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2021 conference speaker bios

Dr. Emis Akbari is a professor and program coordinator at the School of Early Childhood at George Brown College. She is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development and the Senior Policy Fellow at the Atkinson Centre for Society and Child Development at OISE at the University of Toronto. Emis’ initial research examined issues surrounding early life adversity on brain and behavioural development in animal models. Her more recent work evaluates current and changes in policy at all levels of government. Emis is the co-author of The Early Childhood Education Report. This report provides a snapshot of provincial and territorial preschool services and performance on different criteria including access to child care programs and investments in early education. She is ardent and committed to evidence-based change in policy and global development and its connection to improving child education, development and outcome. On Twitter @emisakbari

Dr. Sahada Alolo is the Manager of Community Engagement at Multifaith Housing Initiative (MHI) where she serves as a liaison between MHI and the 70+ different faith communities that are members of MHI. Sahada is also the president of the Ottawa Muslim Women’s Organization, the co-chair of the Community Equity Council of the Ottawa Police, an Executive member of the African Canadian Association of Ottawa and serves on the board of directors of the Ottawa Snow Suit Fund. Sahada has a Masters degree in human service specializing in non-profit management, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership. On Twitter @sahaalolo

Nicholas Butt

Kaylee Byers, PhD (she/her) is a wildlife health biologist and science communication nerd. She is the Deputy Director of the British Columbia node of the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative, and a Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia. She is the co-founder of Nerd Nite Vancouver and co-hosts/produces its podcast Nerdin' About. The podcast is a space where scientists, artists, and creators share their work and what they've been nerding about lately. Kaylee is also a co-organizer of ComSciConCan and ComSciConCanWest, graduate science communication training programs, and a facilitator for SciCATs (the Science Communication Action Team). In her spare time she’s an avid open-water swimmer, knitter, and lover of puns. On Twitter @

Daniel Chai is a writer, actor, podcaster, and emcee. He is the co-host of the Canadian Podcast Award-winning The Fear of Science alongside Jeff Porter. He is also the co-founder of The Fictionals Comedy Co. where he created Improv Against Humanity and Vancouver Improv Fight Club. Daniel has moderated panels in-person and online for Fan Expo, Vancouver Public Library, and Vancouver Podcast Festival. He has also written for publications such as Daily Hive, CBC Comedy, and once shared a stage with Wayne Brady. Twitter at @iamdanielchai and @sciencefears


Aniruddho Chokroborty-Hoque has migrated from 15 years of conducting research to a lifetime of writing its stories. He loves to break apart research from science and technology, medicine, social sciences, arts and humanities, find the SO WHAT WHO CARES of complex, technical, cutting-edge work, and share it with audiences through Word and Sound. For the past six years, his stories, press releases, podcasts and social media content have built bridges between research institutions and policy-makers, funding agencies, and the general public. His latest podcast is Espresso Knowledge, which delivers research news in the time it takes him to make an espresso shot - quick, on the go! On Twitter @espressoknow

Heather Elliot has been involved in various aspects of building envelope consulting for the past ten years, including new construction and remediation/retrofit. Heather has experience in major building envelope restoration and remediation, from initial visual reviews, exploratory work, and condition assessments, to the design of details, writing of technical specifications, and field review during new construction. She believes in finding practical solutions to ensure the lifespan and maximize the performance of our infrastructure with an eye to reducing energy use through efficient building envelope systems. Heather holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Calgary, with a minor in Structural Engineering. She is a member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) and the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan (APEGS), a member of the Alberta Building Envelope Council (ABEC) and an Alberta Chapter Member of the Canadian Green Building Council (CaGBC).

Sarah Everts is the CTV Chair in Digital Science Journalism at Carleton University. She joined Carleton's School of Journalism and Communication in 2019 after more than a decade in Berlin, Germany, where she reported on science and technology for a variety of publications including Scientific American, New Scientist, Smithsonian, Chemical & Engineering News and others. Her work has garnered several awards and accolades, such as inclusion in the 2017 Best American Science and Nature Writing anthology. Her forthcoming book, The Joy of Sweat (Norton, July 2021), covers the science and history of sweat, from the search for human pheromones to the secrets forensic scientists can uncover in sweat. 

