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 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. Rhonda McEwen is Canada Research Chair in Tactile Interfaces, Communication and Cognition and is an Associate Professor of New Media & Communication. 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. McEwen’s research was covered by the CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes in 2012 and 2013. Her recent publications appear in 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. She is the head of Sensory Information Processing Lab.

KMDI Fellow

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.

Post-Doctoral Students


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 sensorimotor systems and cognition in virtual reality simulations for facilitating student understanding of scientific concepts. 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 high school students learning biodiversity and evolution topics. Her previous work includes several research projects in smart classrooms (math, physics, ecology) and technologies for health including, the Implementation Pain Practice Change (ImPaC) Resource, Pain Education Interprofessional Resource (PEIR), and Community Healthworker Assistive Technologies (CHAT).

Dr. Zhao Zhao is a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology, University of Toronto Mississauga. Her research focuses on exploring the human perception in human robot interaction (HRI) with wearable sensor network. Dr. Zhao has a PhD in System and Computer Engineering from Carleton University. Her PhD research investigated wearable devices and their application in exergame, with a focus on the motivation and long-term effectiveness of using player modeling and recommendation system in wearable-based exergame. 

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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Curtis McCord is currently a PhD student at the Faculty of Information, generally nondisciplinary scholar focused on democratic sociotechnical 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.

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Sajdeep Soomal is a PhD student in the Department of History at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on science and technology studies, histories of consciousness and madness, and contemporary art practices within and beyond South Asia. Previously, he worked at the South Asian Visual Arts Centre, the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Sajdeep has a Masters of Arts in History from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Arts in History from McGill University. 

Dawn Walker

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

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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.

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

KMDI-Semaphore Staff

Carol Lee is the Administrative Coordinator – 


JP King is the KMDI Data Visualization and Graphic Designer. He has 15 years experience as a professional graphic designer, illustrator, and creative director. He is also an instructor with the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, and and OISE PhD candidate.

JP’s work with the KMDI focuses on creating data visualizations, infographics and other forms of visual communication that will help share and translate KMDI research findings to a broader community.

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

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Leandro Kyle Lim is the KMDI Communications Assistant.

Mika Sustar is KMDI’s Podcast Audio Mixer/Sound Design Work Study student. He is entering his third year of Industrial Engineering at the University of Toronto, where he has been studying machine learning, optimization, economics, psychology and much more. He has extensive experience with music and audio, and has worked in several professional studios with over 30 different recording artists over the past four years.

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Kyra Savolainen (Pronouns: She/her) is the KMDI Makerspace Virtual Lab Attendant and Program Support. Kyra will lead the design of virtual programming and activities for the KMDI Makerspace. She hopes to help build out the Makerspace’s service offering to represent the needs and interests of MI and BI students in a way that supports exploration and learning for people with non-STEM backgrounds in particular.

Kyra is a Masters student focused on information policy and user experience design at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information (Class of 2021). Her academic interest is to center social equity within the contexts of urban planning and economic development. 

Turner Wigginton

Turner Wigginton is the KMDI Podcast/Virtual Speaker Series Production Assistant.  Turner is currently a Masters of Information student at the University of Toronto where he is studying technology policy, security and privacy issues, and archival theory. He has a decade of experience recording and mixing audio on a freelance basis, as well as with members of the Faculty of Music.  


Zihan (Zoe) Xu is the KMDI Virtual Video Production Assistant. She is currently a second-year Masters of Museum Studies student at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information. With a background in Communications, Film, and Museum Studies, she has experience in photography, media production, and graphic design.