UBC WiS Mentors 2017-2018


Vivian TsangVivian Tsang is a medical student at the University of British Columbia hoping to specialize in public health and preventative medicine. She is recognized in Canada is a Schulich Scholar and is a forerunner in advocating for gender equality in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. Through the past years, she has done research in a variety of areas including prostate cancer, sex and gender, and patient advocacy and has presented her findings at both local and international conferences. She founded and serves as current Director of the Humanitarian Organization for Providing Empowerment, a group that empowers students to work alongside marginalized community groups through mutual aid and interpersonal humanitarianism. She chairs the “Dream It Be It” girls program at Soroptimist International of Vancouver and was a Western Canada winner of the Violet Richardson Award for her work with women and girls. Vivian is also heavily involved in paediatric patient advocacy through her position as Team Lead of KidsCan at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. She also sits on the International Children’s Advisory Network Board of Directors, an advisory group that collaborates with researchers and clinicians around the world to improve paediatric research. For her work, she won the City of Vancouver Award of Excellence, UBC’s Premier and Wesbrook Scholarship, and was nominated as a YWCA Young Women of Distinction. Vivian is a WE Day speaker, TEDx presenter, and represented Canada in 2017 as one of eight young people selected in Canada for the WE are Canada150 Campaign. Vivian hopes to dedicate her life to improving healthcare accessibility and reducing social inequalities for vulnerable population groups.



Beth Power

M.Sc., R.P.Bio., CSAP

Azimuth Consulting Group Partnership

Beth is a Registered Professional Biologist in BC with over 27 years of consulting experience related to toxicology and risk assessment of contaminated sites.  She has a Masters degree in Zoology from the University of BC. Beth is appointed to the Roster of Approved Professionals in BC (for Risk Assessment, through the Contaminated Sites Approved Professional Society). Since 2003 she has been a Partner at a niche consulting firm, Azimuth Consulting Group. Beth’s practice sits at the interface between site owners, managers, developers, the regulatory community, engineers, lawyers and First Nations community members. She focuses on environmental risk assessment, management, and risk communication.


Crystal KarakochukI am an Assistant Professor in Human Nutrition, in the Department of Food, Nutrition, and Health at UBC and an Investigator in Healthy Starts at the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute. My broad research interests include: maternal and child health, micronutrients, and global health. I am specifically interested in hemoglobin, iron and zinc biomarkers, the effect of inflammation on nutrition biomarkers, and genetic hemoglobinopathies and blood disorders (e.g., sickle cell, thalassemia). I have worked as a Clinical Dietitian at the BC Children’s Hospital, as a Dietitian Manager for Pregnancy Outreach Programs in BC, and as a Regional Nutritionist for the Canada Prenatal Nutrition Programs in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. I have also worked internationally as a Nutritionist for the UN World Food Programme (Rwanda, Malawi, Ethiopia, Italy HQ) and UNICEF (New York HQ, Timor-Leste) in humanitarian aid, operations research, and nutrition programming.



Celina BergThis will be my third year as an Instructor at UBC, where I teach for the Computer Science Department and Vantage College.  Before coming to UBC as a post-doc at the University of Victoria (UVic) I taught a range of undergraduate CS courses at all levels.  Here at UBC, I have taught largely first year courses including the infamous CPSC 110 as well as intro to programming for Applied Science Students (APSC 160).  This coming year I will be branching out and teaching a second-year systems course (CPSC 213). I LOVE living in Vancouver and especially on UBC campus – I run in Pacific Spirit Park every morning with my dog (who I can never keep up with), I attend as many Thunderbird sporting events as I can and I even venture downtown once in a while to support Vancouver’s teams… Canucks, Lions, Whitecaps… When teaching at UVic, the much smaller campus allowed me to get to know many students and to understand both their academic and personal challenges.  It is this connection with students that I believe helped me to develop as teacher.  In 2016 I spent my first year as the Professor in Residence for Orchard Commons and I will continue this year. I am thankful for the opportunity to get to know so many great UBC students through this program!



