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Welcome to the UVic WIS

STEM Research Symposium 2019

On Thursday, November 28, 2019, come present, learn and share in the work of extraordinary female-identifying scientists in our community.

Registration for poster and oral presentations is now open!


2019 presenter bios coming soon!

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Jacqueline Weston - Panelist

Jacqueline Weston is a Professional Engineer with a Master's Degree in Applied Science and certification as a Project Management Professional.  Her 28 years of experience include 11 years in private consulting as a process engineer and project manager, and seventeen years as a municipal engineer with progressively responsible management positions. Jacqueline is currently part of the Wastewater Treatment Project team, responsible for the Design-Build contract for the new Wastewater Treatment Plant and she will become the new Plant Manager when the facility is operational in 2020. Jacqueline has thoroughly enjoyed her career so far and would love to see more women pursuing careers in STEM. When she is not at work, Jacqueline enjoys spending time outdoors with her partner, two children and their dog.

Katherine joined the Department of Chemistry at UVic in January 2017 as an Assistant Professor and Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in New Materials and Techniques for Health Applications. She grew up in Spain, and then gained her undergraduate Master’s degree in Chemistry (2007) and her PhD in digital microfluidics (2012) from Imperial College London in the UK. After graduating, she worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher and then as a Senior Scientist at the Institute for Chemical and Bioengineering at ETH Zürich in Switzerland. During this time, she worked on a variety of basic and applied research projects using microfluidic (lab-on-a-chip) platforms for applications such as single cell analysis, surfactant kinetics and organic synthesis on a chip. Katherine also founded The Society for Women in Natural Sciences (WiNS) during her time at ETH Zurich as a networking platform for female scientists. Katherine’s current research focuses on developing microfluidic platforms for applications in drug discovery and patient analytics. Her current graduate and undergraduate students are doing some exciting work on creating artificial cells on a chip to analyse and quantify molecular transport across the cell membrane. Outside of the lab, Katherine loves snowboarding, reading and hanging out with her friends all over the world.

Dr. Katherine Elvira - Keynote & Panelist

Dr. Stephanie Willerth - Panelist

Dr. Willerth holds a Canada Research Chair in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Victoria where she has dual appointments in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Division of Medical Sciences as an Associate Professor. She serves as the Acting Director for the Centre for Biomedical Research at the University of Victoria and on the steering committee of the B.C. Regenerative Medicine Initiative. She also served as the President of the Canadian Biomaterials Society from 2017-2018. Her honors include being named the 2018 REACH award winner for Excellence in Undergraduate Research-inspired Teaching, a Woman of Innovation in 2017, a 2015 Young Innovator in Cellular and Biological Engineering and a "Star in Global Health" by Grand Challenges Canada in 2014.  She completed her postdoctoral work at the University of California-Berkeley after receiving her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Washington University. Her undergraduate degrees were in Biology and Chemical Engineering from MIT.

Dr. Malone has worked on the development of drug delivery systems for over 12 years.  She is the Chief Scientific Officer of Eupraxia Pharmaceuticals, a Victoria based biotech company that develops sustained release drug delivery systems targeting unmet medical needs.  Since its inception in 2012, she has guided Eupraxia Pharmaceutical’s scientific programs through the pre-clinical and manufacturing process and into the clinic.  The company now has 20 employees and is in the planning stages of a pivotal trial for their lead product, a treatment for arthritis.  Prior to joining Eupraxia, Dr. Malone was the Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of a drug delivery company that was granted over $9 million from the U.S. National Institute of Health and had 15 products under development.   She graduated with High Honors from Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California with a degree in engineering and was the inaugural PhD student in Stanford’s Bioengineering Department. While at Stanford, she received both a National Science Foundation Fellowship and a Stanford BioX Graduate Fellowship.


Dr. Amanda Malone - Keynote & Panelist


Dr. Heather Buckley - Panelist

Dr. Heather Buckley is an Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering and an Adjunct Professor of Chemistry at the University of Victoria.  Her interdisciplinary research team (which is recruiting!) tackles challenges at the interface of green chemistry, civil engineering, and public health, centering their efforts around creating tools for better monitoring of drinking water contaminants and the design of safer alternative technologies in water treatment. Heather sees technological interventions as one piece of the puzzle for empowering women globally.  Her doctoral and postdoctoral work at the University of California Berkeley have taken her to Poland, Jordan, India, and Germany to perform outreach, field work, and research. She has worked in non-platinum fuel cell catalyst design, air sensitive metal chemistry, and drinking water remediation, as well as in the development of safer building materials for low-income communities and alternative preservatives for home and personal care products.

Dr. Bari Zahedi is a Senior Process Scientist at STEMCELL Technologies. She began her adventures in science at Simon Fraser University, where she received honors for her Ph.D thesis in molecular biology and biochemistry , and continued on to the BC Cancer Research Centre where she completed her post-doctoral work on B and T cell activation. She joined STEMCELL in 2011 with a very large belly (her first born, Sacha, was inside) and an exuberance to learn the business behind the science in Biotech. Today, Bari oversees teams of Process Scientists and Engineers who work closely with RnD Scientists, and Quality and Manufacturing Specialists to translate ideas from the bench into commercial products, for both academic research and clinical use. She has successfully established an Analytical Development and Service Facility at STEMCELL, as well as a Media Production Service to support product discovery through training and “prototype" generation.  This past year, Bari and her teams were integral in designing and operationalizing STEMCELL's new state of the art manufacturing facility in Vancouver and are currently working on STEMCELL's future Burnaby Campus. Outside of work, Bari is passionate about volunteering and giving back to her community. At home, she is primarily known as "Mommy" to a cute 5 and 7-year-old girl and boy. 


