Co – Director, Innovator Recruitment
I am an MD/MSc student studying neuroscience in the joint Leaders in Medicine trainee program at the University of Calgary Cummings School of Medicine. I currently work with Dr. Sarah McFarlane where I research the role of extrinsic signaling molecules in regulating the function of a unique stem cell niche in the zebrafish retina. As a previous Neuro Nexus innovator in 2019, I am extremely excited to be part of the engagement team this year. Having been involved in neuroscience research throughout my undergraduate career, I noticed a lack of focus on interdisciplinary collaboration between fields of study. Neuro Nexus is an amazing opportunity to begin building cross-disciplinary bridges to solve problems and challenges that any one group of people cannot do on their own. I hope that by partaking in Neuro Nexus, future innovators see the importance and value in working with diverse teams and learn skill sets from fields they otherwise may not have been exposed to. In my role of Innovator Recruitment, I am hoping to use my own experiences as an innovator to encourage individuals who might not have signed up for a program such as this out of fears of being inadequate, to recognize that everyone has diverse skill sets that they can provide to any team they are apart of.
We must make the best of those ills which cannot be avoided.
- Alexander Hamilton
Co-Director, Innovator Recruitment
I am a MSc candidate in Kinesiology at the University of Calgary in Dr. David Montero Barrill’s lab. I am studying how to optimize cardiorespiratory health through investigating the importance of blood volume on sex and age-related differences in aerobic capacity. Neuro Nexus is an incredible program because it accelerates innovation within neuroscience and mental health using a multidisciplinary approach. Utilizing different skills sets within a team to provide a solution to a real-world problem is what makes Neuro Nexus unique and impactful. In my role with Neuro Nexus, I want to advocate for health innovation within the community and spread awareness of this opportunity to innovators. I bring to the Neuro Nexus team previous experience as an innovator and as a project assistant with a research and evaluation team within Alberta Health Services. Together, these experiences provide me with some understanding of the translation of health innovation at varying levels.
Innovation is often the hidden thing, because we can't put numbers to it. And yet it's the thing that defines the way we live, the things we'd like to have for everyone whether it's health or education.
- Bill Gates
I am a postdoctoral fellow in Pediatrics and Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Calgary. I’ve got a PhD in Biomedical Engineering and have a passion for entrepreneurial thinking to better serve public health care needs. So many exciting technologies have been recently evolving and I cannot wait to see how 3d printing, virtual reality, precision medicine approaches and more affect neuroscience along with health care and mental health. Neuro Nexus is an excellent space for anyone to explore these new technologies, gain new skills and spark an excitement for innovation. I’m working to bring a broad array of workshops and clinics to Neuro Nexus participants so that everyone leaves the competition with new skills.
I am currently an MBA candidate at Haskayne School of Business at University of Calgary. I also completed an undergraduate in Commerce: International Business Concentration (Honours) at Sprott School of Business at Carleton University. I have held several leadership roles in other initiatives such as Interim Director of Developing Future Leaders Program. Furthermore, I have had the opportunity to start and manage a couple of local start-ups. I bring a business perspective, a strong work ethic, and in depth strategy development for all functions of this initiative. Neuro Nexus is an incredible opportunity for all stakeholders involved, especially for the innovators who are encouraged to step outside their comfort zones, learn new skills, network, and potentially make a real impact in healthcare. Regardless of the success of their solutions, this program creates better thinkers, problem solvers, and ultimately better professionals that can utilize this experience to improve themselves and the world around them.
We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.
- Kurt Vonnegut
Director, Edmonton Strategy
I hold a BSc in Psych and a Certificate in Research, I am now working towards an after degree in Fine Arts and Design, focusing on Industrial Design and Computing Science. I work as a Web Developer, Research Product Designer, and as a Clinical and Basic Research Consultant. Over the past several years I have worked diligently on the local stage to forge an Edmonton community around biotech & neurotech that spans academia, medicine, and industry. I see NeuroNexus as a driving force that has the potential to put Edmonton on the map as a hotspot for neurotech innovation! Within my role as Co-Director of the newly formed Edmonton node, my day-to-day involves recruiting both participants and experts, leading a team of volunteers, and forging lasting connections all across campus and greater Edmonton.
