Organizing Committee

ComSciConCAN 2022 is organized by:

Maria Chadid-Hernandez (University of Northern British Columbia; @mariale8706)

mariachadidI have a landscape ecology background from Colombia and multiple fieldwork experiences. During my PhD, I have been trying to understand the implications of forest management activities (i.e. the ways how natural forest is harvested) on carbon sequestration in different forest types in British Columbia. I am passionate about outdoor sports, and I am always looking for ways to be proactive and advocate for social, environmental and communication issues.




Ben Davis-Purcell (Carleton University; @bendavispurcell)

bendpBen is a physicist, teacher, and science communicator, currently in the final year of his PhD at Carleton University. His research is in the field of experimental particle physics as a member of the ATLAS Collaboration, where he also serves on the Early Career Scientist Board. ATLAS uses the proton-proton collisions created by the Large Hadron Collider at CERN to study the tiniest, most fundamental building blocks of the Universe! Ben also volunteers for many SciComm initiatives, including Skype A Scientist and podcast guest appearances, and guides visitors on tours of CERN and the ATLAS Experiment. To unwind, Ben loves playing sports like hockey, squash, and ultimate, and banging on his drums.




Karen Hock (University of Waterloo)

karenhockKaren is a first-year PhD student in public health at the University of Waterloo. Her research focuses on the impact of food policies on dietary intake, and she is particularly interested in sugary drink taxes and front-of-package labelling. Before returning to graduate school, she worked for over five years as a scientific writer in the health supplement industry, where she became passionate about using science communication to encourage and empower others to take charge of their health. Outside of school, she enjoys swimming, reading, hiking through nature trails, and baking (and eating) cookies.


Toby Le (University of Manitoba; @TobyLe123; LinkedIn:


tobyToby Le is a PhD student of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at the University of Manitoba. Currently, Toby is studying the immunological effects of a common birth control drug called Depot Medroxyprogesterone Acetate (DMPA), and its potential consequences on HIV risk. Outside of research, Toby was the 1st place winner and the People’s Choice Award recipient for the 2020 Three Minute Thesis (3MT) at the University of Manitoba. Toby is also the founder of the Multidisciplinary Health Research Experience (MHRE) Program; a training program that provides undergraduate students with basic training in different disciplines of health science. Toby is also a member of the National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease and was involved in several COVID-19 communication projects for public health. For correspondence, please contact Toby Le at



Julie McNutt (University of British Columbia)

julie_01Julie McNutt (she/hers) is a PhD candidate in the Department of Chemistry at The University of British Columbia. She studies the effects of drugs on slowing the progression of breast cancer cells using tools in chemistry. Julie is a co-chair and a founder of UBC Chemists for Diversity and Inclusion, and previously was the president of the UBC Chemistry Graduate Student Society. In addition to her interests in science communication, Julie is passionate about educational leadership. She is nearly finished her advanced certificate in teaching & learning offered through the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology at UBC. Additionally, she is a graduate facilitator of Instructional Skills Workshops and a graduate peer reviewer of teaching and presentations. In her free time, Julie enjoys spin classes and training for a marathon this coming spring!




Shanzeh Mumtaz Ahmed (University of Toronto; @shanzehahmed1)

shanzeh_01Hi all! My name is Shanzeh and I studied the autoimmune disease, multiple sclerosis. When I'm not thinking about brain lesions, you can find me on a long walk or trying to convince my cat that he did, in fact, just eat, and does not need to meow at me like that.





Shealin Murray (Brock University; Twitter: @shealinmurray IG: @neuroscience.and.shea)

shealinmurrayShealin (she/her) has a BSc. in Neuroscience from Brock University, and is currently working on obtaining her master's degree. Her research focuses on adolescence, particularly looking at how stressful environments influence the development of social behaviour and related brain areas. She is passionate about integrating science communication in her work, with previous experience engaging people of all ages in the science of everyday life at organizations such as the Ontario Science Centre and Let's Talk Science. When not in the lab, Shealin can be found training for fencing tournaments or doting on her current foster cat.



