Story

Tammara Soma
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PhD Candidate, Planning

I am a PhD Candidate and Pierre Elliott Trudeau doctoral scholar in Planning in the Department of Geography and Planning. My field of specialization is food systems planning, which looks at the planner's potential contribution to a more sustainable food system. My doctoral research is on the topic of household food waste in Indonesia, where I was born, and my research field work is in Indonesia, so I have travelled there several times. I co-founded the International Food Loss and Food Waste Studies Group, and I have presented my research at conferences in Belgium, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, the Netherlands, and the United States. I am proud to represent U of T around the world.

I chose U of T because of its excellent reputation, and also because of the opportunity to work with my supervisor, Dr. Virginia Maclaren, a recognized waste expert nationally and internationally. The U of T graduate school experience is rigorous, and rightly so. It is about shaping yourself into a well-rounded person and a strong academic. However, beyond rigour, I have also found the senior faculty members and senior colleagues to be especially supportive. There is a very strong mentoring component in my Department where we help each other to be the best that we can be.

I have found my department to be a tremendous resource; both the administrators and my PhD colleagues give me tips and advice. I would advise incoming students to build positive relationships with the faculty and staff in your department: they know the ins and outs and can refer you to the right resources and inform you of wonderful opportunities.

Being in a city as diverse as Toronto is also remarkable for the networking, the great food, the resources, and the opportunities to disseminate your work. It is a place for everybody to belong and a space of potential. Living in Canada, I have been educating myself and my community about the importance of justice for indigenous communities. Within the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, I lead and organize interfaith events that promote unity amongst all faith communities with a focus on learning more about indigenous spirituality. The University of Toronto is an inclusive campus where I, as a Muslim and a Hijabi, can thrive and develop friendships with people of all backgrounds. We have students, faculty, and staff members working hard to make sure that the campus is a safe and welcoming place for all. My colleagues at U of T are brilliant, and leading scholars in their field, so they inspire me to push harder.

 

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