Graduate Research Associates

Graduate Research Associates are students registered in graduate programmes at York University and engaged in research which resonates with the mandate of Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts and Technology. We accept applications both from graduate student researchers studying within the Schools of the Arts, Media, Performance, and Design and those situated in faculties outside of AMPD.

If you are interested in becoming a Sensorium Graduate Research Associate please complete and submit the following online application form.

Gabriele Aroni – Communication and Culture

Gabriele Aroni has a MArch. (University of Florence, Italy) and an MSc in Digital Media Production (Oxford Brookes University, UK). He worked as a designer for Studio Roosegaarde in the Netherlands and is a member of the Florence University Multilanguage Cultural Heritage Lexis Research Project. He is the author of Gli Ordini Architettonici di San Lorenzo (Mimesis 2016) and published articles in Southern Semiotics Review and Well Played. He is currently teaching at the Ryerson School of Interior Design while pursuing a PhD on architecture in digital games in the Communication and Culture Program at Ryerson and York University.

Justin Baillargeon – Cinema and Media Studies

Justin Baillargeon is a VR/360 filmmaker, a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship recipient and a Ph.D. candidate in Cinema and Media Studies at York University. He holds a B.A in Film Studies from Concordia University and a M.A. in Communication from the Université du Québec à Montréal. His doctoral research explores virtual reality, as well as 360 degrees curation and its distinct forms of spectatorship. He seeks to analyze spectator behavior and emotional involvement during various types of multi-sensory and embodied experiences whether seated, standing and room-scaled in different cultural contexts defined by commercial, educational and artistic objectives.

Emily Barton – Cinema and Media Studies

Emily Barton is a first year PhD student in the Cinema and Media Studies department. Her work thinks about queer films that are archival in nature, as well as the space of the queer archive and theatre, as a way of building queer community trans-historically.

Sophie Bisson – Music

Sophie Bisson is a doctoral candidate in Music at York University, where she is the recipient of the Sunnuz Sarah Taheri Graduate Award. As an undergraduate she created the first repertoire of 20th Century Canadian operas. Her MA thesis researched how institutional policies influence the creation of opera in Canada. Her current research still focuses on Canadian opera and her interests range from digital humanities (disseminating large scale projects) to the construction of gender in Canadian opera, Italian opera, alliance studies, lineage, and music in Canadian internment camps. She is currently creating the online encyclopedia of Canadian opera.

Scott Christian – Music

Scott Christian is a Toronto-based musical director and composer. His musicals Hero & Leander (based on the greek myth) and Through The Gates (based on the early life of Buddha Gautama) premiered at the Toronto Summerworks Festival, and his musical A Misfortune (based on Anton Chekhov’s short story) premiered at the Charlottetown Festival in 2017. He has composed for short film, animation and dance. He is an in-demand coach and collaborative pianist for pop, classical and theatre singers. Scott is a also a musical director at Second City Toronto.

Sarah Choi  – Cinema and Media Studies

Sarah is a screendance artist and curator who also aspires to be a comedic improvisor. She is currently an MA student in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at York and her research interests include kinesthetic empathy, VR dance, as well as ethnography. Upon completing her undergraduate studies in Biology, Sarah made a leap of faith by moving to New York City to study documentary filmmaking. Sarah won the Best Director Award at the Atlanta International Documentary Film Festival in 2012 and founded the Lights Dance Festival in 2016. Please visit for more information.

Joshua Ditteritch – Communication and Culture

Joshua Dittrich is a PhD student in Communication & Culture at York University. His research interests are in media, sound and environment, and explore the cultural and aesthetic implications of the planetary and technological scaling of human experience. He has advanced degrees in Comparative Literature and German Studies, and has published essays on the literature, visual culture and aesthetics of European modernism, as well as a recent essay on the aesthetics of audio stretching. Josh is the co-founder and executive editor of the online journal Soundposts and plays double bass in Corktown Chamber Orchestra in downtown Toronto.

Sergio Guerra – Environmental Science

Sergio Guerra’s father was born in Sonsonate El Salvador, the site of the indigenous uprising in 1932. His mother was born in Perquin, Morazan, the place that raised the revolution he would be born into. In the midst of war, migration moved Sergio to Canada where he would begin to recreate the image of a battered history. An artist, poet, MC, producer, film maker, business owner, youth counsellor, Sergio has arrived at his Master’s program to consolidate 15 years of experience and to contribute to the breadth of knowledge regarding Central America and the Diaspora Experience.

