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Canadian Women in STEM

Read on to meet women working in science, technology, engineering and math. Hear their stories, find out about their career paths, struggles and successes and check out their advice.

Meet the Outbreak Management Division at the Public Health Agency of Canada

October 29, 2021

Meet the Outbreak Management Division at the Public Health Agency of Canada

The Outbreak Management Division (OMD) at the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) consists of a team of highly qualified individuals from different backgrounds that assess, detect and coordinate investigations of enteric illness outbreaks (e.g., Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria) occurring in multiple provinces and territories in Canada, or at least one province or territory and another country.

P.L.A.N.T. your career: Advice from a leader with her heart in research, finding a way to give back

October 28, 2021

P.L.A.N.T. your career: Advice from a leader with her heart in research, finding a way to give back

Dr. Joyce Boye is the Director General of the Prairie Region, Science and Technology Branch at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), and the Executive Champion of the Women in STEM network.

"It’s about the quest for knowledge, to know how things came to be and using this knowledge to create new things. It’s mind-blowing what’s possible with science, engineering and technology."

Just go for it! Advice from an Engineer bringing clean water to your cup and to the environment

October 28, 2021

Just go for it! Advice from an Engineer bringing clean water to your cup and to the environment

Erin Zoski is a Water Quality Engineer, Engineering and Environmental Services, Agriculture and Agri-food Canada (AAFC). She specializes as the Potable Water and Wastewater Aspect Lead.

"Anything in STEM is a wonderful career choice! STEM offers countless job opportunities from diverse fields of work; there is something for everyone. A career in STEM is very satisfying, interesting, and allows you to work with and meet great people. If something interests you, just go for it!"

Keep Your Options Open: Advice from an Engineer Bringing Water to Farmers

October 28, 2021

Keep Your Options Open: Advice from an Engineer Bringing Water to Farmers

Sonja Fransen, Water Management Engineer, Guelph Development and Technology Transfer Office, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC).

"What some might find surprising about engineering is that there is a mix of office work and field work; which I really enjoy. My first job as a student involved going outdoors to collect data. Even now, I’m out setting up a new edge of field study. When I have students working for me, I make sure to take them into the field so they can understand where all the data comes from for our projects."

Stick with it and get involved: Advice from a coach with strong foundations in Engineering

October 28, 2021

Stick with it and get involved: Advice from a coach with strong foundations in Engineering

Serena Ward, Regional Engineer, Engineering and Environmental Services of Corporate Management Branch for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC).

"Early in my career we were re-building a spillway on one of our dams. The older engineers said it was a great opportunity to give newer engineers a feel for the profession. We spent 4-6 weeks living at that construction site. It was really eye-opening! This experience showed me the complexity of what I could be project managing when I got to that more senior position."

Stay Curious: Advice from a Leader Who Continues to Support People

June 17, 2021

Stay Curious: Advice from a Leader Who Continues to Support People

Crista-Lynn Ferguson, Director General, Integrated Services at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)

"In my view, I have always worked in leadership and support to operations, and it is just the nature of the operation that has changed. Where before the operation was military operations or ship building and repair, and now the operation I need to support is critical scientific research. The other constant is leading and supporting people. That part of the job is a constant."

Learn Something Every Day: Advice from a Lifelong Engineer Working Behind the Scenes

June 17, 2021

Learn Something Every Day: Advice from a Lifelong Engineer Working Behind the Scenes

Karen Durnford-McIntosh, Director General, Real Property and Asset Management at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC).

"Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself and evolve through your experiences. If you learn something everyday, you’re making a difference in your own abilities, in your life, and your career. "

Christy Arseneau - Science Director, CFS-AFC

March 5, 2020

Christy Arseneau - Science Director, CFS-AFC

Christy Arseneau is Science Director, Forest Health and Biodiversity, at the Atlantic Forestry Centre in Fredericton, New Brunswick. She is originally from Dalhousie, NB, and has a Bachelor of Science in Forestry from the University of New Brunswick and a Master of Forest Conservation from the University of Toronto.

“Always trust your gut and follow your passion. A science degree can take you as far as you want it to! Don’t feel like you have to take something else ‘just because’. And, it’s OK to change your mind - it may seem huge at the time, but for me, it has worked out for the best.”

Meet those leading the way in the field of air pollution science

February 11, 2020

Meet those leading the way in the field of air pollution science

The Exposure Assessment Section of Health Canada is a multi-disciplinary research team in the field of air pollution science. Their work supports government decision-making, academic advancement, and scientific resolution of questions related to air pollution exposure in Canada. The team includes dedicated scientists with expertise in epidemiology, geography, (bio)statistics, environmental health and modeling, engineering, and toxicology.

Don’t be scared to ask questions: Advice from a scientist who tried something new

January 29, 2019

Don’t be scared to ask questions: Advice from a scientist who tried something new

Dr. Anne Smith is a research scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) at the Lethbridge Research and Development Centre, Alberta. She specializes in the use of remote sensing technology applications in agriculture.

"Don’t be scared to try something and to ask questions. If some aspect of science tweaks your interest, search out who to talk to, ask to visit them, or better yet spend a day job-shadowing. Find some aspect of science that interests you and that you enjoy."

