Team Members


Tyler Evans-Tokaryk
Associate Professor, Teaching Stream and Director, The Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre

Tyler Evans-Tokaryk has a PhD in English and an MA in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Western Ontario. He was the RGASC’s Writing Specialist from 2007 till 2014, and has been the Director since 2015.

Tyler teaches UTM118 (The Science of Learning), works one-on-one with undergraduate and graduate students from across the curriculum, and collaborates with UTM faculty and staff on numerous teaching and learning initiatives at UTM.

Tyler recently spent a year as a visiting scholar at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa where he worked at the Academic Development Centre and conducted research on relationship between the discourse of academic writing instruction and the growth of English as an International Language. In addition to this project, his current research interests include Writing across the Curriculum (WAC), critical discourse analysis, and academic integrity. He is also involved in the assessment of RGASC programs to monitor and improve the quality of student learning.


Dianne Ashbourne
Educational Developer

Dianne Ashbourne has an M.A. in Educational Studies from the University of British Columbia where she focused on higher education and research methodology.

Dianne joined the Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre shortly after moving from Vancouver where she supported teaching and learning initiatives at Capilano University.

Dianne assists UTM faculty members with a  range of pedagogical projects including: designing new courses; identifying evidence-based instructional strategies; writing learning outcomes; providing feedback on course syllabi; and curriculum mapping. She is frequently invited to conduct teaching observations and provide feedback to help guide instructors in their professional development. Dianne is a member of the Active Learning Classroom (ALC) support team and coordinates the Teaching & Learning Collaboration group at UTM.

Dianne collaborates with the Teaching Assistant Training Program (TATP) and Graduate Professional Skills program (GPS) to organize programming for TAs and graduate students. Most recently, she organized the Graduate Professional Development Conference at UTM.

Michael deBraga

Michael deBraga
Associate Professor, Teaching Stream

Dr. deBraga’s training and experience present an eclectic background as exemplified by a Ph.D. in Paleontology, an M.Sc. in Evolutionary Biology from McGill University and a B.ed. from OISE. His OISE training led to a 13 year stint as a teacher in the Toronto District School Board where he honed his interests in examining teaching and learning practices. Of particular interest is the delivery and evaluation of mathematics and science curricula. In addition, Michael deBraga has lectured in the Biology department at the University of Toronto at Mississauga (UTM) and has served as a consultant for Apple Canada in their education division.

At present, Michael deBraga is affiliated with the Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre at UTM where he functions as an instructional strategist in support of undergraduate students and faculty alike. He collaborates directly with other instructors in Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, & Geography where he supports pedagogical skills development and is also working closely with the Mathematics and Computational Sciences department involving curriculum development – notably the design, support and delivery of mathematical skills for other programs.

In conjunction with other members of the Robert Gillespie Academic skills centre, Michael deBraga is actively involved in supporting the training of Peer Facilitated Study Group (PFSGs) leaders as well as utmONE peer mentors. In addition, he coordinates the Summer Head Start program where new students are provided the opportunity to meet with faculty and interact with university resources that will facilitate their transition to university.

Research goals for Michael deBraga involve an investigation of the factors that impact on the development of critical thinking skills in university students and the development of strategies that might mitigate these factors. Michael deBraga has also delivered conference presentations focusing on pedagogical practices associated with the measurement of critical thinking skills and is currently involved in research examining the structure of multiple choice testing and its feasibility in measuring critical thinking.


Andie Burazin has a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from the University of Waterloo and a M.Sc. in Mathematics from McMaster University. At the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM), she has been providing mathematics support to undergraduate students at the Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre (RGASC) since 2016. She currently holds a CLTA (Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream) as the RGASC’s Numeracy and Scientific Literacy Specialist.

Andie usually teaches MAT135Y (Calculus), together with other undergraduate mathematics courses, in the Department of Mathematical and Computational Sciences. This undergraduate teaching is very important, as it helps her to understand the needs of undergraduate students so that she can provide adequate support and resources for them. At the RGASC, she runs mathematics drop-in sessions or booked appointments, teaches workshops and seminars for various disciplines (e.g., physics, biology) where mathematics is needed as analytical tool and/or as a part of science literacy, and creates review sheets and handouts to assist students in understanding and learning mathematics. She is also a member of the UTM Foundational Numeracy Skills Working Group which will recommend strategies for improving undergraduate students’ quantitative literacy.

