Design for Health Students

First Year Students


Teresa Coronel Abungin

Teresa is a registered architect in the Philippines holding a Bachelor's Degree in Architecture and an Advance Architecture graduate in Ryerson University. She has over 10 years working experience in architecture and interior design where she was given the opportunity to do collaboration work with different renowned international firms. Working as a project architect displayed her leadership skills and wide knowledge to contribute on different phases of the project. Teresa's interest in health research was developed during her thesis year in university where she designed a Research and Rehabilitation Centre for Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Studying Advance architecture upgraded her knowledge in Canadian building practice where she did a lot of different research works about design affecting health.

Laura Halleran

The Civil Engineering and Society program at McMaster University is where Laura began to explore the ways in which people’s physical, mental and emotional needs can be met by the building that surrounds them. Her independent research has focused on exploring affect theory, defining the experience of an atmosphere, humankind’s fundamental connection with nature and the potential for the built environment to enhance personal health. Understanding the complexity of health care environments and how they can be designed to meet the needs of patients, their families and care givers is something she is passionate about and looks forward to investigate at OCAD University.

Avital Lang

Avital received her BFA from OCAD U in the studies of Material Art and Design. From there she went on to establish her own line of custom made jewellery which is sold in boutique shops around Toronto. During this time she also received her certification in personal fitness training and worked for GoodLife. In 2011 Avital went back to school to study Collections Conservation and Management at Fleming College in Peterborough, completing her thesis on the topic of copper corrosion. Avital moved to Ottawa where she interned at the Canadian Conservation Institute. Following that she went on to work at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. For the past two and a half years Avital has been residing in Toronto working for Antique Metal Repairs.

As a Type I Diabetic, Avital is in pursuit of finding tools and treatments to help with the care and treatment for this disease. Even though a tremendous amount of research has been done in this area, Avital feels a responsibility in lending her knowledge and skills to help with bridging gaps.

Filipe de Abreu Ligabue

Filipe Ligabue has a BA in Industrial Design for the University of Brasilia in Brazil, with a year of abroad studies at Umeå University, in Sweden. When Filipe graduated, he started a collaboration with an university friend, called Le Collage Studios. They believe that by designing sightly products they could make people lives better. The beauty is what makes a product desirable. By creating poetic and meaningful objects, the relation between the user and the object is more fulfilling. That was what they aimed for their projects. And by entering the Design for Health program Filipe aim to introduce this view to this field.

Alison Mulvale

Alison is a designer and researcher with a keen interest in improving community health and wellness using a fusion of research and design methods including Experience-based co-design (EBCD), biomimicry, inclusive design and the social determinants of health. Prior to enrolling in the MDes in Design for Health at OCAD University, Alison completed a 3-year BSc in General Sciences at the University of Ottawa and a BDes in Environmental Design at OCAD University. Throughout her studies, she has worked on several design research projects involving health promotion and services, both academically and professionally. As a research coordinator at McMaster University, Alison was involved in designing a cellphone and related web applications for a larger EBCD study that is focused on improving transitions and coordination of care in child and youth mental health services. These apps are intended to help youth, family members and service providers capture their own experience touch points as a jumping off point for feedback groups and co-design sessions. As part of an interdisciplinary design team at Nature Based Design, Alison helped produce a biomimetic innovation catalogue and a series of scenarios for an urban ecology project in New Lowell, Ontario. These scenarios were based off of a site analysis conducted by the team to identify inherent opportunities in the existing site conditions. Alison's BDes thesis project focused on using the social determinants of health as a tool to prioritize and inform the revitalization of neighbourhoods located in downtown Toronto. 

Angelsea Saby

With a background in graphic design and over a decade of experience as a web designer, Angelsea Saby has primarily served the Education and Educational Technology sectors with the University of Victoria, Vancouver Island University and the University of Lethbridge. Though her expertise lies in bridging the gaps between people and tech, she maintains a general belief that solutions to the world's problems reside in human-centered design. Her research interests include palliative care and chronic disease management; her personal interests: all things Donald Norman, science fiction and debate on the philosophical implications of Battlestar Galactica.