Sabrina AbramSabrina Abram is a PhD student in the Department of Engineering Science at Simon Fraser University under the direction of Dr. Max Donelan. She completed her bachelor’s degree with honours in Mechanical Engineering at Cleveland State University. During that time, she was a NCAA Division I student-athlete, and captain of her university’s women’s soccer team. Recently, she was selected as a Vanier scholar, Canada’s top doctoral fellowship, in recognition of her potential as a leader in science and engineering. She is a mentor for both UBC Women in Science and Canadian STEM Science Expo. As a researcher, she is interested in understanding the fundamental principles of human movement. Specifically, she aims to investigate how humans are able to control high speed locomotion, and apply these strategies to help advance the field of robot locomotion from its current state of tentative low speed walking, to dynamic high speed running. Beyond research, Sabrina enjoys traveling and being outdoors—whether that be hiking and rock climbing in the summer, or skiing in the winter.


Bianca CorlettBianca has a varied background in consulting, sustainability, project management, and research, and spent the majority of her career delivering project-based environmental and planning services to government, First Nations, resource, and industry clients. She is now a Senior Environmental Advisor at TELUS focusing on national sustainability programs, environmental risk, and socially responsible business. Bianca is also part of the Sauder Consulting Group providing management and strategy consulting services to small and medium sized businesses. Through her B.Sc., M.Sc., and MBA studies Bianca has traveled extensively and lived, worked, studied and/or researched in Canada, Sweden, Madagascar, Iceland, Borneo, Mexico, and China. She co-founded and sits on the Board of Directors for the Next Gen Network, a peer mentorship community for career-motivated high potential leaders in every field. Bianca also won the Emerging Environmental Professional Award in 2016 from the Environmental Managers Association of BC, and was chosen as a delegate for the Leading Change conference through GLOBE 2016 Leadership Summit for Sustainable Business. Always happy to chat about sustainability, environmental science, consulting, work + study travel, grad school, and mentorship!



Shandel RiedlingerShandel is a third year UBC medical student. Before medical school, she completed a BSc. in biology with a psychology minor from UBC. She was a part of UBC’s Science Co-op in undergrad and worked as a research assistant in orthopedics and pediatric rheumatology. Shandel also had the opportunity to study abroad in India, Peru and Ecuador, including a field ecology course researching social spiders. Shandel loves theatre and being on stage, as well as trying new restaurants and binge watching Game of Thrones.



Jennifer SalokannelI moved to Vancouver in 2015 to pursue the Entry-to-Practice Doctor of Pharmacy program at UBC, but I was born and raised in the small, northern community of Fort St. James. As a graduate of the University of Northern British Columbia’s Health Sciences program, with its northern focus and my childhood, I have a personal understanding of the challenges facing Northern BC and the realities of limited healthcare. As a future graduate of UBC’s Pharmacy Program, I hope to increase access to accurate health information and care in small, isolated towns and First Nation communities. I am dedicated to helping people and passionate about the fascinating possibilities to improve quality of life through pharmaceutical sciences. I am especially interested in the areas of mental health, counselling, and education. Previous work experience includes university research assistant, crisis line phone worker, swimming instructor, Summer University for Northern Youth science instructor, and federal historic site interpreter. I have also volunteered my time as a tutor, mentor, and newspaper columnist. When I am not busy with course work I enjoy reading, art (painting and drawing), target shooting (archery and .22), hiking, camping, gardening, or working on the family woodlot and farm.


Amanda BakkumAmanda is a PhD student in the Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology at Simon Fraser University. She is currently working in the Sensorimotor Neuroscience Lab under the supervision of Dr. Dan Marigold. Amanda completed her undergraduate degree, with honours in Biokinetics, at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa. She received a full athletic scholarship and captained her University Netball team during this time. Following her honours degree, Amanda worked as a rehabilitation specialist where she gained a great appreciation for the resilience of the human body. She later moved to the coast where she completed her Master’s degree, with distinction, at the University of Cape Town. During this time, she worked as a clinical educator for aspiring Biokineticists and developed a passion for mentoring young people. Amanda has since moved to Vancouver, with her dog, Dudley, to pursue her academic career aspirations. Combining her love for sport and admiration of the human body, her chosen field of research is sensorimotor control and learning, where she investigates the factors that affect how the human body adapts to our environment, to gain a better understanding of how the brain learns. Outside of research, Amanda enjoys socializing, being outdoors and traveling.