Her current research interests are in mathematical education, particularly focusing on the transition from high school to post-secondary education. Andie has co-written and edited several mathematics and statistics textbooks and has published and presented papers on various issues in the transition that are relevant for both teaching practice and textbook writing. As well, she is working as a researcher on a SSHRC-funded Health Numeracy project, where the goal is to create a theoretical conceptualization of health numeracy, and then apply it to build online teaching modules to the benefit of health care professionals and students in health-related fields, and ultimately the general public.

Michael Kaler

Michael Kaler
Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream – Writing Specialist

Michael Kaler received his first doctorate (in religious studies) from Laval University in 2006 and his second (in ethnomusicology, from York University) in February 2014. His previous scholarly work focused on ancient gnosticism, modern psychedelia, and spiritual or religious aspects of improvised and experimental music; currently, his work revolves around issues of assessment with regard to student writing or writing programs.

At the RGASC, he contributes to both the teaching of writing skills and teaching through writing skills in many ways. He interacts directly with students through face-to-face and online writing appointments and classroom and tutorial presentations and workshops; with TAs, he runs training and benchmarking sessions, assists as needed with tutorial planning and grading, and creates training resources; with instructors and faculty, he assists with assignment design and marking criteria, and helps to organize, plan and deliver writing-skills-related course interventions.

His largest single responsibility at the RGASC is co-managing (with Tyler Evans-Tokaryk) the Writing Development Initiative (WDI), a campus-wide initiative funded by the Office of the Dean. The WDI provides funding for writing-intensive courses from across the disciplinary spectrum that incorporate innovative approaches to writing instruction, and in which discipline-specific writing is both taught as a skill and used as a tool to enhance student learning.

Michael has been for many years an active participant in the Southern Ontario music scene; in his spare time, you'll often find him playing bouzouki or bass in rock, folk and experimental music contexts. If you see him, stop in and say hi!”

Cliona Kelly

Cliona Kelly
Centre Coordinator/ Business Officer

Cliona joined the RGASC in 2011 as the Centre Coordinator. Her primary responsibilities include the allocation of financial and human resources, in addition to ensuring the smooth operation of all RGASC programming and centre activities. Prior to joining UTM, Cliona held various management positions in Fortune 500 companies such as; Microsoft Canada (MSFT), Mercer (MMC), and Spherion Human Capital (SFN Group). Cliona has lived in Streetsville and Erin Mills for the majority of her life and has been a contributing member of the community in numerous ways including; soccer coach with the NMSC and EMSC, an active volunteer in a number of local and national charities, and an Irish Dancing teacher. She has a real passion for people and is committed to adding value and helping UTM and the Mississauga community in any way possible.

Thomas Klubi

Thomas Klubi
Learning Strategist and Program Manager

Tom has been with the RGASC since 1996, and specializes in applying and adapting peer mentor program models to RGASC programming. Since 2003, he has been the supervisor for the Peer Facilitated Study Group program, which applies the Supplemental Instruction peer mentoring model to the UTM community. He also designs training programs, which have been applied to a number of programs in the RGASC. As well, Tom has been closely involved with the Centre’s First-Year Experience initiatives, particularly Head Start, and he also works with students who have concerns related to suspension and disability issues.


Kerrie Martin
Program Strategist

Kerrie Martin recently joined the RGASC in October 2016 after spending almost four years in the college sector at Georgian College and Sheridan College. At these institutions Kerrie specialized in supporting students in making successful transitions to postsecondary education, both at an individual level through one-on-one academic coaching and through the development of programs and strategic interventions on a campus-wide level. Kerrie is an OCT qualified teacher whose career in education began as a high school teacher of Social Sciences in the United Kingdom, where he also served as head of the Psychology and Sociology departments in one of the UK’s largest schools. At the RGASC Kerrie works closely with Thomas Klubi in supervising the Promoting Academic Skills for Success (PASS) program as well as the Peer Facilitated Study Group program. In addition, he provides one-on-one learning strategy support to students registered with AccessAbility.


Laura Taylor (@dr_laura_taylor)
Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream

Laura Taylor started out by obtaining a BA in Economics and Political Science from Columbia University in New York before changing career paths to focus on aspects of second language learning. After several years of teaching abroad in both Japan and South Korea, she then obtained an MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and a PhD in Education from the University of York in England. Initially, Laura’s research primarily focused on Novice Teacher Development, before evolving to encompass areas of cultural influence and anxiety in the ESL/EFL classroom.