Sarah Nersesian (Dalhousie University; @NersesianSarah)

sarahnesSarah is a passionate science communicator and illustrator currently conducting research in the realms of cancer immunotherapy and science communication. She completed her BScH in Bio-Medical Sciences at the University of Guelph followed by an MSc in Biochemistry and Cell Biology at Queen’s University. She is currently a Killam, and Vanier Scholarship supported Ph.D. Candidate in Microbiology and Immunology at Dalhousie University, working in the lab of Dr. Jeanette Boudreau. Her doctoral research is focused on investigating the relationship between natural killer cells and high-grade serous cancer of the ovary. Outside of her academics, Sarah founded the first research-focused scientific illustrations company in Canada, Designs that Cell, in 2017. She is also an active member of several organizations, currently sitting on committees for ComSciConCAN, ComSciConCAN Atlantic, The Canadian Society of Immunology, Canadian Cancer Immunotherapy Consortium and The Science Writers and Communicators of Canada.


Michelle Ogrodnik (McMaster University; @michelleogrod)

michelleMichelle 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. 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; @katiepullella)

katieKatie 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!


Pramodh Senarath Yapa (University of Alberta; @PramodhYapa)

pramodhPramodh Senarath Yapa is a PhD Student in Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics at the University of Alberta. He studies the properties of matter when it is cooled to near absolute zero, and explores how quantum mechanics leads to the formation of new states of matter. His current obsession is superfluid Helium-3, which is liquid that has zero viscosity and thus can flow without friction. In 2019, Pramodh was chosen as the winner of the Dance Your PhD competition sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for his swing-dancing rendition of electron behaviour, "Superconductivity: The Musical!". Outside of various #SciComm activities, Pramodh is playing ultimate frisbee, recording music or out exploring the great outdoors!



Cissy Suen (University of British Columbia; Instagram: ccsuen; Twitter: cc_suen; LinkedIn: Cissy Suen)

cissyCissy Suen is a joint PhD student with the Quantum Matter Institute at the University of British Columbia and the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research. She researches strongly correlated materials using different spectroscopic techniques, in particular angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy or ARPES. While based in Stuttgart, Germany, she is currently working under a doctoral fellowship at the Advanced Light Source in Berkeley, California. Cissy is also incredibly passionate about science policy; she is interested in exploring how we can better communicate quantum advances to the broader public and bridging the frontiers of quantum research with policy.


Tareq Yousef (Dalhousie University;

tareqTareq is completing his PhD in Medical Neuroscience, looking forward to continued work in research and university education. In 2021, Tareq helped found the first ComSciCon-Canada Atlantic meeting and is delighted to support the continued work of the national committee. Tareq has been interviewed on Les aventures du Pharmachien (CBC ICI) and has written for The Conversation Canada.






Francesco Zangari (University of Toronto; @franthewriter1;

francescoFrancesco is Ph.D. researcher at the University of Toronto within the Lunenfeld Tanenbaum Research Institute. He studies the intersection between RNA/Protein biology by building new tools to survey their interactions. These mapping efforts will serve as an atlas that can be referred to in diseased states when often these interactions are altered. When not doing experiments, he has spent time making science accessible through writing covering an array of topics like the microbiome, COVID-19 and Canada’s biotechnology sector for outlets like the National Association of Science Writers, Signals Blog and Massive Science. Through writing, Francesco has also become involved with science outreach groups, and currently works with both Scihigh and ComSciConCAN focusing on fostering scientific literacy throughout the education system. While he spends a lot of time in the scientific realm, Francesco gets away from it occasionally and likes to spend time watching sporting events, digesting the latest NPR podcast or watching investigative documentaries. If you’d like to connect with me, DM me on Twitter @franthewriter1 or leave a message on my site.