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Our Team

Dr. Ryan Burns

Assistant Professor and Principal Investigator

I am Assistant Professor at University of Calgary’s Department of Geography, and a member of the O’Brien Institute for Public Health. My research interests are in the social, institutional, and urban transformations of big and open data, smart cities, digital humanitarianism, and related digital spatial phenomena. My research program interrogates the social and institutional struggles around knowledge production emerging in the context of these new spatial-technological developments. At the current moment I’m looking at digital humanitarianism and open data platforms within smart cities.

I am a “public scholar”, which for me means that I actively work to communicate my research results across multiple audiences. That is, I find it equally important to inform policymakers and the general public, as it is to contribute to scholarly conversations. As a public scholar I also hope to improve the ways humanitarian aid is distributed to “the public” in crisis and emergency zones. This is the more applied aspect of my work. Lastly, public scholarship means I consider my pedagogy and my research to be a form of activism. I make this claim because in my research and teaching I open up taken-for-granted ideas/concepts to critique. In other words, I uncover the origins and limitations of technologies and concepts, in order to imagine and foster different, more socially-just, worlds. In this I borrow from Seyla Benhabib, when she says, “The task of the critic is not to juxtapose an ideal, eternal standard to the existent, but through a ‘ruthless critique of the existent’ to reveal that what is, already contains within itself what ‘ought’ to be as a possibility.”


Dr. Anthony Levendaanthony

Postdoctoral Fellow

I am a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Geography at the University of Calgary. My research focuses on the social and political dimensions of urban infrastructure, with a focus on areas of governance, political economy, and environmental politics. I hold a PhD in Urban Studies from Portland State University and has a background in mechanical engineering (BS, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign) and environmental engineering (MS, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign). 



Grace Wark

Research Assistant

I am an undergraduate student at the University of Calgary, set to graduate with my B.Sc. in Environmental Science in Spring of 2018. My interests in open data revolve around the politics of knowledge distribution surrounding open data portals, including the ways in which governments actualize civic engagement through open data initiatives. In June of 2017, I was fortunate enough to take part in the 2017 Canadian Open Data Summit (CODS17) student sponsorship coordinated by the City of Calgary. This sponsorship facilitated full participation in CODS17, and allowed me to present to the City of Calgary on my own area of interest in open data. 

When I'm not at work, you can find me at the RePlastic workshop; a collaborative workspace at the University of Calgary where students and staff can remake their own plastic waste into new materials. I work with a team of passionate individuals, who wish to close the waste production loop within their own campus.