Meet the GEEC team: Krissy Bemister

Meet Krissy Bemister, a Research Project Manager leading GEEC’s Model Schools for Inner Cities Research Team. Krissy completed her Psychology B.A. degree in 2018. Her undergraduate thesis, along with her more recent Research Assistant experiences in two projects based out of OISE investigating reading interventions and full day kindergarten, solidified her passion for research methods and applications.

Krissy is now pursuing her M.A. in Psychology at Ryerson University, where she investigates face and emotion perception in infancy.

Krissy is enthused by the potential to contribute to real change at the ground level for children in marginalized communities through her work in the GEEC research group.

Krissy has also had practical experience working with children ages 3 to 18 in an educational program, as well as through her array of research experiences. She utilizes her research skills on the GEEC team and expands her knowledge about community-engaged research and qualitative methods.

In the GEEC Team, Krissy is currently working on mobilizing data from the MSIC: Reducing inequities in children’s educational success and family well-being in marginalized communities through innovation in public education project. What she finds most compelling about this study is hearing about people’s lived experiences, especially their experiences with education.

Meet the GEEC team: Dr. Sejal Patel

Dr. Sejal Patel of the GEEC Research Team.

Meet Dr. Sejal Patel, an Associate Professor in Early Childhood Studies, in the Faculty of Community Services at Ryerson University. With training in developmental psychology and education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto, Dr. Patel held Canadian Institutes of Health Research Strategic Training and Peterborough K.M. Hunter Charitable Foundation post-doctoral fellowships at the Centre for Research on Inner City Health at St. Michael’s Hospital. She is an Affiliate Scientist in the Keenan Research Centre of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital.

Dr. Patel’s research investigates the effects of innovation in (1) service provision and education, and (2) the designed environment, on inequities in children’s educational success and well-being. Her research on educational success and well-being considers children’s physical, language, cognitive, social, and emotional development. As a community-engaged scholar, Dr. Patel pursues her professional goals by collaborating with community partners to carry out intervention research with marginalized populations to help reduce inner city disparities, and to mobilize knowledge to help inform local practice and public policy.

Here are Dr. Patel and the GEEC team’s current projects:

  • School redesign and neighbourhood redevelopment: A study of educational success, families, and equity (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council [SSHRC] funded, Primary Investigator)
  • Reducing inequities in children’s educational success and family well-being in marginalized communities through innovation in public education (SSHRC funded, Primary Investigator)
  • Full-day kindergarten: Longitudinal effects on children’s educational success and well-being (SSHRC funded, Co-Investigator)

Meet the GEEC team: Natalie Cummins

Natalie Cummins, Research Project Manager

Natalie Cummins is a Registered Early Childhood Educator (RECE) with a Masters in Environmental Studies who has worked with the GEEC research team for six years. What excites her about this this collaborative research group is the opportunity to “contribute to research that aims to reduce inequities for children and families.” Currently, she is the Research Project Manager for the School redesign and neighbourhood redevelopment: A longitudinal study of educational success families and equity and Reducing inequities in children’s educational success and family well-being in marginalized communities through innovation in public education projects.

After completing her Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Studies at Ryerson University, Natalie worked at Ryerson University’s Gerrard Resource Centre (GRC), Canada’s only university-based family support program, to develop environmental programs for children and families. In the program families explore their local parks through stories, hikes, play and inquiry-based activities. Natalie is also currently a RECE, Family Supports in the EarlyON program at the GRC.

Natalie’s graduate community-based participatory research project titled Semilla: A Community-University Partnership for Environmental Education brought together the voices of community members, students and school staff in the Alexander Skutch Biological Corridor in Costa Rica to co-develop an environmental education resource and highlight promising practices in community-university collaboration.  You can read more about Natalie’s work here.

In GEEC Research, Natalie has been an integral part of the team. Most recently, she worked with Dr. Sejal Patel on a paper published in the journal Improving Schools titled Student and Staff Social Dynamics and Transitions during School Redesign.

Meet the GEEC team: Katherine Benvenuto

Katherine Benvenuto, GEEC Research Assistant

Meet Katherine Benvenuto, a Research Assistant on the GEEC team. Katherine studied Psychology at York University. She chose to study psychology because of her interest in mental health, which eventually led her to find her passion in research design, specifically research methods and data analysis. Katherine has worked with the City of Toronto’s Parks and Recreation department where she guided community residents in navigating school and community institutions, and find resources. Currently, Katherine works with the GEEC Research team as a Research Assistant.

In the GEEC team, Katherine is excited to combine her experience working in communities with her passion for research design. Katherine is interested in the use of innovative research methods in community-engaged research. “I strongly believe that individuals’ actual experiences and voice adds context and value to the research you are doing,” she says. Currently, Katherine is working with the team to analyze data collected in the Reducing inequities in children’s educational success and family well-being in marginalized communities through innovation in public education project. What she likes most about this type of research is that it isn’t only for an academic audience but also works to mobilize findings with communities and has the potential to impact community members’ daily lives.

Earlier this year at GEEC, Katherine assisted with the School redesign and neighbourhood redevelopment: A longitudinal study of education success and well-being project. What she learned from this study was the potential impact of the physical built environment on healthy child development and child and family services.