FGS Standing Committee Elections: Biographical Statements Fall 2018

Graduate Student Biographical Statements

Academic Planning & Policy Committee (1 to be elected)

Mohamed Abdelhamid (Graduate Program in Mechanical Engineering)
I am currently a second year PhD student in the department of Mechanical Engineering at Lassonde. My current work is focused on applying optimization design tools to mechanical multiphysics systems such as fluid-structure interactions. I also got my MASc degree at York University in 2015. My MASc’s work was centered on optimizing the structural configuration of ultralight ultrastrong mechanical metamaterials.

Before I came to Canada to continue my graduate studies, I was working as a mechanical design engineer in an Egyptian company specialized in the design and manufacturing of food process equipment. Before that I received my BSc in Mechanical Design Engineering in 2011 from Cairo University, Egypt.

I am honored to volunteer for the graduate student member position in the FGS Academic Planning and Policy Committee. I would do my best to represent my fellow graduate students’ opinions concerning matters of academic policy and planning. I believe it’s crucial that graduate students actively participate in the academic decisions affecting their graduate programs, their academic life and their future careers. I would spare no effort to ensure that all graduate students are equally heard and represented. This is all in support of providing an empowering and supportive environment for all students with a high-quality educational and research experience.

Joseph Agyapong  (Graduate Program in Mechanical Engineering)
Joseph Agyapong is a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree under the graduate program of the Mechanical Engineering Department, Lassonde School of Engineering, York University. His research focuses on the Material and Mechanical characterisation of Selective Laser Sintered(SLS) Tungsten Carbide Hexagonal Boron Nitride. He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering in Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology(KNUST) in Ghana, one of the renowned institutions in Africa. During his undergraduate level, he served as an assistant class representative for his first two years of study until he was nominated for a position as the Public Relations Officer of the Mechanical Engineering Team for TRATECH. One of the things that he is famous of in his undergraduate school is the fact that he participated in a lot of projects which was either a religious institution or educational institution. After his undergraduate study, he worked as a national service personnel for the country in the position of a course instructor in KNUST. With this, he volunteered and organised various workshop sessions for students for report writing as well as project management. This position for which he volunteers will suit such a character because of the new diversity which he presents on board and the eagerness to apply the knowledge gained during his undergraduate days to help improve and sustain the standard and quality of human life.

Nasra Smith (Graduate Program in English)
Nasra Smith is a 4th year PhD student in English at York University, with an MA in English and MEd in Education. She is presently working on her doctoral dissertation on East African literature.  In her professional experience, Nasra was Senior Corporate Lead for sponsorship and fundraising of community and business programs, as well as Manager of Adult Education programs. In her committee service at York, she completed a two-year term as Graduate Curriculum Representative for the English Graduate Student Association (EGSA) from 2016-2018 and one-year as EGSA Steering Officer (2017-2018). Her interests in pedagogy, curriculum planning, and program development is an excellent fit for the FGS Academic Planning & Policy Committee.

Appeals & Academic Honesty Committee (1 to be elected)

Jean Lem (Graduate Program in Education:  Language, Culture & Teaching)
Post-secondary students are under an enormous strain: a competitive job market where qualifications are becoming more exacting and demanding, social and familial pressures, and financial responsibilities all lead to complex issues that currently impact academic honesty.

In understanding student appeals, the Committee has a responsibility to be fair and equitable in respecting the rights of the student, the professor, and the institution. This entails an understanding and sensitivity of how each stakeholder may be impacted by the Ontario Human Rights Code and other statutes. The gravity of any decision must guide the Committee into proactive and just procedures and outcomes.

For the past few years, I have been working at Seneca College in an administrative position that oversees the testing of students. In my professional capacity, I have the responsibility of working with the Chairs and Deans of faculty schools to define and uphold academic integrity and honesty. My mandate is to provide unbiased advice to academic schools regarding infractions against our institution’s academic code of conduct. This advice is meant to ultimately preserve what academic achievement really represents at our college.

As a part-time student in the PhD program of Language, Culture, and Teaching, I felt compelled to apply to the position of FGS Appeals and Academic Honesty Committee in order to stay connected to, and relevant in, York’s diverse academic environment. This volunteer position seems perfectly aligned with my professional strengths and my personal commitment to academic integrity.

Hali Nikzad (Graduate Program in Health Policy & Equity)
I have completed my Undergraduate degree at University of Toronto in a double major in Health students and International Development with a minor in Psychology. Currently I am pursing my graduate studies in the Health Policy an Equity program at York University.

During my final year at University of Toronto, I was part of a research team that focused on determining if East Scarborough can be considered a youth friendly designation. Under the supervision of Dr. Ahmed Allahwala my group and I conducted descriptive in person surveys and interviews to assess how local agencies promote active living for youth in the community and asked the youth to identify the kinds of activities they would like to see in their neighbourhood.

This project provided me with scholarly research experience and allowed me to work alongside various groups such as the East Scarborough Boys & Girls Club, local youth, the East Scarborough Storefront and the City of Toronto.

