From our volunteer Board of Directors to our team of passionate and motivated leaders in STEM, we work together to propel our mission and vision forward.
Board of Directors
Khristine G. Cariño
Director Policy & Impact
Director Youth Engagement & IWIS
Director Communications & Events
Director Business Development
Director Strategic Partnership Development & Fundraising
Director Community Building
Khristine G. Cariño
Khristine Cariño is a champion and mentor for mothers returning to work after parenting sabbaticals. She draws on her experience of career reinvention and pivoting from over 25 years successively working as a clinical dentist, associate professor, epidemiologist, public health researcher, social entrepreneur, community organizer and educator.
With a PhD in Dental Sciences from Tokyo Medical and Dental University, and international awards from the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) in epidemiology and behavioral sciences, she came to Canada in 2005 for a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of British Columbia. However, due to parental demands, Khristine veered off the academic track and became a stay-home mom in 2010. Her challenges as a mom and a new immigrant included postpartum depression and social isolation. In 2012-2017, she relaunched her research career but struggled with family-work balance. After another career hiatus, she became more involved with SCWIST as a member of the Board.
As SCWIST Director for Communications (June 2018- May 2019) and Director for Communications and Events (June-Oct 2019), Khristine delivered exceptional results in membership and volunteer recruitment & retention; digital communications strategy planning, implementation and evaluation; and events management. Khristine is rejoining the board for 2020-2022 with the primary objective of strengthening SCWIST as a platform to increase visibility and highlight voices of Indigenous, Black and Persons of Colour (IBPOC) in STEM. As current Director for Events, Membership and Affiliates, Khristine is focused on: (1) improving member experience and satisfaction,(2) increasing community engagement by connecting SCWIST members across Canada, and (3) identifying & mentoring potential leaders as part of SCWIST’s leadership succession strategy.
Ronel Alberts has a strong belief that the empowerment of girls and women, especially in STEAM fields, will lead to a more viable future. Ronel graduated from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, with a BSc in Computer Science, and quickly discovered she has a knack for synthesizing technology and business requirements. She has been a Business Analyst for over 20 years, and has held numerous leadership positions throughout her career. She has been running her own consulting company for over a decade, and has had the privilege of working around the globe on challenging and interesting projects.
Ronel believes strongly that continuing education is the way to create a sustainable future, and has completed numerous online courses through Johns Hopkins University and the University of Amsterdam. In her spare time, Ronel and her wife can be found geocaching, motorcycling, and hiking with their adorable dogs.
Maria Gyongyossy-Issa is semi-retired from UBC’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and past Director of the Pathology Education Centre. Long ago, she did an Honours BSc in microbiology/immunology at UBC; a PhD in immunology in London, UK; and was first to describe T cell receptors. As post doc, Maria skied in Switzerland and France while doing biochemistry (complement) and blood (apoptosis). In Saskatchewan she raised a daughter while working on the biological warfare agent, T2 toxin. Moved to Vancouver and UBC, worked on platelets and developed several patents. In between, she taught at every level from kindergarten to CME, supervised graduate students, mounted biology and biochemistry courses for Douglas College, and for CIDA in Indonesia. She can’t seem to retire and still teaches medical students.
Maria served on the Board of Directors and was twice President of SCWIST and now she’s back as Treasurer. With SCWIST and Science World, she designed science outreach programs that address diversity and gender equality, three of which were funded by Women and Gender Equality, Canada.
Maria is a Rowing Canada National Umpire; an international 3rd Dan Black Belt TaeKwonDo instructor, an obsessive gardener, and most importantly – the model for the Chief Wizard in Angie Sage’s Septimus Heap books.
She doesn’t like paradigms: her motto is Emmanuel Kant’s dictum, “Dare to find out!”
From delivering Space Systems to developing Zero-Emission Solutions for a better tomorrow, Elisabeth is putting all of her skills towards fighting climate change.