What is now proved was once only imagined.
- William Blake
Director, Industry Engagement
I graduated from the University of Calgary in Biomedical Engineering in 2019, and I believe that hackathons and engineering competitions were the best part of my education, including Innovation 4 Health in 2019. After a summer at the Seaman Family MR Research Centre, and an internship at Synaptive Medical, I tried my hand at entrepreneurship with my capstone team, as we raised pre-seed capital and went through a startup accelerator in Atlanta. In 2020, I decided on a more traditional career path, and joined IBM Watson Health Imaging as a software engineer.
I am an MSc Candidate in the Neuroscience Graduate Program at the University of Calgary, in Dr. Deborah Kurrasch’s lab, where I use live-cell imaging to explore how the microbiome can modulate the brain’s immune cells known as microglia. As a researcher myself, I've experienced first-hand the power of leveraging rapid prototyping at the bench, as well as the challenges of translating neuroscience knowledge to clinical impact. Neuro Nexus is much more than just a hackathon: it's simultaneously one of the highest forms of experiential learning a student can receive, while enabling the brain and mental health innovation and collaboration critical for ultimately improving patient outcomes. Having previously founded the Rapid Prototyping Symposium in 2018, served as Executive Director for Innovation 4 Health 2019, and Vice President/Treasurer of HBITO, I bring my unique experiences to shape our team's strategy and set bold goals focused on massive impact and program growth.
Senior Co-Director, Engagement
I am currently a MSc student in Neuroscience at the University of Calgary in Dr. Keith Sharkey’s lab where I am studying the enteric nervous system. I first became involved with Neuro Nexus in the fall of 2019 and was instantly captivated by the program’s ability to bring together individuals from diverse backgrounds to work towards a common final goal. Neuro Nexus is a unique and exciting opportunity to make a real-world impact and I look forward to engaging with students, researchers, clinicians and community members to help bring this program to life.
Co-Director, Community Engagement
I am a PhD candidate in the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute at the University of Alberta studying respiratory physiology in Dr. Pagliardini’s lab. I am a new member to the Neuro Nexus team and was instantly captivated by the potential of the student run initiative. Translational medicine suggests that it takes a couple of decades to get research from the bench to the bedside but I truthfully believe that competitions like Neuro Nexus ignite that fire and provide the platform for multidisciplinary talent to catalyze innovation for patient benefit. I am a firm believer that the synergy of multidisciplinary talent and innovation is the means to advancing patient care. Having built a strong network in Edmonton and several organizational experiences as the VP Social for the Neuroscience Graduate Students Association at the U of A, I hope to be strong pillar in establishing Neuro Nexus in Edmonton in my role as Director of Community Engagement.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
- Marianne Willamson
Senior Co-Director, Engagement
I’m a Physics student at the University of Calgary, with research focusing on using machine learning techniques to improve external beam radiation therapies. I’ve also completed an internship with the Medventions YYC program; implementing the Stanford BioDesign process to find commercialization opportunities in healthcare. I’ve also had the opportunity to be a part of the Platform Calgary Start-up Summer Incubator cohort, and Cybera’s Data Science Fellowship. As a former Innovator, Volunteer, and Director in the health hack competitions, I can safely say Neuro Nexus is a unique event which allows students to develop skills and network beyond what may be available in their degree. I’m more than glad to help coordinate and showcase their hard work to Alberta’s growing neurotech ecosystem with all the fanfare and continuity it deserves.
Understanding an idea meant entangling it so thoroughly with all the other symbols in your mind that it changed the way you thought about everything.