Dr. Bari Zahedi - Keynote and Panelist


Dr. Kathryn Gillis - Keynote

My research is aimed at understanding the nature and consequences of how the seafloor interacts with the ocean. The story begins at mid-ocean ridges where we examine how the structure of the ocean crust influences fluid flow and fluid-rock reactions, and nature of heat and mass exchange. As an ocean plate ages, we focus on understanding processes that contribute to the chemical evolution of the oceanic crust in order to examine, e.g., the long term C-cycle. What I enjoy most about being a marine scientist is the potential for discovery each time I go to sea or travel to a new part of the world. It’s exciting to dive to the seafloor or explore it with a ROV. It is equally gratifying to travel to a country such as Cyprus where ancient ocean crust now exposed on land.

My professional history is as follows. I received my BSc in Geology from Queens University and PhD in Geological Oceanography from Dalhousie University. I held a NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Université de Montréal and was a scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. I moved to SEOS in 1994 where I’ve taught courses in earth and ocean sciences. I’ve served as SEOS Director School, and as Associate Dean and Acting Dean of Science. I’ve led two international drilling expeditions, sailed on numerous oceanographic cruises and represented Canada, and my research discipline, on advisory national and international panels related to marine geoscience programs.

Sara Ohora is the Research Operations Coordinator for the Division of Medical Sciences (DMSC) at UVic. She oversees the day-to-day operations, maintenance, and administration of the DMSC labs. Sara graduated in 2013 from Western University, London, Ontario with a MSc in Physiology. Her research focus was identifying molecular mechanisms involved in aging and obesity induced osteoarthritis. Following graduation, Sara accepted a Research Assistant position in the department of Biochemistry and Microbiology at UVic, which is what brought her out to the West Coast. Outside of work, Sara enjoys spending time with her partner and dog exploring the Island, gardening, and travelling.


Sara Ohora - Panelist


Dr. Leigh Anne Swayne - Panelist

Dr. Leigh Anne Swayne is an Associate Professor in the Division of Medical Sciences and an Associate Director of the Centre for Biomedical Research at the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. She is a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research and British Columbia Schizophrenia Society Scholar. A cellular neurobiologist by training, her team studies the fundamental mechanisms of cellular plasticity (e.g. growth and development, morphological changes, and survival/degeneration) in the brain and, more recently, the heart. Her main research interests lie in uncovering the role(s) of ion channels in the nervous system and understanding the mechanisms that govern their localization within the cell.

Dr. Lindsay Frehlick is an Industry Liaison Officer within the University of Victoria (UVic) Research Partnerships & Knowledge Mobilization office. In her role at UVic, she builds and facilitates relationships and collaborations between the University and industry partners. She has extensive experience in research partnerships, patent law, intellectual property management, and technology transfer. Lindsay has a BSc and PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Victoria. Her doctoral research focused on chromatin remodeling and the molecular evolution of histones and nuclear chaperones.

Dr. Lindsay Frehlick - Panelist


Dr. Sara Ellison - Keynote

Prof. Sara Ellison obtained her undergraduate degree, an MPhys in Physics with Space Science and French, from the University of Canterbury, Kent (UK).  After completing her PhD in astronomy at the University of Cambridge (UK), she moved to Chile, as a postdoctoral fellow at the European Southern Observatory.  Sara joined the UVic faculty in 2003 as a Canada Research Chair and has been full professor in the department of Physics & Astronomy since 2014.  The recipient of numerous awards and honours, such as the Annie Jump Cannon Award (AAS) and Rutherford medal (RSC), Sara was elected to the Royal Society of Canada’s College for new scholars in 2015.  Sara is primarily an observational astronomer, using cutting edge telescopes on the ground and in space to understand how galaxies form and evolve.  Outside of work, Sara is a keen traveler (with over 50 countries under her belt), athlete and fiddler.

Dr. Allison Bingham is paediatrician in Victoria and a member of the Paediatric Department at Victoria General Hospital. She is a Clinical Assistant Professor with the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine, and a clinical education lead with the Island Medical Program.  She received her medical degree from the University of British Columbia and completed her Royal College Residency Program in Paediatrics from the University of Manitoba. Her scope of practice covers premature neonates through adolescents. She has a special interest in genetic syndromes, dermatology and hospital based clinical medicine. She especially enjoys teaching medical students and residents. Outside of medicine, Allison is kept busy running after her toddler, and enjoys classical music, theatre and travelling.

Dr. Allison Bingham - Panelist


Dr. Laura Arbour - Keynote

Dr. Laura Arbour is a Professor in the Department of Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia situated at the Island Medical Program in Victoria, BC and a Medical Geneticist at Island Health.  Her clinical practice and research focuses on northern and Indigenous health issues as they pertain to genetics.  Trained as both pediatrician and clinical geneticist (McGill University), her research integrates maternal child health issues and the understanding of the genetic component of Indigenous health of all ages. Notable research has included addressing a high rate of Long QT Syndrome (LQTS) in Northern BC, potential risk of CPT1A P479L for infant mortality in Nunavut, and the genetics of Primary Biliary Cholangitis in First Nations women of BC.  She is also currently the project lead on a Genome Canada/CIHR Large Scale Applied Research Project grant “Silent Genomes: Reducing health-care disparities and improving diagnostic success for Indigenous children with genetic disease” which aims to address the challenges of equitable access to genetic/genomic diagnosis for Canadian Indigenous populations.

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