speaker bios + more

This page is where you’ll find information about our wonderful and brilliant speakers who will be presenting at the conference. We’ll be updating over the next few weeks, leading up to May 7th. Each bio will feature photos, links to personal social media accounts as well as the topic and formatting each speaker will be covering during the conference.

Stay tuned!


Joseph D’Addario is a MA (history) candidate from York University, with research interests in modern Canadian political history from 1950 onward. His MRP, supervised by Professor Geoffrey Reaume in the Faculty of Health, focuses on contemporary governmental directives and its influence on the relationship between patients and medical professionals. Joseph is a secondary school teacher for the Toronto Catholic District School Board and has done volunteer work teaching in Masai Mara, Kenya.

Check out his education blog: http://edscholar.blogspot.ca/

Joseph will be presenting A Message of Hope: An Exploration of Models of Disability through L’Arche Communities on the panel What is a Good Body?

Mona Al-Taha is a 3rd year medical student at Dalhousie University. She is passionate about art and surgery, and she finds that both allow her to be hands-on and creative. Her team is presenting on using sculpture to learn anatomy, a great collaboration between the disciplines of art and science. As Leonardo Da Vinci said best: “Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind: Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses- especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”

Mona will also be presenting some poetry and artwork. She has always been inspired by the works of poets such as Robert Frost and A E Housman.

You can find her on twitter as @MonaAlTaha, and her co-presenter Marie Noland as @NolandMarie. Marie is a Plastic Surgery Resident at Dalhousie University and the talented workshop instructor who made the project possible.

Mona will be presenting on the topic Learning Through Creation: A Lesson in Anatomy Through Sculpture, during the panel What is Embodiment?

Navjeevan Singh is professor of Pathology and coordinator of the Medical Education Unit at the University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi, India. He stumbled into “Theatre of the Oppressed” (TO) at a workshop conducted by his mentor Radha Ramaswamy at his institution. Fascinated by the potential of TO to help bring about change in communities in attitudes, behaviour, and communication, and inculcate respect for human diversity and teach empathy, he has since been experimenting with TO among the medical fraternity. Having worked with students and teachers at medical institutions in India, he is convinced that TO can be an important vehicle for experiential learning of the Medical Humanities.

You can find some of his work and projects here:  




Navjeevan will be presenting the workshop Experiments with Theatre of the Oppressed in Changing Attitudes and Behavior in Medical Students. 

Helen Donnelly is a theatrical, circus and Therapeutic Clown. She has been practicing the art of clown for over 20 years and has taught theatrical clown for 15 years in North America, Europe and the Middle East. She is passionate about arts in healthcare and has presented on this topic at numerous conferences worldwide. She is thrilled to be presenting among such incredible researchers, artists and practitioners!

Helen will be presenting the workshop Creativity in Healthcare: Exploring Innovative Ways of Caring. 

Check out some of her work here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tequCq-8rwU

Meet Mary Koziol and Erin Lindsay! They’re the producer and director, respectively, of the theatre production ‘S(t)imulation‘, a play about sexuality, people and ideas. The production was written and performed by current second year McGill medical students. Drawing on this experience, their workshop will focus on theatre & storytelling as vehicles to build empathy and instigate social reform within medicine.
Mary is herself a second year med student at McGill with a BA&Sc from McMaster. She is interested in anti-oppressive practice in medicine, with a particular emphasis on healthy sexuality & gender diversity. She sees magnificent potential for the arts in medical education and health promotion.
Erin is a writer interested in arts communications and arts advocacy. Drawn to people and their stories, Erin believes theatre can effect real and meaningful change in the world. Erin holds a Graduate Diploma in Communications from Concordia and a BA in Theatre with a Minor in Ethics from the University of Ottawa. She currently works in marketing & communications for Black Theatre Workshop in Montreal.


Mahnoor Leghari is a BSc. candidate in her 4th year pursuing a double major in Health Studies and Human Biology at the University of Toronto Scarborough. She discovered the field of Medical Humanities in her 3rd year when she took an Introduction to Health Humanities course. While working closely with her supervisor and Health Humanities champion Dr Andrea Charise, she began to research and explore what the ‘core’ curriculum of North American Undergraduate Health Humanities programs is and what disciplines and topics should this curriculum entail, to better reflect the diverse values specific to the Canadian postsecondary context.

Mahnoor will be presenting her preliminary findings from a curriculum audit she conducted of North American Undergraduate Health Humanities programs, during the panel How and What Should We Teach Medical Students?


Music therapist, music educator, and music therapy educator Elizabeth Mitchell is passionate about the intersections between music and wellbeing, whether inside or outside of clinical music therapy settings. A PhD candidate in the department of music education at Western University and a recipient of the SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship (2012—2016), Liz holds a master’s degree in music therapy from Wilfrid Laurier University and an ARCT in piano performance. Prior to beginning her doctoral studies, Liz was employed as a music therapist at Lutherwood, a social service agency in Waterloo, where she worked with adolescents with mental health issues and older adults with dementia and a variety of physical and mental health concerns. She currently provides music therapy at Merrymount Family Support and Crisis Centre in London, and she is a soprano in the Canadian Chamber Choir.

