Dr. Roberta Bondar STEM Career Development Program

Dr Roberta Bondar

The Dr. Roberta Bondar STEM Career Development Program is an opportunity for women, nonbinary people, and gender diverse people working in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) to network with industry leaders and peers to  get a behind-the-scenes look at the science and tech industries in Canada. 

Support and lack of developing a professional network are often cited as barriers for women, nonbinary people, and gender diverse people entering and remaining in STEM careers. Participants of the Dr. Roberta Bondar Career Development Program benefit from developing strong relationships with like-minded participants and leaders working in traditionally male-dominated fields.

The program allows participants to expand their knowledge of public, private and academic sectors, gain new perspectives and have direct access to leaders in the public and private sectors.

What is it?

This is a career development program that aims to inspire participants to move forward in STEM fields, and to eventually transition into scientific and management leadership in the Canadian STEM domain. 

For a year, a group of 12 participants, five from the public sector, five from the private sector, and two from academia, participate in bi-monthly (twice a month) virtual sessions to expand their knowledge of public, private and academic sectors, and connect with leaders in government and private organizations. This program is co-created and participant driven to aim to ensure maximum effectiveness of participation.

who Can apply?

This program is open to those who identify as women, nonbinary people and gender diverse people who have entered a STEM (Science Technology Engineering or Math) position for the first time in the last five years or re-entered after a recent period of absence upwards of three years. Those working in both the private and public sectors and academia are encouraged to apply as cross-sector collaboration and exchange increases the value of the program. We encourage applicants from the LGBTQ2+ and BIPOC communities to apply.

Unsure whether you qualify? Email info@wct-fct.com for more information.

How to apply

Applications for 2021 are now closed.

Program expectations

Participants are expected to work collaboratively towards expanding networks and meeting program objectives. Successful participants will be expected to attend bi-monthly sessions, including panels, workshops and group discussions. The estimated time commitment for the program on a monthly basis is generally about six hours (two sessions of two hours in length, plus preparation and planning for the sessions). As this program is collaborative, session attendance impacts the experience of the cohort as a whole. Participants are expected to attend at least 80% of total sessions over the course of the year to facilitate a successful group experience.  

Following completion of the program, participants must work together on a written debrief to be submitted to WCT. The written debrief is to be used to help future cohorts of the program establish their program and meetings.

Terms and Conditions
  1. This program is open to those who identify as women, nonbinary people and gender diverse people.
  2. You must be hired into your first STEM position within the last five years or have re-entered in a science and technology position after a period of absence upwards of three years.
  3. You must make individual arrangements and seek approval from your employer for salary, benefits and leave of absence, if required.
  4. If selected, you must participate in the current year's program and cannot defer your acceptance to another date.
  5. All participants must be a WCT member. If you are not already a member, you are encouraged to apply to the program without purchasing a membership. Successful participants will need to purchase a membership upon acceptance to the program. Reduced membership rates are available for participants. 

Prospective applicants can view the Dr. Roberta Bondar STEM Career Development Program Privacy Policy here.

The Dr. Roberta Bondar STEM Career Development Program is sponsored by:

Aiysha Lalva, Stantec Consulting Ltd., Environmental Site Assessor

Aiysha Lalva is an Environmental Scientist who works with contaminated sites, supporting public and private sector clients in reaching their regulatory or organizational compliance goals. For Aiysha, working in environmental consulting provides an opportunity to resolve varying and complex problems relating to groundwater, soil and air. She is an avid reader who enjoys both fiction and non-fiction, loves travelling and spending time outdoors. She also enjoys playing boardgames with her family and friends. 

Aparna Mathur, Shared Services Canada, Project Officer 

Aparna Mathur is a Project Officer with Cloud Product Management and Services Directorate at SSC. She has a Masters in Business Administration (PGDBM) with dual specialization in HRM & CRM, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce. She has Certified ScrumMaster® designation through ScrumAlliance®. Passionate for continuous learning, she is acquiring new skills in the IT domain as she transitions from an HR background into a STEM career. She feels strongly about giving back to the community and volunteered with several newcomer organizations such as Immigrant Women Services Ottawa, World Skills Employment Center, and Vitesse Re-skilling.

