KMDI-Semaphore acknowledges that it has many supportive members. If your name is not on the list below; your short bio is missing or inaccurate, please email us at

Lab heads

Critical Games Lab: Dr. Sara Grimes

Dr. Sara M. Grimes is Director of the Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI) and Director of Semaphore at the University of Toronto. Her research and teaching are centred in the areas of children’s digital media culture(s) and critical theories of technology, with a focus on digital games. Her published work explores the commercialization of children’s play culture and creative expression, discussions of intellectual property and fair dealing in child-specific digital environments, as well as the legal and ethical dimensions of marketing to children online. Recent publications appear in the journals Games and Culture, Cultural Studies, Journal of Consumer Culture, and Science Technology & Human Values. She is the author of Digital playgrounds: The hidden politics of children’s online pay spaces, virtual worlds and digital games (In press).

Community outreach forms a core part of Dr. Grimes’s professional practice, and she regularly speaks at media/cultural industry conferences, participates in policy consultations, and engages in community outreach. Most recently, she was Principal Investigator of cross-sector collaboration called the Kids DIY Media Partnership, which identified opportunities and challenges associated with children’s “do-it-yourself” media platforms.

Professor Grimes has a PhD in Communication from Simon Fraser University, and is Associate Professor of Children’s New Media and Literature at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto.

Critical Making Lab: Dr. Matt Ratto

Dr. Matt Ratto is Associate Professor with the Faculty of Information, and the newly appointed holder of the Bell University Laboratories (BUL) Chair in Human-Computer Interaction. He is also Chief Science Officer of Nia Technologies, a non-profit social enterprise aimed at using 3D printing technologies to help improve the lives of people with disabilities in developing countries. Previously, Dr. Ratto created and ran ThingTank, a collaborative project between private, non-profit, and academic partners working collectively on the then-new Internet of Things. He was co-founder and Director of the Semaphore Research Cluster from 2011-2018.

Widely known as an expert on 3D printing and digital fabrication, Dr. Ratto’s academic work first and foremost centers on the notion of “critical making,” a term he uses to describe the making of material objects as a means of engaging with both the practical and theoretical. It forms the basis of his Critical Making Lab, housed at Semaphore, and is discussed in his many journal articles, conference papers, chapters, and his upcoming book (provisionally) entitled Critical Making.

Professor Ratto received his PhD from the University of California, San Diego, completed a 2 year post-doc at the Netherlands Institute for Scientific Information (NIWI), and received a research fellowship at the HUMlab, an innovative digital humanities laboratory located at the University of Umea, Sweden.

Technoscience Research Unit: Dr. Michelle Murphy & Kristen Bos

Dr. Michelle Murphy is a feminist technoscience studies scholar and historian of the recent past who theorizes and researches about the politics of technoscience; decolonial approaches to environmental justice; sexed, raced, and queer life; reproductive justice; infrastructures; and critiques of racial capitalism and particularly in contemporary, settler colonial, cold war, and postcolonial conjunctures associated with Canada and United States, and more recently Bangladesh.

Dr. Murphy is the author of The Economization of Life (Duke University Press 2017), Seizing the Means of Reproduction: Feminism, Health and Technoscience (Duke University Press, 2012) and Sick Building Syndrome: Environmental Politics, Technoscience, and Women Workers (Duke University Press 2006). She is the 2019 winner of the Fleck Prize from the Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S).

Professor Murphy is Red River Métis from Winnipeg.  She has a PhD in History of Science from Harvard University and is Professor of History and Women and Gender Studies at the University of Toronto.

Kristen Bos is an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Science and Technology Studies in the Historical Studies Department at the University of Toronto Mississauga, and the Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto. She is an Indigenous feminist researcher trained in archaeological approaches to material culture as well as an Indigenous science and technology studies (STS) researcher, who is concerned with the relationship between colonial, gendered, and environmental violence. Professor Bos is an urban Métis based in Toronto, but her homeland is in northern Alberta where the prairie transitions into the boreal forest. Kristen is the Co-Director of the Technoscience Research Unit.

Sensory Information Processing Lab: Rhonda McEwen

Dr. Rhonda McEwen is Canada Research Chair in Tactile Interfaces, Communication and Cognition, Associate Professor of New Media & Communication, and Director of the Institute of Communication, Culture, INformation and Technology (ICCIT) at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Professor McEwen has worked with and researched in digital communication media for 15 years, both for companies providing services and in management consulting to those companies. Her research and teaching centre around information practices involving new media technologies, with an emphasis on mobile and tablet communication, new media, social networks, and sensory information processing.

