UofT Talks 2021 (Presented with Raw Talk Podcast)


June 2nd, 2021: 5:30-8:30 pm

In 2021, attendees joined UofT Talks for an open discussion delving into the far-reaching implications of climate change on our well-being. Attendees explored the potential consequences of environmental degradation, extreme weather events, and changing disease patterns, prompting a call to action for innovative solutions to safeguard our health in the face of a rapidly changing climate.

Location: Hopin (Virtual)


Panel 1: Intersections of Climate Change & Health

Dr. Edward Xie

Asst Prof, Faculty Co-Lead of Climate Change & Health, Dept of Family & Community Medicine, UofT

Edward works as an emergency physician at University Health Network and is currently at a COVID-19 recovery site for people experiencing homelessness. Edward has volunteered with MSF and as a board member of the Toronto Environmental Alliance and the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. After completing an MSc at LSE and LSHTM with an emphasis on economic analysis and social policy, his research interests focus on structural determinants of health and inter-sectoral issues.

Linda Varangu

Senior Advisor Climate Change at Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care

Linda Varangu has been working at the intersection of the environment, health, and policy for more than 30 years. Linda stepped down as founding Executive Director for the Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care last year to focus on her passion, which is to assist the health sector respond to the climate crisis. Currently Linda is Senior Advisor, Climate Change at the Coalition. Some of the resources we have created for the health sector include the Health Care Climate Change Resiliency Toolkit developed with Health Canada, which was supported by a mentoring program for health care sector staff to use the toolkit, as well as an environmental benchmarking tool for the hospitals. Linda has a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Biology and a Masters in Environmental Engineering.

Maureen Gustafson

National Steering Committee Member, Indigenous Climate Action

Maureen is an Anishinaabekwe with mixed Ojibwe and settler ancestry. A member of Couchiching First Nation (Treaty 3 Territory), she grew up nearby in Fort Frances, Ontario. Maureen obtained a Master of Public Health with specializations in Health Promotion and Indigenous Health from the University of Toronto in 2019. Through her coursework, she has studied the intimate relationship between ecological and human health, particularly in the context of Indigenous communities. She is a passionate advocate for the value of Indigenous ways of knowing, doing, and being in promoting ecological health. Maureen is privileged to serve as a National Steering Committee Member for Indigenous Climate Action.

Dr. Courtney Howard

Emergency Physician and Past President, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment

Dr. Courtney Howard is an Emergency Physician in Yellowknife, in Canada’s subarctic, and a Clinical Associate Professor in the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary. She is a nationally- and globally-recognized expert on the impacts of climate change on health, and in the broader field of planetary health. As the first female board President of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) she has been involved in policy and advocacy-related work on active transport, plant-rich diets, integrating health impact assessments into environmental assessments, fossil fuel divestment, carbon pricing, coal phase-out, and the health impacts of hydraulic fracturing.

Dr. Katie Hayes

Climate Change and Mental Health Researcher

Dr. Katie Hayes is a climate change and mental health researcher based in Canada. Her research explores the mental health consequences of climate change with a specific focus on addressing the inequitable risks and impacts on marginalized groups. Katie has published a number of recent articles exploring the topic and she is currently leading the mental health and climate change chapter for the upcoming National Climate Change and Health Assessment Report being led by Health Canada.

Panel 2: Future Directions of Climate Change in Canada

Chúk Odenigbo

Founding Director of Ancestral Services, Future Ancestors Services

Proudly Franco-Albertan, Chúk’s passion lies in the interactions between culture, health and the environment. Outside of this work with Future Ancestors Services, he is the cofounder of The Poison and The Apple and is completing his PhD in Medical Geography after completing a masters degree from the School of Public Health at the University of Montréal. Chúk is your typical urbanite, in love with technology and fashion, all the while retaining a connection with nature and integrating green and blue spaces into his everyday. His vision is to reconnect humanity with nature in a way that accommodates modernity, sparking that green revolution without decimation of the present.

Alexandra Tavasoli

CEO, The Solistra Corporation, PhD Candidate, UofT

Alex is a PhD candidate in the Materials Science and Engineering Department, under the supervision of Geoffrey Ozin and Benjamin Hatton. Her PhD research on light-driven chemical reactions that utilize greenhouse gases is being commercialized through Solistra, a spin-off company from the U of T Solar Fuels Research cluster that was funded by Natural Resources Canada’s Women in CleanTech Challenge. Alex has an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from the University of Toronto, and previously worked in the Advanced Energy Centre at the MaRS Discovery District. Her interests are centred on sustainable resource system development and ethical engineering practices as they relate to the energy transition.

Martha Hall Findlay

Chief Sustainability Officer, Suncor Energy Inc.

Martha Hall Findlay is the Chief Sustainability Officer at Suncor Energy Inc. Martha plays a key role in stewarding Suncor’s many external relationships and strategic collaborations in support of the company’s ongoing economic, environmental and social performance leadership. Martha oversees Suncor’s sustainability strategy, public policy and government relations efforts, and internal and external communications. She is responsible for the continued deepening of the company’s Indigenous, stakeholder, and community relations, as well as being accountable for Suncor’s social innovation agenda, including through her involvement on the Board of the Suncor Energy Foundation. Prior to joining Suncor, Martha was the President and CEO of the Canada West Foundation, one of Canada’s most important public policy think tanks, where her focus was strong public policy recommendations for the economic and social prosperity of western Canada, and by extension Canada as a whole.

Dr. Zen Mariani

Research Scientist, Environment & Climate Change Canada and Adjunct Professor, UofT

Zen Mariani was selected as one of the final 32 Canadian Space Agency’s astronaut candidates for the 2017 astronaut selection campaign. He graduated from Western University with a B.Sc. in physics and, as part of his M.Sc. and Ph.D. in physics at the University of Toronto, he frequently traveled to a remote high-Arctic site to conduct climate observations near the North Pole. He currently works as a research scientist in the meteorological research division at Environment and Climate Change Canada where he leads research projects aimed at improving weather observation and forecast capabilities in Canada, with a focus on Arctic meteorology.

Dr. Kathryn Harrison

Professor of Political Science, University of British Columbia

Kathryn Harrison is a Professor of Political Science at the University of British Columbia. Harrison received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Chemical Engineering before completing her PhD in Political Science. Before entering academia, Harrison worked as a policy analyst for both Environment Canada and the United States Congress. She also has served as Senior Associate Dean and Acting Dean in the UBC Faculty of Arts. Professor Harrison has published widely on Canadian and US climate policy. She has advised governments from the local to international level, and is a frequent media and social media commentator on climate policy.

Organizing Committee

  • Committee Leads
    • Laura Best
    • Kimia Ghannad-Zadeh
    • Sajeevan Sujanthan
    • Jesse Knight
    • Claire Wunker
    • Rachel Dadouch
    • Shamantha Lora
    • Shaghayegh Foroozan
  • Committee Members
    • Muzaffar Bhatti
    • Hannah Shuster-Hyman
    • Stephanie Tran
    • Helen Yang
    • Sami Ul Haq
    • Brahmdeep Saini
    • Roshanak Asgari
    • Rima El-Sayed
    • Isis So
    • Sandy Lee
    • Melissa Chasse
    • Jesse Joynt
    • Swapna Mylabathula
    • Naomi Robson
    • Nadia Boachie
    • Alex Jacob

Brought to you by the Institute of Medical Science Student Association and the Institute of Medical Science Student, Alumni, and Faculty Engagement Committee