- Greg Egan
I’m a PhD candidate in the Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program at the University of Calgary, in the labs of Dr. Kartikeya Murari and Dr. Jaideep Bains, where I’m leveraging my background in electrical engineering to develop computational approaches to understanding the neurobiology of defensive behaviors in ancient neural circuits. I see enormous potential for a vibrant neurotechnology ecosystem here in Alberta. Bringing together cutting-edge research and the province’s best talent will help get us there. I am committed to driving excellence in our program’s ability to test and incubate great ideas, deliver high-quality, hands-on educational experiences to participants, and deepen the relationships that allow our community to make maximal impact. As a co-founder of Innovation 4 Health, NN2020 is the 7th multidisciplinary competitive design program I’ll have helped organize or lead in Calgary. I bring a passion for building partnerships and communities as well as strong operational knowledge to the team.
What I cannot create I do not understand.
- Richard Feynman
Senior Director, Brand Development
I am a recent graduate of the Neuroscience MSc program at the University of Calgary. Having competed in the 2018 I4H Health Hack competition, I knew that I wanted to get involved and help bridge multidisciplinary divides. I have been involved with Neuro Nexus since its inception and with the 2019 I4H Health Hack Competition, helping to shape the brands to garner recognition in the ecosystem. Neuro Nexus to me is a catalyst for neurotechnology in Alberta, and is a key player in diversifying our economy. I have seen first hand the power and impact that bringing together people across disciplines can have, and I want to foster that collaboration throughout my career. There is so much potential waiting to be unleashed, and Neuro Nexus is the program to do it.
If you are working on something that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.
– Steve Jobs
Director, Lethbridge Strategy
I am a recent graduate of the University of Lethbridge Bachelor of Nursing program and new Registered Nurse. During my time at the U of L, I was the Vice-President of the Nursing Students Association and a varsity track and field athlete. I am currently serving as a Nursing Officer in the Canadian Army. My previous experience includes working closely with active duty military members and veterans, where I have witnessed challenges ranging from traumatic brain injury, to issues within mental health. I hope to leverage my connections within my clinical work at the Chinook Regional Hospital and University of Alberta Hospital, as well as the Canadian Armed Forces to bring various challenges from a clinical and military background. I see Neuro Nexus as an excellent opportunity for undergraduate students to work in a multidisciplinary team to address clinical and industrial issues in brain health and neuroscience, while also gaining the opportunity to view these issues in a new perspective offered by their peers. I would hope that this spurs inspiration and great developments within neuroscience that have the opportunity to create tangible change in healthcare.
Senior Director, Programming
I am currently pursuing an MSc in Neuroscience at the University of Calgary. I study pediatric traumatic brain injury in Dr. Michael Esser’s lab at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. I have been part of the organizing team for Innovation 4 Health and Neuro Nexus competitions since 2018. I have continued to be involved because I love the ever-growing community that I4H and Neuro Nexus have started. The vibrant energy that comes from excited, innovative minds eager to tackle relevant health-related issues is inspiring. This year, I hope to help create a dynamic program that promotes continued curiosity and drive.
Co-Director, Challenge Recruitment
I am currently a PhD candidate at the University of Calgary, researching risk and protective factors for brain development in preschool kids such as breastfeeding and prenatal alcohol exposure. I also work as a behavior interventionist with children/adolescents with developmental disabilities, implementing language, motor, cognitive, and behavior therapies. This interdisciplinary foundation in neurodevelopment allows me to leverage neuroimaging as a tool to understand the brain while also appreciating the experiences of youth and families. I strongly value knowledge translation and mobilization between disciplines, and I continuously strive for each of my roles as a graduate student and an interventionist to inform each other. This motivated my interest in Neuro Nexus, which capitalizes on integrative thinking between siloed groups to create truly sustainable solutions. In my role as co-director, I am excited to work alongside a talented executive team to recruit intriguing challenges about brain and mental health in Alberta.