Sarah has a Master of Journalism from Carleton University, a Master of Science in chemistry from the University of British Columbia and a Bachelor of Science in biophysics from the University of Guelph. On Twitter @saraheverts

Dianne Finstad used her agriculture roots to build what's become a four-decade long communications career in television, radio and writing, where she's specialized in agriculture and rodeo coverage. She's based near Red Deer, AB. After working in both daily television and radio, Dianne is now a communications specialist, pursuing a wide variety of MC-ing, announcing and reporting opportunities.  Dianne has diversified her hosting skills during the pandemic, serving as an online moderator for a number of virtual events, including Advancing Women in Agriculture. She is also hosting Frontline Farming Canada, an agriculture program for RFD-TV Canada, and is an honorary member of the Alberta Farm Writers Association. Dianne is also a board director for Westerner Park in Red Deer, and Lakeland College in Vermilion. On Twitter @DianneFinstad

Lawrence Goodridge is the Leung Family Professor of Food Safety, and the Director of the Canadian Research Institute in Food Safety at the University of Guelph. His expertise as a food safety researcher is well recognized; he has been invited to present his research over 100 times at national and international conferences, symposia and congresses. His research group has presented the results of various projects in more than 100 abstracts and presentations at scientific meetings. Dr. Goodridge has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific publications and book chapters. Dr. Goodridge’s primary research interests include the use of genomics to study foodborne and waterborne pathogens with an emphasis on bacterial pathogens including Salmonella spp, Escherichia coli O157:H7, and Listeria monocytogenes. Specifically, Dr. Goodridge employs genomic approaches to assess pathogenicity of foodborne pathogens in order to develop strain specific risk assessment approaches, more sensitive diagnostics, and natural control methods to increase the safety of foods. On Twitter @SafeFoodCanuck

Kaitlyn Gonsalves is a Master of Health Science graduate in Translational Research in Medicine, from the Institute of Medical Science, Faculty of Medicine, at the University of Toronto, and she holds an Honours Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour from McMaster University. On Twitter @KaitlynMHSc.

Dr. Navdeep Grewal is an emergency room physician, practicing at Delta Hospital and Mt St Joseph’s Hospital for over 20 years. She grew up in BC. She completed her medical training at UBC and Queens University, and is a cofounder of BC’s South Asian Covid Taskforce and on the steering committee of the This Is Our Shot vaccination campaign. She’s grateful for the chance to share her medical knowledge of Covid-19 and vaccines with the community in which she grew up. On Twitter @DrNGrewal

R.E.W. Bob Hancock, OC, OBC, FRSC is a University of British Columbia Killam Professor of Microbiology & Immunology, and a Canada Research Chair in Health and Genomics. He is fundamentally interested in finding new ways of treating infections and inflammation, especially those associated with bacterial communities called biofilms. He is particularly interested in alternative approaches to antibiotics and so-called systems immunology. He has published nearly 800 papers and reviews, has 70 patents awarded, and is a highly cited author in Microbiology with more than 112,000 citations and an h-index of 168 and is ranked in the world’s 250 most highly cited researchers. For his work he has won several prizes including the ICAAC Aventis Antimicrobial Research Award, the leading award for research on antimicrobials, and Canada’s three top prizes for Health Research, and is an Officer of the Order of Canada. He is active at the interface of academia and industry and was a co-founder of Migenix Biotech, Inimex Pharmaceuticals, ABT Innovations, Sepset BioSciences, and the Centre for Drug Research and Development. On Twitter @thehancocklab

Dr. Kim Hellemans is a teaching professor and Chair of the Department of Neuroscience at Carleton University. She has received several prestigious teaching awards that recognize her passion and dedication to university teaching, including the Provost’s Fellowship in Teaching Award and, most recently, the OCUFA Provincial Teaching Award. Her current research is focused on student mental health, with a focus on how current life stressors, cannabis use, and social media among university students relate to mental health and academic outcomes. She is passionate about knowledge translation and knowledge mobilization and has created several freely available animations on the topic of neuroscience, addiction, and stigma. She is also the co-host of the award-winning podcast “Minding the Brain”. On Twitter @MindingtheBrain