Anna HughesAnna Hughes is a 2nd year PhD student of astrophysics at UBC, doing research on space weather around ultracool stars and exoplanets (planets outside of our solar system). She has a Master’s degree (also from UBC) in astronomy, specializing in planet formation. As an undergraduate physics major at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute she did research searching for planets around two-star solar systems and even dabbled in particle physics at Duke University. When she isn’t looking for aliens, you can find Anna snowboarding in Whistler, training Krav Maga in the dojo, or spending time with her family back home in Philadelphia.


Becca ArceI am currently in my 6th year as a student at UBC and 3rd year of UBC’s E2P PharmD program. Before pharmacy, I had completed 3 years in the BSc program while majoring in Biology – mainly because I love animals (particularly dogs)! Once in pharmacy, I became involved in many aspects of the faculty including: Peer Mentorship, Pharmacy Undergraduate Society and Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists. Additionally, I have been an active member of a Shopper Drugs Mart pharmacy team a number of years. My role in mentorship programs started in high school and continued all the way until now! I have first hand experienced the benefits of mentorship relationships from both sides of the fence and really enjoy providing support and helping others reach their goals. The things I like to do besides studying pharmacy include: playing volleyball, hiking the scenic mountains of British Columbia and travelling the world to experience other cultures.



Daphne ChenCurrently: 3rd year dental student at UBC Dentistry
Academic background: BSc Microbiology & Immunology (2012-2015), DMD 2019 Candidate
Interests & Hobbies: When I’m not busy examining people’s teeth and gums, you can probably find me curled up with a book, exploring one of the many beautiful trails that BC offers, or looking for the next go-to brunch spot in Vancouver. I have been involved with the UBC Women in Science Club since its infancy, as a former executive member, President, and now returning mentor. My passion for mentorship and female empowerment runs deep because as a previous mentee of the program, I was able to meet an amazing dentist who gave me tremendous support, guidance, and advice during my dental school application process. I hope to provide exposure to the field of dentistry (and the life of a dental student) but also be the “big sister” for current undergraduate students who may be trying to figure out their own passions.



Nayantara DuttachoudhuryMy name is Nayantara. I am a Program Manager @ Microsoft in the O365 Protect Team. Prior to this I was a Software Engineer in the Azure SQL DB team. Before my Microsoft journey started, I was a MS student at UBC specializing in Database Management and Visualization. During my time in UBC, I started my first company – Structured Reports  which aimed to bring transparency in the Real Estate market. Unfortunately Structured Reports did not work out due to legal issues in the domain. But I had gotten my first taste of the startup world and I loved it! During my 1st year in Microsoft, I noticed the lack of women in the field of Technology. I created Chic Techies which was a platform for women in technology to connect with each other. CT got amazing responses and validated the need for a similar platform in the industry. But soon I got extremely stretched for time and CT had to take a back seat. Now instead of building my own organization, I volunteer at existing organizations to help them get more women in tech. Beyond work, I am an avid reader and coffee connoisseur! On days when the sun is out, I go hiking and camping with my friends.


Nadine ChanNadine grew up in Manila, but later moved to Vancouver. She attended Sir Winston Churchill Secondary, a local high school in Vancouver. She went to UBC to pursue her undergraduate degree in Microbiology in Immunology, which she completed in 2016. During her time as an undergrad, she became involved with UBC Women in Science, the Science Undergraduate Society, and the Microbiology and Immunology Student Association. She is currently in her second year of dentistry at UBC. During her spare time, she tutors children with special needs, knits, and tends to her vegetable garden.



