Organizing Committee

ComSciCon-GTA is organized by:

Dhanyasri Maddiboina (McMaster University; Twitter: @phage-mage)                                                                              

Dhanyasri is a PhD candidate in chemical engineering and her interdisciplinary research focuses on exploring bacteria-killing viruses (bacteriophages) to treat infections. She is very passionate about mentoring undergraduate students through iGEM (synthetic biology research group) and has worked for a number of years on increasing public interest in biotechnology and synthetic biology through organizing talks and networking events as part of SynBio Canada. Dhanyasri believes in fostering empathy and critical thinking through all her endeavors, and in her free time loves to discuss science fiction and philosophy.



Michelle Ogrodnik (McMaster University; Twitter: @michelleogrod)

Michelle OgrodnikMichelle Ogrodnik is a PhD candidate at McMaster University where she combines concepts from psychology and kinesiology to better understand how exercise impacts attention and memory. She is helping to organize both ComSciCon-GTA and ComSciConCAN! Alongside her passion for #SciComm, Michelle cares deeply about teaching. She works as an instructor at McMaster and a Lead Educational Development Fellow at the Paul R. MacPherson Institute for Leadership, Innovation and Excellence in Teaching. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, playing board games, and eating cheesy carbs.





Katie Pullella (University of Toronto; Twitter: @katiepullella)

Katie PullellaKatie is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto in the Department of Nutritional Sciences. Her research focuses on understanding how exposure to environmental toxins, such as arsenic, impacts cancer risk in Canada. Katie's passion for #scicomm stems from working in a science museum, where she spent her time sharing her love of science with audiences of all ages! When she's not working on her research, Katie loves to hike, read and play tennis!





Holly Fruehwald (Ontario Tech University; Twitter: @holly_fruehwald)

Holly FruehwaldHolly Fruehwald received her BSc in chemistry from Ontario Tech University and is now a PhD candidate studying Materials Science at Ontario Tech University where she develops materials for clean electrochemical energy systems. Holly has a passion for communicating science and is involved in organizations such as Science Rendezvous, Skype a Scientist, Soapbox Science, and various after school activities for local high schools and elementary schools. She also enjoys sharing her science on social media and you can find her doing this on Twitter and Instagram. In her spare time Holly enjoys painting and reading books about astronauts and space travel, with the hopes of one day being able to visit another planet.





Nathaniel Starkman (University of Toronto)

Nathaniel StarkmanNathaniel Starkman is a PhD candidate in the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Toronto, researching dark matter in our Milky Way galaxy. If you find any, please contact him. Nathaniel enjoys personal engagement in public outreach: he tutors high school students, helps organize telescope viewing outreach events, and gives public talks. When not hanging out in coffee shops ostensibly working, he enjoys cheese, reading, and long-distance biking.






Sarah Simon (University of Toronto)

Sarah SimonA small town girl gallivanting in the big city of Toronto sharing her love of science communication, chemistry, and chickens, Sarah is currently doing her PhD in the Department of Physical and Environmental Science to combine all her passions. She returned to graduate school to learn more about reactive air pollutants and the atmosphere-biosphere interactions in agriculture, looking more closely at ozone effects on pollen and fruiting plants. Previously, Sarah completed her MSc in Chemistry at UBC where she created dyes for Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells (i.e. solar cells that look like stained glass). When she’s not busy gushing about chickens, she brings her fusion of chemistry and previous life working at Science World Vancouver to increase education and awareness of chemistry to the public.




Shanzeh Mumtaz Ahmed (University of Toronto; Twitter: @ShanzehAhmed1)

Shanzeh Mumtaz AhmedHi everyone! My name is Shanzeh Mumtaz Ahmed and I'm a second year MSc student in the Department of Immunology at the University of Toronto. I study an autoimmune disease called multiple sclerosis. Specifically, I look at the role the meninges (a lining around your brain) has in relation to damage to underlying brain tissue. There are so many creative and passionate sci-commers out there, it's hard to not get excited myself!





Hannah Charnock (Brock University; Twitter: @HMCharnock, Instagram: @charnockite)

Hannah CharnockHannah (she/her) is a PhD candidate at Brock University in the Department of Biological Sciences. Her research primarily evaluates flavour development during sparkling wine ageing, with a specific focus on how the Maillard Reaction takes place in low-temperature, acidic conditions. While outside of the lab, Hannah enjoys camping, growing oyster mushrooms, and hanging out with her adopted senior cat! This is Hannah's first year as a member of ComSciCon-GTA team, and she's excited to work with the team to share her passion for science communication!





Margaret Ikape (University of Toronto; Twitter: @ikape_margaret)

Margaret IkapeMargaret Ikape is a PhD candidate in the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, David A. Dunlap Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto. My interest in astronomy revolve around understanding the early phases of the universe using simulated data.





Rebecca Dang (Western University Alumni; Twitter: @dangnn32)

Rebecca DangRebecca completed her Master of Science in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Western University, where she studied Doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity. Currently, she is a Research Assistant in the Department of Medicine at McMaster University. She joined the 2021 organizing committee after attending the first ComSciCon-GTA in 2020 to help increase science communication initiatives for students in Canada.




Alicia Battaglia (University of Toronto; Twitter: @AliciaB_7)

Alicia BattagliaAlicia Battaglia is a PhD student at the University of Toronto in the Department of Chemistry. Her research involves designing polymers for energy storage applications (aka she makes batteries!). Alicia loves teaching and developing her science communication skills so that she can make her research more accessible to a wider audience. In her free time, she enjoys reading the Harry Potter series over and over again.








Zi Yan Chen (University of Toronto)

Zi Yan ChenZi Yan is completing her Master's studies in the Department of Laboratory Medicine Pathobiology at the University of Toronto. Her research project studies the pathophysiology of an alloimmune disease called fetal and neonatal alloimmune thrombocytopenia (FNAIT), which normally results in low platelet counts and in severe cases, intracranial hemorrhage and early death/miscarriage. Outside of the lab, she is involved in planning numerous science outreach initiatives, taking long walks outside, debating philosophy, exploring new areas of the city, and like Alicia, also reading the Harry Potter series over and over again.