Invited Experts

Keynote Speaker: 

Dr. Katie Mack (she/her) - Perimeter Institute 

katiemack

Dr. Katie Mack is a theoretical astrophysicist exploring a range of questions in cosmology, the study of the universe from beginning to end. She currently holds the position of Hawking Chair in Cosmology and Science Communication at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, where she carries out research on dark matter and the early universe and works to make physics more accessible to the general public. She is the author of the book “The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking)” and has written for a number of popular publications, such as Scientific American, Slate, Sky & Telescope, Time, and Cosmos magazine. She can be found on Twitter as @AstroKatie.

 

Meet our Panelists

Communicating with Diverse Audiences:

Dr. Imogen R. Coe (she/her) - Toronto Metropolitan University

dr_imogen_coe_headshotDr. Imogen R. Coe is currently a professor of Chemistry and Biology and was the founding dean of the Faculty of Science at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly known as Ryerson). She is also an affiliate scientist at St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, where her research group studies drug uptake. In addition to being an academic scientist and leader, Dr. Coe is well known as a long time advocate for a more diverse, inclusive & accessible world of science and medicine. She is much in demand as a speaker, has written extensively on inclusive excellence in diverse venues such as The Globe and Mail and the Lancet, and has received numerous awards for her advocacy work.

 

Dr. Anthony Bonato (he/him/his) - Toronto Metropolitan University

anthony_bonato-093_Anthony Bonato is a gay man and mathematician whose research is in Graph Theory and Network Science. He has authored over 130 papers with 100 co-authors and five books. Bonato is currently full Professor in the Department of Mathematics at Toronto Metropolitan University. He’s won several awards for his research and graduate supervision at the university. He’s served as Chair of the Department of Mathematics and Associate Dean in Graduate Studies. Bonato serves on the NSERC-Mathematical and Statistical Liaison Committee, the CMS Board and Research Committee, and the BIRS Board of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. He co-chairs the annual LGBTQ+Math Day.

Peńina Sara-Lynn Harding (she/her/hers) - University of Northern British Columbia

penina_saraPenína Sara-Lynn Harding is a PhD Candidate in Natural Resources & Environmental Studies at the University of Northern British Columbia. She is a member of the Esk’etemc First Nation who belong to the Secwépemc (Shuswap). The title of her dissertation is: “Documenting Esk’etemc Experience of Place to Prepare for Generative Land Use Planning”; her areas of specialization are: Indigenous Environmental Planning, Indigenous Research Methodologies, & Experience of Place. She completed the TikTok Accelerator for Indigenous Creators program delivered by the National Screen Institute in December 2021. She is a mother of 4 and goes by Academic_Aunty on TikTok & Twitter. She teaches NREM 210: Integrated Resource Management at UNBC & has been the Indigenous Graduate Rep on the UNBC Senate Committee for Indigenous Initiatives since summer 2019 & was the duly elected President of the Northern BC Graduate Student Society (NBCGSS) in 2019-20. She enjoys being on the land & is a hunter, gatherer of traditional foods and medicines. The name “Penína” was given to her by her great-grandmother at birth (Alice Jack Symphorien was the first of three generations taken to the St. Joseph’s Residential School), it means “a female of high-ranking” & is a demonstration of maintaining Kinship Responsibilities within the Secwépemc on behalf of her great-grandmother.

 

Communicating through Science Policy and Activism:

Dr. Amita Kuttner (they/he) - Green Party of Canada

mitakuttner.jpegAmita Kuttner (they/he) holds a PhD in astronomy and astrophysics from the University of California, Santa Cruz; their research focused on black holes, wormholes, quantum effects, and the early universe. Amita ran for MP with the Green Party of Canada in Burnaby North - Seymour in 2019, while serving as Science and Innovation critic and bringing forward policy on artificial intelligence and emerging technologies. They then ran for leadership of the Party in 2020, and volunteered locally during the 2021 election. While at university, Amita led advocacy groups supporting the inclusion of marginalized people in the sciences, and scientists in the political process. Amita co-founded and served as director for moonlight institute, a non-profit that develops climate, tech, and decolonial policy, as well as frameworks for a just and equitable future.