Outside my academic life, I work at TD Bank where I am also actively involved in fundraising activities for Sick Kids, the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

My interest in volunteering for the Academic Planning & Policy Committee derives from wanting to be involved in a committee which will allow me to exercise sound judgement in matters regarding academic honesty and integrity. It will also provide me with a platform where I can represent the voices of my fellow students and classmates in an unbiased and fair matter.

Awards Committee (1 to be elected)

Jon Careless (Graduate Program in Political Science)
Jon is a 3rd year PhD candidate in Political Science. He has committed himself to get more involved with committees and organizations both within and outside of the York University community. Jon is currently a teaching assistant in York’s Political Science department. His research interests include urban politics, housing affordability issues, housing activism, political philosophy, and international relations theory. His strengths include listening and collaborating positively with others. Jon is devoted to helping give back to the York U community which has been given him so much in recent years.

Heather Johnston (Graduate Program in Kinesiology & Health Science)
Heather Johnston holds an MSc from the Department of Kinesiology at Dalhousie University investigating research on workspace design, motion capture, shoulder injury, rotator cuff tears and range of motion. Currently, she is pursuing a PhD in Kinesiology and Health Science under the supervision of Dr. Janessa Drake. Broadly speaking, her research interests call upon biomechanics, human factors/ergonomics, and health psychology for an interdisciplinary approach in understanding workplace musculoskeletal disorders, specifically the shoulder and low back. She has experience working with various stakeholders such as Defense Research and Development Canada, Dr. Wong Orthopaedic Sports Medicine, and The Institute for Work and Health. From these experiences, she has developed expertise in writing and evaluating proposals, executive reports, grants, and technical papers. This expertise has been rewarded by merit based awards and scholarships between her BSc (3 Entrance/In Course Scholarships), MSc (3 Provincial/National Scholarships), and PhD (York Graduate Scholarship, Tri-Council Award). Heather currently holds a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Post-Graduate Doctoral Award (NSERC PGS-D), and held a NSERC Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship during her MSc. Her personal and academic development has been demonstrated through platform presentations: Dr. David Symmington Legacy Award (Queen’s University), Graduate Student Research Excellence Award (PREP Faculty of Medicine Dalhousie University), 1st place platform Association of Canadian Ergonomists Atlantic and Top 10 rank in Dalhousie University’s 3 Minute Thesis Competition. Apart from research and teaching at York, she finds her own balance through involvement in community athletics and volunteering with children’s programming.

Jonathan Memme (Graduate Program in Political Science)
Jonathan Memme is a first year PhD student at York University, studying Physiology and is a proud alumnus of York having received his BSc in Kinesiology as well as his MSc in Physiology. Following his MSc, Jonathan worked as a Management Consultant at Carly Rian Group before transitioning back into academia. His diverse professional and academic experiences have developed strong analytical, communication and critical thinking skills which he has vetted in various contexts.

Jonathan was the recipient of the NSERC CGS-M, and a nominee for the Thesis Prize Awards at York for his MSc Thesis. As an incoming PhD student, he was also nominated by the Faculty of Health for the Elia Scholarship as the highest incoming GPA amongst candidates. Jonathan is also a member of the Muscle Health Research Centre Student Committee and the Graduate Management Consulting Association at York. While transitioning into management consulting he won the GMCA National Management Consulting Case competition at the University of Toronto, competing against Graduate and Post-doctoral students from across Canada, and worked on a pro bono consulting engagement with the Knowledge Mobilization Unit at York U. Outside of his professional/academic life Jonathan is an avid supporter of child development and research promotion, volunteering his time with numerous charities and community groups in a variety of leadership positions, including: Ride to Conquer Cancer Ambassador, Camp Oochigeas Volunteer, Research Advisory Committee Member and Sports for Development Lead at MLSE LaunchPad, and volunteer fundraiser for the Ride for Heart and Stroke among others.

Andrew Molas (Graduate Program in Philosophy )
Andrew Molas is a doctoral candidate in Philosophy at York University. In addition to presenting his research at over 30 conferences throughout North America and Europe, he is author of 7 articles and has received over 15 scholarships and awards. He earned his Honours BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Toronto and his Masters in Philosophy at York. His doctoral research focuses on the role that empathy plays in our engagement with persons living with mental health challenges and how cultivating a phenomenological concept of empathy can reduce stigma. More broadly, he works on the ethics of care as a normative theory and its application within interpersonal and professional contexts. Andrew is currently President of the Philosophy Graduate Student Association (PGSA), York’s Student Representative for the Canadian Bioethics Society, a representative of the Minorities and Philosophy (MAP) chapter at York University, and a member of the Canadian Philosophical Association’s Equity Committee. He is also a Teaching Commons Tutor (TCT) and serves as a mentor to York’s graduate students. Andrew was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) at the beginning of his undergraduate studies in 2007. Due to living with a chronic disability, he is sensitive towards others who are affected by health issues and, as a teacher, he aims to make his classrooms as inclusive and barrier-free as possible for all students. He is passionate about teaching and educational development and is constantly looking for ways to improve the quality of pedagogy offered at York University.