ventureLAB has supported over 2,000 tech entrepreneurs, building, growing and scaling their companies in Canada for global markets. Located in Canada’s densest technology cluster, ventureLAB is in a region home to more than 1.8 million Canadians. As Director and CEO, Melissa has helped ventureLAB expand its accelerator footprint. More than 45 tech companies and partners are co-located in a 50,000 square foot innovation hub.
Melissa is a passionate advocate for innovation in Canada to advance our nation’s global competitiveness, technology commercialization, women in STEM and other community impact initiatives. Prior to joining ventureLAB, Melissa was the Director of New Initiatives at a division of Constellation Software, one of Canada’s largest publicly traded enterprise software companies. As the Executive Officer and Vice-President of Product, Operations and Marketing at Spectra7, Melissa headed global business operations, product development and corporate marketing where the company’s products were designed into major consumer brands including LG, Panasonic, Samsung and Facebook (Oculus). In this capacity, Melissa played an important role in the company’s transition to public listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Melissa started her career at Nortel where she held roles in product management, marketing and systems engineering, spanning wireless, optical and enterprise technologies.
Matheus Grasselli, McMaster University
10 years later: Thinking back on the financial crisis
Financial crises affect the lives of millions of people around the world. Yet for centuries historians, politicians, economists and the general public have failed to understand this phenomenon. As Professor and Chair of the Department of Mathematics at McMaster University, Matheus researches mathematical finance and mathematical modelling of financial markets.
This table will delve into whether we should be able to predict financial crises and what we have learned in the 10-years since the last major economic shake-up.
Matheus Grasselli is a regular speaker in both academic and industrial conferences around the world. Specific projects include numerical and theoretical optimal portfolio selection and modelling of positive interest rates. He is also interested in classical and quantum information geometry. Matheus earned an undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Sao Paulo and a Ph.D. in mathematics from King’s College London.
Fun fact: His first novel, The Venetian Files - a thriller based on the 2008 financial crisis - is due later in 2019.
Samantha Yammine, University of Toronto
Samantha Yammine is a Science Communicator and Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto. Her research in Dr. Derek van der Kooy's lab focuses on how stem cells build and maintain the brain, and how to target these stem cells for repair following injury or disease. In addition to her doctoral research, Samantha is part of a crowd-funded, international research study on the effects that scientists sharing selfies on Instagram have on public perceptions of scientists.
Samantha shares daily updates of her research on Instagram as @science.sam through short videos, descriptive captions, engaging pictures, and livestreams. She is passionate about making science more familiar, accessible and inclusive through digital media, and her advocacy for these goals has helped inspire a community of science communicators on Instagram. Samantha runs her own production and consulting company for sharing science on social media, and has worked with various organizations and media companies including 3M, The Canadian Space Agency, GE Canada, Seeker, TVO Kids, AsapSCIENCE, CBC, Leafs Nation Network, and CBC Radio. Get in touch or learn more at samanthayammine.com.
Robert Michael McKay, University of Windsor
From field to faucet: how activities on land affect safety and quality of our drinking water
Most of Ontario’s population relies on the Great Lakes for drinking water. Some of the more obvious issues affecting the health of the Great Lakes have been addressed, but there are continuing threats to these water sources which are so directly related to the overall health of our province.
As Director of the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, Mike will lead a discussion at this table on the links between land use and the quality of our drinking water.
Mike McKay joined the University of Windsor in January as Executive Director of the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research and Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. This move continues a career researching aquatic nutrient cycling that began at the Brookhaven National Laboratory and expanded at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. More recently, he has collaborated with the Canadian- and U.S. Coast Guard ice breaking programs to study the Great Lakes in winter. Mike received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in Biology from Queen’s University and McGill University, respectively. He held postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and with the University of Delaware, where he served concurrently at the Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, NY.
Fun fact: Mike is an avid curler!
Shelley Arnott, Queen’s University
Lake Invaders: Are exotic species taking over our waterways?
The introduction of exotic species into freshwater ecosystems is one of the most important factors changing aquatic biodiversity, but we have a limited time to predict their ecological consequences. As a Professor of Biology at Queen’s University, Shelley and her students investigate invasive species and how they affect native aquatic populations.
This table will discuss invasive species beyond zebra mussels and asian carp that are populating Ontario’s lakes.
As a Professor of Biology at Queen's University, specializing in Aquatic Ecology Shelley teaches field courses, seminars, and ecology classes to help students understand the implications of human activities and environmental change on freshwater ecosystems. Human activities change landscapes and the organisms that live there. Shelley’s lab investigates how aquatic communities respond and adapt to regional disturbance, including invasive species, calcium decline, and climate change, using a combination of field surveys, experiments, and lab studies.
