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First Annual Creative AI Symposium

April 02, 2024
9:00 AM EDT - 3:00 PM EDT
Rogers Communications Centre (RCC), 80 Gould St, Second Floor, Catalyst (RCC 230A - 238C)
A graphic with a purple gradient as a background showing data architecture lines and a profile view of an AI Robot. The title "Creative AI Symposium" is the main focus of the graphic.

Discover the cutting-edge world of Creative Artificial Intelligence (AI) at The Creative School's first-ever Creative AI Symposium! Join us for a dynamic day filled with insightful presentations from leading scholars and experts in the field and get a sneak peek into the latest ideas and innovations generated by students enrolled in our Creative AI course. Don't miss this opportunity to explore the limitless possibilities of creativity in AI, brought to you by our newly launched Creative AI Hub (opens in new window) !


  • 9:00 am - Event Registration and Coffee
  • 9:30 am - Welcome and Opening Remarks
  • 10:00 am - Panel Discussion
    • Dr. Hossein Rahnama (moderator)
    • Dr. Reem El Asaleh
    • Dr. Richard Lachman
    • Dr. Kris Alexander
  • 11:00 am - Panel Discussion
    • Dr. Afsoon Soudi (moderator)
    • Michael F Bergmann
    • Owais Lightwala
    • Dr. Norah Lorway
  • 12:00 - Lunch and Lightning Talks
    • Angela Misri
    • Dr. Sibo Chen
    • Dr. Izabella Pruska-Oldenhof
  • 1:00-3:00 pm - Student Showcase and Networking


Meet the Panellists

Dr. Norah Lorway

Dr. Norah Lorway is a software engineer, professor, composer and AI researcher currently based between the UK and Canada. Norah is currently an assistant professor working in AI and music production at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson). Previously at Falmouth University (UK), Johns Hopkins University (Peabody Institute) and University of British Columbia. In 2014, Norah completed a PhD in computer music at the University of Birmingham, working with BEAST and BEER. Norah has performed in algoraves and live coding events throughout the UK, Europe, Asia and Australia at conferences such as NIME, AIMC, AISB, ICLC and others. Her work in live coding and film music has received recognition by outlets such as MixMag, Sundance Festival, Berlin Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival and was recently nominated for a Cinema Eye Honors award for Best Score in her work with the film Anthropocene: The Human Epoch. Norah is also a co-director/founder at Beesting Labs, which specializes in software development for AI, immersive and DSP applications as well as creating the Scorch language.

Dr. Afsoon Soud

Dr. Afsoon Soudi is an Assistant Professor at Toronto Metropolitan University and the Associate Director of Creative AI hub at The Creative School. Prior to TMU, she led machine intelligence teams to develop an audience analytics platform and recommender systems enabling discoverability and personalization in digital media products. In addition to her academic experience, Dr. Soudi is a tech-based entrepreneur. As a co-founder and VP of R&D of an award winning software company (which was later acquired), she led a multidisciplinary team of researchers and developers on technology commercialization and developing ML products for B2B applications. Dr. Soudi completed her Ph.D. in Physics at Washington State University. She holds multiple patents and published numerous peer-reviewed papers in high-impact journals. Her current research interests intersect Responsible AI, climate change and media analytics

Dr. Hossein Rahnama

Dr. Hossein Rahnama is a Professor in the RTA School of Media at Toronto Metropolitan University, the Director of the Creative AI Hub at The Creative School, and a Professor at the MIT Media Lab. He is also the Founder and CEO of Flybits, an AI/ Data Science company. His research is focused on the design of Human-AI Systems, data governance for generative AI, human-computer interaction, and the “system of systems” design of data-driven applications. He has published more than 40 papers and holds 23 patents in computer and data science. He previously served as a council member at NSERC (National Science and Research Engineering Council of Canada) and is currently on the board of directors of Home Capital Group and Canadian Science Publishing. He is a founding fellow at the MIT Connection Science Group and one of the Global Directors of MIT Media Lab’s City Science Group. He Was on MIT Technology Review Global TR35 list (2012) and Canada's Top 40 under 40 (2017).

Dr. Richard Lachman

Dr. Richard Lachman directs the Zone Learning network of incubators and the Flybits Lab for Creative AI at Toronto Metropolitan University.  He is a graduate of the MIT Media Lab, and his interactive projects have won Gemini and Canada New Media awards, shipped millions of copies worldwide, and informed his current research interests in technology ethics, creative AI, interactive storytelling, digital documentaries, and embodied mixed realities.

Michael F Bergmann

Michael F Bergmann is a techno-optimist and enjoys exploring novel technological approaches to storytelling, performance, and play. His research and creative practice aim to apply the principles of improvisational techniques and critical discourse to human-robot and human-AI interactions and communication with the goal of fostering empathy. Their mediums of engagement include theatre, dance, installations, robots, video games, virtual and augmented reality, and exploration of the metaverse. His physical being is mostly located in Toronto, and is a faculty member in Performance at The Creative School at Toronto Metropolitan University, where they teach and conduct research through their Technological Research in Performance Lab (TRiPL).