After spending 5 years at the University of York working with graduate students in the Department of Education, Laura joined the Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre (RGASC) in 2014 and is currently an Assistant Professor in the Teaching Stream. In her current position at UTM, she works primarily with students who speak English as an Additional Language (EAL). This position is particularly rewarding because it allows Laura to work with a wide range of students on a variety of issues. From the improvement of English language skills to the development of strategies for critical reading, writing, and speaking, Laura strives to ensure that students have the tools they need to be able to successfully complete their chosen field of study.


Grace Xie
Front Office and Communications Assistant

Grace graduated from University of Toronto Mississauga in 2014. She joined the RGASC in 2016 as the Front Desk and Communications Assistant. Her work at the RGASC primarily focuses on the front office operations as well as creating centre’s promotional pieces, including but not limited to design posters, media screens, and to promote on Facebook and Twitter. She enjoys serving the student population.

On top of her work schedule, Grace enjoys spending time with family and friends. She also volunteered at SafeCity Mississauga to teach at-risk children and have really enjoyed the experience. If you have any questions regarding the RGASC, please feel free to email

Contract - Writing Instructors


Paul Raymont
Writing and Study Skills Instructor

Paul Raymont has a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Toronto. He has held full-time teaching positions at Ryerson University, the University of Guelph, and Trent University and has recently taught philosophy courses at UTM, UTSC, Trent, and Ryerson. Paul was the Area Coordinator for the Mind & Language section of the 2011 and 2012 meetings of the Canadian Philosophical Association. He has published scholarly articles in the philosophy of mind and you can read more at .


Daniela Janes
Writing and Study Skills Instructor

Daniela Janes holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Toronto and teaches in the Department of English and Drama at UTM. 

She has published on reader-writer interactivity, historical fiction, and nineteenth-century social reform writing.


Joel Benabu
Writing and Study Skills Instructor

Dr. Joel Benabu’s research interests include English Renaissance drama (Shakespeare’s stagecraft, specifically), theory of drama and performance, and Ancient rhetoric. Among his publications are: “’Shakespeare’s Technique of Opening: ‘Strands of Action’”, Theatre Topics, The Johns Hopkins University Press; “Shakespeare and the Rhetorical Tradition: Towards Defining the Concept of an “Opening”, Rhetoric Review, Routledge; “Shakespeare’s Stagecraft in Constructing an Opening: Macbeth”, The Shakespeare Newsletter; and “Shakespeare’s Macbeth: The Challenge of Reading a Theatrical Opening”, Mediaevalia. Joel’s book manuscript, A Playwright at Work: Shakespeare and the Strategies of an Opening, has recently been prepared for press review. Joel has acted in and directed for the theatre.

Over the years, Joel has taught a broad variety of university courses in the humanities as well as courses in academic writing, critical thinking, and oral presentation. His teaching method is less about imparting information and more about giving students the tools to forge their own pathways of knowledge. This can be achieved most effectively by helping students build a diverse skill set and confidence over time. Joel’s overarching goal as an instructor is to make students realize their full potential to make a difference in their own lives as well as the lives of others in their community.


Jonathan Vroom
Writing and Study Skills Instructor

Jonathan has a Ph.D. in Hebrew and Judaic studies from the University of Toronto. During his graduate studies he served as a Lead Writing Teaching Assistant, where he was responsible for overseeing the integration of writing instruction strategies into specific writing intensive courses at the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations (St. George). He also teaches courses in the History of Religions program at UTM’s Department of Historical Studies and at the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations. His primary research is in the field of biblical and early Jewish studies. His dissertation and forthcoming book, The Authority of Law in the Ancient Near East: Identifying Legal Obligation from Mesopotamia to Qumran (Brill), draw from the philosophy of law to explore the nature of the authority that biblical and ancient Near Eastern legal texts held for various ancient communities. He also publishes on the cognitive science of religion, particularly on the cognitive dimension of copying ancient manuscripts.


Xiangying Huo
Writing and Study Skills Instructor

Xiangying Huo was a professor of English in China for over a decade, and a visiting scholar at Michigan State University. She holds a Ph.D. in Education, with specialization in Language, Culture, and Teaching. Before she joined the Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre at UTM,  she had worked with students across a variety of disciplines at the Writing Centre, York University for five yeas.

Contract Staff