Reach Alliance’s First International Cross-University Team

Photo (from left to right): Professor Iza María Sánchez Siller, Janet Gavriella Flores Manilla, Elisa Regina Nieto Priego, Magdalee Brunache, Bavan Pushpalingam, and Professor Joseph Wong.

We are thrilled to announce the first-ever international cross-university team with student researchers from the University of Toronto (UofT) and Tecnológico de Monterrey (TEC) supported by the McCall MacBain Foundation. 

In May, two of our student researchers from TEC, Gavriella Flores Manilla and Elisa  Regina Nieto Priego, travelled to Toronto with co-faculty mentor Professor Iza María Sánchez Siller for a week-long orientation with UofT student researchers Magdalee  Brunache, Bavan Pushpalingam, and co-faculty mentor Professor Joseph Wong. Their week was chock-full with team building, professional development, and project scoping. Reach’s lead coaching consultant, Jason Sealy,  facilitated performance coaching for them to face some dynamic scenarios where their leadership, team connection, and ability to solve problems together were challenged.

Over the next year,  the UofT–TEC team will be researching Banco del Bienestar, the Mexican federal government’s main resource distributor of social programs. The team aims to evaluate the effectiveness of cash transfers made by Banco del Bienestar and to identify their impact on the reduction of poverty and inequality in Mexico. 

Meet the team

Magdalee Brunache
PhD, Philosophy
University of Toronto

As a political science student specializing in development studies, embarking on the Reach adventure at this point in my academic and professional career makes perfect sense as I seek practical field experience. I am fascinated by the Reach Alliance’s focus on interdisciplinary research and exploring various modes of knowledge translation to ensure that our actionable research insights reach those who need them most and contribute to creating meaningful change. I am especially excited about traveling to Mexico to join my TEC colleagues for the field research component of the project. The trip will provide us with the opportunity to meet our research collaborator and complement our desk research with first-hand insights into the bank and its ways of working.”

Elisa Regina Nieto Priego
Biotechnology Engineering undergraduate
Tecnológico de Monterrey

I have been involved in innovative science projects and have discovered the lack of deep social analysis in the field. We often fail to measure the impact a novel technological development can have on communities and individuals’ lives. I found out through my work that I want to become someone able to evaluate such scientific ideas and orient them with a vision centred in responsibility, equity, and inclusion, which are core values in Reach and, thus, drew me to it. I hope that, as an engineering student, I can contribute by approaching problems, with a focus on structure, synthesis, and quantitative analysis.”

Bavan Pushpalingam
Honours Bachelor of Arts, major in Public Policy with a double minor in French and Food Studies
University of Toronto Scarborough 

Being part of the inaugural cross-university Reach team as a UTSC student has been a profoundly enriching experience. Hosting my TEC colleagues in Toronto has allowed me to bring my unique perspective, shaped by place-based and community-centered research, while also increasing the representation of UTSC students in this groundbreaking collaboration. I am honored to embark on this journey with such a talented group of young researchers and leaders to engender sustainable change through knowledge production, translation, and mobilization. “

Janet Gavriella Flores Manilla
Law student
Tecnológico de Monterrey

“During our onboarding week we discussed the impact we hope our research will achieve. We plan to explore CONEVAL’s approach to evaluating social policy, particularly financial inclusion programs, and aim to better understand  the impact of these initiatives on the lives of Mexicans. We believe this research can set a valuable precedent for reducing inequality and improving financial inclusion in economically developing countries.”

As the team embarks on this ground-breaking collaboration between the two universities, we are eager to follow the impactful research and dynamic solutions that will emerge from this diverse and talented team. With the support of the McCall MacBain Foundation and the guidance of experienced mentors, our Reach student researchers are well-equipped to better understand the complexities of financial inclusion and social policy in Mexico. We look forward to sharing their journey and the significant contributions they will undoubtedly make in the coming year.