Meet The Four Lead Researchers

Associate Professor

Dr. David Harris Smith

Is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies and Multimedia at McMaster University (Canada) and Director of Research for the macGRID Simulation Research Network. His research interests include multidisciplinary practices, new media interaction and interface design, robotics, artificial intelligence, media arts, and digital cultures.

Associate Professor

Dr. Frauke Zeller

Is Associate Professor in the Department of Professional Communication at Ryerson University (Canada). Her research interests include Human-Computer Interaction/Human-Robot Interaction and AI, digital communication, and method development for digital research analyses.


Georges Hung

Georges is an internationally award winning architect and designer who is passionate about the creative design process in spatial experience that inspires and awes. Joining technology to inventive and spatial programmatic crafting, he seeks new juxtapositions of space, technology and humanity.

Chair of Creative Writing & Theatre

Dr. Page Richards

Is the Founder of the HKU Guild at The University of Hong Kong, and Director of The MA in Creative Communications and The MFA in Creative Writing.

Meet The Team

Machine Learning Research Engineer

Hany Tawfik

Hany Tawfik is the Machine Learning research engineer for this project. He finished his masters studies from Ilmenau Technical University (Germany) in media technology with a great passion for combining ART and ARTificial Intelligence. Through which he joined Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT (Germany) where he applied Deep Learning to real-time audio processing and symbolic music (his work was published in ISMIR 2018, France) under the supervision of Prof. Karlheinz Brandenburg (MP3 coding format developer). Currently, he is actively working with robotics and Reinforcement Learning. On the artistic side, Hany is a musician with deep interest in Jazz, middle eastern microtonal music and church choir vocal harmony. For more detailed information you can read his professional profile at

Project coordinator/media relations

Isabella Kempf

Isabella Kempf worked as an investigative journalist in her native Germany. She continued to work as a freelance researcher and associate producer after moving to Toronto more than a decade ago. In 2015, Isabella joined the hitchBOT-team as a social media coordinator, as the project became a worldwide phenomenon in North America and Europe. She has contributed to several documentaries in Canada and Germany, including the 2018 award-winning nature documentary “The Kingdom: How Fungi Made Our World”, an international coproduction funded by public broadcasters in Germany, Canada, Sweden and Australia. She also worked on “No Limits,” a 90-min feature documentary on the thalidomide scandal which aired on the CBC documentary channel in 2016. Isabella contributed to the groundbreaking documentary “I Pedophile”, also airing on Canada’s public broadcaster. Isabella additionally works as a translator. One of her major projects involved the translation of a German textbook on design thinking into English. Isabella lives in Toronto with her husband and two daughters. They spend their summers in British Columbia, on Cortes Island, and in Franconia, Germany.

Ph.D. Candidate

Lauren Dwyer

Lauren Dwyer's research focuses on the intersection between communication studies, human-robot interaction, and mental health. With a background in psychology and communications she is currently pursuing her PhD in Communication and Culture at Ryerson University. Under the guidance of Dr. Frauke Zeller, she has developed a communication model for a socially-assistive robot for individuals with anxiety. Her current research examines the cultural implications of socially-assistive robots and the development of a robot companion for individuals with mood disorders. She currently holds research assistant positions at Ryerson and McMaster Universities - leveraging AI and robotics for healthcare communications.

Ph.D. Candidate

Jonathan Reuven

Reuven, Jonathan: Having graduated from the University of Hong Kong with a bachelor’s in chemistry, I’m currently a PhD candidate at Durham University in chemical biology with a focus on how small molecules are able affect hormonal systems in plants. In addition to my work in chemistry, for the past few years I have also been involved in research surrounding agency and narration in literature. I’m particularly interested in the field of life writing and how people convey their own personal stories.

Associate Professor

Dr. Steve Howell

Dr. Steve Howell is Associate Professor of Psychology and Artificial Intelligence at Keystone College in Northeastern Pennsylvania (US). His research interests include psycholinguistics, the neuroscience of consciousness, and artificial intelligence