Principal Investigator and Director:
Andrea Charise, Associate Professor , Department of Health & Society, UTSC.
Associate Director: 
Dirk J. Rodricks, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Health & Society, UTSC.
Cluster Coordinator –  Administrative Contact: 
Suvetha Krishnapillai.


Mark Campbell
Associate Professor 
Mark V. Campbell is a DJ, scholar and curator. His research explores the relationships between Afrosonic innovations and notions of the human. Dr. Campbell is a former Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in the department of Fine Arts at the University of Regina and is currently the Principal Investigator in the SSHRC funded research project on Hip Hop Archives. As co-founder of the Bigger than Hip Hop radio show in 1997 and founder at Northside Hip Hop Archive in 2010, Mark has spent two decades embedded within the Toronto hip hop scene operating from community engaged praxis as both a DJ and a Curator. Mark’s forthcoming books include B-sides and ‘Othered’ Kinds of Humans, the co-edited collection of essays, Hip Hop Archives: The Politics and Poetics of Knowledge Production with Murray Forman as well as Hip Hop in Canada: Diasporic and Indigenous Reverberations with Charity Marsh. Dr. Campbell recently published …Everything Remains Raw: Photographing Toronto hip hop Culture from Analogue to Digital as part of his recent Contact Festival exhibition at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. He has published widely, with essays appearing in the Southern Journal of Canadian Studies, Critical Studies in Improvisation, Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society and the Journal of World Popular Music. His popular writing can be found in various public sources, such as the Globe & Mail, the Toronto Star as well as hip hop magazines such as Urbanology.
Andrea Charise
Associate Professor 
Andrea Charise, PhD, is Associate Professor of Health and Society at the University of Toronto Scarborough. A hardcore potter and ceramics artist, she is currently completing Fleming College’s Ceramics program (Haliburton School of Arts + Design, Canada). She is the author or editor of two recent academic books, including the Routledge Companion to Health Humanities (2020), and The Aesthetics of Senescence (SUNY Press), a finalist for the 2020 British Society for Literature and Science’s Book Prize. She curates The Resemblage Project, an award-winning intergenerational digital storytelling initiative (, and is Principal Investigator of “Flourish: Community-Engaged Arts as a Method for Social Wellness”, an interdisciplinary research cluster dedicated to advancing creative arts engagement across the lifecourse. For more, see
Allison Crawford
Associate Professor 
Allison Crawford, MD, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry, and Dalla Lana School of Public Health, at the University of Toronto. She is a psychiatrist and Clinician Scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, where she is the Chief Medical Officer of the Canada Suicide Prevention Service; Medical Director of the Ontario Psychiatric Outreach Program; and a Founder and Co-Chair of ECHO Ontario (, an award-winning, virtual community of practice. She also holds a Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Public Health at Johns Hopkins University (2021-2022). These activities advance access to mental health services, with a focus on public mental health, suicide prevention, and community and citizen engagement in health care. Crawford also has a PhD in English literature, and leads the Health Humanities portfolio in the Department of Psychiatry. As the Founder and Scientific Director of HeART Lab (, and Editor-in-Chief of Ars Medica: Journal of Medicine, Humanities and the Arts (, she brings arts-based research approaches to her work in community engagement and knowledge translation, and believes that the arts contribute to public mental health.
Obidi Ezezika
Associate Professor 
Obidimma Ezezika (BSc, Ph.D., MEM, ACUE) is an Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream at the University of Toronto in the Department of Health & Society (Scarborough Campus) and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health (St. George Campus). He is also an Adjunct Professor at the Faculty of Health Sciences at Ontario Tech University. He is the Founding Director and Principal Investigator of the Global Health & Innovation Lab: an Implementation Science research and education initiative on the systematic uptake of evidence-based interventions into routine practice in global health. Prof. Ezezika’s research examines how to scale evidence-based interventions to meet marginalized communities’ health needs at the local and global levels. His research aims to promote evidence-based health interventions, particularly in low and middle-income countries, using implementation science research. These interventions range from mhealth technologies, vaccination campaigns, infectious disease treatments to large-scale nutrition interventions. He is the inaugural recipient of the University of Toronto Global Educator Award, recognizing faculty members who embody its global mission and profile. He is also the recipient of several other awards, including the D2L Innovation Award in Teaching and Learning and the Next Einstein award.
Barry Freeman
Associate Professor 
Barry Freeman is Associate Professor of Theatre and Performance at the University of Toronto Scarborough and the Centre for Drama, Theatre & Performance Studies, and currently Chair of UTSC’s Arts, Culture & Media Department. He is the author of Staging Strangers: Theatre & Global Ethics, co-editor of In Defence of Theatre: Aesthetic Practices and Social Interventions, Associate Editor of Canadian Theatre Review. He is currently PI of Belongings, and co-lead on PLEDGE.
Cassandra Hartblay
Assistant Professor 
