You are now in the main content area
Pivot: 2020-21 Year in Review

Pivot: 2020-21 Year in Review

Responding to the pandemic, YSGS quickly pivoted from brick and mortar to virtual and remote in two weeks, providing seamless service to the Ryerson graduate community.

Dr. Cory Searcy, Vice-Provost and Dean. Quote: Our graduate community has embraced these new circumstances with resilience, ingenuity and perseverance.

When YSGS closed its campus office on March 13, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no one knew what lay ahead.

What we did know was that nearly 3,000 graduate students were counting on us. Working swiftly and collaboratively, we completely switched administrative and learning systems without interruption. Online institutions take years to develop – we pivoted from a physical university to a virtual one in two weeks.

As our faculty and staff have embraced new ways of teaching and connecting, so too have our graduate students met these trying, unprecedented circumstances with resilience, ingenuity and perseverance. In order to continue her research on the impact of microplastics, for example, Environmental Applied Science and Management MASc student Rachel McNamee set up a makeshift lab at home – and successfully defended her thesis virtually last August.

Similarly, YSGS shifted its student engagement offerings online to maintain a sense of community while we are physically apart. We launched new virtual opportunities such as GRAD Skills, the GRAD Breather mindfulness series and GRADFlix, a digital narrative competition in lieu of the postponed 3MT® competition. Since September, more than 1,000 grad students have participated in online workshops and webinars. And as you will see in this Year in Review, our GRAD Contests continued to provide a forum for creative expression and student voices.

Looking back, I am extremely proud of how we have collectively risen to the challenges of our new reality. Innovation, responding to societal need and visionary leadership are not only part of Ryerson’s history, they are certain to be in our future together.

Dr. Cory Searcy
Vice-Provost and Dean

Student Engagement

Julie Chan, Master of Nursing student

Grad Moments and Messages

GRAD Contest winners share their experiences, creativity and insights for fellow students


GRADTalks support students

Virtual sessions focus on health, wellness and career planning during uncertain times

Student with laptop in SLC

Empowering students online

Graduate Leadership Institute continues to offer workshops and advising sessions virtually

Nicole Wilson, GRADFlix winner

First GRADFlix a success

Mathematics master’s student Nicole Wilson wins inaugural digital narrative competition

Total event participants trend chart. Number of participants increased significantly from 352 in 2016-17 to 1,053 in 2020-21.
2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21
Total event participants 352 460 283 577 1,053
Future Smart completions trend chart. Number of completions increased significantly from 10 in 2016-17 to 31 in 2020-21.
Year 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21
Future Smart completions 10 8 5 18 31


There were so many people who supported me and allowed this to happen. Quote by Rachel McNamee, Environmental Applied Science and Management master's alumna.
Rachel McNamee

Learning from the home lab

Rachel McNamee persevered with makeshift experiments during the pandemic to successfully defend her master’s thesis

Dr. Michael Sugiyama

Finding a treatment for COVID-19

Dr. Michael Sugiyama pivots research focus and discovers potential coronavirus treatment with Ryerson and industry collaborators

Dr. Tamara Franklin and Daryll Wilson oustide Dalhousie University Psychology and Neuroscience Department

East coast connection

Daryll Wilson manages to continue his Psychology practicum - by flying to Dalhousie University

Challenging cultures of undesirability

Dr. Loree Erickson researches “queercrip” porn and care collectives for stigmatized and marginalized communities

Applying machine learning

Dr. Roohollah Etemadi examines how to better answer multi-disciplinary questions on internet forums like Quora and Stack Exchange

Exploring immersive VR

Dr. Gabby Resch investigates penetrative thinking in a virtual 3D environment at the interdisciplinary Synaesthetic Media Lab

Helping health-care heroes

Dr. Sadeem Qureshi partners with hospitals to develop new infection control policies to better protect frontline workers during COVID-19

Celebrating Success

Dr. Maryam Navi

High-impact cancer research

Dr. Maryam Navi receives Dr. C. Ravi and Shanti Ravindran Award for Outstanding Doctoral Thesis for groundbreaking research on cancer diagnostics and treatment

Gold trophy with blue up arrows in background

Going for gold

Top graduate students honoured with Ryerson Gold Medals for outstanding contributions to university and community

From top left: Charlie Wall-Andrews, Charlotte Ferworn, Katey Park. From bottom left: Amber Grant and Alexandra Gooding

Saluting student leaders

Recognizing remarkable recipients of the Jennifer Mactavish Graduate Student Leadership Awards

Miranda Black and Andre Setoodeh

Guardians of water

Geoffrey F. Bruce Fellowship in Canadian Freshwater Policy awarded to Miranda Black and Andre Setoodeh

Blue hands clapping on green background

Model mentors

Celebrating faculty recipients of YSGS Outstanding Contribution to Graduate Education Award