Alison Humphrey – Cinema and Media Studies

Alison Humphrey plays with story across the fields of drama, digital media, and education. After starting out as an intern at Marvel Comics, she produced one of the first ever online alternate reality games for Douglas Adams’s Starship Titanic, initiated one of the earliest transmedia in-fiction blogs in a TV series, and co-created two interactive, live-animated theatre projects: Faster than Night (Toronto) and The Augmentalist (Silicon Valley). Her Vanier-CGS funded research explores how a science-fiction transmedia storyworld (, co-created with youth on four continents, can empower civic engagement and public health problem-solving. Website:

Meng Jian – Communication and Culture

Meng is an MA student in the Ryerson and York joint program Communication and Culture focusing on the Technology in Practice stream and she holds a BFA in Photography Studies from Ryerson University. After four years of working for the Ryerson Image Centre, she decided to continue pursuing the study of critical examination of contemporary art through interdisciplinary practice. She is a research assistant for Dr. Paul Moore’s Circuits of Cinema project and collaborates with the Digital Media Experience Lab and the Archives and Special Collections at Ryerson University. Her current research project looks at how art archives evolve in the current diverse media culture, and what potential exists for multi-sensory technologies to contribute to this shift.

Megan Johnson – Theatre & Performance Studies 

Megan Johnson is a performance scholar, arts administrator, singer, and dramaturg based in Toronto, Canada. She is currently a PhD student in the Theatre & Performance Studies department at York University. Megan holds an MA in theatre & performance studies from York University, an MA in musicology from the University of Ottawa, as well as a BMus in voice from Acadia University. Her research — centered on disability performance, infrastructural politics, and inclusive dramaturgy — explores how the creation practices of disability-identified performers in Canada dialogue with notions of disability justice. Megan’s research is supported by the Elia Scholars Program at York University and a Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Doctoral Scholarship (SSHRC).

Signy Lynch – Theatre & Performance Studies

Signy Lynch is a Ph.D Candidate in Theatre and Performance Studies at York. Her research interests include political performance, diversity in theatre, spectatorship, affect, and theatre criticism. Her SSHRC-funded dissertation investigates how direct audience address in contemporary performance in Canada can help audience members and performers to negotiate the complexities of twenty-first century life. She has published work in Canadian Theatre Review,, and CdnTimes and is a member of the board of directors of Cahoots Theatre.

Lubna Marium – Theatre & Performance Studies

Marium, Lubna, is a dancer/researcher/writer. She has traveled from her early training in an avant-garde style of dance to later train in Manipuri. She has also taken up the study of Aesthetics and dramaturgy in Sanskrit. She has been promoting music and cultural practices of Southasia, folk and urban, through ‘Shadhona’. Lubna has produced and directed major dance productions. Recently, she has started a Feminist Dance Project. She is, also, engaged in translation of a major medieval Buddhist Vajrayana text of Bengal from Sanskrit to Bangla. Lubna is engaged in preserving several performative folk practices, designated as intangible cultural heritage.

Jon McSpadden – Music

Jon McSpadden is a multi-instrumentalist, producer, instructor, and student currently pursuing a Ph.D. in the music department at York University in Toronto, Ontario. Jon’s work focuses on the study of soundscapes and their impact on people within specific sound environments. Current projects include the study of casino soundscapes and their role in manipulating gambling habits, as well as a survey of discourse surrounding the barrier between music and noise and how this applies to contemporary music production.

Claudia Sicondolfo – Cinema & Media Studies 

Claudia Sicondolfo is a Vanier Scholar and PhD Candidate in the Graduate Department of Film. Her research projects address: film festivals, screen publics, youth and digital media cultures, decolonizing research methodologies and affect in the creative industries. Her doctoral research project examines educational and community outreach strategies within contemporary Canadian digital screen institutions and digital engagement in film festivals. Her research appears in Public Journal and Senses of Cinema, in addition to various book anthologies. Claudia has worked with educational communities across Canada and has published educational companion curriculum for documentaries. Claudia is the Sensorium 2019-2020 Graduate Research Representative.

Dan Tapper – Visual Art

Dan Tapper explores the sonic and visual properties of the unheard and invisible. From revealing electromagnetic sounds produced by the earth’s ionosphere, to exploring hidden micro worlds and creating imaginary nebulas made from code. His explorations use scientific methods alongside thought experiments resulting in rich sonic and visual worlds.

Ella Tetrault – Visual Art 

Ella Tetrault (*1983) is a Canadian artist. She holds an MFA in Public Art and New Artistic Strategies from the Bauhaus University (2011-2013) and a BA in International Development from the University of Toronto (2003-2008). She is co-founder of the Fuller Terrace Lecture Series. Tetrault is currently a PhD. candidate in the Department of Visual Art at York University, and a sessional instructor at the University of Cologne in the Institute for Art and Art Theory alongside Stefanie Busch. In 2017, she co-edited her first book with Konstanze Schütze, Alain Bieber and the NRW Forum, Pizza is God.

George Turnbull – Cinema & Media Studies

George Turnbull is an award-winning stage and screen scholar and practitioner. Currently, he is a PhD student in the Cinema and Media Studies program at York University where he is the President of the Graduate Film Student Association and a Research Assistant for the Academic Innovation Fund eLearning @ AMPD: Phase 3 project under the Institute for Research on Digital Learning. Growing up as a rigorous competitive dancer in Canada and the United States, Turnbull realized his interest and passion for dance films. He now specializes in screendance and contributes to the field through filmmaking, conference presentations and publications.

Michael Trommer – Cinema and Media Arts 

Michael Trommer is a Toronto-based sound and video artist; his experimental work has been focused primarily on psychogeographical and acoustemological explorations via the use of VR, ambisonic and tactile sound, field recordings, as well as multi-channel installation and expanded video techniques. He has exhibited and performed his work at galleries and festivals throughout the world.

In addition to teaching graduate sound design and sound art at George Brown College, Michael also teaches Think Tank at OCAD University and is currently a PhD candidate in Cinema and Media Arts at York University.

Phyllis Novak – Theatre & Performance Studies  

Phyllis Novak (aka Nowakowski) am a social practice artist with roots in theatre performance, working across arts disciplines. I have been active with art-makers and young people from across Canada in the development of SKETCH, for almost thirty years. I am a fellow of the inaugural Toronto Cultural Leaders Lab and a Master’s student in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University. I am also a graduate of York’s Theatre with a BFA in Theatre Performance. I have been part of strategic collaborations like Platform A, AVNU and YSI – initiatives advancing young people’s opportunities in the arts.

Shabnam Sukhdev – Film

Shabnam Sukhdev is an award winning filmmaker and educator with a degree in Psychology and Sociology, and a B. Ed. in Special Education from Mumbai University. She is currently pursuing her MFA with a major in Film at York University, Toronto. She teaches graduate certificate courses in Cinema at the School of Media Art and Design, Durham College. Her research revolves around core issues of identity and culture, feminism and sexuality, migration and mental health. She believes that a personal independent voice can deeply reflect the concerns of a society.

Shalon T. Webber-Heffernan – Theatre & Performance Studies

Shalon T. Webber-Heffernan is a curator, writer, and Ph.D. student in the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies at York University. She is currently curator in residence at the Curatorial Lab @ Sensorium and has been independently curating interdisciplinary, live performance events since 2016. She recently worked as Assistant Curator with Toronto’s 7a*11d International Festival of Performance Art, and was previously involved as Exhibition Coordinator of a touring project entitled #callresponse at grunt gallery in Vancouver. She has presented her work at the Universities Art Association of Canada (UAAC), Trans-In-Corporados conference at Rio de Janeiro, and is chairing a panel in July 2019 at Performance Studies international (PSi) in Calgary. In 2019, Shalon published an article in Performance Matters journal for a special edition called “Performance and Bodies-Politic,” edited by Peter Dickinson and Róisín O’Gorman.

Melanie Wilmink – Visual Art & Art History 

Melanie Wilmink is a PhD candidate in Visual Art & Art History at York University (Toronto), with honours such as the 2014 Elia Scholars Award and a 2015 SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship. With a dissertation focus on the inter-connectivity between spectatorial experience and exhibition spaces, her ongoing research emerged during her role programming for the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers, and her independent curating practice including the Situated Cinema project (Pleasure Dome, 2015), and as Curator in Residence for Sidewalk Labs Toronto. She is also co-editor of the anthology Sculpting Cinema (2018).