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New Profs at the Faculty of Information

Submitted on Wednesday, July 10, 2019

On July 1, we welcomed a number of new faces to the Faculty of Information. There are two new Assistant Professors, Teaching Stream, both of whom are Contractually Limited Term Appointments, at the Faculty itself.  

As well, there are also one new Associate Professor and three new Assistant Professors at U of T Mississauga’s Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology (CCIT), all of whom have School of Graduate Studies cross-appointments to the Faculty of Information. 

And finally, the Department of Arts, Culture and Media at U of T Scarborough has appointed a new Assistant Professor, with a School of Graduate Studies cross appointment to the Faculty of Information. 

Brief bios follow:   

Karen Suurtaam Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream – Contractually Limited Term Appointment (CLTA), Digital Archives and Records Management 

Karen Suurtaam holds an MA in English Literature from Concordia University and a MISt from the University of Toronto. Since graduating from the Faculty of Information in 2008, Karen has worked as an archivist and records manager at Victoria University, and as a private records archivist at the University of Toronto Archives and Records Management Services. She has also taught as a sessional lecturer in the Faculty of Information. Her research crosses several fields including education, literature, photography, and archives. Her current interests include personal records, online information systems, and the political and ethical implications of archival work. Karen was the winner of the 2019 MISC Outstanding Instructor Award

Agnieszka Chalas Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream – Contractually Limited Term Appointment (CLTA), Museum Studies 

Agnieszka Chalas holds a PhD from Queen’s University. Her doctoral work examined Canadian art museums’ visitor research and evaluation practices and capacities. Her scholarship is informed by nearly a decade of professional work experience in both the museum and arts and culture sectors. Most recently, she worked as the Director of Education at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery where she was responsible for overseeing an expansive schedule of school and public programs for diverse publics. Her scholarly work on various aspects of museum education and visitor studies has been published in the Canadian Review of Art Education: Research and Issues, the Teaching Artist Journal, and GEM Case Studies. In 2018, she received the Ontario Secondary Art Educator of the Year Award from the Ontario Art Education Association and was also awarded the Storytellers Challenge Prize by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. A recent collaborative project that encouraged critical thinking about dominant historical narratives and stereotypes concerning Canada’s Indigenous peoples led to a nomination for the Governor General’s award for excellence in teaching.  

Beth Coleman Associate Professor – Institute of CCIT, UTM  

Beth Coleman holds a PhD from New York University. She researches experimental digital media, and specializes in race theory, game culture and literary studies. She is currently working on two books and has previously published Hello, Avatar, a critically acclaimed book examining the many modes of online identity and how users live on the continuum between virtual and the real. She has also curated numerous art exhibits and media installations within North America and in Europe. Her current research investigates aspects of human narrative and digital data in the engagement of global cities, including aspects of locative media/mobile media and smart cities. 

Negin Dahya Assistant Professor – Institute of CCIT, UTM 

Negin Dahya holds a PhD in Education from York University. Her research explores the social and cultural context of digital media production and use with a focus on learning contexts and non-dominant communities. One of her current research projects involves the study of virtual reality concept art creation with young people in a juvenile rehabilitation center. She is a co-convener for the Inter-Agency for Education and Emergencies (INEE) Technology and Education Task Team and an Advisory Board member for the feminist media education non-profit, Reel Grrls. 

Julie Chen Assistant Professor – Institute of CCIT, UTM 

Julie Chen holds a PhD in American Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park. Her book, Super-Sticky WeChat and Chinese Society, offers a succinct and critical study of the relationship between Chinese mobile cultures, political economy of the internet companies, and the rise of WeChat as a “super-sticky” app that integrates previously discrete daily practices. She has also published the first study on the Chinese ride-hailing platforms and participant drivers’ work conditions and resistance in “New Media & Society.” She has presented works on Chinese on-demand workers and political economy of the internet industry in China at conferences like AoIR, ICA, and 4S. She is currently finishing a book explaining how and why labour is marginalized, as embodied experience and an analytical concept, in the conceptions of (big) datafication and what we should do about this problematic tendency.  

Marie-Pier Boucher Assistant Professor – Institute of CCIT, UTM 

Marie-Pier Boucher holds a PhD in Art, Art History and Visual Studies from Duke University. Most recently, she was an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research focuses on the design of habitats for sustaining life in extreme environments. She is working on a book project, which looks at the relationship between health, architectural design and perceptual activity in a range of extreme environments (physical and symbolic) to examine how the changes in direction and orientation induced by levitation and microgravity can inform the design of Earth-based habitats. She is also working on an umbrella project, Interplanetary Habitation: The Earth, the Moon, Mars and the City, which investigates the socio-technical future of planetary life in relation to growing concerns over health and biotechnology, mobility and artificial intelligence. 

Jasmine Rault Assistant Professor – Department of Arts, Culture and Media, UTSC 

Jasmine Rault holds a PhD from McGill University in Art History and Communication Studies. She will teach Media Studies with a focus on digital media and social change. She has held positions at McMaster University, the New School in New York and most recently UTM’s Institute of CCIT. With research sitting at the nexus of digital media, architecture, and discourses of race, gender and sexuality, she is a prolific scholar with a deep and impressive record of teaching excellence in diverse contexts.

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