BCBusiness recognizes female STEM influencers from APSC

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BCBusiness has named several members of the UBC APSC community to its list of “B.C.'s Most Influential Women 2018.” This year, the magazine is featuring women who are making a significant impact in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math).

Amiee Chan (BASc '92, PhD '00, Electrical and Computer Engineering), the president and CEO of Norsat International, a satellite telecommunications company whose clients include NATO, Boeing and Motorola, and Shanna Knights (BASc '88, MASc '93, Chemical Engineering), the research director of Ballard Power Systems, were the top BC-based female influencers in the areas of telecommunications and clean energy, respectively.

Chan and Knights are profiled in the magazine alongside a handful of other distinguished female STEM leaders, who recount their experiences of being a female in the predominantly male tech world. They also suggest ways to attract more women to STEM disciplines, such as promoting greater numbers of positive female STEM role models, creating workplace environments that are more welcoming to women, and offering meaningful STEM exposure in elementary and high school.

Among tech companies, just five per cent have a solo female founder or CEO, 53 per cent have no female executives and 73 per cent have no female directors, according to the article. 

In addition, the feature recognizes a few dozen provincial “STEM Stars,” including APSC faculty members like UBC Okanagan School of Engineering director Mina Hoorfar, who developed a marijuana breathalyzer and heads UBCO’s Advanced Thermo-Fluidic Laboratory, and APSC students and alumni like Cindy Gu, a recent MECH grad who created a bra that can monitor stress levels.

The STEM Stars with APSC connections and their BCBusiness citations are:

Karen Cheung
Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, UBC; researches biomedical and emerging micro- and nano-technologies

Alexandra Fedorova
Associate professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, UBC; recipient of 2012 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship; research focuses on computer performance, usability and energy efficiency

Cindy Gu (BAsc ’16, MECH)
Founder and CEO, Vitali Wear, Vancouver developer of a smart bra that tracks breathing, posture and heart rate variability

Mina Hoorfar
Professor and director, School of Engineering, UBC Okanagan; head of the Advanced Thermo-Fluidic Laboratory, whose research includes lab-on-chip devices and drug and disease detection; developer of breath analyzer to test for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound in cannabis

Nadja Kunz
Assistant professor, School of Public Policy and Global Affairs and Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering, UBC; research focus is mine water management and water governance in mining regions

AJung Moon (PhD student, MECH)
Founder and director, Open Roboethics Institute (ORI), Vancouver-based international think tank investigating ways that robotics technology stakeholders can collaborate to influence how robots shape the future; CEO and technology analyst, Generation R Consulting Inc, ORI division providing ethics road maps for organizations using artificial intelligence/machine learning and robotics

Julia Rubin
Assistant professor, Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering, associate faculty member, Department of Computer Science, and director, ReSeSS (Reliable, Secure and Sustainable Software) Lab, UBC; research focus is software integrity and robustness

Sheryl Staub-French
Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, and director, BIM TOPiCS (Building Information Modelling from the perspectives of Technology Organization Process in Context and across Stages) Lab, UBC; research includes virtual design and construction

Jessica Yip
Co-founder and COO, A&K Robotics (affiliated with HATCH, UBC’s tech incubator), Vancouver builder of intelligent navigation systems for light industrial work

In preparation for this feature, BCBusiness assembled and consulted a panel of "STEM luminaries" that included Elizabeth Croft, formerly a professor and senior associate dean at APSC and currently a professor and the dean of engineering at Monash University.

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