Farah Qaiser (she/her) - Evidence for Democracy

farah_qaiserFarah is a genomics researcher by training, now taking a detour into the world of policy. Currently, Farah is the Director of Research and Policy at Evidence for Democracy, where she leads research, training and campaigns to promote the transparent use of evidence in government decision-making. Farah holds a Master of Science in Molecular Genetics and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto. Previously, Farah co-founded the Toronto Science Policy Network, has written about science for multiple media outlets, and continues to organize Wikipedia Edit-A-Thons to create pages about under-represented scientists. She serves as a member of the Canada Chief Science Advisor’s Youth Council, 500 Women Scientists’ Leadership Team, and Let’s Talk Science’s Board of Directors. In 2024, Farah will release with Hajer Nakua a children’s picture book, titled Khadija and The Elephant Toothpaste Experiment (Second Story Press). 

Dr. Love-Ese Chile (she/her) - Regenerative Waste Labs

loveesechileDr. Love-Ese Chile is Owner and Technical Director of circular economy innovation lab, Regenerative Waste Labs, where she advocates for a whole system approach to product development. In her work, Love-Ese advises businesses on circular product design, closed loop recovery strategies and how to communicate the value of circular products. She leads a technical team of researchers who develop novel waste management and circular recovery technologies. Dr. Chiles' interests lie at the intersection of the circular economy, bioeconomy, green chemistry, and sustainable science. She has taken her scientific training into industry and is passionate about communicating and translating her knowledge into new ventures and initiatives that will add value to our communities. As a person who comes from diverse backgrounds both personally and professionally, Dr. Chile is driven to connect people who may not usually come together to co-create products and services that will lead our communities into a greener and more equitable future.

 

Meet our Workshop Experts

 

Data Visualization 

mark_bMark Belan (he/him) - Artscistudios

Mark is a scientific graphics journalist and visual communicator, working at the intersection of art and science to translate scientific concepts into impactful visuals. With two Master of Science degrees (one in Geochemistry/Astrobiology, another in Biomedical Communications), his work and past experience as a researcher has led him to champion the values of visual storytelling when communicating complex and sophisticated ideas, especially in science. Mark is based in Toronto, Canada and yearns to make science more accessible to everyone with all forms of visual media. Learn more about Mark at www.artscistudios.com

Indigenous Storytelling 

Dr. Maureen Matthews (she/her) - Manitoba Museum

maureenMaureen Matthews is the Curator of Cultural Anthropology at the Manitoba Museum. Her thesis, Naaamiwan’s Drum, published in 2016 is an examination of museum repatriation from an Anishinaabe philosophical perspective and won the Alexander Kennedy Isbister prize for Non Fiction from the Manitoba Writers Guild in 2017. Before coming to the museum in 2011, Dr. Matthews supported the four Indigenous communities proposing the Pimachiowin Aki World Heritage site, a 2.9 million hectare, boreal forest area, as a cultural landscape landscape and UNESCO World Heritage Site by writing scientific papers to enable the proposed registration.

Aaron Kilmury (he/him) - Manitoba Museum

aaron_kilmuryAaron Kilmury is a master’s of science graduate student studying marine vertebrate paleoecology and biogeography at the University of Manitoba. The recently published first chapter of his thesis examines marine vertebrate (fish, sharks, birds, and reptiles) biogeography of the Late Cretaceous (66-100 million years ago) Western Interior Seaway of North America in relation to Manitoba fossil assemblages in order to investigate the impact of long-term climate changes on marine vertebrate communities in the ancient past. Aaron is currently working on the second chapter of his thesis investigating Late Cretaceous fossils of small-bodied vertebrates of Manitoba and involving Indigenous students in microfossil sorting to increase interest and representation of Indigenous peoples in Earth sciences.

Misinformation 

Dr. Krishana Sankar (she/her) - ScienceUpFirst

krisahaDr. Krishana Sankar completed her PhD at the University of Toronto in the Faculty of Medicine. Her expertise lies in Cellular & Molecular Biology and she has over 10 years of scientific research experience. She is a sought after speaker and science communicator who has presented at many national and international events on diabetes research, the importance of STEM education and science communication. Dr. Sankar is also passionate about countering misinformation and has been dispelling misconceptions around healthcare issues for several years, both in person and on social media. Since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March 2020, she has been working to share accurate scientific information with different communities in Canada, The United States, Australia and Guyana. Dr. Sankar is currently the Science Advisor and Community Partnerships Lead for ScienceUpFirst, a national anti-misinformation campaign in Canada that aims to combat misinformation around COVID-19 and the vaccines. Through her work with the organization, she has engaged and collaborated with several community partners that serve those in the underserved and marginalized populations. A major aim of her work is to remove barriers to access of accurate and relevant information to tackle misinformation in these groups. Through her breadth of work, Dr. Sankar has also shared her expertise on national news outlets in Canada and Guyana and has been quoted in publications like Reuters, the Huffington Post & Global Citizen. 

 

Meet our Create-A-Thon Experts

Joanna Giddens (she/her) - University of Toronto & 1twentyover80

joannaAttempting to define myself as either an arts or science person has led me to a dynamic career where I am finally able to blend and leverage my love of scientific communication. By day, I'm the Strategic Plan Manager for U of T's Department of Surgery. By night & weekend, I run 1twentyover80, a freelance editing, writing, and content creation service. My research interests include bioethics, physician wellness, entrepreneurship/innovation, medical humanities, and global outreach - and I love finding new avenues of using the written word to explore these dimensions! I've completed a BAH in Kinesiology (Queen's), an MBA (James Cook, Australia), and a Medical Writing certificate (Harvard Medical School).

Sivani Baskaran (she/her) - University of Toronto 

sivaniSivani is a PhD Candidate in Environmental Chemistry where her research focuses on methods for measuring and predicting properties that are important to environmental chemical risk assessments. In addition to her science, Sivani is passionate about science policy & evidence informed decision making. In 2018, she co-founded the Toronto Science Policy Network (TSPN), serving as Vice-President and later President, where she co-led the non-partisan Vote Science national campaigns and the co-wrote the report on The Early Impacts of COVID-19 on Graduate Students across Canada. She has co-authored a number of policy memos, op-eds, and editorials. Sivani continues to work in science and policy and is currently helping launch SciPolCanada — a new platform for research trainees interested in evidence informed policy. In the fall, she will be starting a post-doctoral position that combines environmental chemistry, data science, and policy.

Ikran Ali (she/her) - University of Toronto 

ikranIkran Ali is a fifth year PhD candidate at the Institute of Medical Sciences at the University of Toronto. She is currently conducting research in Dr. Aaron Nauth's Musculoskeletal Lab here at St. Michael’s hospital. Ikran was a winner of Angels Den’s Canada Life People’s Choice Award with Dr. Nauth for their pitch ‘Supercharged Stem Cells: When Bones Don't Heal’. She was also a finalist for the Pam McConnell Young Women in Leadership award presented by the City of Toronto. She is the co-founder of Say Somaali Youth Development Initiative, a program aimed to provide Somali youth in the GTA with holistic mentorship opportunities. Ikran is an advocate for science and equitable opportunities for marginalized youth and plans to continue to serve her community as a leader and mentor.

Adam Zunder (he/him) - University of Toronto 

adamAdam is a graduate of the Masters of Science in Biomedical Communication program at the University of Toronto – a unique but fitting path considering his childhood love for art and animation, combined with a degree in biology and psychology. By bridging the gap between art and science, and distilling complex ideas into accessible visual stories, his goal as a scientific visualizer is to educate and inspire while bringing the beauty of the natural world to light; everything from the movement of the smallest molecules to the enormity of the big bang!

 

 

We also have Peńina Sara-Lynn, Dr. Amita Kuttner, Mark Belan, Dr. Krishana Sankar, Dr. Katie Pagnucco & Vinny Francois as Create-A-Thon Experts. Find their biographies throughout this page. 

 

Meet our Science Improv Team

Dr. Katie Pagnucco (she/her) - John Abbott College

katieDR. KATIE PAGNUCCO is a science educator by day, and improviser by night. In addition to performing in the Montreal Fringe in an award-winning ensemble as well as various touring troupes, Katie has had the opportunity to teach improv and sci-comm workshops across Canada, the US and Europe for nearly a decade. Katie holds MSc. and PhD degrees in Biology from the University of Alberta and McGill University, respectively.

Vinny Francois (he/him) - Improv College 

vinnyVINNY FRANCOIS has over 20 years of experience as a professional improviser in both English and French and is an award-winning instructor. An entrepreneur and founding director of the Montreal Improv Theatre, he has performed and taught across North America, Europe and Oceania. He has a Master's degree in Physics from McGill University and has spent years in the fields of engineering, marketing, sales and management.