Dr. McEwen is the co-author, with Dr. Adam Dube, of Understanding Tablets from Early Childhood to Adulthood: Encounters with Touch Technology (Routledge 2018). Other recent publications appear in the journals Information, Communication & Society, Computers and Education, Learning & Instruction, New Media and Society, and Library and Information Science Research.

Professor McEwen holds an MBA in Information Technology from City University in London, England, an MSc in Telecommunications from the University of Colorado, and a PhD in Information from University of Toronto.

Sensory Information Processing Lab: Michelle Lui

Dr. Michelle Lui is a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology, University of Toronto Mississauga. Her research lies at the intersection of the Learning Sciences and Human Computer Interaction, where she is currently investigating tactile interactions, communication and cognition in mixed-reality learning environments. Dr. Lui has a PhD in Education (Curriculum Studies & Teacher Development) from the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto, specializing in Knowledge Media Design. Her thesis, “Designing EvoRoom: An immersive simulation environment for collective inquiry in secondary science,” looks at the learning and design affordances of a mixed reality environment and collective inquiry curricula for students learning Grade 11 biodiversity and evolution topics. Her previous work includes several different research projects in smart classrooms (Math, Physics, EPIC) and technologies for health including PEIR and CHAT.

KMDI Executive Committee

TL Cowan – Faculty of Information/Department of Arts, Culture and Media (UTSC), Assistant Professor

T.L. Cowan is an Assistant Professor of Media Studies (Digital Media Cultures) in the Department of Arts, Culture and Media (UTSC) and the Faculty of Information (iSchool) at the University of Toronto. Before moving to the University of Toronto, T.L. was a Presidential Visiting Professor in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Yale University, and Chair of Experimental Pedagogies in the School of Media Studies at The New School. T.L.’s research focuses on cultural and intellectual economies and networks of minoritized digital media and performance practices. This work includes a first monograph on intermedial performance, poetry and digital culture, entitled Poetry’s Bastards and a second, on the translocal methods of trans- feminist and queer cabaret in Montreal, Mexico City and New York City, entitled Sliding Scale, both nearing completion. T.L. is also the Primary Investigator on a collaborative digital research-creation project called the Cabaret Commons: an online archive and anecdotal encyclopedia for trans-feminist and queer artists, audiences and researchers, and is writing a co-authored book entitled Checking In: Feminist Labor in Networked Publics & Privates with Jasmine Rault.

Mark Chignell – Mechanical & Industrial Engineering, Professor

Mark Chignell has been a member of the Mechanical & Industrial Engineering faculty since 1990. Prior to that he was an Assistant Professor in Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Southern California from 1984 to 1990. Professor Chignell taught in the Psychology Department at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia from 1980 to 1982. He has a PhD in Psychology (University of Canterbury, New Zealand, 1981), and an MS in Industrial and Systems Engineering (Ohio State, 1984). He was formerly (2013-2017) the Director of the Knowledge Media Design Institute at the University of Toronto, and the BUL Chair in Human Computer Interaction. He has been a visiting scientist at the IBM Centre for Advanced Studies in Toronto since 2002 and he was a visiting scientist at Keio University from 2005 to 2010.

Sara Grimes – Faculty of Information, Associate Professor, Director of KMDI-Semaphore (Chair)

Felan Parker – Book and Media Studies (St. Mike’s College), Assistant Professor

Felan Parker is an interdisciplinary scholar of media and culture, specializing in digital media, games, and film. His current research explores the production, distribution, and reception of independent or “indie” digital games with a particular focus on the role of intermediary actors like curators, critics, and community organizers in the cultural ecosystem of the game industry. Other interests include Canadian game development, media industries, transmedia franchises, blockbusters and spectacle, authorship, genre, and analog games. Dr. Parker is co-editor, with Dr. Jessica Aldred, of Beyond the Sea: Critical Perspectives on Bioshock (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2018), an anthology of essays on the influential game series. Other recent works have been published in leading journals and presented at conferences around the world, and he is currently President of the Canadian Game Studies Association. Previously, he held a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at Concordia University’s Technoculture, Art and Games Research Centre, and he completed his Ph.D. in Communication & Culture at York University. Outside of his academic work, he is the co-founder of Toronto Outdoor Picture Show, the not-for-profit organization that produces film screenings in parks across the city, including the popular Christie Pits Film Festival.

