Research team

Heather M. Hall

Associate Professor and Project Lead

Heather M. Hall is one of the leading scholars on innovation and economic development in rural and northern regions in Canada. She grew up in Northern Ontario and has a professional and personal interest in researching issues that are important to the North, including: the impacts of new technologies in the mining and agricultural sectors; the community impacts of large-scale industrial projects; and innovation and economic development policy, planning and practice in rural and northern regions. Her work has been recognized nationally and internationally, and has informed government policy in Canada, Northern Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Sweden. Professor Hall is also the co-lead of the University of the Arctic’s Thematic Network on the Commercialization of Science and Technology for the North.


Tara Vinodrai

Associate Professor

Dr. Tara Vinodrai is an Associate Professor in the Institute for Management and Innovation (IMI) at the University of Toronto and is a Senior Associate at the Innovation Policy Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. She has extensive expertise related to innovation ecosystems and technological change; local labour market dynamics; and local and regional economic development in urban and rural settings. She has led funded projects related to the dynamics of innovation support organizations and regional development initiatives in Ontario, as well as participating in several large-scale projects related to clusters, the social dynamics of innovation, and creating digital opportunities within Canada. Her recent research focuses on clusters and innovation ecosystems; mechanisms for achieving inclusive innovation and economic development; and the impact, adoption and use of disruptive technologies in emerging and traditional sectors. Her award-winning work has informed policy in Canada and internationally.


Joelena Leader

Postdoctoral Fellow

Joelena Leader is a Postdoctoral Fellow with the School of Environment, Enterprise, and Development (SEED) working on projects in the areas of northern innovation and development examining the impacts of disruptive technologies in the mining and agri-food sectors in Canada. Joelena holds a M.A. in Sociology and Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Saskatchewan with an emphasis on technology and society. Her research is in the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS) with a focus on understanding users' experience, and technology design and use in a variety of contexts. Her work blends user-centered design and community-based research approaches that crosses the disciplinary areas of sociology, health, policy, and human-computer interaction.


McKenzie Huneke

Research Assistant & PhD Student

McKenzie Huneke is a Sustainability Management PhD student with research interests in inclusive innovation and human-centered design for technology development, implementation, and adoption. He has worked with high-tech companies to design sustainability solutions for industries, cities, and transportation. McKenzie holds an M.S. in Human Centered Design & Engineering from the University of Washington and a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from UC Berkeley.