2021 Fall DSR Newsletter: New Faculty & Other Appointments


Faculty, postdocs and staff, plus tenure and administrative appointments.


New Faculty

Ronald Charles

Ronald Charles joins us as associate professor on January 1, 2022. Ronald's academic interests are in early Christian literature, Second Temple Judaism, ancient slavery, and in Black diasporic religions. 

Suleyman Dost

We welcomed assistant professor Suleyman Dost as our first UTSC graduate faculty member. Suleyman works in the areas of late antiquity and early Islam, focusing on inscriptions and other documentary sources from late antique Arabia and Ethiopia.

Sarah Gallant

Sarah Gallant joined us in January 2020 as assistant professor, teaching stream. Sarah's fields of study are Christianity, Religion, Culture & Politics, and Religion, Ethics & Modern Thought. Among her interests are the philosophy of imagination, hagiography, popular culture, and gender and sexuality.

Rory Lindsay

July 2021 saw the arrival of Rory Lindsay as an assistant professor, teaching classical Tibetan. This appointment is in partnership with the non-profit, 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha, in support of Buddhist studies and language study in the DSR. → Learn more about this partnership

Faculty Appointments

Frances Garrett

Professor Frances Garrett is the new Director of the Buddhism, Psychology and Mental Health minor at U of T's New College.   

Ajay Rao

Ajay Rao, associate professor in the Department of Historical Studies and the Department for the Study of Religion, has been appointed as Vice-Dean Graduate at UTM.  

Sarah Richardson

Professor Sarah Richardson has taken on the role of Interim Director of the Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Centre for Buddhist Studies until January 1, 2022. Sarah previously served as Acting Director.

J. Barton Scott

Professor J. Barton Scott has received tenure, a well-deserved recognition of his accomplishments and promise. Department chair Pamela Klassen thanked him for his “remarkable contributions to the DSR graduate program and our research life.” He has also been appointed as the DSR's Director of Graduate Studies.

New Postdoctoral Fellows

Seyfeddin Kara

Postdoctoral fellow Dr. Seyfeddin Kara comes to us under the auspices of a prestigious Marie Sklodowska Curie Global Fellowship from the European Commission, for the research project “Textual Integrity of the Qur’an: Sunni and Shi’I Historical Narrations on the Falsification.” The project will be jointly supervised by the DSR's Walid Saleh and Jens Scheiner of the University of Göttingen. → Learn about his project in this article

In his own words: "My research is on the textual integrity of the Qur'an. I am undertaking a historical study of the early Muslim reports on the integrity of the Quranic text, employing a form of the historical-critical method. As a part of my research, I will deliver academic talks in the US, Canada and Europe and organise community outreach activities. If circumstances allow, Walid and I are planning to hold an International Conference (in person) on Qur'an and Hadith studies at DSR in 2023.”

Maxwell Kennel

Dr. Maxwell Kennel is a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow, supervised by Pamela Klassen. His project is called "Critique of Conspiracism" examines epistemologies of violence and theopolitical uses of history in conspiratorial thinking." Max is currently finishing his dissertation in the Religious Studies Department at McMaster University, on "Ontologies of Violence." His book, Postsecular History:Political Theology and the Politics of Time, will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in late 2021.

In his own words: “My work is on violence, history, and conspiratorial thinking in the areas of critical theory, political theology, and the philosophy of religion. In my postdoctoral project I will be exploring connections between religion and conspiracism by focusing on how normative uses of history and tendencies toward violence appear in the threefold notion that 'nothing happens by accident,' 'nothing is as it seems,' and 'everything is connected.'”   

Ari Schriber

Dr. Ari Schriber is a U of T Arts & Science postdoctoral fellow, supervised by Nada Moumtaz. He earned his PhD from the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations at Harvard University this past spring.

In his own words: “My work focuses on Islamic legal and intellectual history in twentieth-century North Africa and Middle East, with particular focus on shari 'a (Islamic law) courts in colonial North Africa. My research at U of T will focus specifically on the evolution of Islamic legal norms as applied in colonial-era and post-colonial Moroccan shari 'a courts.”    

Administrative Office Changes

Marilyn ColacoMarilyn Colaço, familiar to a generation of DSR students from her role administering undergraduate programs, decided to take early retirement in the summer of 2021. She had been with the University of Toronto both as a student and a staff member since 1995, and with the DSR for over 20 years. We had a special virtual gathering to send her off, and a memory book with contributions from so many of the people she knows from her time here was compiled as part of our goodbye gifts. Marilyn will be very much missed, and we wish her the best for the future.

Under chair Professor Pamela Klassen's leadership, the DSR has established a set of strategic priorities:

  • Building an even stronger, more inclusive culture of research excellence that expands faculty research grants and that is increasingly public facing;
  • Revitalizing the undergraduate programs from the ground up, taking steps to build enrolments through a robust research-intensive curriculum that includes experiential learning opportunities, with programs and courses that are attractive to specialists, majors, minors, and students seeking electives;
  • Enhancing department knowledge mobilization and support the ongoing revitalization of the Religion in the Public Sphere initiative;
  • Streamlining administrative positions to provide clarity in scope.

With the support of Faculty of Arts & Science HR, DSR chair Pamela Klassen and department manager Michael Twamley reviewed our administrative arrangements to assess whether we were optimally set up to achieve these priorities. As a result, four new adminstrative positions were added, reporting to the department manager, and between May and September 2021 we recruited an incredible team:

  • Assistant to the Chair and Office Administrator: Tanya Proulx
  • Communications Officer: Siri Hansen
  • Financial Officer: Octavio Gonzalez
  • Undergraduate Assistant: Phoebe To

Tanya ProulxSiri HansenOctavio GonzalezPhoebe To


← Back to Fall 2021 Newsletter Contents