Strategic Leader & Business Development Director with 20+ years of experience creating, managing and bringing to market complex products and systems in rigorous environments (such as the CanadArm on the International Space Station and Imagery from Space), Elisabeth has now transitioned to clean technologies (including clean hydrogen energy and autonomous ocean monitoring using uncrewed surface vessels). She passionately believes that a mix of gender delivers better and stronger solutions needed to face today’s challenges. Involving girls and women in STEM fields is key for our future!
Elisabeth studied Computer Engineering at École Polytechnique de Montréal and Université Libre de Bruxelles. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, practicing at being a mixologist, playing ukulele and soccer with her two sons
Naima holds a Master’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering with a focus in Image and Signal Processing. She joined SCWIST a year ago and was elected to SCWIST 2020-2021 board in July 2020. She is currently serving as Director Youth Engagement and Co-Director IWIS.
Naima is passionate about advocating for equal and fair representation of women in STEM. She believes in promoting all forms of female leadership in the professional world and is happy to engage with new ideas on how to promote women empowerment in the professional workplace.
Noeen Malik, PhD, is the nuclear medicine scientist (specialization: drug discovery and PET/CT imaging), business strategist (specialization: Theragnostics), Executive Director of Public Affairs at GIANT (Global Immunization Action Networking Team), California, and Director of Communications & Events at SCWIST. In addition, she recently launched a small pharma-consultancy firm, Scientudio (Motto: Of women, By women BUT FOR ALL). Being a scientist, her duties revolve around managing bench work to preclinical evaluations to cGMP production of clinical radiopharmaceuticals to facilitate the commercialization of innovations. At SCWIST, she manages and coordinates the flow of events and communications.
Her recent venture is the SCWIST Science Symposium (A national competition for young women scientists), which she conceptualized and organized. This mini-symposium projected SCWIST in 10 out 13 provinces of Canada (88 abstracts from 38 out of 91 participating universities/institutes across Canada; sponsorships sought ($19.5 k): Northeastern University, adMare Bioinnovations, AbCellera, Microsoft, Acuitas Therapeutics, Sixsense Strategy group, MOLLI Surgical, and SOPHOS).
In addition, as an executive director of public affairs and infrastructure committee member of GIANT, she works together with WHO/UN in collaboration with 20 countries globally to bring awareness about immunization/vaccines.
She also volunteers as a human rights activist (Amnesty International, IRC (International rescue committee), and IYC-UN) and fundraiser (SOS Children’s Village). She is also a cartoonist (Science Myths Playing Deck: Concept and artwork) and science illustrator.
Lily Takeuchi is a PhD Student in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto who is researching the development of drug screening platforms and organ-on-a-chip devices. Prior to her PhD, Lily was a Business Development Specialist with Mitacs where she worked on fostering industry-academic relationships to further Canada’s knowledge and innovation-based economy.
Lily has been a SCWIST volunteer for the last 3 years under various committees in the Strategic Development Portfolio including serving as the Grants Committee Lead and as a Strategic Development and Finance Committee member. Lily is passionate about accessibility in STEM and has worked with organizations such as the Canadian Association for Girls in Science, Let’s Talk Science and the Centre for Blood Research to deliver educational workshops to young students. In her spare time, Lily enjoys staying active through hiking, powerlifting, and going on walks with her dog, Melly.
Poh Tan PhD ’08, PhD (ABD) is the CEO and Founder of STEMedge Academy Inc., where academic learning coaches work with high school students through a 1:1 personalized learning model to develop transferable life-long learning skills in STEM. She obtained her first PhD from the University of British Columbia in Experimental Medicine and is currently completing a PhD in science education from Simon Fraser University.
She is a two-time TEDx speaker, a published author and scholar, and an entrepreneur. Poh’s entrepreneurial spirit and personality means she is never satisfied with the status quo, and her motivation and dedication means she always has the organization’s best interest in mind to continually strive for positive change. When she’s not managing projects, she spends her time with her two sons, dancing hula, playing ukulele, and looking for the best spots for tidal fishing. She is the director of SCWIST’s Strategic Development and Fundraising and manages the organization’s fundraising team to build and scale innovative partnerships and fundraising initiatives, to support and empower women and girls in STEM.