Cassandra Hartblay is Assistant Professor in the Department of Health & Society at the University of Toronto Scarborough, where she is also Director of the Centre for Global Disability Studies. Dr. Hartblay is also graduate faculty in the UofT Department of Anthropology and Centre for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies. She is the author of I Was Never Alone or Oporniki: An Ethnographic Play on Disability in Russia (University of Toronto Press 2020) and a co-curator of the disability arts exhibition #CripRitual (postponed to January 2022). Her arts-based research creation work has been staged or installed at UNC-Chapel Hill, UC San Diego, UC Berkeley, and Yale University. Her scholarly work appears in journals including American Ethnologist, Disability Studies Quarterly, and Ethnography.
Elliot Leffler
Assistant Professor 
Elliot Leffler is an Assistant Professor of Theatre and Performance at the University of Toronto – Scarborough. As an artist and a scholar, Elliot explores how theatre can be used as a catalyst for intercultural, interfaith, and intergenerational dialogue. He has led theatre projects with white, black, and coloured South Africans, with Jews and Palestinians in Israel, with Kurdish and Arab Iraqis, with urban US high school students, and with racially-diverse houses of worship. These creative and scholarly projects frequently take Elliot away from traditional theatre spaces: he has worked in summer camps, prisons, rural villages, church basements, and urban high schools. Currently, Elliot is researching the diverse community of artistry that produces the Oberammergau Passion Play, in Oberammergau, Germany. Elliot holds a PhD in Theatre from the University of Minnesota, an MA in Applied Theatre from the University of Cape Town, and a BS in Theatre from Northwestern University. He frequently presents at national and international conferences, and has published in The Drama Review, Research in Drama Education, Theatre Research International, Theatre Topics, and Contemporary Theatre Review. His forthcoming book, Applied Theatre and Intercultural Play: Ludic Encounters with Otherness, is under contract with Palgrave Macmillan.
Roger Mantie
Associate Professor
Roger Mantie (PhD) is Associate Professor, Department of Arts, Culture and Media at University of Toronto Scarborough, with a graduate appointment at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. He held previous appointments at Arizona State University and Boston University. His teaching and scholarship focus on connections between education and wellness, with an emphasis on lifelong engagement in and with music and the arts. While working in Phoenix he brokered partnerships with the Phoenix Center for the Arts and Mayo Clinic (the latter supported by the Arizona Commission on the Arts) to create and study programming focused on community music engagement. In 2019, he helped launch wellness-focused programming in Scarborough retirement residences. A widely-published scholar, researcher, and collaborator, Mantie is author of Music, Leisure, Education: Historical and Philosophical Perspectives (2021, forthcoming), co-author of Education, Music, and the Social Lives of Undergraduates: Collegiate A Cappella and the Pursuit of Happiness (2020), co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Technology and Music Education (2017) and co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Music Making and Leisure (2016).
Janet Parsons
Associate Professor
Janet Parsons’ program of research is focused on the development and application of qualitative methodologies to study a range of issues in health services and health policy. While her work encompasses a variety of topic areas and approaches, she specializes in narrative and visual methods. Theoretically, she draws on the work of Arthur Frank and other narrative theorists, and is also interested in theories of representation, the role of images, and their intersection with text. How stories can be used to inform our understanding of patients’ experiences, clinicians’ practices and policy uptake is a major focus. Along with her colleague James Lavery (a fellow scientist at St. Michael’s Hospital and an associate professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health) she has developed a new film-based research method called Brokered Dialogue, which explores how stories are shared and taken up by others, and how those with divergent perspectives encounter one another.
Janet is experienced in mixed methods research, because of her extensive collaborations with investigators from a broad range of disciplines. She has a specific interest in arts-based methods of inquiry and knowledge translation, and is a founding member of a national collaborative on arts-based qualitative health research, led by Dr. Katherine Boydell (Hospital for Sick Children and University of Toronto).
Janet is a physical therapist who practiced for 18 years in acute care settings, primarily in the areas of surgical oncology and critical care. She earned her MSc and PhD from the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Toronto. Her doctoral thesis entailed a narrative study of experiences of illness work, vocational work and identity work amongst persons treated for primary bone cancer. She undertook postdoctoral training at the Centre for Research on Inner City Health at St. Michael’s Hospital, in a CIHR-funded program focusing on the health of marginalized populations. Currently, she is a research scientist with the Applied Health Research Centre at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital. She is cross-appointed as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at University of Toronto, as well as being an Associate of the Graduate Department of Rehabilitation Science, School of Graduate Studies. She is also a Fellow at the Centre for Critical Qualitative Health Research.
Nikki Woods
Associate Professor
I am currently a Scientist at The Wilson Centre, and Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto. I completed my PhD in cognitive psychology with a primary interest in categorization and human memory. My research focus over the last ten years has been understanding the integration of basic and clinical sciences in clinical reasoning. I use theories from cognitive psychology to understand the mental processes and structures that underpin expertise across the health professions.

Undergraduate Fellows

Sara Aman
Undergraduate Year 4
Sara Aman is a 4th year undergraduate student pursuing a double major in Human Biology and Health Studies (Population Health) at the University of Toronto, Scarborough. During her undergraduate studies, she gained great interest in the social determinants of health, health inequities and overall trends in global health. Her current research interests are surrounding implementation science, as well as health outcomes for patients receiving orthopaedic care outside of UTSC. She is currently part of the Global Health and Innovations Lab, where she has conducted a systematic review research on the barriers and facilitators to the implementation of Vitamin A supplementation programs.
Soha Aria


Malika Daya
Daniel Gomes
Daniel Alexander Gomes is a multidisciplinary artist with over 8 years of experience in design and audio/video production. Daniel’s work has been affiliated with many esteemed organizations such as the FBI, NASA, the RCMP, and the Toronto Police Service. While pursuing a double major in Psychology and Health Studies at the University of Toronto, Daniel also served as the creative director for the Underground and TEDxUTSC. As a Scarborough resident, Daniel continues to push the boundaries of art, film, and design, and strives to bring Scarborough’s rich culture into the global zeitgeist.
Sylvie Stojanovski 


Doctoral Fellows

Nicole Dufoe
PhD Candidate (English)
Nicole Dufoe is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on sleep in nineteenth-century fiction and culture, including aspects of labour, medicine, and technology. Before beginning her PhD, Nicole worked in administration and education at Casey House, a specialty hospital for people living with HIV/ AIDS, and as a writer and dramaturge with the international theatre company DopoLavoroTeatrale.
Yasmine El-Bakri
PhD Candidate
Yasmine El-Bakri is a recent graduate at the University of Toronto Scarborough, where she completed a double major in Human Biology and Health Studies: Population Health. During her undergraduate studies, she discovered her passion for Global Health and the transcendence of health care issues across international borders. Over the last year, Yasmine has been working at the Global Health and Innovation Lab, conducting research on the barriers and facilitators to the implementation of oral rehydration therapy (ORT) in low and middle-income countries. Her research interests include maternal and child health, community wellness, and healthcare and social service access. She aims to focus her work on narrowing existing health disparities between and within diverse populations and hopes to inspire younger generations to secure the future of all women and children.
Mehdia Hassan
PhD Candidate (OISE)
Mehdia Hassan (she/her) is a doctoral student in the Department of Social Justice Education at University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). Her research interests include visual-arts-based methodologies, youth engagement, and wellness in urban neighbourhoods and Afghan diasporic communities; she is also interested in how the arts can open pedagogical possibilities and catalyze social action in communities. Mehdia holds a MA in Social Justice Studies from Lakehead University and an Honours BSc in Health Studies and Psychology from University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC). Mehdia is also a visual artist and youth arts educator in her Toronto neighbourhood of St. James Town, where she co-leads and facilitates visual arts workshops and programming for youth. Her master’s research project with St. James Town youth was inspired by her ongoing community-engaged work and her painting titled Wounds has been featured in a national juried arts exhibition, as part of the 2020 special issue of the Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education. Mehdia has also worked in Northwestern Ontario to support and strengthen Thunder Bay and District’s systemic response to gender based violence.
Gyuzel Kamalova
PhD Candidate (Anthropology)
Gyuzel  entered a PhD program in Socio-Cultural Anthropology at the University of Toronto in 2019. She completed her MA in Anthropology at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver and MA in Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney, Australia. Her PhD research focuses on disability diagnosis and implications diagnosis has for people with disabilities in their everyday lives in highly medicalized post-Soviet Kazakhstan.
Her research interests include critical disability studies, care, post-socialism, ethnographic fiction, performative ethnography, and feminist ethnography.
Lloyd McArton
PhD Candidate (Music)
Lloyd is a musician, teacher, and researcher living in Toronto, Ontario. He is working towards completing his PhD dissertation at the Faculty of Music, conducting research on independent music scenes and how people learn to organize musical lives within them. Other areas of research and contributions to publications have included exploring the inequitable variance in opportunities for musical learning, and devising ways to address those discrepancies through more widespread access. Outside of academia, Lloyd works, creates, and facilitates others’ learning as a DIY-focused musician and educator. For the past several years, he has been spending most of his musical time composing, recording, producing, and performing as a guitarist and saxophonist in the band Lost Cousins, as well as teaching music in Montessori schools and at University of Toronto.
Celeste Pang
PhD Candidate (Anthropology)
Celeste Pang (she/her & they/them) is a Senior Research Officer in the Research Department at Egale Canada, and Associate Researcher at FLOURISH: Community-Engaged Arts & Social Wellness at the University of Toronto Scarborough. Celeste is trained as an anthropologist and ethnographer, and their research focuses on intersections of aging, disability, gender and sexuality, and “care” broadly conceived. Over the last ten years, Celeste has led and collaborated on multiple projects that consider access and equity in relation to aging, including SSHRC-funded doctoral research focused on the social dynamics and norms shaping LGBTQ older adults’ experiences living in long-term care homes, and mixed-methods research on palliative care, end-of-life care, and intergenerational storytelling. At Egale, Celeste leads a national research and advocacy portfolio focused on 2SLGBTQI aging, health, and housing.
Celeste earned an MA in Anthropology with Collaborative Specialization in Aging, Palliative & Supportive Care Across the Life Course from the University of Toronto, and is completing a PhD in Anthropology with Collaborative Specialization in Sexual Diversity Studies