Leslie Shade – Faculty of Information, Professor

Leslie Shade is a Professor at the Faculty of Information whose research focus is on the social and policy aspects of information and communication technologies (ICTs), with particular concerns towards issues of gender, youth and political economy. Her research promotes the notion of the public interest in ICT policy; publications, community outreach and student supervision have as their goal the promotion of a wider popular discourse on information and communication policy issues and media reform in Canada and internationally for a diverse public and policy audience. This includes an ongoing commitment to building participatory scholar-activist networks.

Jim Slotta, OISE, Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, Professor

 Jim Slotta is Professor and President’s Chair in Knowledge Technologies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. Since 2005, he has led a team of students, designers and developers to investigate new models of collaborative and collective inquiry in K-12 science, including powerful new roles for technology enhanced learning environments. Building on a background in physics and cognitive psychology, he has developed a pedagogical model known as Knowledge Community and Inquiry, in which students explore investigate a phenomenon or issue within a carefully scripted and orchestrated sequence of learning activities. Their inquiry is situated within smart classrooms and distributed learning environments, featuring user-contributed content, aggregated and emergent forms of knowledge, and a variety of scaffolds for the orchestration of individual, small group, and whole class activities.

KMD Collaborative Specialization Committee

  • Sara Grimes, Faculty of Information, Associate Professor, Director of KMDI.
  • Mary Elizabeth Luka, Faculty of Information, Director of KMD Collaborative Specialization (Chair).
  • Clare Brett, OISE, Chair of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning.
  • Liat Margolis, Daniels Faculty, Director of Landscape Architecture.
  • Patrick Keilty, Faculty of Information, Assistant Professor.
  • Costis Dallas, Faculty of Information, Museum Study.
  • Joseph Ferenbok, Director of Translational Research Program.
  • Antje Budde, Drama, Associate Director Graduate Studies (on sabbatical).
  • Mark Chignell, Mechanical & Industrial Engineering, Professor, Former KMDI Director.

KMDI Fellow

Nina Czegledy, artist, new media art curator and writer

Nina Czegledy is an artist, curator, and educator, and works internationally on collaborative art & science & technology projects. The paradigm shifts in the arts as well as the changing perception of the human body and its environment inform her projects. She has exhibited and published widely, won awards for her artwork and has initiated, lead and participated in forums and festivals worldwide. Czegledy developed and co-organized over twenty-five international educational forums and workshops in the last ten years.

KMDI-Semaphore Current Students

Students of the Collaborative Specialization in Knowledge Media Design automatically become members of the KMDI-Semaphore upon acceptance into the CS. If you are a current KMD student and would like to be listed here, please contact our Administrative Coordinator Rekha Morbia (

Anna Kalinowski, PhD Candidate

Anna Kalinowski is a PhD student at the Faculty of Information.  Her research is concerned with death in video games as a form of time travel, due to the ‘die and retry’ mechanic many games employ.  She received her MA in Cinema and Media studies at York University, and previously studied Fine Arts at OCAD University.

Allen Kempton, PhD Candidate

Allen Kempton is a PhD student at the Faculty of Information. His area of interest focuses on the intersection of digital communication technologies and theories of play and game. Allen’s research currently focuses on the development of meta-play via information communication technologies and how globally developed practiced influence local digital gaming play practices of Pokemon players in Durham Region.

Maggie, PhD Candidate

Maggie is a PhD student at the Faculty of Information. Her doctoral project looks to pornography platforms, using digital methods to shed light on the organizational tactics of free porn tubesites.  Maggie’s thesis research at Concordia University focused on the user experience of PornHub, where she also approached deepfake porn as a vehicle for moral panic.

Follow Maggie’s work on twitter: @internetmaggie .

Curtis McCord, PhD Candidate

Curtis McCord is currently a PhD student at the Faculty of Information, generally nondisciplinary scholar focused on democratic socio-technical infrastructures, participatory design of community/civic technology, and how these types of political and social activity relate to transformative sustainability and social change. Previously, Curtis’ studies included a B.A. in Philosophy and Political Science, and an MI in information systems design, and a thesis focused on reading values in the design of online consultation systems run by governments. Currently favoured techniques include qualitative data collection with frames from critical systems thinking, science and technology studies, and communications.