Amanda Higginson is a Project Officer with Ottawa Public Health. Joining the social media team in 2020, she specializes in youth and young adult content. Amanda graduated from Carleton University in Health Sciences with a concentration in Global Health. On Twitter @AmandaHiggs90

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Nicholas Keung has an undergraduate degree in communication and psychology from the University of Massachusetts. He is a staff reporter at the Toronto Star and focuses his reporting and writing on immigration, refugee, diversity and human rights issues. On Twitter @nkeung

Since 2015 Dana McCauley has used her knack for bringing profitable food product concepts that fulfill unmet consumer needs to help over 250 agri-food businesses. Dana maintains a public profile as a contributor of insights on food trends and innovation for the media and as a keynote speaker at Canadian and International food industry events. She is the President of the SIAL Canada Innovation Award jury and, in 2017, Dana was recognized as one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women in the Trailblazers and Trendsetters category.

Brent Moore has been simulating buildings of all types for more than 5 years. His experiencing in simulating the energy use, thermal comfort, indoor air movement and emissions production for new construction projects in multiple jurisdictions across North America has afforded him the ability to identify areas of potential improvement accurately and efficiently for proposed building designs. Having worked on several net-zero developments, and integrating future climate scenarios as part of these building simulations has Brent ready to take on human civilization’s need for a low carbon built environment.

Dr. Mary Motz is a Clinical Psychologist at Mothercraft’s Breaking the Cycle program in Toronto and an Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Psychology at York University. Since obtaining her degree in clinical-developmental psychology at York University in 2003, she has been working with pregnant people, infants, young children and their mothers who are at risk for maladaptive outcomes because of challenges related to substance use and mental health difficulties, interpersonal violence and trauma, marginalization by society and systemic violence, and poverty. In collaboration with internal and community research partners, Dr. Motz has led the program evaluation and research at BTC and has supervised numerous research and clinical practicum students. Dr. Motz has authored numerous academic publications and technical reports, as well as provided training nationally and internationally related to promoting healthy infant and child development, assessing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and providing trauma-informed interventions for families with infants and young children who have complex needs. Her primary research interests are identifying and understanding the mechanisms by which pregnant people and mothers living in conditions of risk are able to make changes to improve their own lives and the lives of their infants and young children. 

Mia Parker (BSc (Hons), MBA), is the Director of Environmental Performance and Certification at Mowi Canada West (MCW) and has over 20 years experience in environmental regulatory management with emphasis on fisheries and aquaculture. As a Director at MCW, Mia oversees all aspects environmental monitoring and compliance in accordance with regulatory requirements for marine, freshwater and processing operations. Mia also coordinates the strategic direction of assessing improved monitoring techniques and best practices, and guidance on developing and implementing effective regulatory changes. Integral to her role, is strengthening collaborative partnerships with communities and researchers, and championing the use of best available information to inform decision making.   Prior to becoming Director at MCW in 2020, Mia worked with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) in various roles for nearly a decade. Most recently, she was involved with fisheries and regulatory issues in Canada’s Arctic leading the co-development, with Inuit representative organizations, of treaty aligned fisheries regulations. Prior to that she was a Strategic Advisor overseeing the identification and resolution of cross-sector/departmental challenges to the implementation of the $1.14 billion Oceans Protection Plan on behalf of DFO. Mia also has also served roles as a researcher in the development of new species for aquaculture, been both a client and a subject matter expert for Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) processes, as well as a contributor to research and development programs on behalf of both DFO and Industry.