Arlin Otto, Tacoma Engineers, Structural Designer

Arlin is a structural designer at Tacoma Engineers and a part-time graduate student at the University of Waterloo. Her structural engineering work focuses primarily on the restoration, adaptation, and rehabilitation of existing buildings (heritage engineering).  She volunteers her time with many heritage organizations, such as her local municipal heritage committee (Heritage Guelph), the Association for Preservation Technology (APT) Preservation Engineering Technical Committee (PETC) and the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO). She aspires to make structural engineering and construction a safer and more inclusive space for womxn. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, camping, rock climbing and cooking!

Beth Tompkins, Health Canada, Scientific Evaluator

Beth is a microbiologist and regulatory affairs specialist originally from Nova Scotia. She holds a MSc. in food science, with a concentration in microbiology and food safety. Beginning her career as a regulatory affairs advisor, Beth used her academic background to ensure food products were safe and compliant. She is now a Scientific Evaluator at Health Canada’s Bureau of Microbial Hazards, contributing to the safety of Canadians through her work related to microbial contaminants in food. Beth's interest in biology and food science extend to her home life, where she keeps many houseplants, and spends time creating new recipes.

Briar Hunter, Laurentian University, Masters Student, Herpetologist 

Briar Hunter is an MSc in Biology student at Laurentian University, partnering with the Toronto Zoo, Vancouver Aquarium and Greater Vancouver Zoo through NSERC’s ReNewZoo program. She seeks to improve captive breeding programs for the endangered Oregon Spotted Frog while promoting the role of zoos in conservation science. After 10 years in FIRST Robotics, Briar landed in wildlife conservation; stalking frogs through swamps, diving after turtles and handling venomous rattlesnakes. Briar seizes every opportunity to share her passion for wildlife – with family, strangers, and classrooms. When not exploring nature, you are sure to find Briar telling endless stories about it.

Brittani Holder, University of Toronto, Security Analyst

Brittani Holder is a Security Analyst at the University of Toronto. Brittani works to protect the UofT community from cybersecurity related events. She received her Honours Bachelor of Science degree from UofT as well, with studies in Mathematics, Statistics and Philosophy. During her undergraduate degree, she served as a mentor to first-year students and was appointed as the IT Director of WomINclusive, a networking and discussion platform for visible minority women. Brittani enjoys engaging in collaborative and problem-solving discussions on cybersecurity, and hopes to make end users more aware of how one’s online activity impacts their data security and privacy. 

Dhwani Trivedi, Correctional Service Canada, Programmer/Analyst 

Dhwani's love and passion for numbers, patterns, algorithms, and data motivated her to pursue a Bachelor in Computer Engineering, followed by a Masters in Computer Science. She worked in several industries as a Software Engineer in Silicon Valley to solve engineering problems. Later in her career, she decided to combine science with arts by pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Firmly believing, arts as the shaper of next-generation innovation, she applies her artistic and engineering skills to design next-generation software applications for Correctional Service Canada. She is a lifelong learner who enjoys mentoring and instilling STEM love in young minds.

Jocelyn Pender, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Biodiversity Data Manager

Jocelyn Pender is a biodiversity data manager at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). She believes in the power of data to address the biodiversity loss crisis. At AAFC, she spearheads data science training to empower researchers to leverage data in their work. Additionally, she develops online tools for scientists to access biodiversity data and demonstrates how data can be used to generate new information and knowledge. Jocelyn is a proud member of the Girl Guides of Canada community and she is a leader of a local Girl Guides unit. Additionally, she is an avid swimmer, cyclist and podcast enthusiast.

Linqiao Xia, Verafin, Computer Engineer 

Linqiao Xia works remotely for Verafin, a Newfoundland-based FinTech company that provides solutions to fight financial crimes. Linqiao is currently in the Anti-Money Laundering analytics team. She does data mining and data analytics to better understand the patterns of financial crimes. She earned a computer engineering degree from Memorial University of Newfoundland. While Linqiao currently lives in Ottawa, she is very proud of her strong ties to Newfoundland. In her spare time, she likes participating in tech meetups, reading, meeting people from different backgrounds, and discussing current affairs with friends.

