Meet the Top 25

The Storytellers

Storytellers 2016: Meet this year’s Top 25

The results are in. See how this year’s Top 25 Storytellers are demonstrating the real-world impact of SSHRC-funded research.

Check back here regularly: Storyteller Tuesdays begin April 19, 2016.

Each week, we’ll profile five of our Top 25—and highlight their submissions.

Who will be this year’s Final Five? Find out June 1.




Duman Bahrami-Rad

Simon Fraser University



Kinship, fractionalization and corruption


Duman Bahrami-rad is a doctoral candidate at Simon Fraser University. An international student from Iran, Duman studies development economics—most recently, he has been analyzing the interplay between culture, institutions and economics. Duman hopes his research will provide new insights and better understanding on poverty, corruption and conflict in developing countries, leading to more effective evidence-based policy.

Élodie Bouchard

University of Montreal



Gamete banks and genetic selection: putting the ideal body image into practice


Élodie Bouchard is a master’s student at the University of Montreal. She began her university studies at the undergraduate level in psychology and sociology, before receiving a degree in sociology. Élodie studies the sociology of the body and sociology of science and technology; more specifically, she is interested in exploring issues related to new reproductive technologies and the reproduction of bodily norms. She also works as a teaching assistant for undergraduate courses offered by her university’s sociology department.

Adam Cheeseman

Dalhousie University



Drawing connections to nature: Childhood environmental learning at summer camps


Dalhousie University’s Adam Cheeseman is pursuing a master’s degree in environmental studies. His research deals with childhood environmental education and learning. Specifically, Adam studies the learning experiences of children in summer camps and other extracurricular educational programs. An avid outdoors enthusiast, Adam enjoys hiking, travelling, fishing and photography, and has worked with a number of organizations promoting healthy childhood development and outdoor time for children.

Logan Cochrane

The University of British Columbia



Strengthening food security in rural Ethiopia


Vanier scholar Logan Cochrane is a doctoral candidate at The University of British Columbia. His research centres on food security in the developing world, with a particular focus on Ethiopian smallholders. Logan has extensive international work experience, having consulted for clients including Save the Children, Management Sciences for Health, UNICEF and UNAIDS. He was a 2009 nominee for a YMCA Peace Medal, completed a Mitacs project in 2014 and is the 2015 recipient of the Robert M. Netting Award.

Ron Darvin

The University of British Columbia



Digital identities, educational inequities


Ron Darvin is a doctoral candidate and Vanier scholar at The University of British Columbia. His research looks at the impact of social class in the development of digital literacy among high school students. A host on Vancouver Coop Radio, Ron has also written a play about the experiences of migrant caregivers and their families. “Waiting” has been performed in schools, helping educators understand the challenges of long-term family separation and reunification. Ron is a co-recipient of the 2016 TESOL Award for Distinguished Research.

Emanuelle Dufour

Concordia University



Les mémoires graphiques, outils de subjectivation et de rencontre


Trained in anthropology and the arts, Emanuelle Dufour holds a master’s degree from the Université de Montréal, with a focus on Aboriginal cultural safety in a postsecondary context. Her research findings have contributed to the establishment of culturally-sensitive services for Aboriginal students at that university. Emanuelle is currently studying for her PhD in the teaching of visual arts at Concordia University, with a view to exploring the potential for subjectivity and encounter in graphic memories. To date, her work has focused on education and intercultural dialogue, drawing on contributions from nearly forty countries.

Michael Farnan

Western University



Representing Wilderness: Community, Collaboration, & Artistic Practice


Michael Farnan is a multidisciplinary artist and doctoral candidate at Western University. His research explores Canadian representational history and discourses surrounding colonialism, wilderness, nature and nationhood. Michael’s work employs humour, parody and collaboration as tools for critical inquiry and reflection on how we think about relationships to nature. Michael’s final dissertation exhibition opens June 3, 2016, at Western’s McIntosh Gallery.

Ryland Fortie

Thompson Rivers University



The Camera Obscura Project: Optics, Learning and Play in Canada’s Wilderness


Ryland Fortie studies visual arts at Thompson Rivers University. His artistic practice covers a wide range of interests, from perceptual tools and light-based artwork—such as the camera obscura—to online media. Ryland’s work has been exhibited in public and artist-run galleries in Dawson City, Kamloops, Salmon Arm and Vancouver.

