Research Projects

Most of our faculty members are directors of research projects that involve graduate students.  Below we list the projects, with more recent projects that are still actively recruiting students listed first.   Prospective student will find this list useful for thinking about the kind of research that they could do, and which faculty members might be their supervisors.   We invite you to contact project directors directly if you would like to know more about the opportunities associated with these projects.

From Entrepreneurship to Rentiership? The Changing Dynamics of Innovation in Technoscientific Capitalism.

This project examines the extent, manifestation, and policy implications of ‘rentiership’ in contemporary, technoscientific capitalism. Rentiership is defined as the capture of value from the ownership and/or control of assets, rather than the production of new goods and services. It involves fieldwork on the following sectors in different countries: social media (San Francisco, USA); biotech (South East England, UK); and artificial intelligence (Toronto, Canada).

Investigator: Kean Birch
Funding Agency:  SSHRC
Term: 2018-2023

The Famine Generation in Toronto: Poverty, Crime, and Place 1847-1882

This project concerns the lives of a subset of the immigrant men, women, and children who departed Ireland in and around the years of the Great Potato Famine (1845-1851). A million or more died and a further million emigrated during these years, making the Irish famine the worst demographic calamity to hit nineteenth-century Europe. The project has three specific objectives: first, to complete an exploration of the lives and settlement experiences of Toronto’s poorest Irish in the aftermath of catastrophe, with consideration given to how they interacted with each other and were represented to various audiences; second, to pursue a biographical history of a single, Irish-dominated Toronto street – Stanley Street – during a period of dramatic urban transition; and, third and finally, to position the story of these survivors-cum-settlers in the wider transatlantic historical geography of Irish famine migration.

Investigator: William Jenkins
Funding Agency: SSHRC Insight Grant
Term: 2018-2022

Spaces of labour in moments of urban populism

This project is recruiting both MA and PhD students.  Explores labour's response to and role in shaping urban populism in four North American cities and involves students as part of the research team.

Investigator: Steve Tufts
Funding Agency: SSHRC
Term: 2015-2021

Urbanization, gender and the global south: a transformative knowledge network

Situated within the dynamic early 21st century context of urbanization, this project will conduct research and engage in public education and policy enrichment in seven strategically chosen cities (Cairo, Cochabamba, Georgetown (Guyana), Ibadan, Mumbai, Ramallah, and Shanghai) in lower middle-income countries to advance understanding of how the relationship between poverty and inequality is being transformed, focusing in particular on how this is reconstituting gender relations and women’s right to the city.

Investigator: Linda Peake
Funding Agency: SSHRC
Term: 2017-2023

Long-term perspectives on lake ecosystem change with thawing permafrost

Investigate how lakes are changing in response to thawing permafrost in the Taiga Plains and Mackenzie Delta Uplands regions (Northwest Territories), using lake sediment cores as natural archives of long-term environmental change.

Investigator: Jennifer Korosi
Funding Agency: NSERC
Term: 2017-2022

Bruce Peninsula forest canopy impacts on the water and carbon budgets

Our field measurement program records the profound effects that the eastern white cedar forests of the Bruce Peninsula have on rainfall interception and CO2 emissions from the forest floor. These represent important missing components of a more comprehensive understanding of the forest ecosystem's role in drainage basin hydrology and carbon budgets that will ultimately entail incorporating remote sensing and GIS.

Investigators: Richard Bello, Katie Marple, Rosalyn Kish
Term: 2018-2020

To stay or not to stay:  The geographies of immigrant integration, transnationalism, and return migration intentions among African immigrants in Canada

This study examines the return intentions of African immigrants in Canada, drawing on the experiences of Ghanaians and Somalis in Toronto and Vancouver.  More pointedly, the project seeks to understand the intersections of African immigrants’ integration, transnationalism, and return intentions, and to predict the background and spatio-temporal attributes of African immigrants who are more likely to return to their home countries.

Investigator: Joseph Mensah
Funding Agency: SSHRC
Term: 2017-2022

Causes and implications of sea-Ice decline on Hudson Bay

Using reanalysis model results we are examining monthly changes in the surface radiation and energy balance components on Hudson from 1979 to present to quantify the factors responsible for disappearing sea ice. We are applying special focus to periodic changes in climate, like the Arctic Oscillation, to better understand its role. Along the Hudson Bay Lowland coast we are using hybrid model and field data collection to examine the impact of ice changes on the sea breeze and the advective effect of Hudson Bay on the adjacent development of permafrost. Modeled soil warming is then used to drive ecosystem models of carbon assimilation. Field based photosynthesis measurements are being used to predict how changes in the water budget will impact the peatland's role as a global carbon sink.

Investigators: Richard Bello, OlalekanBalogun. Devin Ali, Ratiba Munir
Term: 2015-2020

Prospects, Dilemmas, Urban Dimensions

Since the 1980s, various parts of the world have been strongly shaped by the interplay of neoliberalism and right-wing populism. A minor aspect within this dynamic until recently, neo-fascism is now an increasingly central political force, from India to Hungary, Poland to the U.S.A. As a result, anti-fascism - one of the biggest themes in 20th century history – is back on the agenda. This research project focuses on the multiple meanings of anti-fascism in France today. It places current developments in historical and international context: in comparison to the 1930s and the period since the 1980s, as well as in relationship to France’s imperial past and present. In particular, the project pays special attention to the difficulty of countering the growing ‘normalization’ of right populist and neo-fascist politics and their claims to multiple, local and national scales of urban life.

Principal Investigator: Stefan Kipfer

Libre-échange, portes d'accès et démocratie municipale. Étude de quatre villes-régions: Halifax, Montréal, Toronto et Vancouver (English Translation: Free Trade, Gateways and Municipal Democracy: Study of Four City-regions: Halifax, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver)

This research program focuses on comparing the impacts of infrastructure funding for international transport purposes on municipal democracy in four city-regions in Canada, in order to understand the impact of free trade mentality on the transportation projects and local configurations of power.

Investigators: Dorval Brunelle (UQAM), Claudia De Fuentes (SMU), Peter Hall (SFU), Jean Michel Montsion (York)
Term: 2017-2021

Intellectual Migration: The China-Canada-US  Dynamics

Seeks to understand the dynamics underlying global knowledge and human capital flows and the significant role of Canada as a nexus in these flows by exploring who among the highly educated China-born population are likely to migrate, why they migrate, where they migrate to, and specifically, to what extent country-specific migrant attraction, retention, and/or recruitment policies affect their migration, and what policies Canada can pursue to enhance its competitiveness in the global race for talent.

Investigator: Lucia Lo
Funding Agency: SSHRC
Term: 2017-2022

Subalterity, public education, and welfare cities: Comparing the experience of displaced migrants in three cities [Havana, Toronto, Kolkata]

Historically traces the geopolitical impacts on cities and schools through questions of conflict and displacement in Havana, Toronto and Kolkata.

Investigator: Ranu Basu
Funding Agency: SSHRC
Term: 2015-2020

Queering Canadian suburbs: LGBTQ2S place-making outside of central cities

Addresses key knowledge gaps regarding the lives, service needs, and place-making practices of suburban Canadian LGBTQ2S (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, and Two-Spirit) populations in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

Investigator: Alison Bain
Funding Agency: SSHRC
Term: 2016-2020

Neoliberal industrialization, the rural periphery, and uneven development in India.

Examines how India's neoliberal-capitalist industrialization causes new forms of class inequality and new forms of geographically uneven development.

Investigator: Raju Das
Funding Agency: SSHRC
Term: 2016-2020

Understanding the Experiences of Chinese International Students in Canada: Pre- and Post-Migration Reflections

This research aims at understanding the various factors and actors facilitating the recruitment of Chinese international students to Canada, as well as documenting the different experiences of such international students after they return to China.

Investigator: Jean Michel Montsion
Term: 2018-2020

Ecologies of Labour: Unpacking labour, ecology, and mobility within the seafood sector

Explores the ecological and social processes that shape labour processes in the commercial fisheries sector, with a focus on Southeast and East Asia.  Principle Investigator Melissa Marschke (University of Ottawa), Peter Vandergeest as co-investigator.  Possible support for qualified and experienced MA and PhD students.

