling.


    Dissertation Title: Power by the people: Why law-abiding citizens support criminal organizations

  • Vanessa van den Boogaard

  • A SSHRC Doctoral Scholar and a Massey College Junior Fellow, Vanessa is pursuing a PhD in Political Science at the University of Toronto, focusing on Comparative Politics and Development Studies. Her doctoral research explores the dynamics of non-state taxation in the periphery of fragile and conflict-affected states in order to better understand the connections between taxation, citizenship, and state building.

    She has conducted quantitative and qualitative research in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, Sudan, South Sudan, Ghana, and Kenya. She has worked with the International Centre for Tax and Development, the World Bank, and the Institute of Development Studies. She has presented her research at numerous academic and policy conferences hosted by academic associations, international organizations, research networks, and national governments in Ethiopia, Azerbaijan, South Africa, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Togo, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and Canada. She also leads academic and policy dialogue as a member of the African. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from the University of British Columbia and a Master of Global Affairs from the University of Toronto, where she studied as a SSHRC scholar. She also served as an International Visiting Graduate Scholar the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at Uppsala University in 2011.

  • Christopher Webb

  • Christopher Webb is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto. He holds an MA in Development Studies form York University and a BA in Journalism and Communications from the University of Winnipeg. He has written for a range of academic and popular publications, including the Review of African Political Economy, theJournal of Peasant Studies, Jacobin Magazine, and the Canadian Journal of Development Studies. He is an editor for Canadian Dimension Magazine and Nokoko: Carleton University's Journal of African Studies. His current research looks at how youth living on the periphery of post-apartheid cities like Cape Town construct livelihoods in the context of high rates of formal sector unemployment. In addition his research explores new forms of political agency and expression among youth, including the recent rise of student and service delivery protests. Broadly he is interested in political economy, urban studies, Marxism and labour geography.  

  • Ryan Whitney

  • Ryan is a Phd in Planning student in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto. His research interests focus on the implementation of global best practice cycling and pedestrian infrastructure in Latin America as related to socioeconomic inequality. Current research projects include the exploration of the municipal institutional actors responsible for the boom in pedestrian, cycling, and public space infrastructure over the past ten years in Mexico City. Prior to starting his PhD, Ryan worked for 7 years on the adoption of policy supporting the creation of safer cities for cyclists and pedestrians in Canada, the United States, Tanzania, and Mexico. He has a MSc in Geography, Urban and Environmental Studies from Concordia University in Montreal.

  • Ruilin Yang

  • Ruilin Yang is a MA student in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto. Her main research area is the Geography of Chinese Outward FDI. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from UTSC in IDS, Economics and Human Geography. Ruilin is the graduate executive member of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association at University of Toronto (UTCSSA). During her undergraduate studies, Ruilin has carried out research on the Financial Constraints of China’s Small and Medium Enterprises. She is very interested in the factors that contribute to China’s economic development process.

  • Lusha Zhou

  • Lusha's journey before University of Toronto spanned four continents, and is partly why she is a geographer at heart. For her master's, she has focused on green infrastructure, which are landscapes that facilitate some ecological function (typically drainage to reduce stormwater runoff, or protection against soil erosion). She wrote recommendations for the City of Toronto on consultation and outreach for green infrastructure projects. For her master's research, she evaluated green infrastructure resources in Lào Cai, Vietnam, and their potential to balance urbanization pressures and climate change impacts.
    Lusha holds a BA from Dartmouth College, where she studied geography, computer science, and ethics. At Dartmouth, she was a Rockefeller Leadership Fellow, 1 of 24 selected student leaders from the class of 2013. Her prior research projects include the Vietnamese model minority myth in Czech Republic and urban heat island mitigation in Los Angeles. She has also worked as a research assistant on soil carbon loss, irrigation in New Mexico, water insecurity in Xinjiang, China, and gentrification impacts on health in New York city.