Liz will be presenting on the topic Performance, Identity, and the Coffee House: Community Music Therapy at an Adolescent Mental Health Facility in the panel How Does Art Build Community?


Dr Michael Stacey is both a vascular surgeon and a poet. In his role as Surgeon in Chief at Hamilton Health Sciences, as a vascular surgeon and as a researcher he is used to reading and writing scientific and administrative documents. He has been writing poetry for about 15 years and has published poems in periodicals and anthologies. The creative nature of writing poetry provides a mechanism for both expression and comprehension of those inner emotions that shape how we interact with patients, families and other health professionals.

Dr. Stacey will be presenting on the topic Poetry at the Cutting Edge: How Writing and Sharing Poetry Can Complement and Enhance Professional Life and Experience in Medicine and Surgery during the panel How Can Art Help When Medicine Wears Us Down?

Laura Nemoy photo

Laura (Lori) Nemoy is a MA candidate from the University of Ottawa, with research interests in community music, music education, and medical humanities. Laura’s thesis work, supervised by Prof. B.W. Andrews, focuses on choral singing in medical education, as part of medical humanities and arts initiatives in medical school. Laura graduated from McMaster University’s Arts & Science Program in 2013, and has published previous work with Dr. D.W. Gerry (McMaster University) in the Canadian Music Educator’s Association Journal (Spring 2015). She is also a certified skiing instructor, canoe tripper, and dedicated choral singer with experience singing in both university and semi-professional ensembles. Check out her McMaster University TEDx talk on music and social change from 2013!
Lori will be presenting on the topic, Experiencing Resonance: Choral Singing in Medical School in the panel How Does Art Build Community?

Tina Benigno pic

Tina Benigno is a PhD student in Humanities at York University where she is specializing in children’s studies and film studies. She first learned about medical humanities while volunteering at Mount Sinai hospital, and went on to co-author a paper on ways to assess (inter)personal qualities of medical school applicants. She holds a MA in Film Studies from York University and a BA in Cinema Studies, English, and Italian Studies from the University of Toronto, but has also worked and volunteered in a variety of health/mental health settings.

Tina will be presenting Media Literacy for Health Care Professionals on the panel How Does Media Shape Medicine?

Poet Hannah Baggott holds an MFA from Oregon State University and Lecturer of English at University of North Carolina at Pembroke. She primarily writes about her experiences with Multiple Sclerosis, the body, intimacy, and empathy. She is a regular contributor with PDXX Collective and has been awarded the 2015 Bellevue Literary Review Jan and Marcia Vilcek Prize for Poetry and the Joyce Carol Oates Commencement Award , as well as a Pushcart Prize nomination. Her work can be found through her website hannahbaggott.com.
Hannah will be presenting on the topic, Staying in the Mess: Poetry & Medicine during the panel Who, What, and Where is the Patient?
You can also find her at any of the following:
Instagram: @palindromepoet

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Mild mannered radiologist by day, kick-ass spoken word artist by night, Brent Chappell is kind of a poetry super hero. More Spider-Man than Superman though, all angst and sticky fingers. His dream is to one day speak a poem that will make the audience laugh and cry and crap their pants….SIMULTANEOUSLY!  He is not sure if that means they will all be laughing and crying and crapping all at the same time or if they will all laugh, then all cry, then all crap. It’s a dream. Sometimes dreams are kind of vague.

Brent will be presenting on the topic, I See Dead People (and how poetry helps me see them better) during the panel How Can Art Help When Medicine Wears Us Down?

Sage B. Perdue, a queer phenomenologist, is currently a Ph.D. student and a Pre-Med student at the University of California, Merced in the Interdisciplinary Humanities Program. Their dissertation project, Becoming Sui-cide: Biopolitics, Suicide-Worlds, and NecroQueer(s) in a Pharmacoviralized Eon asks: What fleshes out a “real” suicide or a “medical” suicide in the twenty-first century? Which bodies are deemed worthy of suicidal mourning? Sage deploys 20th-century Transatlantic Literature, Phenomenology (Husserlian, Heiddeggerian, Merleau-Ponty), and the History of Science and Medicine, connecting fragments betwixt and between the notion of transness and suicide logic. Sage is primarily interested in the lived body and experience(s) of the suicidal body, particularly queer, gender non-conforming, trans bodies. They work with faculty in both the Interdisciplinary Humanities program and Cognitive Science.

They  will be presenting on the panel How does Medicine Encounter Death?, on the topic of (Re)Thinking Terminality: Queer Theoretics, Suicide, and Narrative Medicine. 