Rachelle Gauthier

Université de Moncton



Identité dans l'interstice


A native of Prince Edward Island, Rachelle Gauthier received her bachelor’s degree in education from the Université de Moncton. She was a teacher with Prince Edward Island’s French-language school board for five years before beginning her graduate studies at the University of Prince Edward Island. After obtaining her master’s degree, she worked as principal of a French-language school in a Francophone-minority community for 12 years. Rachelle is currently on leave from her job to work on her PhD in Education at the Université de Moncton. Her interests include identity-building in Francophone minority communities and francization.

Elissa Gurman

University of Toronto



Consent and the love plot in nineteenth-century Anglo-American fiction


Elissa Gurman is a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto. Her research looks at British and American realist novels from 1860 to 1918, focusing on representations of women in love and problems of consent. Elissa currently serves as president of the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English Graduate Student Caucus. Her work was recently featured on CBC Radio’s “Ideas from the Trenches.”

Nicholas Hobson

University of Toronto



A journey into the mystery of ritual: Exploring the psychological and neural processes


Nicholas Hobson is completing his doctorate at the University of Toronto’s Laboratory for Social Neuroscience. His primary research focus is the psychological and neural bases of ritual. Using an array of different methodologies (including behavioural and neurophysiological experiments, survey reports and big data), Nicholas is working to better understand how (and why) these ancient and universal behaviours are formed in the mind and brain. He has published widely in a number of top psychology and neuroscience journals.

Olivier Jacques

McGill University



Public spaces tailored to the needs of youth within the context of rapid urbanization in Hanoi


A PhD candidate studying architectural theory at McGill University, Olivier Jacques obtained a double master’s degree (MArch and MSc) from Université Laval in 2011. He studied at the École nationale de génie civil in Hanoi in 2005. Olivier returned to Vietnam several times to conduct field research, in particular for the Hanoi Youth Public Space project, funded by SSHRC and completed in 2015. In 2010, he was awarded the Japanese government’s Monbukagakusho Scholarship to study industrial design at the Tama Art University. Olivier is a full-time architectural consultant for Montreal-based Architecture Microclimat.

Fatima (Noori) Khan

University of Waterloo



Coastal Changes: A Case-Study of Fisheries in Chilika Lagoon


Passionate about the environment, Fatima (Noori) is pursuing a master’s of environmental studies at the University of Waterloo. Noori’s research is based along India’s east coast. As part of a collaborative research team, she studies how environmental changes are understood by those directly affected in coastal communities—rural women in particular. Through her work, Noori hopes to illuminate complex socio-ecological and cultural systems, exploring narrative histories of human interaction with natural resources and empowering locals as agents of change.

Kinnon MacKinnon

University of Toronto



Reflections of female-to-male gender identity


Kinnon Ross MacKinnon is an academic, activist and athlete. He is a PhD student in public health at the University of Toronto, where he applies social theory to understand issues affecting the health and well-being of LGBTQ people. Kinnon is an award-winning, openly transgender powerlifter, taking home a gold medal at the 2014 Gay Games in Cleveland, Ohio.

Kelly Mills

University of Saskatchewan



The Memory Writers: Sharing lives in a community writing group


Kelly Mills completed a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience at the University of Lethbridge before entering the University of Saskatchewan’s counselling psychology program. Kelly studies how older adult members of a writing group experience the practice of creating and sharing their work. Through her research, she aims to better understand how creative communities impact individuals in later life. Kelly aspires to become a psychologist in a community-based setting, and regularly participates at open mic poetry events.

Erin Mobley

Memorial University of Newfoundland



Trans- youth matter(s): An exploration of the “safe” space phenomenon


Erin Mobley is a master’s student pursuing gender studies at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Her research explores “safe” spaces in the narratives of young, trans-identified and non-binary people. Through her work, Erin aims to expand our understanding of safe space and to explore how schools can (and should) do better in creating comfortable and affirming spaces for trans- youth. Other areas of interest include community building, affordable housing and food security.

Shelley Moore

The University of British Columbia



Transforming Inclusive Education


Shelley Moore’s research integrates inclusive education, special education, curriculum and teacher professional development. Based in Vancouver, The University of British Columbia doctoral candidate is particularly interested in how students with developmental or intellectual disabilities can meaningfully participate, while also contributing to the learning of their peers. Shelley has presented at a number of conferences throughout North America.

Tara Rodas

The University of British Columbia



Training trainers: Teaching physical activity to individuals with autism


Tara is master’s student at The University of British Columbia. She works in the area of special education, with a particular focus on developing and analyzing teaching strategies for individuals with autism and developmental disabilities, training for instructors and parents, and positive behaviour support. Tara is an experienced service provider for people with autism, having worked in home, school, sports and recreational settings.

William Sanger

Polytechnique Montréal



Big data and democracy


A PhD candidate at Polytechnique Montréal, William Sanger is responsible for the big data project within the Strategy and International Economy Group at CIRANO. Having obtained a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from Polytechnique Montréal, William’s research focuses on big data. He was a co-recipient of the Discovery Award at the 2013 FinTech Montréal Forum. For his master’s degree, he developed an application for processing information contained in financial postings on social media, winning the Relève universitaire award at the 2014 FinTech Forum. William sits on the Board of Directors of PolyFinances. He is particularly interested in the linkages between big data and democracy.

Tanya Tan

Ryerson University



How Do We Talk About Wellness?


Tanya Tan is currently a master’s candidate in Ryerson University’s Literatures of Modernity program. Passionate about writing and creative storytelling, Tanya’s research interests include studies in performance, gender, media theory and digital humanities. Aside from her job as a research assistant at Ryerson, she also works as a freelance writer and editor. And while she may live in Toronto, Tanya still calls Vancouver home.

Karl-Philippe Tremblay

Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)



Mental mathematics beyond arithmetic


Since obtaining an undergraduate degree in secondary education from Université de Québec à Montréal in 2013, Karl-Philippe Tremblay has been enrolled in a mathematics education graduate program. He works at the university’s Laboratoire Épistémologie et Activité Mathématique where he is learning about the multiple dimensions of mathematics and developing his mathematics education research skills. The projects conducted at the lab focus on rethinking the construction of mathematical knowledge, the nature of mathematical knowledge itself, and learning and problem-solving processes. Participants in these projects are continually rethinking the teaching of mathematics through these multiple lenses.

Emma Vossen

The University of Waterloo



First person scholar: Publish with purpose


University of Waterloo doctoral candidate Emma Vossen is currently writing a dissertation examining the accessibility of games and games culture to girls and women. She is editor-in-chief of the game studies publication First Person Scholar, and co-founder of UWaterloo’s women’s video games advocacy group the Games Institute Janes (GI Janes). Emma has published widely on games, games culture and pop culture, including pieces on The Walking Dead, Fifty Shades of Grey and the fetish art of Superman co-creator Joe Shuster.

Jon Weller

University of Victoria



Managing the whole landscape? History and environmental management in the southern Gulf Islands


Jon Weller is a master’s candidate in history at the University of Victoria, where he studies land management in the southern Gulf Islands. Through his research, Jon hopes to contribute to the challenges of developing dynamic and constructive ways of seeing, acting and responding to global challenges. In particular, his work is concerned with encouraging broad ownership, together with a deeper connection and greater democratic participation in the places where we live.

Ian Wereley

Carleton University



Imagining energy in transition: Past, present, future


A doctoral candidate at Carleton University, Ian Wereley also serves as managing director of the Journal of the Canadian Historical Association. He studies energy transitions and the cultural history of oil. Ian’s dissertation explores Britain’s transition from coal to oil power, reconstructing the attitudes and experiences of early twentieth century Britons in the process of becoming modern oil consumers. Through his research, Ian seeks to demonstrate how these histories offer contemporary petro-societies important lessons, particularly in their efforts to transition away from oil.

Leah Woolner

McGill University



Born of war


Currently completing a master’s degree at McGill University, Leah Woolner also works at the university’s Centre for Research on Children, War, Violence and Arts-based Technologies (CREATE). Her research interests include LGBTQ forced migrants, gendered labour migration and arts-based interventions for war-affected populations. Leah is an executive committee member of PINAY, a Montreal-based, grassroots community organization for migrant and immigrant Filipino women and domestic workers.