Pursue your Passions: Advice from a Technician with her Feet on the Ground!

January 25, 2019

Pursue your Passions: Advice from a Technician with her Feet on the Ground!

Jake Freeman is a resource technician at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in Winnipeg. She is currently on assignment with the Indigenous Support and Awareness Office and is also co-chair of AAFC’s Indigenous Network Circle.

"While I studied to be a lab technician, I found that I needed to be more connected to the outdoors. When I started as a soil and water conservation technician with the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA), my attention to detail, note keeping, and lab protocols came in handy. Not being afraid of getting dirty was also an asset. "

Use Your Creativity to Make Great Choices: Advice from an Associate Director

January 25, 2019

Use Your Creativity to Make Great Choices: Advice from an Associate Director

Josée Owen is an Associate Director at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in Fredericton, New Brunswick. She has also worked as a scientist studying horticultural cropping systems.

"Now that I am the Associate Director of an Agricultural Research and Development Centre, I think people would be surprised that I don’t make decisions all day long. It’s really more about finding ways to enable people to use their own creativity, expertise, and character to make great decisions about how they will move their science forward, and how they will in turn enable their own people to make great decisions."

The Importance of a Good Skill Set: Advice from a Farm Manager

January 22, 2019

The Importance of a Good Skill Set: Advice from a Farm Manager

Jan. Holmes is a Farm Operations Manager at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

"I think my strong suits are organization, planning, and problem-solving. Those things are important in this kind of job because it’s like a moving puzzle. You have to be flexible because equipment can break down, someone can call in sick, or it starts to rain. I probably have three plans in my head at any one time."

Follow your aspirations and passions: Advice from a strategy coordinator working in integrated pest management

January 22, 2019

Follow your aspirations and passions: Advice from a strategy coordinator working in integrated pest management

Dr. Cezarina Kora is a Senior Strategy Coordinator with the Pesticide Risk Reduction team of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) Pest Management Centre in Ottawa. She specializes in integrated pest management and strategic stakeholder engagement to enable sustainable agriculture.

"Follow your aspirations and passions, explore your desire to study natural phenomena, and protect life on earth – this science field is full of interesting surprises and great challenges, and can also lead to rewarding discoveries and exciting innovations!"

Reaching for the Stars: Advice from a Scientist in Satellite Research

November 16, 2018

Reaching for the Stars: Advice from a Scientist in Satellite Research

Dr. Heather McNairn is a top research scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AFFC) Ottawa Research and Development Centre. She specializes in Earth observation research, which involves using satellite data in agriculture.

"Work hard and follow your passion. I tell my kids: just relax. Don’t worry too much about your career, because if you have a passion, and you work hard, the doors will open for you. And sometimes they will open in ways you didn’t expect."

Lisa Fernando, High Containment Laboratory Manager

May 1, 2018

Lisa Fernando, High Containment Laboratory Manager

Lisa Fernando works at the Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Lisa has a Bachelor of Science degree (Hons) in Biology from the University of Winnipeg, and a Master's of Science in Medical Microbiology from the University of Manitoba.

Lisa pursued a career in the Level 4 lab because during her Master's research she was surrounded by a team who did high containment work. Mentors encouraged her to go beyond her comfort zone and gave her opportunities they knew she would excel at, even when she didn't see it. Now, she does the same for women in her program that may need encouragement and support.

Laura Douglas, Engineering and HVAC Manager at Canada’s Level 4 Labs

April 11, 2018

Laura Douglas

Laura Douglas is the Controls System Engineer and Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Manager at the Canadian Science Centre for Human and Animal Health (CSCHAH) in Winnipeg, MB. Her team is responsible for the building systems that keep the lab safe, and secure, while making sure research operations don’t miss a beat.

“Currently less than 13% of practicing engineers are female… it’s really important for young women to see their value in how they can contribute to a better world – starting with the ability to engineer the way we live.” Laura actively promotes the 30 by 30 campaign which is an initiative led by Engineers Canada to increase the percentage of newly female licensed engineers to 30% by 2030.

The Joys and Challenges of Scientific Field Research

March 2, 2018

Jill Rajewicz

Jill Rajewicz currently works as a Physical Scientist for the Canadian Ice Service in Ottawa. Passionate about polar research, she sits on the board Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS) Canada chapter. In her free time, she loves to cross-country ski, mountain bike, and read.

"Being immersed in the world and observing processes and patterns with your own eyes encourages curiosity and spurs you to ask new questions and devise new ways to investigate problems. I have been fortunate to see places in the High Arctic that very few other people will have the chance to visit."

Gabrielle Gascon, Physical Sciences Specialist, Environment and Climate Change Canada

March 2, 2018

Gabrielle Gascon

Gabrielle Gascon is a Physical Sciences Specialist at Environment and Climate Change Canada. She bikes to work almost every day. In her spare time, Gabrielle enjoys cooking, hiking, skiing, and taking care of her garden.

"As long as I can remember, I showed interest in weather, from finding shapes in small cumulus clouds to playing outside in a snowstorm. Wanting to know more about the atmosphere, I enrolled in McGill University, with a specialization in meteorology and oceanography."


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