York celebrates five Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship recipients

Five York PhD students have been named Vanier Scholars, receiving $50,000 annually for up to three years to support their research. Vanier Scholars demonstrate leadership skills and a high standard of scholarly achievement in graduate studies in the social sciences and/or humanities, natural sciences and/or engineering and health.

“Vanier recipients are not merely scholars – beyond pushing the frontiers of knowledge production and learning, they also demonstrate a sincere commitment to providing service to our society,” says Fahim Quadir, Interim Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies. “Tyrone, Elan, Kam, Claudia and Erica - we commend you for your outstanding achievements. You have made York University proud.”

The full listing of recipients from across Canada can be found at Vanier Canada.

Tyrone Hall

photo of Tyrone Hall

Tyrone Hall

Communication & Culture

Hall’s proposed thesis Global Narratives and the Vulnerable frontiers: A Critical Assessment of Global Climate Change Communication Processes and Traditional Retentions examines climate change and its impact on marginalized and indigenous communities around the world.

“My project seeks to optimize the communication modalities used to inform, educate and enable social change across these communities that will boost their adaptive capacity and improve livelihoods,” says Hall. This involves mapping how macro-level climate change communication processes interface with the practices and retentions of traditional and indigenous communities that are drawn from Canada, Central America, Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

“Ultimately, it will contribute to alliance building efforts for future climate change campaigns around contentious issues, namely loss and damage and technology transfer,” says Hall. “I am especially thrilled that I opted to pursue my longstanding intellectual commitment to social change in [York’s] community.”

Hall is also a recipient of an Ontario Trillium Scholarship and a Mitacs Globalink Research Award. He previously managed the communications portfolio for 19 climate change projects across a dozen Caribbean islands, Belize, Guyana and Suriname; and served as the primary communications advisor to the regional climate change centre, which is a United Nations Centre of Excellence.

Elan Marchinko

photo of Elan Marchinko

Elan Marchinko

Theatre & Performance Studies

Performing “Truth and Reconciliation”: A Critical Analysis of Staging Indigenous Experience and Canadian Colonial Violence through Dance situates the ballets Going Home Star and The Ecstasy of Rita Joe by Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet within contemporary intercultural and Indigenous works about Canadian colonial violence.

“Bringing these settler and Indigenous-produced works into dialogue, I am excavating the stakes and the stakeholders when settler bodies portray Indigenous characters; how particular performances Indigenize and make new worlds within proscenium theatres and within and against a hostile outside world,” says Marchinko about her research. “I am looking for strategies of performance creation that move the conversation from an oppression Olympics competition for resources, to a multidirectional one where groups find common ground through moving together.”

Through intercultural dance and performance, Marchinko highlights opportunities for collaboration between settler and Indigenous communities. “I’m asking how art moves settler Canadians to acknowledge our complicity in ongoing colonial violence and how it might mobilize us to do the work of inheritance of this difficult knowledge?” she notes.

“I am thrilled to be part of the York University community,” she adds. “Theatre and Performance Studies is a fantastic program led by generous and supportive professors. Practice-based research is a mainstay of the program so I have been able to perform in and choreograph intercultural dance works while completing my academic courses and requirements.”

Kam Phung

photo of Kam Phung

Kam Phung


Phung is an organizational researcher who looks at patterns within, between and across organizations in various environments. His proposed thesis The business of modern slavery: Abolition and institutional resistance explores the issue of slavery in its contemporary form in the workplace and the context of business, which includes both formal and informal organizations.

“It is a common perception that slavery is a thing of the past. However, fully blown slavery, the horrific form of human exploitation, is still very much alive and taking place in society today, including in organizational settings around the world,” notes Phung.

“While a growing body of research in the social sciences and humanities has advanced our understanding of slavery in its contemporary form, the focus has tended to be on understanding slavery from the perspectives of people that have been enslaved, as well as the social, cultural, and regulative environments surrounding slavery,” he says. “To date, we know very little about the organizations in which slavery actually occurs.”

The research, then, seeks to have broader implications: to contribute to the understanding of how organizations may resist institutional pressures to abandon irresponsible practices.

“I am very humbled and excited to be receiving a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship. I am very thankful for my professors, Drs. Andrew Crane, Eileen Fischer, Christine Oliver, Mike Valente, and Charlene Zietsma, as well as Ms. Olga Carew, who all assisted me greatly in my Vanier application process,” he says. “The Schulich School of Business is recognized globally as a leader in research on the intersection between business and society, and I cannot imagine more ideal place for me to pursue my PhD and research.”

Claudia Sicondolfo

photo of Claudia Sicondolfo

Claudia Sicondolfo

Cinema & Media Studies

“My dissertation project tries to understand how the concept of what I’m calling contemporary screen engagement is developed both for and by Canadian youth and young creatives within a range of digital environments like Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and interactive documentary,” says Sicondolfo.

Her proposed thesis Shifts in the Cinematic: Strategies of 21st Century Youth Engagement in Canadian Screen Communities seeks to develop a theoretical application of “engagement” through spectatorship and reception theory, and to also explore current digital communities in relation to outreach and media.

“We're living in a historical moment where Canadian cinema is being quickly influenced by changing forms of technological storytelling found in the increasing exhibition and production of shifting digital environments and experiences,” she notes. “Still very much in an infancy stage, there is an increasing interest for Canadian digital screen-based institutions to adopt educational mandates for engaging youth audiences.”

The hope is to make recommendations for sustainable digital media programming that will adequately represent the technological and social needs of various Canadian screen communities.

“I am so thankful to be working within such a supportive graduate program at York University, and with such an accomplished supervision team,” she notes. “My research project is ambitious and challenging in many ways, but because my learning and research environment is encouraging of my work, I feel I can pursue these questions with sustained guidance.”

Sicondolfo is a member of the Sensorium Lab, and also serves as co-chair of the Toronto Film and Media Seminar, an initiative co-founded by York Cinema and Media Studies faculty.

Erica Tatham

photo of Erica Tatham

Erica Tatham


Tatham has developed, and is currently validating, a questionnaire that measures feelings of normalization with regard to changes in memory and cognition among older adults.

“This sense of feeling normal is associated with hope, adjustment, acceptance, validation, and intervention progress,” she notes. “This feeling has also been found to be the primary outcome of a psychoeducational memory intervention group. Thus, it is important that we have a measure to quantify this feeling.

“Once the questionnaire is validated, I will administer it to group intervention programs to determine whether the programs make participants feel more normal about their memory and cognitive changes and if this feeling influences other outcomes.”

Her proposed thesis The Effect of Memory Intervention of Feelings of Normalization will aim to validate and standardize a tool that can be used by clinicians to understand the psychological experience of their clients. It can then assist clinicians who run intervention groups to actively integrate normalization into their programs or assess whether their program instills this feeling.

“York University and the Psychology Department have been more supportive of my endeavors than I ever could have imagined,” she notes. “My supervisor Dr. Jill Rich, other faculty, and staff in the Psychology Department are always ensuring I have access to the resources, guidance, and training requiring to succeed in my research. My joint supervision by faculty at Baycrest Hospital, where much of the research takes place, has also provided a unique opportunity for mentorship and development.”