Madalena Spencer, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, Fuel Scientist

Madalena completed her Ph.D. in Chemistry at The University of Western Ontario (2019) where she also received her Bachelor of Science (2014). Her graduate research on the application of synchrotron radiation techniques to the examination of daguerreotypes (19th century photographs) led her to complete a fellowship at the Canadian Photography Institute (CPI) at the National Gallery of Canada in 2017. During her tenure at the CPI, Madalena presented the technical research she undertook on the CPI’s collection of daguerreotypes in a Meet the Experts Lecture held at the gallery. She joined Canadian Nuclear Laboratories as a Fuel Scientist in 2019.

Makaila Jones, National Defence, Technological Support 

Makaila Jones is currently completing her Bachelor of Engineering in Architectural Conservation and Sustainability at Carleton University. She has also retained two and half years of public service experience working for Health Canada’s data science section, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office’s electrical engineering section, and the National Defence’s satellite communications section. Makaila intends to continue her career in the public sector with hopes of implementing sustainability programs. As a member of the Sto:lo Nation, Makaila strives to be an example for young Indigenous women and hopes to encourage more to follow a career in STEM. Her other passion is softball.

Marisa Kohut

Marisa is a Clinical Solutions Specialist at 7D Surgical and is actively pursing her P.Eng application and  hopes to become a certified Clinical Engineer. At 7D, she supports the clinical team by building  educational material to train new and existing team members on the latest developments. In addition,  she manages clinical data from the field and builds tools to make data collection more efficient. In the  field, Marisa supports surgeons using 7D’s image guided surgery system by training surgeons on the safe  and proper use of the system. Alongside supporting surgeons, Marisa takes what she learns in the field  and provides the feedback to the development team and to improve the educational material. Her  mindset for improvement is incorporated in her personal life as she enjoys reading books on personal  development and testing out new pastries and desserts to satisfy her sweet tooth.

Meagan Betts, National Defence, Field Technician

Meagan is an environmental field technician with the 5th Canadian Division Support Base in New Brunswick where she collaborates with external government departments and academia to restore severely degraded landscapes. Meagan holds a Bachelor of Science in Environment and Natural Resource Management from the University of New Brunswick, where is currently a Master of Science in Forestry candidate. Meagan has worked with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Natural Resources Canada, and the Department of National Defence. Currently, Meagan is investigating phytoremediation techniques for barren military soils using early successional forest species to restore soil conditions and ecological function. 

Megan Smith, Axem Neurotechnology Inc., Mechanical Lead

Megan Smith is a Biomedical Engineer working towards her Professional Engineering License. Earning her BEng from the University of Guelph, she specializes in designing diagnostic and imaging modalities. With professional experiences spanning academia, industry, non-profit and international organizations, she is currently the Mechanical Lead at Axem Neurotechnology, a medical device start-up developing technology to monitor brain function during at-home stroke rehabilitation. Megan is an accomplished landscape painter and usually spends the weekends skiing, paddling, hiking, or otherwise basking in the scenery that inspires her art.  She also enjoys lending her hands to her community through first response and hospice.

Monica Granados, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Policy Advisor

While pursing her PhD, Dr. Monica Granados discovered that incentives in scholarship promote practices that make knowledge less accessible. This inspired her to devote her career to working in the open science space in pursuit of making knowledge more equitable and accessible. As an Open Science and Data Policy Advisor at Environment and Climate Change Canada Monica delivers and supports open science initiatives. Monica is also a member of the Leadership Team at PREreview, the Board of Directors of the Canadian Open Data Society and she develops improv workshops for scientists to improve their science communication.

Olivia Dayaram, Rogers Communications, Salesforce Application Developer

Olivia Dayaram is Salesforce Developer at Rogers Communications. From a young age she fell in love with computer games which prompted her to enroll in Sheridan College’s Software Development and Network Engineering Co-op program. Recognizing the lack of gender diversity in STEM, she actively supports women by volunteering at RISE For Women at Rogers, mentoring young women joining Rogers and participating in events such as Ellehacks. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, puzzles and researching Green initiatives.

Regina Coeli Tolentino, Transport Canada, Business Management Officer, Regional Business Management Division, Civil Aviation 

Regina Coeli Tolentino obtained her Honours degree in Behavioural Neuroscience, Minor in Multidisciplinary Studies in Science from Concordia University. As a Science College member, her research integrated neuroscience with other STEM fields such as physics and medicine, thus earning her the Raya Aralihalli award for studies in Behavioural Neurobiology. Identifying with its mandate, she worked in a lab that studied longitudinal risk and health outcomes in inner-city children from disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Regina began her public service career as a student and has since worked for various federal departments. She takes pride in her Filipino roots and enjoys reading and kickboxing.

Sammia Abrar, IBM Canada Ltd., Associate Chief Technology Officer Solution Architect at Office of the Chief Technology Officer, GTS Canada

Sammia Abrar has always been passionate about helping others and creating a positive impact − this continues to be her driving force. Sammia is an Associate CTO Solution Architect at IBM Canada where she is helping optimize processes and teams, innovating technical and difficult concepts into solutions, and working on projects that can quite literally change the world! With a background in Computer Science, Software Engineering, and Human-Computer Interaction, Sammia was able to explore diverse roles in the energy sector, development, consulting, and volunteerism. On the side, Sammia enjoys hiking, travelling, and spending quality time with her family and friends.

Sana Abou-Shaaban, Canada Border Services Agency, IT Project Manager

Sana Abou-Shaaban, a licensed Professional Engineer and Certified Professional ScrumMaster, works for the Government of Canada as an IT Project Manager.  She continuously promotes diversity and inclusion for Women in Tech through her work, public speaking engagements, and many volunteer roles.
Over the years, Sana has been on the boards of many engineering and IT not-for-profit organizations, both locally and internationally, where she has been recognized for her initiatives and for her passion in making a difference. In 2019, Sana was shortlisted for the Women in IT Awards Series in the category of Advocate of the Year, and in 2020, she was nominated for the Outstanding Volunteer Award in the IEEE Ottawa Section.
Sana holds a B.A.Sc. in Biomedical & Electrical Engineering (Computer Systems) from Carleton University, and has worked as an engineer and a project manager in the private and public sectors.
Sana is the co-founder of the first Women in Tech/IT network at the Canada Border Services Agency, the past Treasurer of the IEEE Ottawa Section, and currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the Professional Engineers of Ontario’s Ottawa Chapter, and the Secretary for the North America Board of the IEEE Communications Society.

Tammy Xuan Bui, McGill University, MSc. Public Health and Canadian Institutes of Health Research Graduate Scholar 

Tammy Bui is a MSc. Public Health graduate from McGill. She conducted her BSc. at the University of Ottawa in Biomedical Sciences, which ignited her passion for dementia research. Dementia is a public health problem and Tammy aspires to be at the forefront of dementia and gerontological health research. Tammy’s interests are focused on the intersection between dementia, healthcare, and policy. Beyond academia, Tammy connects with students through her role as Vice-President of her graduate caucus, demonstrates leadership through the inauguration of the McGill Diabetes Canada Chapter, and engages youth in STEM through science outreach with Let’s Talk Science Canada.

Weiyun Lin, Memorial University, Program Coordinator, NSERC PEOPLE CREATE Program

Dr. Weiyun Lin is a Program Coordinator of PEOPLE Network, a Pan-Canadian research and training network on Persistent, Emerging, and Organic Pollution in the Environment, led by Memorial University. Her background on Environmental Engineering and passion on student service work and professional training have led her to the current role, where she interacts with academia, industry, government, and NGO collaborators in Canada and beyond to support graduate student training. Outside of work, she loves photography and keeping a journal in Hobonichi planner.