Who We Are

KMDI-Semaphore Director


Dr. Sara M. Grimes is Director of the Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI) and Semaphore Labs, as well as Associate Professor in the Faculty of Information 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. Her scholarship appears in numerous academic journals, edited collections and readers, and has been presented at multiple national and international conferences. 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, Professor Grimes was Principal Investigator on a multi-year, cross-sector, transnational research collaboration called the Kids DIY Media Partnership, which identified key opportunities and challenges associated with children’s “do-it-yourself” media platforms, and investigated their implications for children’s creativity, learning, cultural rights, and well-being. Professor Grimes holds degrees in Communication  from Simon Fraser University (PhD, MA) and the University of Ottawa (BA Hons). She is the founder and head of the Kids Play Tech Lab (formerly the Critical Games Lab).

KMD-Collaborative Specialization Program Director


Dr. Mary Elizabeth (“M.E.”) Luka was appointed as the KMD-CS Director as of July 1, 2020. Dr. Luka is Assistant Professor of Arts, Media & Culture Management and Interim Program Director, Arts Management, at the Department of Arts, Culture, Media (UTSC), with a cross-appointment at the Faculty of Information.

Dr. Luka is also an award-winning scholar, activist and digital media producer for arts, social enterprises, broadcasting and telecommunications, and creative management policy, planning and practice. She studies modes and meanings of creativity and innovation in the digital age, to investigate how arts, culture, media and civic sectors are networked together. Her research examines co-creative and collaborative production, distribution and dissemination in the intersecting fields of media, arts and culture.

Lab Heads

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, Matt created and ran ThingTank, a collaborative project between private, non-profit, and academic partners working collectively on the then-new Internet of Things. Widely known as an expert on 3D printing and digital fabrication, Matt’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 in 2003, 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. He moved to the University of Toronto in 2008. He is the head of Critical Making Lab.

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.She is the author of The Economization of Life (Duke UP 2017), Seizing the Means of Reproduction: Feminism, Health and Technoscience (Duke UP, 2012) and Sick Building Syndrome: Environmental Politics, Technoscience, and Women Workers (Duke UP 2006), winner of the Fleck Prize from the Society for the Social Studies of Science.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. She is the head of Technoscience Research Unit (TRU).

Kristen Bos

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 (TRU).

Dr. Priyank Chandra is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. His research is interdisciplinary and studies the sociotechnical practices of communities living at the margins of society. Specifically, he focuses on how technology use relates to informality, accessibility, and resistance. He received his PhD in Information from University of Michigan and was a Postdoctoral Fellow in theDepartment of Computer Science at University of Toronto. He is the director of the STREET (Socio-technical Resistance and Ethical Technologies Lab).

Phd Students

Vanbasten de Araújo - PhD student headshot

Vanbasten de Araújo (he/him) is a Brazilian scholar interested in decolonial science and technology studies in Latin America, especially in Brazil. He has a BA in International Relations by the University of Brasília, in Brazil, and a MA (High Honors) in Critical Gender Studies by the Central European University, in Budapest, Hungary. Currently, as a PhD Student at the Institute for Women and Gender Studies at the University of Toronto, de Araújo focuses on how toxic matter affects the daily lives of humans and nonhumans, creating long-term health effects, particularly regarding their sexual and reproductive health. In his dissertation, he is interested in furthering the studies on ‘non-spectacular forms of contamination’ – an intoxication that does not happen through large-scale environmental disasters.

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Nelanthi Hewa is a PhD student at the Faculty of Information. Her research looks at journalistic coverage of sexual violence, with a particular focus on the increasingly precarious nature of journalistic work and the role of digital media and online platforms. Nelanthi holds a master’s degree in journalism and communications and a BA in English Literature with a double minor in History and Philosophy.






Camille Intson is a PhD student in the Faculty of Information, and an award-winning writer, multidisciplinary theatre and performance maker, and media artist. She completed her Master of Arts degree in Performance Practice as Research at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London, U.K., and her prize-winning works have been produced and developed across Canada. Her academic research focuses on digital intimacy in performance, as well as post-humanities trends of theory and practice across neoliberal public institutions. For more information about Camille follow @camilleintson, or visit camilleintson.com


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

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 metaplay via information communication technologies and how globally developed practiced influence local digital gaming play practices of Pokemon players in Durham Region.

elisha headshot

Elisha Lim is a PhD student in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. Elisha published a queer graphic novel, won film awards at local and federal levels in Canada and the United States and juried writing. They recently published the paper The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Facebook in Social Media + Society and are currently working on a new graphic novel, as well as a scholarly paper to codify the term “identity economics.” Elisha holds two Masters degrees, an English Literature MA from U of T, and a museum curating MFA from OCAD University.

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 .


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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.


Ashique Ali Thuppilikkat is a PhD student in the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto. He studies the role of technology in social movements and the resistance practices of communities in the margins. In the past, he pursued an M.Phil in Political Science from the Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. 




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Azhagu Meena Paramanathan                   

Aline Zara                           

Madison Mackley                             

Upasana Bhattacharjee        




KMDI-Semaphore Staff


Carol Lee is the Administrative Coordinator – 


Research Assistants

Michael Andreae

Michael Andreae is the Makerspace supervisor as well as a Masters of Information student at the iSchool.  For many years he has been working on various electronics and making projects and is currently converting a 1978 Spitfire car to electric drive. One of his favourite things to do is play around with somewhat broken things and make them definitively broken or working; plus he loves to talk about project ideas!

Work-Study Students


Samantha Younan is the KMDI Communications Assistant. She has a master’s in English literature from the University of Windsor and is currently pursuing an MI with a concentration in library and information science. She has spent the last five years working in communications across a variety of sectors. 


Mehrdad Ranjbar, akaLANDLessMusix on social media (Pronouns: He/his), is KMDI’s Podcast Audio Mixer/Sound Designer. A second-year graduate student in Music Technology and Digital Media at the University of Toronto, he has been an Electronic Music instructor for many years, providing online courses worldwide. Mehrdad also has experience creating audiobooks, immersive audio podcasts, and working in music production.


Micki-Lee Smith
is KMDI’s Podcast Music Producer. She is currently completing a master’s in Music Technology and Digital Media at UofT. Her training as a classical violinist and experiences with fiddle and jazz music have led her to have an eclectic taste in music, which is reflected in her compositions. 




Dakshata Shukla is working as the Creative Projects Assistant for KMDI with an emphasis on video and other innovative media production. She is a Master’s student who is studying User Experience Design and Human-centered Data Science at the Faculty of Information. She holds a Bachelor’s in Information Technology Engineering and has prior work experience as a product designer in the education technology industry, from India. She enjoys constructing and creating narratives using visual and motion design.