Learn more about Poh:
Dr. Aska Patel is a pharmacist, entrepreneur, a patient advocate, and change agent in healthcare. She completed her Bachelors of Pharmacy from the University of Waterloo in 2012 and went back to the same to complete her Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2016.
Since then she has worked in community, hospital, government and home care settings, creating new roles for pharmacists’ involvement within our healthcare system. She recently launched her entrepreneurial venture providing healthcare consulting while joining a digital health venture as a startup advisor. Aska is passionate about creating opportunities for women in STEM and advocates to create networking and mentorship opportunities for women in pharmacy.
As a passionate advocate for equitable healthcare by breaking down barriers to care, Aska is part of various committees at various provincial, national and global organizations. In her spare time, Aska enjoys spending time with her family, travelling, keeping active and exploring new cuisines.
Saina (she/her) is a researcher at the National Research Council of Canada where she supports COVID-19 and other viral infection R&D efforts. She obtained her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from McGill University studying HIV/AIDS. Her passion for infectious diseases led her to work on a broad range of viruses of public health significance. Saina’s passion for HIV/AIDS research and community involvement motivated her to serve various AIDS organizations where she is focused on reducing stigma and barriers to services and advocates for 2SLGBTQQIA-inclusive sexual health education.
Moving forward, Saina is aiming to advocate for better inclusion of science in public policymaking and to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion in the research community and beyond. Saina is committed to empower and inspire more women and girls to pursue STEM-related fields.
Ashley van der Pouw Kraan
ms infinity Program Coordinator
North Indigenous Outreach Coordinator
Cheryl Kristiansen, P. Eng.
Make DIVERSITY Possible & SCALE Project Manager
Ashley van der Pouw Kraan
Ashley (she/her) is extremely pleased to be working at SCWIST as both their ms infinity Program Coordinator and their Communications and Events Lead.
Akanksha completed her undergraduate degree in Economics in India and is currently pursuing a graduate degree in environmental studies from UNBC in Prince George. She has worked with education in various schools in India as well as North America. She is interested in the behavior of human beings – their interaction with each other as well as the natural environment. The aspect that involves changing people’s interaction with nature (and each other) for the better interests her. She believes this can be done through communication, by considering people’s needs and by giving them more information about their impact on nature.
Cheryl Kristiansen, P. Eng.
Cheryl brings diverse expertise in project management, engineering innovation and leading transformative change in STEM. She has a degree in Mechanical Engineering, hands-on research experience in alternate fuels engine technology, and senior leadership success in the oil and gas sector. Cheryl has worked in a variety of corporate cultures and organizational models with strategic agility, has effectively managed international engineering projects with multiple stakeholders, led diverse sales teams and created marketing strategies to deliver financial results.
As Managing Director of the Mitchell Odyssey Foundation, Cheryl developed a network of schools across BC with innovative programs that motivate and inspire high school students to pursue careers in STEM. Cheryl is a certified facilitator and created the “Wild About Science” Odyssey Symposium for STEM educators in BC. She has delivered a variety of workshops across Canada, including SCWIST Diversity by Design workshops at post-secondary institutions, industry conferences and STEM organizations. As a WinSETT Facilitator, Cheryl has delivered seminars on Leading Change, Unconscious Bias, Allyship, and the Leadership Series in Alberta and BC.
Cheryl led the SCWIST MakePossible mentoring project to advance women in STEM. She now leads the “Make DIVERSITY Possible” project – working with STEM companies to create diversity tools and build inclusive workplace cultures that embrace and advance a diverse workforce – as well as the new SCALE project to improve organizational effectiveness of SCWIST, develop partnerships and expand advocacy to advance gender equality. Cheryl is passionate about connecting and collaborating with others to create solutions, with a strong focus on continuous improvement and the belief that diversity drives innovation!