CIGI Announces Establishment of Digital Policy Hub

September 11, 2023

September 11, 2023 (Waterloo, Canada) — The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) is pleased to announce the establishment of the Digital Policy Hub, a collaborative space for undergraduate and graduate students and post-doctoral and visiting fellows to share and develop their research on the rapid evolution and governance of transformative technologies.

“Transformative technologies are reshaping our world at a dizzying rate and the digitalization of almost everything has created a more interdependent, data-driven world,” said Paul Samson, CIGI’s president. “There is an urgent need to increase understanding of core policy implications and develop governance frameworks across the range of technologies and digitalization — both at national and international levels.”

By bringing together a diverse group of emerging scholars and innovative thinkers from the social, natural and applied sciences, the Digital Policy Hub will create a transdisciplinary work environment for fellows to produce high-quality and relevant research that identifies opportunities and mitigates risks and gaps arising from rapid technological disruption and diffusion.

Digital Policy Hub fellows will work with peers in the program, CIGI fellows, policy makers and industry professionals to produce timely research. This approach will also allow Digital Policy Hub fellows to further develop their own research, analytical and policy skills, and prepare them to work across disciplines post-fellowship.

“The Digital Policy Hub is truly one of a kind; it bridges knowledge and approaches to the governance of technology with students and professionals across Canada,” said Reanne Cayenne, the Digital Policy Hub’s research coordinator. “It will offer invaluable opportunities that will invigorate research and careers.”

“The establishment of the new Digital Policy Hub signals a critical investment in both innovation and talent,” said John Hepburn, CEO of Mitacs. “The Digital Policy Hub will encourage bright minds to explore and collaborate across disciplines. Mitacs is proud to play a role in fostering the next generation of digital talent — congratulations to the first cohort as they join the Digital Policy Hub.”

The inaugural cohort of fellows for the Digital Policy Hub comprises 12 individuals from institutions and organizations across Canada. Their expertise and interests cover a wide range: the impacts of artificial intelligence (AI) on education, society and music copyright; mis- and disinformation surrounding climate change; building trust in digital currencies; digital and energy inequalities in Sub-Saharan Africa; and global Indigenous approaches to data governance.

Introducing the inaugural cohort of fellows joining the Digital Policy Hub on September 12, 2023:
  • Naod Abraham - Photo
    Naod Abraham
    Digital Policy Hub Undergraduate Fellow

    Naod Abraham is a third-year mathematical physics student at the University of Waterloo with an interest in computer science. Early in his studies, Naod published a paper about computational complexity theory and machine learning in a peer-reviewed journal. During his fellowship at the Digital Policy Hub, he will further investigate the applications of machine learning for other practically important problems.

  • Daria Bielik
    Daria Bielik
    Digital Policy Hub Master's Fellow

    Daria Bielik is a master of public policy candidate through a partnership with the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy and the Kyiv School of Economics. She is passionate about the intersection of AI and education, which she’s actively exploring through her work at the Ontario Ministry of Education. Her research as a fellow at the Digital Policy Hub will focus on the influence of large language models (LLMs) on student learning outcomes and academic performance in higher education settings, combining real-world exploration with rigorous academic inquiry.

  • Ori Freiman - Headshot Mac
    Ori Freiman
    Digital Policy Hub Post-doctoral Fellow

    Ori Freiman is a post-doctoral fellow both at the Digital Policy Hub and at McMaster University’s Digital Society Lab, researching the responsible implementation of emerging technologies with a focus on the democratic consequences of central bank digital currencies, the impact of AI policy and ethical considerations on societal change, and the theoretical relations of trust and technology. He completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Toronto’s Ethics of AI Lab. His formal education includes a B.A. in philosophy; an M.A. in library and information science; and a Ph.D. from the Graduate Program in Science, Technology and Society at Bar-Ilan University, Israel. 

  • Andrew Heffernan
    Andrew Heffernan
    Digital Policy Hub Post-doctoral Fellow

    Andrew Heffernan is a part-time professor of international relations and comparative politics at the University of Ottawa, where he also completed a Ph.D. in political science. He is a post-doctoral fellow at the Digital Policy Hub whose research will examine climate governance and mis- and disinformation around climate change. Other major research interests include African politics, global environmental governance, climate change mis- and disinformation, community-based conservation, and the politics of food. Andrew is also active in the scholarship of teaching and learning, about which he is regularly publishing on and presenting at academic conferences, as well as implementing in his teaching in university classes.

  • Paula Martins - Photo
    Paula Martins
    Digital Policy Hub Doctoral Fellow

    Paula Martins is a policy advocacy lead at the Association for Progressive Communications where she follows digital and human rights policy issues at the global level and helps shape the organization’s responses to emerging policy trends. As a Digital Policy Hub doctoral fellow, her research will delve into freedom of expression and digital rights. She is also pursuing her doctorate in law at McGill University.