Maj Oerum-MadsenMaj Sofie Oerum-Madsen is a PhD candidate shared by Dr. Daugaard’s lab at University of British Columbia and Dr. Salanti’s lab at University of Copenhagen. She holds a four-year fellowship awarded by the Experimental Medicine PhD program, UBC. Since early on in her career, Maj focuses on translational cancer research: initially by discovering that high serum levels of TIMP-1 can predict benefit of anti-EGFR treatment in KRAS mutated patients that would otherwise have been deprived the treatment. Her current research innovatively bridges malaria and cancer biology given that it is based on that the malaria protein, VAR2CSA, can detect a malignancy specific sugar modification (oncofetal chondroitin sulfate, ofCS). Specifically, this sat her mind to investigate the underlying mechanisms for how cancer cells reconfigure their glycome towards expressing this unique sugar. Moreover, she is determined to understand the functional impact of ofCS in cancer cell metastasis. Following these ambitious studies, she currently works towards developing novel therapeutics based on the VAR2CSA-technology to combat cancer. Maj lives in Vancouver, BC and together with her better half Peter J. Gray, they spend most of their free time building a home in the wilderness of Gambier island.



Jia WangBSc, PhD Candidate

Supervisor: Dr. Michael Gold

Jia completed her Bachelor’s of Science degree at UBC in the department of Microbiology and Immunology where she developed a passion for immunology. Pursuing her research interests as a PhD student in the M&I graduate program has been a thrilling experience, giving her the opportunity to develop advanced imaging techniques in her research on cytoskeletal remodeling during B cell activation. Alongside her scientific pursuits, Jia is also passionate about academic teaching and training the next generation of young scientists. She can be found giving interactive guest lectures in undergraduate immunology and cell biology classes. She hopes to encourage more bright minds to develop an ardor for research so that they can experience for themselves the exhilarating excitement of discovery. Jia is completing her PhD soon and will move on to a post-doctoral fellow position where she will continue her research on immune cell activation.



Sarah FortuneSarah Fortune is a PhD candidate in the Department of Zoology at the University of British Columbia and a Guest Student at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the Biology Department. She works closely with researchers from government (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) as well as industry (LGL Limited and VDOS Global LLC) and is seeking to understand how future changes in environmental conditions may affect the energy balance of Eastern Canada-West Greenland bowhead whales. Sarah uses a multi-technology approach (drones, biologging and prey sampling) to understand how bowhead whales are making a living under current environmental conditions in the Eastern Canadian Arctic. Sarah previously worked for the North Atlantic Right Whale Habitat Program at the Center for Coastal Studies where she studied the foraging ecology of right whales in Cape Cod Bay. She completed her Master’s research at UBC on the growth and energetics of North Atlantic Right Whales, and studied marine mammal energetics as a Research Assistant in the Marine Mammal Research Unit (Canadian Fisheries Research Network).


Marcia Graves

Marcia completed her PhD in 2008 in the Cell and Developmental Biology Program at UBC in the lab of Dr. Calvin Roskelley where she studied breast epithelial morphogenesis and the role of a transmembrane protein, podocalyxin, and its effects on cell polarity, adhesion and motility during breast tumour progression. As a post-doctoral fellow, Marcia worked under the supervision of Drs. Michael Gold, Linda Matsuuchi and Cal Roskelley where she had the unique opportunity to work part-time at the bench while committing a large part of her time training and providing mentorship to the lab personnel across the three labs. During this time she also held a post-doctoral teaching fellowship at UBC and taught both introductory and advanced cell biology courses at the first and fourth year level. She now works as an Instructor in the Microbiology and Immunology Undergraduate Program at UBC, and is currently a Mentor for students in the Integrated science program and Supervises Graduate students conducting research in the Public Scholars Program for Teaching and Learning.