Kevin Parent is a Program and Project Management Officer with Ottawa Public Health (OPH). He has been the social media lead at OPH since 2018. He graduated from Carleton University with a major in Communications and a minor in Sociology and is perpetually tired due to working in health comms during a pandemic whilst also having 3 kids at home (including a newborn). Kevin is a ginger. On Twitter @Kevin__Parent

Lou Paris is from Quebec (Canada) and has a bachelor’s degree in biophysics and a master’s degree in ecotoxicology. She has completed a short program in media, information, and social interactions, and two MOOC on knowledge transfer. Since 2015, she has delivered more than 25 talks, 10 workshops, and participated in a dozen of science communication competitions. Lou has received 7 awards, 5 grants, and 4 nominations in science communication. Lou has produced a few YouTube videos, and was the host of her own radio show for more than 2 years. Until recently, Lou was the social media coordinator of the Canadian Water Network SYP committee. She is currently the event coordinator of Science SLAM Canada, the secretary of the Saint-Lawrence Chapter, a member on the communication committee of EcotoQ, and the full-time project manager of the Yamaska watershed organization. Random facts about Lou: she has traveled to more than 15 countries around the world, she volunteers for a horse rescue organization, she is a massage therapist, a former beach volleyball athlete, and she loves to make her own soap (wintergreen all the way!). 

Katie Pedersen is an investigative journalist who focuses on data-driven stories for CBC Marketplace, a consumer affairs television program with the CBC. She analyzes data as a tool in her investigative research, and also uses it as a device in storytelling to help contextualize investigations. On Twitter @kt_pedersen

Dr. Heather Prime is an assistant professor and clinical psychologist in the Department of Psychology at York University. She recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at McMaster University, following her doctorate degree at the University of Toronto. Her research program uses a family-based approach to understanding and supporting child and youth mental health from an early age. Her focus is on understanding how family relationships and real-time interactions impact a child’s well-being, and the ways in which families can come together to show resilience in the face of adversity. Dr. Prime is registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario and she is a practicing clinical psychologist, with specialized training in family-based interventions including the Family Check Up and Emotion-Focused Family Therapy. As a clinical psychologist, she is committed to using her clinical training to guide her research, and she emphasizes clinical utility in her research endeavors. On Twitter @hprimepsych

By day, Jeff Porter Is a web designer and developer who works at Science World. He is the mastermind behind its digital projects, including Science World’s websites and digital exhibits, and is also the organization’s resident videographer and editor. By night he embraces his inner geek as a cosplayer and board gamer. Jeff produces and co-hosts The Fear of Science, a podcast that brings experts and comedians together for an unfiltered discussion about complicated and sometimes controversial science-based fears in a fun and respectful way. They’ve covered everything from the fear of spiders to the fear of kink and the fear of change. On Twitter @sciencefears

Andrew Rushworth is a water resources engineer at Associated Engineering. Andrew has worked on municipal stormwater management planning and design projects for a variety of clients.  His experience in GIS database manipulation has allowed him to develop detailed hydrologic/hydraulic models. These models form the basis for his analysis of stormwater flooding under existing, climate change and redevelopment scenarios.

Dr. Lynora Saxinger, CTropMed, MD, FRCPC, is an University of Alberta based Infectious Diseases specialist whose clinical practice includes HIV, Hepatitis C, and Travel and Tropical Medicine. Since the start of the pandemic, she has been co lead of the Alberta COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Group, and has been a content expert commentator and advisor to major media outlets, with public social media commentary as well (as @AntibioticDoc on Twitter). She has academic interest in science communication and knowledge translation for public education around COVID-19. Her pre pandemic role is Co-Chair of the Alberta Health Services Antimicrobial Stewardship Committee, and she is involved in national Stewardship initiatives to promote best practices in antibiotic use, evaluation of surveillance of Antimicrobial Utilization and Antimicrobial Resistance through a OneHealth lens, and derivation of Stewardship best practices. On Twitter @AntibioticDoc

Jelena Savic-Brkic. Architect and engineer with a previous career in tech and 20+ years of international experience successfully executing large-scale and complex projects in Europe and Canada. Early adopter and recognized expert in technical matters. Forward-thinker who promotes the latest global trends BuildTech, PropTech & Carbon Neutral solutions for future-ready resilient sites and assets. an architect in resilient and sustainable design with Morrison Hershfield. Jelena is currently Head of New Construction at Morrison Hershfield, spearheading a business enterprise for high-performance buildings and sites.