Dawn Walker, PhD Candidate

Dawn Walker is a PhD student at the Faculty of Information. Her research focuses on participation in civic technology and design practices. She completed her Master’s of Information at the University of Toronto in 2016. Her previous research includes co-design to investigate how community mapping increases participation in urban agriculture. Dawn also hold an Honours Bachelor of Arts with Distinction in Philosophy and History.

Yaxi Zhao, PhD Candidate

Yaxi Zhao is a PhD student at the Faculty of Information. Her research focuses on user experience in augmented reality (AR) environments and particularly users’ cognition, emotions, and behaviors. Yaxi holds an M.A. in educational Psychology and a B.Sc. in Psychology.

Contact Yaxi: yaxi[dot]zhao[at]mail[dot]utoronto[dot]ca

Distinguished KMDI Alumni

Prof. Ron Baecker

Professor Ron Baecker is the founder of Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI) and an Emeritus Professor of Computer Science, Emeritus Bell Chair in Human-Computer Interaction, and founder and director of the Technologies for Aging Gracefully lab (TAGlab) at the University of Toronto. He has been named one of the 60 Pioneers of Computer Graphics by ACM SIGGRAPH, has been elected to the CHI (Computers and Human Interaction) Academy by ACM SIGCHI, has been given the Canadian Human Computer Communications Society Achievement Award, has been named an ACM Fellow, and was recently given a Canadian Digital Media Pioneer Award.
Prof. Ron Baecker’s personal webpage and Wikipedia page.

Prof. Bill Buxton

Prof. Bill Buxton is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto, a principal research at Microsoft Research was a Visiting Professor at KMDI. He is known to be one of the pioneers of the field of human-computer interaction and an advocate for incorporating user-centered design into the making of technology.
Prof. Bill Buxton’s personal website and Wikipedia page.

Prof. Andrew Clement

Prof. Andrew Clement is a Professor Emeritus at the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. His research and teaching interests are in the social implications of information/communications technology and human-centred systems development.
Prof. Andrew Clement webpage.

Prof. Steve Mann

Professor Steve Mann (PhD, MIT ’97), widely regarded as the Father of Wearable Computing, is an inventor best known for his work in wearable computing, augmented reality, and the invention of HDR (high dynamic range) imaging. Mann is a tenured full professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto and General Chair of the IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society.
Prof. Steve Mann Wikipedia page.

Ast. Prof. Hervé Saint-Louis

Hervé Saint-Louis is assistant professor of emerging media at Université du Québec à Chicoutimi. He researches human-computer interaction and information policy. Saint-Louis is also a cartoonist.

Prof. Dominique Scheffel-Dunand

Dominique Scheffel-Dunand has a Ph.D. in Linguistics from Lyon (France) and is a LLM candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of French Studies at York University. At the University of Toronto, she was the Director of the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology and was involved for more than ten years in the Knowledge Media Design Institute as a member of the Steering Committee and as a Research Fellow.
Prof. Dominique Scheffel-Dunand webpage.

Prof. Lucy Suchman

Prof. Lucy Suchman is a Professor of Sociology at Lancaster University was KMDI’s first scholar and Visiting Professor in 2002. Her research interests are within the field of feminist science and technology studies are focused on technological imaginaries and material practices of technology design, particularly developments at the interface of bodies and machines.
Prof. Lucy Suchman webpage and Wikipedia page.

Prof. Marilyn Tremaine

Prof. Marilyn Tremaine is a Research Professor at Rutgers University and was previously a Professor in the Computer Science Department at the University of Toronto. Dr. Tremaine co-founded ACM-SIGCHI and has served as SIGCHI’s Vice-President of Communications, Vice-President of Finance, Vice-President of Conference Planning and most recently, President of SIGCHI.
Prof. Marilyn Tremaine Wikipedia page.

Prof. Barry Wellman

Professor Barry Wellman studies networks: community, communication, computer, and social. His research examines virtual community, the virtual workplace, social support, community, kinship, friendship, and social network theory and methods. He is the co-author of the prize-winning “Networked: The New Social Operating System”.
Prof. Barry Wellman Wikipedia page.

Distinguished Semaphore Alumni

Nina Czegledy
Mike Doell
Arlete dos Santos
Adam Dube
Alison Harvey
Issac Record
Jon Remedios
Pierre Seguin
Susan Sim
Chris Young