2020-2021 Team

Executive Team

Sivani Baskaran, President

Sivani is a PhD candidate in Environmental Chemistry at the University of Toronto. Her research looks at methods for measuring and predicting physical-chemical properties that are important in identifying chemicals that have the potential to build up in air-breathing species. She became interested in science policy during her undergraduate degree. In 2018, Sivani co-founded the Toronto Science Policy Network.

@sivanibaskaran / tspn.president@gmail.com

Frank Telfer, Vice-

Frank is a graduate student in the Department of Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto, studying Genetics and Genome Biology at the Hospital for Sick Children. Frank’s research focuses on identifying and characterizing novel modalities for reducing cancer risk/preventing cancer in children and young adults who are at increased risk due a mutation inherited from their parents. Outside of the lab, Frank works on expanding and improving science culture in his local community and throughout Canada through his leadership of and participation in a variety of education and advocacy initiatives. Frank is highly passionate about evidence-informed decision-making, especially in the sphere of health policy, and has been a member of TSPN since its first year.


Dawn Bannerman, Treasurer

Dawn Bannerman is a PhD student at the University of Toronto in Chemical Engineering with a collaborative specialization in Biomedical Engineering. Her research focuses on cardiac tissue engineering approaches to improve heart function after a heart attack. She joined TSPN in its first year because she cares about the use of scientific evidence to inform decisions that lead toward a healthy population and environment.


Isabella Lim, Co-Marketing Director

Isabella Lim is a second year PhD student in the Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto. Her research lies within visual attention and memory, specifically how visual attention is guided by categorical information. Through the TSPN she hopes to foster a community enthusiastic for evidence-based policy issues, both within and outside of academia. Outside of school she enjoys horror movies and going to concerts.

Keshna Sood, Co-Marketing Director

Keshna Sood is a Molecular Genetics PhD candidate in the Faculty of Medicine at University of Toronto. Her research focuses on cell screening approaches to identify new targets for antibody development that support immune oncology applications. Keshna has worked in three different laboratories (honey bee genetics, cranefly cell division and neuroscience with rhesus macaque monkeys) during her undergraduate degree. Her diverse experiences in science has given her the breadth needed to understand scientific conduct at-large. Now Keshna is looking to invest her efforts and apply her training towards initiatives of evidence-generation and evidence-based policy design and decision-making. Reach out!

Esmeralda Bukuroshi, External Affairs Director

Esmeralda Bukuroshi is a PhD candidate in Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry at the University of Toronto. She is developing new products for more efficient organic solar cells. She has advocated for UofT engineering graduate students throughout her PhD and has worked closely with the leadership of the Faculty of Engineering to address many of their concerns. Through TSPN she is excited to join a community enthusiastic for scientific evidence-based policy matters.

Kaitlin Kharas, Fundraising Lead

Kaitlin is PhD candidate in the department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto. Her research, at the Hospital for Sick Children, focuses on the role of immune cells in the growth and progression of pediatric brain cancers. Kaitlin is excited to join TSPN as she has a strong interest in promoting public scientific literacy, as well as an interest in how science can inform thoughtful policy.

Sophie McGibbon-Gardner, Internal Affairs Director

Sophie is a PhD candidate in the Department of Physics at U of T. She studies population dynamics in large cell populations. Sophie is currently studying cellular reprogramming; using analytic and computational approaches to reveal the underlying dynamics and interactions within populations of partially differentiated cells that are being pushed into a stem cell like state. She is active in peer advocacy and passionate about evidence based decision making. When not working on her PhD, Sophie plays board games, dungeons and dragons, and finds every excuse to be in nature.

Camilla Giovino, Executive-at-Large

Camilla is an MD/PhD student in the Department of Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto, studying cellular and molecular biology at SickKids. Camilla’s research focuses on understanding the cellular and molecular players which contribute to cancer onset in a rare hereditary cancer predisposition syndrome called Li-Fraumeni Syndrome (LFS). Camilla is passionate about medicine, healthcare, and increasing accessibility of both science and medicine to the general public. In the context of TSPN, she is particularly interested in health policy. 

Ben Ho, Executive-at-Large

Ben is a PhD candidate in the department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto, studying rare brain tumours that affect mainly young children. He is interested in engaging the public in evidence-based policy making discussions, especially in an increasingly algorithm-driven age.

Committee Members & Volunteers

Raphaella So

Raphaella is a PhD candidate in Biochemistry at the University of Toronto. She uses mouse models to study how structural differences in protein clumps found in the brain cells of people with Parkinson’s or other related diseases can lead to differences in clinical outcomes like symptoms and progression rate. Apart from research and science policy, Raphaella is also passionate about singing, dancing, seeking out good food in the city, and talking about the TV shows she binge-watched in her free time.