SSC Members

Julia Ornaf

Julia has joined the Institute of the Environment at uOttawa and the Science and Society collective in 2020. She has a background in Political Philosophy (MPhil, La Sorbonne). Julia’s research contributes to the knowledge on resilient or adaptative governance models and the emergence of a resilient normative culture. Julia analyses the use of participation in decision making processes and technical policy designing.  She evaluates the value (epistemological and societal) of the uses of impact assessments as new governing tools. Her research interrogates the ability of institutions (public and private) to build new knowledge and assorted norms when using participation. The outcome of her research aims to understand how to enhance institutions’ ability to integrate systemic knowledge and design sustainable/adaptative policies benefitting from an enhanced compliance rate.

Prior to joining the Science and Society collective, Julia presented her research at the Global Risk Forum Davos: International Disaster Risk Conference 2012 and 2014, participated in the 14th annual joint conference of the AHE (Association for Heterodox Economics), IIPPE (International Initiative for Promoting Political Economy) , FAPE (French Association for Political Economy) 2012, and the 7th annual congress of the RIODD,  Énergie, environnement et mutations sociales, 2012.

Rachana Devkota

As an Alex Trebek Fellow in AI and Environment, Dr. Rachana Devkota will assess agricultural digitalization innovations, and specifically policy initiatives in Canada, for their ability to foster small farmers and environmental sustainability. All of her work uses the framework of responsible research and innovation to judge the societal value and acceptance of emergent technologies.

Dr. Devkota completed her PhD at the University of Guelph, Canada, in Rural Studies with a focus on small farm mechanization policy and gender analysis. Part of her PhD research was funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), which awarded her the David and Ruth Hopper and Ramesh and Pilar Bhatia Canada Research Fellowship in 2017, given to the top female candidate nationally amongst doctoral candidates. She has completed a M. Sc. in Agricultural Economics from India, with a focus on statistics and vegetable marketing. She completed her undergraduate education also in agricultural science (with a major in agricultural economics) from Nepal.

Dr. Devkota has published in top international journals such as Geoforum and Sustainability and delivered talks all over the world. She also holds experience in developing proposals, managing, coordinating, monitoring, and evaluation of international development and research projects in South Asia (Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka), North America (Canada and US), Europe (Norway and the Netherlands) and also in Africa (Ethiopia). Moving forward, she aims to leverage her experience to promote global food security, social inclusion, responsible innovation and smallholder farming.

Michelle Ryan

Michelle Ryan is a PhD Candidate in Sociology exploring the micropolitics of Community Supported Agriculture. Feminist theory and social movement theory are two of her favourite playgrounds. She has explored the women’s movement in Argentina, the third sector and gender in Taiwan, microfinance and gender in Tanzania, and now food movements in the Ottawa Valley. Prior to examining Community Supported Agriculture, most of her research was at a national scale. The scale shift to a local project allows for digging into the micropolitics of social movements, specifically food movements. This is generative for understanding a less visible and gendered dimension of how social change is achieved.

Alana Lajoie-O'Malley

Alana Lajoie-O’Malley is a science and technology studies (STS) researcher trained in history and philosophy of science, political theory, and physics. In her research, she draws on co-productioninst, feminist, postcolonial, and decolonial STS to study techno-scientific controversies at the intersection of climate change, resource extraction, and settler colonialism. She is also a collaborator and coauthor on the knowledge synthesis project: Meaningful participation in Canadian impact assessments: Lessons from environmental justice frameworks. She is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg and the University of Oxford, a PhD Candidate in Sociology at the University of Ottawa, and a 2020-21 Visiting Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Program on Science, Technology and Society (STS). Alana has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Rhodes Scholarship and the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS) Doctoral Scholarship. As a Franco-Manitoban, Alana grew up and has lived for most of her life on Treaty #1 territory, dividing her time between her small hometown in southeastern Manitoba and Winnipeg. 

Mascha Gugganig

Mascha Gugganig is a socio-cultural anthropologist and science & technology studies (STS) scholar whose work looks at human-environment relations in agriculture and food production in light of contested novel technologies. She researches knowledge politics and epistemological differences among various actors – from farmers to youth – who constitute and trouble respective notions of ‘expertise’ and proper ‘education’ on land. Critical public engagement with academic research, science and technology in museums and public spaces, as well as collaborative research through arts-based, multimodal methods form another core area of her scholarship.