Ruzzelle GasmenRuzzelle is an MSc student currently studying Speech-Language Pathology at UBC. Initially in Behavioural Neurosciences, she transferred to complete her undergraduate studies in Speech Sciences, combining her interests of Psychology and Linguistics. Ruzzelle was the Professional Outreach Co-ordinator for UBC’s Speech and Linguistics Student Association, connecting working professionals to undergraduate students to help them explore potential career options. She was also a Social Skills Group Instructor helping children with social communication challenges with their language and behaviour and is currently a Senior Behaviour Interventionist supporting children with autism on their development. In her spare time, she plays field hockey as a goalie and trains for half-marathons throughout the year. Having been a mentee in the YWCA Mentorship Program in high school and the UBC Arts Tri-Mentoring Program in her undergraduate degree, Ruzzelle hopes to provide the same meaningful learning experience that has benefited her to other students as a Women in Science mentor.


Elisa BaniassadDr. Elisa Baniassad is an instructor in the department of computer science.  She did her PhD here at UBC under the supervision of now Vice President Gail Murphy.  After graduation, she went to Trinity College Dublin on a NSERC Post Doctoral Fellowship, and then was an Assistant Professor at Chinese University of Hong Kong, and then a Senior Lecturer at the Australian National University.  Elisa works and teaches in the area of Software Engineering, and does research in pedagogy, and approaches to teaching software engineering concepts in large university-level classes.



Bethanie BerendsI’m a third year medical student at the UBC MD Undergraduate Program. I did my Bachelor’s degree in Biology at UBC. I was involved in undergraduate research for 2 years in the Botany department. I am currently working on clinical research in paediatric plastic surgery and general surgery. I’m not sure what specialty I want to pursue in the future but am looking forward the clerkship.  When I’m not studying, I enjoy spending time with my fiancé and friends. I love spending time hiking, wake boarding and hanging out in Tofino.



Grace YiI’m Grace Yi, a 3rd year UBC medical student! I helped found this club in my undergrad years at UBC (Major in Pharmacology) and have been a proud mentor for the last few years. Mentorship is near and dear to my heart, and I take part in the Medicine mentorship program. I have been the Advertising Manager for the UBC Medical Journal, organized the Faculty of Medicine online shop at the Bookstore, sung in the women’s acapella group “FIFEgirls”, and am now the Events Coordinator for the Federation of Medical Women of Canada Club at UBC. My research experience includes basic science and clinical, in a variety of fields. When I’m not at the hospital or in lectures, I like to bake pastries (and recently bread!), indulge in good food or dessert, curate my wardrobe, watch Netflix, experiment with makeup, and read novels. I’d love to meet you.


Why become a mentor?

Your participation in this mentoring program will allow you to connect with and impact the next generation of women leaders in the field of science. Your role in this partnership will give you insight into current Science programs of study and the ideas that are inspiring today’s youth. Involvement in this program can also provide:

  • opportunities to share lessons learned, future goals
  • inspiration by enthusiastic future science leaders
  • increased understanding of the mentoring process and the role of being a mentor
  • increased understanding of the current UBC curriculum and the issues faces today’s female students

What is expected of you?

  • Meet with your mentee(s) at least two times over the course of the academic semester (September- December and January-April)
  • Attend two WIS events including mandatory attendance at the Meet-A-Mentor Event in September
  • Develop relationship objectives with your student mentee(s)
  • Be available by phone or email to your mentee(s)
  • Complete progress and exit surveys to keep the WIS team updated on your satisfaction with the program

How do I become a mentor?

Information on the 2017-2018 mentor application process coming soon.

What if I cannot commit to full -time mentorship, but still want to be involved?

We love your enthusiasm! Other mentoring opportunities that require a smaller time commitment are available for those unable to participate in the full WIS Mentoring Program. This includes presenting a talk at our lunch-time speaker series and our annual Women in Science and Engineering networking event. If you would like to stay updated on WIS events and possible mentoring opportunities, please contact us at to receive our newsletter and event invitations! Our events section is also a great resource for details on upcoming events.

Mentor Resources

There will be several mentor training and professional development workshops coordinated by our club in conjunction with the UBC Mentorship Community of Practice. Please refer to our events section for current information.

Mentor and Mentee Handbook 2017-2018

Any other questions?

All questions pertaining to our membership program should be directed to


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