Michael received his MFA in Design from the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale University and held an Eldon Elder fellowship there. They are a member of IATSE Local ADC 659 and continue to design when possible. Michael is a founding member of Synectic Assembly, an art collective for projects organized in response to questions about artificial intelligence and algorithmic culture. Michael is also pursuing his doctorate in Critical Studies in Improvisation at the University of Guelph, examining post-anthropocentric performance and improvisational modes for human-robot play.

Owais Lightwala

Owais Lightwala is a professor, entrepreneur and optimist. He is an Assistant Professor in the Creative School at Toronto Metropolitan University, focusing on entrepreneurship, leadership, and innovation in creative industries. He co-founded and leads Sai, a tech startup dedicated to revolutionizing how creatives manage their finances. Lightwala is also the founding Director of Chrysalis at the Creative School, a new multidisciplinary performance hub at TMU shaping the future of creative experiences. He has designed and led leadership training programs for the National Arts Centre and the Toronto Arts Council Leaders Lab (2023-2025). He used to be a theatre producer, most notably as the first Managing Director for Why Not Theatre, where he co-led the meteoric growth of the company and transformative projects like RISER and The Mahabharata. He was born in Pakistan, grew up in Dubai, and came to Canada as a teenager, which is why he doesn’t get most pop cultural references from the 90s. His bold strategic voice have been sought out by institutions like National Arts Centre, Canada Council for the Arts, and Canadian Heritage.  He has contributed to boards including TO Live, Mass Culture, AMY Project, and Art Ignite. Recognitions include the Business/Arts Arnold Edinborough Award, Stanford’s Impact Program for Arts Leaders, CivicAction DiverseCity Fellowship, and TAC/Banff Leaders Lab Fellowship. He studied theatre at York University, completed Harvard Business School’s CORe program, and earned an MBA from Toronto Metropolitan University.

Dr. Reem El Asaleh

Dr. Reem El Asaleh is an accomplished Associate Professor of Graphic Communications Management. She has a PhD in Paper and Imaging Science and Engineering She is a member of TMU’s graduate studies under the Master of the Digital Media Program and PhD in Media and Design Innovation Programs within The Creative School. With her computer science and graphic communication expertise, Dr El Asaleh has led several research projects that have addressed critical issues in the graphic arts industry. Her work has been published in top-tier academic journals and technical conference proceedings. As the founder and the director of the Lab of Excellence in Digital Asset Management (DAM) (LED - she heads the world's first and only lab dedicated to fostering in-depth research and education in Digital Asset Management technology. Dr El Asaleh's research interests extend emerging pre-media technologies, digital asset management, colour science and Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility (EDIA) in Graphic Communications.

Dr. Kris Alexander

Dr. Kris Alexander, the professor of video games, is a two-time globally ranked player turned scholar, and game developer. His work focuses on video game design, esports broadcasting, and virtual production. 

Currently the Director of The Red Bull Gaming Hub (external link)  a live broadcast classroom and interactive 3D training facility at Toronto Metropolitan University focused on esports broadcasting, virtual production, and video game design, Dr. Alexander has gained global attention with his TED Talk (external link)  entitled ‘How Video Games Can Level Up Education’, which has been viewed over 1 million times.

Dr. Alexander has also completed academic video essays with Wisecrack (external link) , done educational work with Epic Games (external link) , worked on esports in academia with Red Bull (external link) , Team Liquid (external link) , the Esports Travel Summit (external link) , and even transformed into an animated bear live on Breakfast Television (external link) . He is Canada’s academic expert guide to the nuanced nature of video games that extends beyond the playing of games.

Photo Credit: Gilberto Tadday / TED

Angela Misri

Angela Misri is a Toronto journalist and novelist and worked at the CBC for 14 years before becoming the Digital Director for The Walrus. She writes for many different media groups including the Globe and Mail, CBC, The Walrus, Global TV, and is the author of seven fiction novels. She is currently an assistant professor in the School of Journalism at TMU and her research includes the ethics of using AI to create journalism and the effect on newsroom work.

Dr. Sibo Chen

Dr. Sibo Chen is an assistant professor in the School of Professional Communication at Toronto Metropolitan University. His areas of interest include Public Communication of Climate and Energy Policy, Risk and Crisis Communication, Transcultural Political Economy, and Critical Discourse Analysis.

Dr. Izabella Pruska-Oldenhof

Dr. Izabella Pruska-Oldenhof is an artist-scholar whose research interests are interdisciplinary and probe the intersections of art, body, and technology. She is an award-winning media artist, and her films have been included in over 150 public presentations at major international film festivals, art museums, and centres, including Toronto International Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Sundance Film Festival, Guggenheim New York, Centre Pompidou, ZKM, and the Moving Image Museum. (For details and to view these works, visit (external link) ). Izabella is a co-founder of two successful artist collectives, Loop Collective (external link) (1996–2016, (external link) ) and The Decameron Collective (external link)  (2020–present, (external link) ), and her interest in collaborations between artists and scientists resulted in a co-authored book with Dr. Robert K. Logan (a physicist and media ecology scholar) titled A Topology of Mind: Spiral Thought Patterns, the Hyperlinking of Text, Ideas and More (Springer International, 2022).



The Creative School at Toronto Metropolitan University

The Creative School is a dynamic faculty that is making a difference in new, unexplored ways. Made up of Canada’s top professional schools and transdisciplinary hubs in media, communication, design and cultural industries, The Creative School offers students an unparalleled global experience in the heart of downtown Toronto.