UTM-MN announces funding awards

composite of four headshots
(L-R) Shaba Taskin, Shashi Kant, Florian Shkurti, Tara Vinodrai (Photo: courtesy UTM IMI)

The Institute for Management and Innovation is thrilled to celebrate the recent recipients of the UTM Mobility Network’s Summer Internship Award and Faculty Funding Grants. Shaba Taskin (Master of Urban Innovation student), and Professors Shashi Kant, Florian Shkurti and Tara Vinodrai have each been awarded a UTM Mobility Network grant, to contribute to the important field of knowledge around mobility in our communities.

Mobility Network

The Mobility Network, launched in 2021, is a University of Toronto Institutional Strategic Initiative. Designed as a university-wide, multi-divisional collaboration, the network supports and showcases expertise in the area of mobility. The Mobility Network encourages impact through student training, contributions to public policy, and networking initiatives. UTM holds a special series of grants dedicated to supporting student and faculty-led mobility research.

Researchers affiliated with the Mobility Network are working together to examine different forms of mobility, and the infrastructure, policies and investments required for innovation in mobility. Mobility Network’s vision is to catalyze transformation in the ways mobility services are offered and used and how this results in a more equitable, sustainable and prosperous future. “To do anything in daily life,” says Dr. Shauna Brail, Associate Director, UTM, Mobility Network, “movement is required. How we get people to work, to school, to cultural events, to health care, to access food, to visit family? All of this requires mobility.” Researchers and network-affiliated partners are exploring benefits and disadvantages to modes of transportation, managing impacts on emissions and climate change, connections between transportation and land use planning, mobility-related challenges connected to recovery from COVID-19, and issues around accessibility and equity. “What does this mean for our society, in terms of opportunities for people, and how we choose to invest public resources in networks that enable large numbers of people to get to their jobs, to feed their families, and to get home in time to pick up their kids from school?” asks Brail.

To tackle these ‘wicked challenges’, the UTM Mobility Network funding is being used to leverage other funding mechanisms to expand the range, and deepen the breadth, of the innovative research happening in these fields at UTM.

June 2022 Award Recipients

Shaba Taskin, granted the UTM Mobility Network Summer Internship Award, is working as an intern for PointA, a sustainable transportation not-for-profit. This grant, matched by funding from MITACS and PointA, will enable Shaba to support the sustainable transportation economic cluster work in Toronto. Shaba is focusing on the development of a plan for a future sustainable transportation hub and supporting the cycling sector.

Professor Shashi Kant, of the Institute for Management and Innovation, will utilize funding from the Faculty Funding grant to extend his work on the Estimation of Carbon Emissions from Commuting of Employees and Students to the UTM Campus. The Mobility Network Funds are supported by additional funding from the Climate Positive Energy & Climate Positive Campus Initiative at the University of Toronto.

Professor Florian Shkurti, of the Department of Mathematical and Computational Sciences, will use the UTM Mobility Network Faculty Funding Grant to support his work on Generating Physically Realizable Adversarial Driving Scenarios via Differentiable Physics and Rendering Simulators. In combination with funding from the Amazon Research Award in Robotics, Florian’s work moves UTM forward in robotics innovation in mobility.

Professor Tara Vinodrai, of the Institute for Management and Innovation, with funding from both a SSHRC Insight Grant and the Mobility Network is exploring data from Statistics Canada to understand the mobility implications of the pandemic in her work Understanding Mobility Dynamics during the Pandemic: Work from Home, Employment and Transit Use in Canadian Cities. This work lays the foundation for further studies rooted in this data.

Collectively, the work contributed by these leading researchers underpins UTM’s strategic priorities and goals towards producing world-class research and in creating sustainable and cohesive communities. Together, they support interdisciplinary research at UTM in areas that are critical for our communities on the heels of a global pandemic and will contribute to building knowledge on inclusive cities and societies, healthy lives, and a sustainable future.

Click here to learn more about the Mobility Network.

Click here to learn more about the IMI Institute for Management & Innovation.

This article by Claire Westgate was originally published as “UTM Mobility Network Summer Internship Awards & Faculty Funding Grants” by the University of Toronto Mississauga Institute for Management and Innovation, June 22, 2022.