Dr. Gugganig’s current work attends both to the role of innovation in regenerative agriculture, and discursive authorities of policy and industry visions of ‘smart’ farming and AI applications. Based on two previous research projects, she continues to be interested in the European Union’s multifarious imaginaries of ‘sustainable’ agriculture – from agroecology, to organic farming, to precision farming – and the hopes and hypes of indoor vertical farming as viable urban food production. Her doctoral research looked at the contested use of āina – ‘that which feeds’, or land – for agricultural biotechnology research and development on the settler colonial terrain of Kaua‘i.


Having received her PhD at the Department of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia in 2016, she was also a pre-doctoral Fellow at Harvard University’s Program on Science, Technology & Society (2014-2015), and a Visiting Researcher at Cornell University’s Department of Science and Technology Studies (2019). From 2016-2020, she was a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Munich Center for Technology in Society at the Technical University Munich, where she continues to be a Research Associate.

Mark Slodki

In his research, Mark is particularly interested in interrogating the relationship between people and environments. From the grand scale of the Anthropocene to the more personal interactions involved in foraging, Mark’s work aims to bring a socioecological perspective to issues that have long been seen as either social or ecological. His ongoing MA thesis involves the study of foragers in the Ottawa region and considers the mutual constitution of human practices and landscapes. Through this project, he examines the co-construction of environments which fall somewhere between “wild” and “cultivated.”

Natalie Sutt-Wiebe

I am studying digital farming technologies and how these are helping to shift labour practices in farming and the relationship farmers have with their land. New technologies in agriculture have social and environmental implications.

Sarah Marquis

Sarah Marquis is doing her PhD in Environmental Sustainability at uOttawa. She just finished her Master’s degree at the University of Guelph where she focused on technology use in agriculture. Her work focuses in particular on the impacts of ‘digital farming’ or ‘smart farming’ and how the emergence of agricultural Big Data is helping to reshape farming practices. Her PhD research will continue to explore the social and environmental impacts of ag-tech in Canada. 

Joe Macdonald

Being internationally adopted by a Canadian family and after a career in the human services and social work field, I became increasingly interested in how large systems determined people’s outcomes. I began to question the relative influence I was having in my work with individuals affected by homelessness, addiction, mental illness and family conflict. I have been fortunate to pursue some of these bigger questions at the University of Ottawa through the MA Sociology program. My thesis will seek to explore the popularity of socialism in the U.S. given the current civil unrest and global COVID pandemic.

Emma Orzel

Emma Orzel is a Masters Student in the School of Sociological and Anthropological Studies with a BSc in Environmental Science from the University of Ottawa. Prior to her undergraduate degree, Emma had an interest in the changing dynamics of modern agriculture and understanding the associated social and environmental impacts. With this interest, she intends to focus her research on investigating the basis of evidence supporting the claim that precision agriculture brings sustainability benefits through a sociological approach.

Past Members

Darren Quan

My name is Darren Quan and I recently completed my Major Research Project (MRP) for the Masters of Environmental Sustainability Program at Ottawa U with Dr. Bronson. My MRP  explored shortcomings in Canadian policy/regulation that negatively impacts the participation of indigenous groups during the Environmental Impact Assessment process. In my project I identified best practices from other jurisdictions around the world that could inform Canadian policy, allowing for better indigenous participation and recognition. I currently work for Transport Canada.

Salwa Khan

Salwa Khan recently completed her Master’s thesis with Dr. Bronson focusing on online genetics testing users. For the users she interviewed, their self-proclaimed identity as “scientific” was tied to their motives for doing online genetics testing. This identity also shaped how they engaged with the information presented to them. Salwa plans to build on this research during her PhD in Sociology at the University of Toronto (2020-). Her future research will explore how individuals’ social identities relate to their attitudes towards experts, science, and health information online.

Matt Zucca

Matt Zucca conducted his ethnographic fieldwork on Manitoulin Island over the course of two summers. In his thesis which he completed under Dr. Bronson’s supervision, he documented the mobilization of the concept of ‘defect’ at a permaculture research firm. He focused on the organization of humans and non-humans in a socio-technical network, exploring the functions of intention and responsibility within the network at Manitoulin Permaculture. His work relied heavily on Michel Callon and Bruno Latour’s actor-network theory especially as expressed in Callon’s “sociology of translation.” Using this work, defect, as it was used on the island, could be understood as a failure of translation across local and global networks.