  • Matt Photo
    Matthew da Mota
    Digital Policy Hub Post-doctoral Fellow

    Matthew da Mota is a post-doctoral fellow at CIGI’s Digital Policy Hub, where he researches the uses and governance of artificial intelligence and large language models within universities and public research institutions (including research libraries and archives). He will also explore the implications of these public institutions’ research policies in the private sector and in government.  Matthew’s other research interests include the connections between history and imperialism, the creation and uses of historical narratives over time, the philosophy of history, propaganda, and the way that media and technologies shape the circulation and preservation of information. He recently obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto’s comparative literature program.

  • Laila Mourad - Photo
    Laila Mourad
    Digital Policy Hub Doctoral Fellow

    Laila Mourad is a Ph.D. candidate at York University where she is exploring how home-based labour in the gig economy can inform and shape our understanding of the evolving notions of “work” in the digital economy. She applies an interdisciplinary approach to her research of gender, labour and international development, and examines how existing and emerging technologies transform the ways in which household economies and social relationalities are envisioned, as well as their role in development. She is the co-founder of SWANA Collective, a group that aspires to cultivate alternative decolonial spaces in academia and beyond. During her fellowship with the Digital Policy Hub, Laila will examine how existing and emerging technologies transform economic activities.

  • Maral Niazi PhD (7)
    Maral Niazi
    Digital Policy Hub Doctoral Fellow

    Maral Niazi is a Ph.D. student at the Balsillie School of International Affairs with a multidisciplinary background in political science, human rights, law and global governance. Her research with the Digital Policy Hub will expand on her doctoral research on the global governance of AI where she will examine the societal impacts of AI on humanity.

  • Fred-Okello_Photo
    Frederick (Fred) Okello
    Digital Policy Hub Master's Fellow

    Frederick (Fred) Okello is a master’s student at the Balsillie School of International Affairs. At the Digital Policy Hub, his research will focus on technology for development (T4D) as a tool for reducing poverty, and digital and energy inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa. His research assesses T4D as a platform for the region’s digital innovation, investment and policy development, and aims to identify digital technology innovations and policies that can improve private investor regulation, market competitiveness, as well as provision of financial assistance to disadvantaged customers in Sub-Saharan Africa’s digital economy. 

  • Ambika UNDP headshot square
    Ambika Opal
    Digital Policy Hub Visiting Fellow

    Ambika Opal is a visiting fellow at the Digital Policy Hub and is currently working as a manager with Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated to develop the Nunavut Data Strategy and support other data governance initiatives. Ambika holds a bachelor’s degree in systems design engineering and a master’s degree in global governance and specializes in the intersection of technology and policy, including renewable energy, climate change and data. 

  • HarnoorvirSinghJosan - Photo
    Harnoorvir (Harnoor) Singh Josan
    Digital Policy Hub Undergraduate Fellow

    Harnoorvir (Harnoor) Singh Josan is a computer science undergraduate student at the University of Alberta with a passion for innovation. Harnoor’s research with the Digital Policy Hub will centre on artificial intelligence, music, and copyright policies in Canada and the United States, furthering his commitment to leave a meaningful impact in the technology and policy creation domains. Previously, he worked as a product owner for an enterprise mobility management solution that merged his technical acumen with business insights.

  • Mahatab Headshot
    Mahatab Uddin
    Digital Policy Hub Post-doctoral Fellow

    Mahatab Uddin is an expert on climate change law, intellectual property law, technology transfer and sustainable development. He is an adjunct professor and post-doctoral researcher at the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development at the University of Guelph, Canada, where he researches possible legal frameworks for AI-run climate-smart agricultural practices — research he will expand on during his fellowship with the Digital Policy Hub. He holds a Ph.D. in public international law on climate change and sustainable development at Aarhus University, Denmark; an M.Sc. in sustainable development from Uppsala University, Sweden; and an LL.M. in intellectual property law from Stockholm University, Sweden. 

Digital Policy Hub fellowships range in length from four months to two years. Consideration for the January 2024 cohort of fellows is now open and the deadline to apply is Friday, September 22, 2023. Details on application for the September 2024 cohort will be posted in spring 2024.

Thank you to Mitacs for its partnership and support of Digital Policy Hub fellows through the Accelerate program. Also, thank you to the Balsillie Family Foundation for its ongoing support. We’d like to acknowledge the many universities, governments and private sector partners for their involvement allowing CIGI to offer this holistic research environment.

To learn more about the Digital Policy Hub, please visit

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Media contact:

Communications Team
Centre for International Governance Innovation
67 Erb Street West, Waterloo ON
[email protected]

About CIGI

The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) is an independent, non-partisan think tank committed to innovative policy making at the intersection of technology and international governance. Headquartered in Waterloo, Canada, CIGI has a global network of multidisciplinary researchers and strategic partnerships providing expert research and objective analysis with one goal in mind: to improve people’s lives everywhere.

About Mitacs

Mitacs empowers Canadian innovation through effective partnerships that deliver solutions to our most pressing problems. For over 20 years, Mitacs has assisted organizations in reaching their goals, has funded cutting-edge innovation, and has created job opportunities for students and postdocs. We are committed to driving economic growth and productivity and to creating meaningful change to improve quality of life for all Canadians.

*Visiting fellows receive full financial support from the organization or workplace they are affiliated with during their tenure at the Digital Policy Hub.

The opinions expressed in this article/multimedia are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of CIGI or its Board of Directors.