FGS Standing Committee Elections: Biographical Statements May 2019

Graduate Student Biographical Statements

Academic Planning & Policy Committee (1 to be elected)

Md Abdullah Asad (Graduate Program in Civil Engineering)
I am a 1st year PhD student in Civil Engineering at Lassonde School of Engineering. I am very interested to serve as a Graduate student member of FGS Academic Planning & Policy Committee. I want to represent myself as a representative of my fellow graduate student in the committee. I have completed my master’s degree in Civil Engineering from York University. Prior to coming to York, I served as a Senior Lecturer at Stamford University Bangladesh (SUB). Along with my academic responsibilities I engaged myself in several administrative positions which gave me the opportunity to involve myself with various aspects of student education and development. I served as a coordinator and developed a newly built geotechnical engineering laboratory at SUB. At York, I have worked as a Counselor (Sep. 17 to Aug. 18) for the civil engineering graduate student association (CEGSA) where I have attended meetings, managed funds from York University Graduate Student Association (YUGSA), and organized events for graduate students. Currently, I am working as a Secretary of CEGSA. In addition, I am working as a Secretary of the Geoenvironmental Division of the Canadian Geotechnical Society (CGS). I believe the experience I have gathered will be helpful to serve as a member of the FGS Academic Planning & Policy Committee. I strongly believe that I can work for the development of student’s academic career by stating student’s opinion on academic matters and I want to be a part of student success.

Nancy Bell (Graduate Program in Education)
Nancy Bell is first year PhD student in the Faculty of Education. A lifelong learner, Nancy has completed four degrees, including a MEd (York) and a MA in History (Carleton). Her experiences as a student in Ontario universities over the past four decades, have given her a broad perspective on the impact that policy decisions have on the quality of academic programs and the intellectual life of students.

Professionally, Nancy has ten years’ experience in public education, working primarily with English Language Learners and International students. One of her current research interests is examining the policy framework that shapes the learning experiences and well-being of these students. Prior to teaching, Nancy had a career non-profit management, where she was involved in strategic planning and policy development for several cultural institutions.

Nancy’s interests, experience and abilities will enable her to contribute meaningfully to the Academic Planning and Policy Committee.

Munjeera Jefford (Graduate Program in Social & Political Thought)
I am a 3rd year PhD student in Social and Political Thought. My research area is anti-oppressive education management. I have been in immigrant education as a teacher and supervisor for over 7 years. During that time, I implemented many policies and protocols within the Toronto District School Board and federally funded community programs. I also created a policy for dealing with students with mental health issues and protocols for staff reporting on various issues. My Masters of Education is in Leadership and Educational Administration.

Over the last two and a half years at York, I have I have been on RISE (Racial Inclusion and Supportive Environments) at the Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion for the York Student Identity Collection census, CUPE3903 equity proposals writing team as part of the Anti-Racism Working Group (ARWG). I was a graduate student representative on the Faculty of Graduate Studies search committee for a new Dean working with the Vice-Provost office. I have won the Stephen K. Levine Award in Social and Political Thought. I worked as a research assistant for the Faculty of Education Summer Institute 2018. I wrote a draft of a monograph on data collection, took videos of board administrators and academics, collected data on the politics and pedagogy of quantitative data collection and supervised 7 research assistants.

Sahareh Kaykhosravi (Graduate Program in Civil Engineering)
I am currently a second year PhD candidate in the Department of Civil Engineering at Lassonde. My current work is focused on urban flood risk reduction using Low Impact Development (LID) techniques. I received an MSc in Civil-Water Engineering from the Amirkabir University of Technology, one of the highest ranked universities in Iran. I, also, completed my BSc in Civil Engineering from the same university with acquiring a ranked of the top 1% in the national university entrance exams.

Prior to moving to Canada, I was working as a water resources engineer in one of the largest international consulting engineering companies in Iran. Developing a strong theoretical knowledge in the institute and these professional experiences allowed me to pursue a successful career as a professional engineer and be admitted as a Ph.D. student in the YorkU. During all these years I had multiple volunteer activities. One of the recent ones was the Lassonde undergraduate seminars of the YorkU, in which I was contributed for two consecutive years (2017, 2018).

I am honored to be a volunteer for the graduate student member position in the FGS Academic Planning and Policy Committee. I believe that the academic, past professional and the diversity of positions that I have experienced, help me with performing a fruitful contribution in the committee. I will do my best to present the academic concerns, suggestions, interests, and critics of my fellow student in the committee.