John Trant, University of Windsor
Chemistry, computers and biology: Combine to solve biomedical challenges
Designer synthetic organic compounds created using computational techniques have a variety of applications in biology, immunology and medicine. John leads a group that brings together multidisciplinary strategy at the interface of chemistry, materials science and biology.
This table will dive into the fascinating world of designer organic compounds.
John’s research focuses onsustainable materials for health applications. This involves the preparation of new types of carbohydrates, peptides, amino acids, and lipids for a variety of immunological, biomedical and materials applications and allows him to combine his love of synthetic chemistry, materials science, and molecular biology. He obtained his B.Sc. and Ph.D. in from the University of Ottawa. His Ph.D. focused on the synthetic biological antifreezes, the compounds responsible for allowing fish, insects, and plants to live in sub-zero environments. At Brock University, he worked with Dr. Tomas Hudlicky as a traditional synthetic chemist, then moved to Dr. Elizabeth Gillies’ group at Western University to study materials science and polymer chemistry. John was awarded a 2017 Banting Research Foundation Grant.
Fun fact: John is also a cross country runner, licensed Sommelier and almost went into Classics.
Sheila Colla, York University
Protecting the pollinators: Conservation efforts to save bees, butterflies and native plants.
The world’s agricultural system is threatened by declining pollinator populations. Sheila’s lab at York University focuses on conserving biodiversity among pollinators through scientific research and outreach. With a focus on bumblebees, the lab has side projects on at-risk butterflies, plants and other species of bees.
This table will explore how we all have a role to play in conserving the world’s pollinators.
Sheila is a classically trained Ecologist who uses scientific principles to address real-world conservation issues. Her research has focused on the conservation of lesser understood native species such as bees, butterflies and flowering plants. As pollinators and pollination have become important issues among policymakers and the public in recent years, she works closely with environmental NGOs, landowners, academic partners and government agencies at the municipal, provincial and federal levels to implement conservation management based on the best available science. Her research considers species with large ranges across the US and Canada but also local species which are at-risk here in Ontario.
John Donahoe, Institute for Quantum Computing, University of Waterloo
Photons, Entanglement and Quantum Education: Exploring the wonders of the quantum world
Quantum mechanics provides the laws of nature for the building blocks of our world, but is also home to some of the most counter-intuitive concepts in physics. Often misunderstood, these ideas have moved away from science fiction and now form the backbone of many present and future technologies, ranging from medical imaging to entirely new ways of computing. As the Scientific Outreach Manager at the Institute for Quantum Computing, John Donohue is an expert at explaining the science behind the hype of “quantum.”
This table will disentangle entanglement and other powerful quantum concepts.
John Donohue is the Scientific Outreach Manager at the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo, where his job is to bring quantum science out of the lab, off the blackboard, and into schools and public spaces. He obtained his PhD in Physics from the University of Waterloo in 2016 with a research specialty in quantum optics, ultrafast laser physics, and entanglement.
Fun fact: John is a fan of science fiction and yo-yos!
Bilal Farooq, Assistant Professor Ryerson University
Bilal is the Founding Director of the Laboratory of Innovations in Transportation (LiTrans) and holds the Canada Research Chair in Disruptive Transportation Technologies. He received his Bachelors in Engineering from the University of Engineering and Technology and Masters in Computer Science from Lahore University of Management Sciences, both in Pakistan. He worked in software industry for several years before starting his Ph.D. in Transportation Engineering at the University of Toronto. He did his Post-Doctoral research at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland, and then worked as an Assistant Professor at Polytechnique Montréal. He holds early Researcher Awards from Quebec and Ontario.
Alison McGuigan, University of Toronto
Alison obtained her undergraduate degree in Materials Science from the University of Oxford, her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Toronto and completed post-docs at Harvard University and Stanford School of Medicine.
Dr. McGuigan is a pioneer in the field of artificial tissue design and morphogenesis engineering. Her work uniquely combines tissue engineering, computer chip fabrication methods, and developmental biology to assemble tissue systems for regenerative medicine and drug screening applications.
In recognition of her work, Dr. McGuigan has received numerous awards including a Canadian Rhodes Scholarship, the Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine Young Investigator Award, and the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS-AM) Young Investigator award. Dr. McGuigan has also been recognized for her contributions to HQP training including the Alan Blizzard Award for excellence in collaborative university teaching and learning for her work with the Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering (iLEAD). Currently she is the Erwin Edward Hart Professor of Chemical Engineering and an Associate Professor in Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry at the Institute for Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto.