Theme information and academic mentors

What will be the legacy of COVID on our campus design and use; how can we embed concerns about sustainability and equitability?

Bala Venkatesh- Ryerson

Dr. Bala Venkatesh is both founding academic director and head of the Centre for Urban Energy (CUE) at Ryerson University. He is also a tenured professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

He specializes in electric power systems with interests in transmission and distribution systems, renewables, energy storage and smart grids. He works with industry partners such as Hydro One, Toronto Hydro, the Independent Electricty System Operator (IESO), Schneider Electric, eCAMION, Temporal Power, Alectra Utilities and Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited. In total, his extramural funding is over $15 million. In the last two decades, he has worked on over 30 consulting and research projects in India and Canada.

With a Ph.D. from Anna University (India), Dr. Venkatesh is a registered professional engineer in Ontario, Canada. Since 1994, he has also taught at the University of New Brunswick, Multimedia University (Malaysia) and Anna University. Dr. Venkatesh has extensive journal publications to his credit and has supervised over 50 MASc and PhD theses.

Roberta Consentino Kronka Mülfarth- University of São Paulo
Roberta holds a degree in Architecture and Urbanism from the University of São Paulo in 1994, a master's degree in Energy in the Postgraduate Interunits Program in Energy from the University of São Paulo in 1998 and a PhD in Urban Environmental Structures at the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism of the University of São Paulo in 2003.

Roberta has been an Associate Professor of Environmental Design at the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of São Paulo (FAUUSP) since 2017, where she taught since 2006 at undergraduate level. Since 2009 she has participated in the graduate programme of Architecture and Urbanism – FAUUSP, supervising Master´s dissertations and PhD thesis. She has been also professor in Polytechnic School, at USP, since 2012, in Civil Engineering course, in the City Management course in the undergraduate Programme.

Roberta is co-author of the book: Towards Green Campus Operations, Energy, Climate and Sustainable Development Initiatives at Universities (Springer International Publishing, 2018), and Rethinking Ergonomics: from the building to the urban space, to be published in 2021 (LTC Publishing).

Kevin Hom- City University of New York (CUNY)
Kevin Hom, founder of Kevin Hom Architects, served as Dean of the School of Technology and Design at New York City College of Technology City University of New York 2011-2019.

His professional practice is a national design firm with education facility projects throughout the country. The firm's designs have received numerous awards from the American Institute of Architects [AIA], NYC Fine Art Commission and Society of American Registered Architects, including Firm of the Year Award in 2008.

In 2017, Mr. Hom was elevated to Fellow of American Institute of Architects. The Fellowship designation is the highest honor the AIA can bestow upon a member. Elevation to Fellowship not only recognizes the achievements of the architect as an individual but also elevates before the public and the profession those architects who have made significant contributions to architecture and to society.

In 2019 Prof Hom was named a Fulbright Scholar. During the Fall semester of 2019  he was a visiting Resident Professor at the Polytechnico di Milan

Prior to his firms founding Mr. Hom worked at some of the world's most renowned design firms. He previously served as Managing Principal and Design Director at Arthur Erickson Architects in Los Angeles; Director of Architectural Design at Gibbs & Hill in New York; and Project Designer at the New York firms of I.M. Pei, and Marcel Breuer & Associates.

Mr. Hom received both his Masters of Architecture and his Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Columbia University.

How will urban futures be re-imagined and propagated, now more than ever as the value and purpose of the cities comes into question?

Olga Aksakalova -City University of New York (CUNY)
Olga Aksakalova holds a PhD in English from The Graduate School and University Center of CUNY. She founded and directed the Writing and Communication Center at the New Economic School in Moscow, and she currently serves as Associate Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College (CUNY) where she teaches writing and literature courses and leads Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) program. Her research is in transnational composition pedagogies, Virtual Exchange program development and pedagogies, and 20th century American literature. Her work appears in edited collections Willa Cather and Aestheticism: From Romanticism to Modernism (Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2012), Next Steps: New Directions for/in Writing about Writing (Utah State UP, 2019), Civic Engagement in Global Contexts (forthcoming, Utah State UP), and in the journals Contrastive Linguistics (Ural State Pedagogical University) and The Writing Center Journal Special Issue: Transatlantic Writing Centers (forthcoming).

How can we design healthier cities for the long term, how can we address the health inequalities exposed by COVID?

Cecilia Rocha- Ryerson
Cecilia Rocha, PhD, is the Director of the Centre for Studies in Food Security and a Professor in the School of Nutrition, Ryerson University, Canada. A member of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food), she was the lead author of the report Unravelling the Food-Health Nexus: Addressing practices, political economy, and power relations to build healthier food systems (2017). Cecilia has participated in the development of the Toronto Food Strategy (2008-2010), and was a member of the Toronto Food Policy Council (2005-2011). She has done research on the role of food in the lives of recent immigrant women, and on food insecurity among Latin American recent immigrants in Toronto. She was the director of the project Building Capacity in Food Security in Brazil and Angola (2004-2010), and co-director of the project Scaling up small-scale food processing for therapeutic and complementary food for children in Vietnam (2015-2018). Considered an expert on the innovative approach to food and nutrition security in the city of Belo Horizonte, Cecilia is the author of a number of scholarly papers and reports on food policy and programs in Brazil.

Shashi Hirani- City, University of London
Dr Hirani is a Chartered Health Psychologist and Senior Lecturer in Health Psychology / Health Services Research at the School of Health Sciences, City University London.

Shashi obtained his BSc (Hons) Degree in Psychology at City University London and then went on to complete his MSc and PhD degrees in Health Psychology at University College London, where he was Lecturer in Research Methods and Statistics on the MSc in Voice Pathology and Programme Director for the MSc in Health Psychology.

He returned to City University London in October 2010 and is a senior member of the Health Services Research Group, teaches Research Methods and Applied Data Analyses on Postgraduate Courses (inc. MSc / MRes in Health Services Research and the MRes in Clinical Research) and sits on a number of research committees. You can find more detail on Shashi’s experience here.

Lia Litosseliti - City, University of London
Dr Litosseliti is Associate Dean, International in the School of Health Sciences. She is also Senior Lecturer in Linguistics in the Division of Language and Communication Science at City, University of London (which she joined in 2003, from Royal Holloway, University of London).

Lia has published widely on Gender, Language and Discourse, including two authored books, six edited/ co-edited books and several peer-reviewed journal papers. She has led on various international activities in this field, as elected member and President of the International Gender and Language Association (IGALA) between 2000-2016, Associate Editor of Gender and Language between 2011-2016, and as reviewer for a range of funding bodies and journals. She supervises PhD students and research projects which explore questions of gender and identity from a discursive perspective, particularly in the workplace. You can find more detail on Lia’s work here.


Food and food security related:





How will our urban transport systems emerge post COVID, given falling use and suburban flight?

Alex Abiko- University of São Paulo

Civil engineer. Professor of Urban and Housing Management at Escola Politécnica of the University of São Paulo. Coordinator of the Research Group on "Urban Planning and Engineering". Has been developing researches, consulting works and tutoring master´s and phd students in the following subjects: urban sustainability, social housing, housing management and settlements upgrading.

Raktim Mitra- Ryerson
Raktim is an urban planner with expertise and interests in the fields of land use-transportation planning and healthy communities planning. Prior to joining Ryerson University, Mitra worked as a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) instructor at the University of Toronto and as a lecturer at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. At Ryerson, he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on transportation planning, active and healthy communities, quantitative techniques and research methods.

Mitra is the co-director of TransForm Laboratory of Transportation and Land Use Planning, where he and his students explore the relationship between the urban built environment, travel behaviour and health. Find out more about Raktim’s experience and research interests here.


UN Research Roadmap for Covid-19 Recovery: https://cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/52101.html

National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery: https://nacto.org/publication/streets-for-pandemic-response-recovery/

Transportation Research Board (TRB), Covid-19 Trends Impacting the Future of Transportation planning and Research: http://www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/181115.aspx

Transportation Research Board (TRB). How Much will Covid-19 Affect Travel behaviour? (Webinar):  https://www.nationalacademies.org/event/06-01-2020/trb-webinar-how-much-will-covid-19-affect-travel-behavior

Transportation Research Board (TRB). Transportation Asset Management in a Covid-19 World (Webinar): https://www.nationalacademies.org/event/07-15-2020/trb-webinar-transportation-asset-management-in-a-covid-19-world#sectionWebFriendly

Transportation Research Board (TRB). Transportation and Covid-19- Practices from Other Disease Outbreaks (Webinar): https://www.nationalacademies.org/event/03-23-2020/trb-webinar-transportation-covid-19-practices-from-other-disease-outbreaks

How can we rethink security and insecurity in smart cities post-Covid?

Daniel Macêdo Batista- University of São Paulo
Since 2011 Daniel Macêdo Batista is a Professor at the University of São Paulo (USP), the major institution of higher learning and research in Brazil. He received his Computer Science (2003) degree from Federal University of Bahia, Brazil, MSc in Computer Science (2006), and Ph.D. in Computer Science (2010) degrees from State University of Campinas (Unicamp), Brazil. Prof. Daniel received the title of "Livre Docente", equivalent to Associate Professor, in Computer Networks from the University of São Paulo in 2017. Currently, his main research interests are: IoT Security, B5G, and Data Analytics applied to Computer Networks. Prof. Daniel has published 90+ refereed papers and his masters' dissertation awarded second place at the XIV Latin American Contest of Master Thesis (2007), organized by the Latin American Center for Computer Studies.

Matthew Warren-RMIT
Matthew Warren is the Director of the RMIT Centre of Cyber Security Research and Innovation and a Professor of Cyber Security at RMIT University, Australia. Professor Warren is a researcher in the areas of Cyber Security and Computer Ethics. He has authored and co-authored over 300 books, book chapters, journal papers and conference papers. He has received numerous grants and awards from national and international funding bodies, such as AustCyber, Australian Research Council (ARC); CyberCRC, Engineering Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in the UK; National Research Foundation in South Africa and the European Union.

Professor Warren gained his PhD in Information Security Risk Analysis from the University of Plymouth, United Kingdom and he has taught within Australia, Finland, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom. Professor Warren is a Fellow of the Australian Computer Society.

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