Michael Laurentius (Graduate Program in Science & Technology Studies)
My name is Michael Laurentius and I am a third year PhD student within the Science and Technology Studies (STS) graduate programme. My research re-examines the role of kitsch in providing an accessible, though impoverished, means to share (or construct) a common experience during the early and high Atomic Age. As both my research and discipline hinge on interdisciplinary approaches to provide new insights, I also believe that it is the responsibility of the Faculty of Graduate Studies to champion the cause of interdisciplinarity within an institutional structure that seemingly wishes to stifle it by silo-ing resources and knowledge at the expense of broader collaboration. The graduate programs represented within this Faculty must be provided the capacity to flourish and to remain an example for the rest of the University as to how broader perspectives and epistemologies can only lead to a more robust and inclusive pedagogy. With regards to the service roles I have taken on during my time at York University, they include: (1) STS Student representative to the FGS Council, (2) member of the Working Group on Governance (YUGSA), (3) President of the STS Graduate Student Association, (4) Graduate Student Representative (MA) to the STS Graduate Executive, (5) Graduate Student member on the STS Tenure and Promotions Adjudication Committee, (6) Graduate Student member on the STS Graduate Program Director Search Committee, (7) Vice-President Unit 3 within CUPE Local 3903, and (8) Secretary-Treasurer within CUPE Local 3903.

Mirco Stella (Graduate Program in Education)
My name is Mirco Stella, third year PhD student in the Faculty of Education. A firm advocate for direct participation, I believe as graduate students we have a right and responsibility to contribute to the overall vision of the programs offered. In the last two years at York University, I have participated as Chair of my departmental Graduate Association(YGSE), in essential governance structures such as Grad Exec, Faculty and Graduate Councils.

In respect to my interest in this specific committee, I can say that as a school teacher, educator and researcher I am driven by a strong passion for pedagogy and interest in innovative curricula. Hence, my dissertation aims to explore the spaces and validity afforded to practices of collaboration, dialogical meaning-making and co-authorship in academic settings. I deem such practices valuable, as potentially disruptive of dominant epistemologies and methodologies, or even disciplinary boundaries. Thus, my strong inclination towards interdisciplinarity - inspired by the Gulbenkian Commission- and the ways in which it may lead to groundbreaking thinking. Moreover, I am acutely aware of the university's positionality not merely in creating new openings but legitimating possibilities in the eyes of the schooling system more broadly.

Overall my life is animated by a strong commitment to community and a profound belief in the commons. Core values which are at odds with a grimly painted global reality of profit, commodification, and marketable efficiency. Finally, I believe that wishful thinking and desiring change are not sufficient, we must act upon those ideas and commitment.


Faculty Member Biographical Statements

Appeals & Academic Honesty Committee (2 to be elected)

Ian Moyles (Graduate Program in Mathematics & Statistics)
I am an Assistant Professor in Applied Mathematics and my research interests are in mathematical modelling, asymptotic analysis, and scientific computing, particularly for industrially relevant problems. Prior to my role at York I did my PhD at the University of British Columbia and held a postdoctoral position at the Mathematics Applications Consortium for Science and Industry in Limerick, Ireland. I currently serve on the scientific committee for the 2020 European Consortium for Mathematics in Industry Conference and while in Ireland served on the Athena SWAN committee promoting and improving gender equality within the department. I also organised the department seminar series for two years.

Shobna Nijhawan (Graduate Programs in Gender, Feminist & Women’s Studies and Humanities)
Shobna Nijhawan is interested in and committed to joining the FGS Council’s Appeals & Academic Honesty Committee in order to contribute to fair assessments and applications of York University guidelines on academic integrity. As a supervisor of around 20 PhD students over the past decade, she has herself never encountered an appeal and/or case of academic dishonesty, however, she would like to learn more about the process on the Faculty of Graduate Studies level. She brings experience from her service in Liberal Arts and Professional Studies (Curriculum Planning Committee) as well as the academic dishonesty cases that she has had to deal with on the undergraduate level in her home department (Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics).
Nijhawan holds a PhD in South and Southeast Asian Studies from the University of California (Berkeley). Her research engages with the Hindi public sphere of the early twentieth century. She has authored two monographs on the theme of women’s periodicals as well as literary periodicals and has edited an anthology on Hindi and Urdu literature of the early twentieth century. She has published a variety of articles on gender, language and history in late-colonial India as well as on the teaching of language and culture in the post-secondary institution.

Jonathan Obar (Graduate Program in Communication & Culture)
Jonathan Obar, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies. He also serves as a Research Fellow with the Quello Center, a communication policy research center at Michigan State University, where he previously worked for four years. His teaching and research focus on information and communication policy, and the relationship between digital technologies, civil liberties and the inclusiveness of public culture. Recent academic publications address Big Data and privacy, internet routing and NSA surveillance, network neutrality, and digital activism. He is co-editor of Strategies for Media Reform: International Perspectives, published by Fordham University Press.

Dr. Obar has served as a Research Fellow with the public policy think tank the New America Foundation and the media reform organization Free Press, as a researcher with the Open Society Foundations, and as a Senior Advisor to the Wikimedia Foundation’s Wikipedia Education Program.

The role and delivery of ethical conduct, especially in university settings, are issues central to Dr. Obar’s research and teaching. His ongoing privacy work addresses the extent to which informed consent can be achieved in Big Data contexts. With the Wikipedia Education Program academic honesty concerns are contemplated and addressed often, especially in the context of online research.

Dr. Obar has a Master of Arts degree in Media Studies from Syracuse University and a PhD in Mass Communications from Penn State University.