Sonia Tagari

Arezoo Talabzadeh

Arezoo is a registered architect with Ontario Association of Architects; she has more than 10 years’ experience in built environment from conceptual design and design development to contract administration. She holds Master of Architecture from Azad University, Tehran, Iran.

Integration between people and built environment, and individual’s perception of space has been her interest since architectural school. The fact that understanding of space depends on one’s experience, age and culture fascinates her. Arezoo looks at buildings not as individual objects, but as holistic combination of space, time and design, in relation with people. She had a collaboration installation in Toronto Nuit Blanche 2012 representing this idea. The project called Beam of Underground Sun in which transparency of city’s infrastructure and connection between aboveground and underground life was the main concept.

Along with her current position as an architect in one of the world’s award winning firm specializing in multifamily, mixed-use and hospitality; she is co-producing a podcast called Quantization with support of IDRC at OCAD University.


Kirk Mason

Raised in rural Ontario, Kirk moved to Toronto to pursue a BSc. in Psychology with an emphasis on neuroscience. While completing his undergrad, he became a caregiver for his grandfather. During this time he began to volunteer for the North York Central Health Link as well as for the Toronto Central Community Care Access Centre. Through this, he secured a job at a nonprofit community care agency as a project coordinator in the Quality Department. In his project coordinator role, he has increased accessibility to timely care for clients and has worked on initiatives such as one with the Toronto Fire Department to provide smoke detectors to clients in need.

While volunteering at the NYC Health Link, Kirk became involved in primary care research by joining the North American Primary Care Research Group through the PCORI-funded Patient and Clinician Engagement initiative. At the same time, his work lead him to be involved in a pilot study with the University of Toronto, where he assisted isolated seniors in learning how to leverage technology to enhance their social lives.

In the past two years, Kirk has received training from Health Quality Ontario in their Quality Improvement Facilitator Curricula program as well as the Beryl Institute’s Certificate in Patient Experience Leadership. He now reviews research papers for Oxford University Press’s Family Practice and belongs to the Committee for the Advancement of the Science of Family Medicine, a group that champions–among many topics–the importance of meaningful patient engagement in primary care research.

Kim Massicote

Denise Philpott

Since graduating from OCADU’S Industrial Design program in 2009, Denise has worked within a wide range of Canadian industries - focusing the last five years in the health care sector. Working as the Media Services Specialist at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH), Denise is an active member of interdisciplinary teams that works towards bettering the patient experience. 

Some of her key areas of interest include - caregiver culture and engagement, user experience and hospital technology, facility operations and patient flow, infection prevention and control, hospital wayfinding, and environments such as; mental health inpatient, fracture treatment and examination rooms.

You can check out a selection of Denise's work on tumblr: or follow her on instagram: todayscuratedlife

Athina Santaguida

With a deep-seated passion for design and social innovation, Athina believes that the key to affecting true social change lies in a solid research process that is piloted through empathy, powered by creativity and that produces true, game-changing solutions.

Athina nurtured her passion and skills in the design field during her undergraduate studies at Parsons School of Design in New York City, veering from a concentration in fashion and products to one more in tune with her strong social commitment. Majoring in Service Design and Sustainable Design, she discovered the true potential of design as a tool for social change, most significantly through her course on Health Innovation. These studies lead her to begin her career in the healthcare industry as a Design Researcher for the renowned Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in NYC. Her work at the cancer hospital included creating solutions to improve patient experience, hospital efficiency and developing an entirely new concept for an infusion centre. She carried this experience with her back to Toronto, applying these skills to different industries, including eco-development, marketing and non-profit.

After running her own independent consulting business for the past two years, Athina has been yearning to re-focus her skills and energy back towards healthcare and service design. Through this program, she hopes to refresh her research skills and dive deeper into researching improvements for hospital care—especially in locations affected by poverty—while also exploring further development for personal care and e-health technologies.