Tanis MacDonald is the author of three books of poetry, including Rue the Day (Turnstone Press) and the scholarly study The Daughter’s Way: Canadian Women’s Paternal Elegies (WLUP, 2012). She is a well-known personal essayist and literary reviewer as well as a poet; recent work has appeared in The Puritan, Canthius, Poetry is Dead, PRISM International, Prairie Fire, and The Goose. She is Associate Professor in the Department of English and Film Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.

Below, you can find some links to her works, many of which she will be discussing in her panel discussion, Clear and Other Cuts: Ecocriticism, AIDS Narratives, and Survivor Syndrome, during the panel How do the Arts Help Us Understand Survival?

Critical-creative article on FaunaWatch practice:


Artist’s statement on writing the wild as bodily practice:


FaunaWatch poem:


And finally,

You can follow her on Twitter @PoetTanis and on Instagram @tanismacdonald


Emma Glaser has finished her second year of medical school and is in the process of completing a clinical research master’s degree at the University of Montreal. She has been conducting research since she was 19 years old, and recently her interests have turned toward chronic diseases, health behaviour change and communication between health professionals and patients. In light of recent political changes, she has also developed an interest about accessible health care, community practices and Problem Based Research Networks. Her academic interests coincide with some of her personal passions, where she enjoys reading works and discussing with friends about psychology, sociology, anthropology, and philosophy, and has recently been thinking of finding common ground throughout these different frameworks.

The subject of Emma Glaser’s master’s thesis is evaluating the impact of a website designed to enhance communication between health care providers and patients. This website is free and accessible, and you can find it here: discutonssante.ca

Emma has spearheaded the following Facebook page with some friends in response to bill 20 in Quebec: https://www.facebook.com/etudiants.vs.pl20/

Finally, here is a link to her Research Gate page: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Emma_Glaser

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Erin Luxenberg is a third year medical student at McGill University who, along with three colleagues, started the McGill Humanities and Arts in Medicine (McHAM) interest group. Through film, literature, art, and open discussion, we aim to gain a deeper understanding of health, illness, and the human experience, moving beyond ideas introduced to us in our medical curriculum.

Erin will be presenting a workshop titled Finding Common Ground: A Communication Workshop for the Healthcare Setting and Beyond, with co-presenter Emma Glaser!

AGrigorovich_OWHSA photo

Dr. Alisa Grigorovich is a Senior Research Associate at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute–UHN, and will be a postdoctoral fellow at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto starting in September 2016. Her program of research focuses on the social organization of care, health equity and public health ethics. Her scholarship is inter-disciplinary and intersectional, and draws on feminist political economy, and critical disability and sexuality theories. You can find out more about her work on her website (alisagrigorovich.com) or on Twitter (@AlisaGrig).

Alisa will be presiding on the panel Which Stories Do We Tell in Medicine?, presenting on the topic: Rapists, Perverts and Victims: Representations of Persons Living with Dementia and Sexuality in the Media.


Kacper Niburski is a twenty something year old pretending he’s thirty who writes like he’s fifty about things that happened when he was ten. He’s been published in Stoneboat Poetry, Ars Medica, and others.

Kacper will be sitting on the panel What is a Good Body?, presenting on the topic: Imprinting Care: The Production and Standardization of Patient Charts.

You can find more of him at any of the following:

His blog: kacperniburski.com

Twitter: @KacperNiburski 

Instagram: @_kenkan

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Upreet Dhaliwal is Professor of Ophthalmology at the University College of Medical Sciences, University of Delhi, India.

She is a fairly recent but fierce champion of and believes that the medical humanities are key to reminding people of their – and others’ – humanity. She is Editor of a medical humanities journal called Research & Humanities in Medical Education – or RHiME.

RHiME is an online-only, open-access, peer-reviewed journal. It is now two-years-old-and-counting thanks to the selfless effort of a handful of fabulous people and practically no finances. Its latest offering is “Disarming Dialogues: Ethics and Professionalism” which are reflective student narratives with accompanying expert commentaries on issues of ethics and professionalism.

You can click any of the links above to learn more about RHiME, and follow them on Twitter here: @RhimeJ

Upreet will be presenting on a panel, How Does Art Build Community?, focussing on the topic of Narrative Medicine as a Tool to Develop Reflective Practice in Undergraduate UNarMed Experience.


Kayla Simms is an MD candidate in her third year of studies at the University of Ottawa, with interdisciplinary roots in the University of Guelph’s Arts and Sciences program. She is a strong believer in the healing power of creative exploration, and is the founder of the student-led initiative “Humanities Education, Artistic Living” (H.E.A.L.); creating space in medical education for the health humanities, as a means of self expression and reflection amongst medical trainees. Kayla is excited to share her passion for Art Therapy with A Palpable Thrill, and hopes to empower future clinicians to explore their own vulnerabilities through the process of making art.

Kayla will be presenting a workshop called Art Therapy: Sharing Vulnerabilities at the Bedside at the APT Conference.

You can find her at any of the following:

Facebook: facebook.com/healmeded
Twitter: @HEALMedEd
Instagram: @kaylogical

Some of her artwork: