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
Poh Tan PhD ’08, PhD (ABD) is the CEO and Founder of STEMedge Academy Inc., where 1:1 personalized learning models are used to coach and mentor students to develop critical learning and thinking, and transferable life-long learning skills in STEM. Dr. Tan obtained her first PhD from the University of British Columbia in Experimental Medicine and is currently completing a PhD in science education, with a focus on Indigenous Hawaiian knowledge at Simon Fraser University. She is SCWIST’s Vice-President and board of director in Strategic Partnerships Development and Fundraising where she manages the organization’s fundraising team to build and scale innovative partnerships and fundraising initiatives, to support and empower women and girls in STEM.
In addition 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.
Melanie Ratnam is a neuroscientist with a PhD from the University of Toronto with a focus on cellular processes that regulate inflammation after stroke. She is an entrepreneur, advocate, and passionate supporter of youth pursuing STEM. Melanie joins the SCWIST Board as Director of Policy and Advocacy to focus on improving EDI and representation of women in STEM.
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.
JeAnn is a Project Management Coordinator at Genome BC. With a background in Biochemistry, specializing in natural and synthetic compounds in drug metabolism, and a PMP certification, JeAnn chose to transition away from the bench. She is also the vice chair for the Society for Scientific Advancement and is focused on providing STEM opportunities to underrepresented populations. She is SCWIST’s Director of Youth Engagement.
Jasmine Parmar has a background in Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology and built a career in sales and operations. Jasmine has been a volunteer with SCWIST in the Business Development committee, and she has a passion for raising the profile of women of colour who want to pursue a career in STEM. Jasmine joins the board as Director Marketing and Communications.
Erin is a Project Manager at Genome BC supporting genomics education for health care professionals and has a background in engineering and pre-clinical pharmaceutical development. Erin started volunteering with SCIWST as a steering committee member of the MakePossible mentoring project to advance women in STEM and now joins the board as the interim Director of Community Building.
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 Secretary. 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!”
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!
Ashley van der Pouw Kraan
Ashley (she/her) has a BA in Environmentalism and Sustainability from the University of British Columbia. When she is not working to create a cleaner, greener future for the next generation, she can be found creating, storytelling and sharing in digital spaces. ashleypk.com
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.
Pooja has recently graduated from the University of Ottawa with a BSc in Computer Science and a minor in Psychology. She has a great passion for STEM in particular improving education and accessibility to STEM for younger women. She is also especially interested in the intersection of Arts with STEM (STEAM), and how it can be utilized to encourage more interest in STEM as it shows how large the capabilities within STEM are. She is excited to continue to advocate for women from all backgrounds and cultures to pursue and ignite their interests in STEM. Outside of work, she loves work with her hands whether it is cooking or creating creative projects.
Jaqueline completed her undergraduate degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from Wilfrid Laurier University. She is interested in the behavior of plants – specifically their interaction with the human body. Her past time includes foraging and learning about the environment surrounding her. She understands the need for a community, especially during these times. She loves to create opportunities that help people grow and learn from one another. As a STEM student, she knows the need for female STEM leaders that can help guide the young girls interested in STEM!
Fun Fact: She lives on a farm with a cow and sheep.
Maryam is an undergraduate student pursuing a specialization in Behavioural Neuroscience with a minor in Computer Science. She is interested in behavioural psychology and how computational models and research methods can help us understand and interpret human behaviour better. Her main career interests are in User Experience Research and human-computer interactions and she eventually plans on pursuing a higher degree in Engineering Psychology. Maryam has experienced first hand the importance of supportive female STEM models in a young girl’s life, and has made it her mission to ensure that the young girls of Quebec get the support and encouragement they need from SCWIST’s MS Infinity Program.
Natasha holds a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Physics from Simon Fraser University where her favourite topics were electrodynamics and solid-state physics. As President of SFU’s Science Undergraduate Society, she built her expertise in community building and creating impactful, sustainable events for the science community. Since graduating, she has interned with organizations in climate tech marketing, ocean sustainability, and sustainable building developments. Natasha is passionate about clean energy projects, waste reduction, and other climate technology. She is excited to be working with SCWIST to share opportunities and pathways in STEM with the younger generation of students. In her spare time, Natasha enjoys motorcycling, exploring local trails, and is currently on the search for the best tacos in the lower mainland.