Postdoctoral Fellows

benjamin lee hicks
benjamin lee hicks, PhD (they/them), is a Postdoctoral Fellow with the FLOURISH Collective in the Department of Health and Society at the University of Toronto, Scarborough. They are also a visual artist, elementary school teacher, and sessional instructor for Elementary Arts Education in the Master of Teaching program at The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto. benjamin completed their PhD in Curriculum and Pedagogy (OISE/UT) in June, 2022. Their dissertation contains a series of graphic stories, which aim to centre the educational experiences of trans/gender diverse (GD) people in ways that are different from how we have been centred-out by others (To Do This Discussion Differently: Queering Teacher Professional Learning Through Comic Art and Graphic Stories). Visual communication and creative expression are integral to every aspect of benjamin’s professional practice because sharing stories and being deeply, intentionally present with others when they offer to share theirs is one important way that humans can enact greater care in the places/spaces we travel.  
benjamin has had the very good fortune of working closely with several research collectives over their academic career thus far, including: The LGBTQ+ Families in Schools Project (OISE/University of Toronto, 2015-2022), The Addressing Injustices Project (OISE/University of Toronto, 2015-2020), and QTPiE (Queer and Trans People in Education, University of Vermont, 2021-2022). As a teacher and educational researcher, benjamin has written and designed curriculum on topics of sustainable community building, queering school space, arts-based activism, and comic art as pedagogy. These publications and others can be found at To see more of benjamin’s work in visual art, elementary education and educational research, please visit:


Dirk J. Rodricks
Dr. Dirk J. Rodricks, Ph.D. (he/him) is a Postdoctoral fellow in Arts, Health, and Social Wellness with the Department of Health and Society and Associate Director of the FLOURISH Collective – a designated Cluster of Scholarly Prominence led by Dr. Andrea Charise. A Queer/Khush, racialized (Desi/South Asian) settler with ancestors from the southern part of India, Dr. Rodricks holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Pedagogy (with an emphasis in Critical Studies and a collaborative specialization in Ethnic and Pluralism Studies) from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto and a M.Ed. in Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration from the University of Vermont. As a scholar-practitioner with over 15 years of professional experience in postsecondary education administration committed to learning across difference through critical, creative, anti-racist, and de/colonial pedagogies, Dr. Rodricks’ research interests include multiply-marginalized young adult identity formations and negotiations of social wellness in formal and nonformal sites of learning, intergenerational ethnoracial and queer inheritances across transnational contexts, and de/colonizing qualitative methodologies anchored by applied drama. His doctoral research, “This Body Has Fought Hard to be Here”—Unearthing Mishritata: Using Drama to Map the Multiple Minoritization of Queer Desi/South Asian Young Adults in Toronto,” was recognized by two Special Interest Groups (Queer Studies and REAPA: Research on the Education of Asian and Pacific Americans) of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) with their respective Dissertation of the Year Award. He was also recently awarded the 2021 Intersectional Inclusion Award by the Gender and Sexuality Knowledge Community for NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education in recognition of his research and professional practice. Dr. Rodricks has been published in the ASHE Higher Education Report Series, Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, Youth Theatre Journal, and Qualitative Inquiry. Most recently, he co-edited (with Dr. Kathleen Gallagher and Dr. Kelsey Jacobson) Global Youth Citizenry and Radical Hope: Enacting Community-Engaged Research Using Performative Methodologies published by Springer in 2020. Dr. Rodricks currently serves on the Editorial Boards for the Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, and Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance. Follow him on Twitter (@khushscholar).
Jeff Gagnon
Jeff is a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies and University of Toronto, Scarborough. His doctoral dissertation, Tactical Dramaturgies: Media, the State, and the Performance of Place-Based Activism, develops a theory of protest tactics and mobilizations and the performance of ethical, aesthetic, and philosophical responses to contested relationships between state and space. He is also a research and digital publishing fellow with The Theatre Times.