Dr. Stuart Smyth is an Associate Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Saskatchewan, where he holds the Agri-Food Innovation and Sustainability Enhancement Chair. His research focuses on sustainability, agriculture, innovation and food. Dr. Smyth publishes a weekly blog on these topics at: With well over 100 academic publications, Dr. Smyth is recognized as a leading expert on barriers to innovation and regulatory efficiency. Dr. Smyth’s research focuses on regulatory barriers to food security, especially those that restrict investments into new plant breeding technologies, such as genome editing and that delay, or prevent, the commercialization of genetically modified crops. Recent publications include authored books with William Kerr and Peter Phillips, GM Agriculture and Food Security: Fears and Facts, published by CABI (2019) and Biotechnology Regulation and Trade, published by Springer (2017). On Twitter @stuartsmyth66

As a science communicator, Miranda Stahn has centralized her career around ensuring companies like Interface Fluidics can effectively communicate their innovations to the larger ecosystem. Be it working for large corporations or not for profits, she has always been passionate about ensuring great scientists get the support they need to take their ideas to the next level. Miranda's technical background involved a BSc and MSc completed at the University of Alberta, with research interests spanning from traditional cell biology to biomanufacturing and clean technology development for the energy sector.

Dr. Ashley Thompson is an adjunct professor in the department of Neuroscience who is passionate about science communication and has been recognized with several teaching awards, including the Contract Instructor Teaching Award and the Faculty of Science Teaching Excellence Award. Her current research areas include graduate student mental health in STEM disciplines across Canada, and resilience and mental health in undergraduate students. Specifically, Dr. Thompson is interested in how educators can design courses and implement teaching strategies which promote the development of traits relating to resilience, with the goal of improving resilience in post-secondary students. On Twitter @Dr_AshleyThomps

Janice Tranberg, President and CEO of the Alberta and National Cattle Feeders’ Associations, advocates for cattle feeders on a broad range of policies and economic issues impacting the competitiveness of beef production in Alberta and Canada. Previously Janice was the Executive Director of SaskCanola, Assistant Deputy Minister of Regulatory and Innovation for the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, vice president Western Canada for CropLife Canada, and Communications and Regulatory Affairs Director with Ag-West Bio. Janice started her career as a research scientist with Performance Plants Inc. Janice holds a diploma in horticulture from Olds College, and a Bachelor’s of Science and Masters of Science from the University of Saskatchewan. She is married with two grown children and resides in Millarville, Alberta. On Twitter @JaniceTranberg

Dr. Mark L. Winston is the recipient of the 2015 Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction for his book Bee Time: Lessons From the Hive, and an Independent Publishers 2019 Gold Medal “IPPY” Award for his book Listening to the Bees. One of the world’s leading experts on bees and pollination, Dr. Winston is also an internationally recognized researcher, teacher and writer. He directed Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue for 12 years, where he founded the Semester in Dialogue, a program that creates leadership development opportunities equipping and empowering students to address community issues. As a consultant and thought leader, Dr. Winston partners with universities, corporations, NGOs, governments and communities to advance communication skills, engage public audiences with controversial issues through dialogue, and implement experiential learning and community engagement in educational institutions. As an award-winning writer and editor, he works with students, scientists, other professionals and writers to develop compelling non-fiction, from proposals and newspaper opinion pieces to manuscripts and books. He currently is a Professor and Senior Fellow in Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue, a Professor of Biological Sciences, and the SFU Library’s inaugural Nonfiction Writer in Residence (2020-2021).

William Wolfe-Wylie, Senior Developer, CBC News Labs. William started out as a reporter, columnist and editor. Now, he is part front-end developer for interactive experiences, part data-focused developer for helping journalists acquire and mine through mountains of raw text and spreadsheets, and part road-block clearer who takes the repetitive work out of journalists' lives by automating the most painful tasks. On Twitter @wolfewylie



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