Decoration for the Conference 2022 theme

Rola Dagher

Being me: A fireside chat with Rola Dagher

May 5, 10:05 – 10:30 a.m.
Main stage

Join Marden Paul, IT@UofT 2022 Conference co-chair and Director, Planning Governance Assessment, as he discusses the journey that Rola Dagher has taken over the past two decades. Learn how she went from selling IT equipment to the University of Toronto (U of T) to leading a $60 billion tech company. Dagher is a determined and resilient leader eager to share her story with the IT@UofT community.

About the speaker

Over her career of more than two decades, Rola Dagher, Global Channel Chief, Dell Technologies, has worked with some of the brightest minds in the technology industry while honing her natural leadership style. After leading as President of Cisco Canada for three years, Dagher returned to Dell Technologies in 2020. Prior to this, she held various sales leadership roles at Dell and Bell Canada.

Her commitment to empowering women is shown through her recognition as one of the 2020 Top 25 Women of Influence. Dagher was also recognized by Women’s Executive Network as one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 and by Women in Communications and Technology as the 2019 Woman of the Year. She was named the 2021 Executive of the Year by LebNet and was selected as one of RBC’s Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award winners for 2019. She was named the “Lady of the Cedar” by the Lebanese Embassy and received a 2018 Leadership Award from the Lebanese Chamber Business of Commerce.

Dagher is a co-founder of the BlackNorth Initiative and an active member of the 30% Club advisory board, where she supports Catalyst’s work to accelerate progress for women in the workplace. She also sits on the Circle of Champions for the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council, promoting growth through diversity in the workplace.

Rola Dagher
Decoration for the Conference 2022 theme

Dr. Heidi B. Hammel

Pushing boundaries in astrophysics: The new era of astronomy

May 4, 10:25 – 11:25 a.m.
Main stage

The field of astrophysics periodically experiences dramatic surges; this is one of those moments! New facilities and techniques are opening new vistas and pushing us beyond the bounds of the known into the unknown. Among the new tools are:

  • The international James Webb Space Telescope – a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency
  • The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope – built by the National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • The Vera Rubin Observatory (coming soon) – an NSF project with international participation including engagement with U of T

New techniques include Inouye and Rubin’s large data sets and the concomitant requirements of advanced computational skills to analyze the data streams, as well as completely new “messengers” for astrophysics like gravitational waves detected by the the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). At the same time, right here on earth the new facilities and techniques drive social change within the community. Dr. Heidi Hammel will touch on these topics and more, highlighting some of the most exciting new discoveries in the cosmos.

About the speaker

Dr. Heidi B. Hammel, Vice President for Science at the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) and an interdisciplinary scientist for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, will give an opening keynote address on May 4. As a planetary astronomer, she has studied our solar system’s outer planets and their rings and moons with the Gemini, Hubble, Keck, Spitzer and other telescopes.

Profile image of Dr. Heidi Hammel
Decoration for the Conference 2022 theme

Dr. Steve Joordens

We can rebuild it better! But first, a hug (of a sort)

May 5, 2:20 – 3:20 p.m.
Main stage

I was a child when a TV show called The Six Million Dollar Man came out. It was a story of a well-loved astronaut who experienced a horrible accident that all but killed him. The famous line from the introduction of the show is: “We can rebuild him, make him even better than he was before! Stonger! Faster!” And they do, grafting together the traditional part of him (his remaining body) with technology (bionic limbs) to create the first bionic man!

Our traditional approach to education was also all but killed by COVID. Along the way, many educators experienced digital approaches to learning that they had never closely interacted with before — potential bionic limbs of education as it were. As we emerge from the pandemic, many of us envision this as a great opportunity to build back an education system that is better than before with a mix of digital and human approaches to education that maximize synergies to create a more powerful approach to learning.

I am one of those calling for innovation in education, yet I am also one who understands that most people within our education systems are not currently up for the challenge. The chronic stress of COVID has us all exhausted, with many feeling completely burnt out. Yes, we want to rebuild, but I will argue that the first thing we want to build is a community that is more connected, more resilient, and one that understands our fragile mental states and brings us the empowerment we need to be true positive change makers.

About the speaker

Dr. Steve Joordens, a professor of psychology at U of T Scarborough (UTSC), was initially trained as a cognitive psychologist with expertise in human memory. As director of the Advanced Learning Technologies Lab at UTSC, his research has shifted to focus on the most effective use of educational technologies, particularly the formal development of transversal skills. One of the technologies to come from this lab, peerScholar, is used in more than eight countries and is increasingly used as an institutional solution for skill development in Canada and beyond. Dr. Joordens has won several awards at the institutional, provincial and national levels in recognition of his teaching innovations. In 2015, he was named a 3M Teaching Fellow for his significant and sustained impact on higher education in Canada.

Steve Joordens