Investigator: Peter Vandergeest
Funding Agency: SSHRC
Term: 2018-2020

Developing a comprehensive spatial database of fire, harvest, and road disturbances in Ontario
This is an ongoing effort to consistently compile at 1 ha spatial resolution, annual maps of disturbance (i.e., fire, harvest, road) in Ontario’s boreal region from 1972 to present. The mapping is cross-validated with existing data products and will be made available for research use. All metadata, lineage, and decision making criteria will be documented, providing a fully documented data product produced at a consistent scale. Efforts are underway to also backcast disturbance mapping to the pre-1972 period (before commercial satellite availability).

Investigator: Tarmo Remmel
: 2018-2020

An interactive mobile GIS-based tool that decyphers complex parking restrictions in space and time

We are seeking to develop a proprietary tool for simplifying the road parking experience in busy urban centres. Where parking restrictions can become complex, and signage difficult to read, parking creates traffic delays and increases anxiety and dangerous situation. The goal is to automate the process of converting parking restrictions into machine-readable code and to provide real-time parking restriction information with coloured road-side overlays for heads-up use in automobiles.

Investigator: Tarmo Remmel
: 2018-

Scaling functions for landscape patch shapes assessed from vertical transects of UAV imagery

Using a quad-copter UAV with a multispectral sensor, vertical transects over a fixed ground point are flown with images captured at a set interval of ascent. This approach provides imagery of ground features using a consistent sensor and illumination conditions at multiple spatial resolutions. Common objects through the transect are extracted and processed by classic shape metrics to assess the scaling functions that describe the shape—resolution relationship to inform object recognition and feature extraction.

Investigator: Tarmo Remmel
Term: 2018-2020

Global production networks for sport: Canada’s role in producing elite hockey players in China

With the commodification of many sports, an increasing emphasis on sporting spectacles in the media, and the growth of identity politics at the level of the city and the state, there is increasing  competition to host major sport events.  This requires the state to have a credible team in the sport(s) to be presented.  Having been selected to present the 2022 Winter Olympics (in and around Beijing) China has embarked on a program to produce credible athletes in a range of winter sports.  This study examines the development of an elite hockey team in time for these Winter Olympics.  This is being achieved by building global production networks linking with Canadian expertise in hockey.

Investigator: Glen Norcliffe

Political geographies of activism and citizenship

Recruiting mostly PhD students. This project examines the gap between the stated principles of liberal democracy and the reality of exclusion, injustice, exploitation and oppression for individuals and communities whose bodies, practices or ways of inhabiting the world bring them into conflict with their surrounding communities and even the state. The project approaches politics from the perspective of the marginalized, and has a particular interest on studying questions of identity and belonging through creative and artistic expressions.

Investigator: Patricia Wood.

The Impact of Volcanic Ash on the Hydrology of Arctic Landscapes, Iceland.

Evaluates the impact of tephra (dust and volcanic ash) on the hydrologic dynamics of diverse wetland landscapes in Iceland, and the utility of smart sensors in monitoring water levels, soil moisture across a wetland site in southeast Iceland.

Principal Investigator: Kathy Young

Ecology and survival of an endangered species in Canada

The last major Canadian population of the native cactus Opuntia cespitosa is assessed to determine health, ecology and positive interactions in its Point Pelee community.

Principal Investigator: Taly Drezner

Climate Change Diagnostics

Identifies the patterns, trends and underlying causes of climate change and carbon dynamics, emphasis on changes in Canada and its Subarctic and Arctic regions. Faculty Contact: Richard Bello; Adjunct Professors Dr. Kaz Higuchi, Amir Shabbar.

Principal Investigator: Rick Bello

Canada-Philippines Alternative Transnational Economies

Explores the ways in which non-capitalist economic transactions and practices link Canada and the Philippines through networks forged by transnational migrants. MA and PhD students will benefit from a team of collaborating researchers in Toronto, Vancouver and Manila, and fieldwork opportunities in both countries.

InvestigatorPhilip Kelly
Term: 2015-2019

New Directions in Environmental Governance: Remaking Public and Private authority in Southeast Asian Resource Frontiers

Explores the effects of new environmental governance mechanisms in Southeast Asia through fieldwork-based research on diverse programs and projects, and involves a network of researchers in Southeast Asia, the Netherlands, and Australia.  The project is in the data analysis and write-up phase.

Investigator: Peter Vandergeest
Term: 2015-2020