Director, Awards And Judging
I like technology that lets you live better and do more, and I love learning. So I got a BSc. in mechanical engineering, an MSc. in biomedical engineering, and now I’ve worked developing software for several innovative companies. Having been participating in and organizing design competitions and hack-a-thons for over a decade, I have a lot of experience seeing projects be taken from ideas to implementations. I’m bringing that experience to design a judging and awards program for Neuro Nexus 2020 that will fairly and usefully motivate, support and evaluate the participating teams. Neuro Nexus is a great learning and experiential growth opportunity. I want to help the innovators learn as much as they can in a truly lasting and impactful way. And if that learning process enables the development of meaningful solutions to real-world problems? That’s a big win-win result for the whole innovation community, and I’m super excited to help make that happen!
The Brain—is wider than the Sky—
For—put them side by side—
The one the other will contain
With ease—and you—beside—
- Emily Dickinson
Co-Director, Community Engagement
I am currently an MSc Candidate in Neuroscience at the University of Calgary, working in Dr. Signe Bray’s lab at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. My research is focused on understanding individual brain network differences and brain organization variations in children. Combining my technical skills as a Chemical Engineer, my years of non-for-profit work experience, and my current passion for studying the human brain, I am able to fully immerse myself in this year’s Neuro Nexus competition. My goal is for Neuro Nexus to foster long lasting relationships between our teams of neuroscience and mental health innovators, non-for-profit organizations, and our Calgary community. My drive to contribute to Neuro Nexus comes from understanding how critical it is to provide a sense of community and continued support to our innovator teams. This will allow our competition to make a real impact and produce concrete solutions to issues being faced in our society. My role for Neuro Nexus 2020 is aimed at bridging the gap between community partners and innovators. Through the recruitment of mentors, business professionals, and technical experts, teams formed through Neuro Nexus will be able to reach even greater heights.
Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.
- Marie Curie
Co-Director, Challenge Recruitment
I’m a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Calgary who obtained her PhD in Clinical Neuroscience from UCL’s Institute of Neurology, UK. As a postdoctoral fellow in the Child and Adolescence Imaging Research (CAIR) program, I am using neuroimaging to investigate typical and atypical development of touch perception in young children aged 3-6 years and its influence on behavior. I am also passionate about knowledge translation and mobilization between disciplines and to the public, with hands-on experience in developing and leading science workshops for school students as well as coordinating the implementation of public educational initiatives with the Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research and Education. Having seen the impact of these knowledge translation initiatives motivated me to join Neuro Nexus which promotes inter-disciplinary collaboration to solve complex challenges in brain science and mental health - the two fields I am passionate about. As co-director, I am excited to work alongside a talented team to recruit intriguing and possibly life-changing challenges for brain and mental health.
Never give up on a dream just because of the time it takes to accomplish it. The time will pass anyways.
- Earl Nightingale
Experiential Learning Consultant
I am a PhD student in the Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program at the University of Calgary in Dr. Colin Dalton’s lab where my research focuses on microneedle development for painless drug delivery. Here I use my unique background in electronics development, microfabrication, and biomedical engineering to create innovative technologies, pushing the limits of biotechnology in Alberta and Canada. I strive to improve educational opportunities for students of all levels and ages, teaching several courses and workshops aimed at building technical and soft skills to promote interdisciplinary cooperation and collaboration. As a previous volunteer, director, and team lead for every i4h and neuronexus to date, and a co-organizer for the Alberta Biomedical Engineering Conference for the last two years, I continue to push our trainees, researchers, and innovators to new heights in the health sciences.
The most damaging phrase in the language is ‘We’ve always done it this way’.
– Grace Hopper
I’m a graduate of the University of Calgary’s Master in Biomedical Technology program and am further pursuing my interests in Innovation and Entrepreneurship through the Haskayne PhD program. Neuro Nexus is the chance to get involved in innovation that I wish I had known about earlier in my student career: it is an opportunity to gain a tremendous amount of experience, as well as personal and professional growth. The talent in Alberta is extensive and we’re primed to bring significant positive change to the health community. Through encouraging experience and training skills for participants through the program, I believe we can contribute to the success of our community. As a previous participant and, later, an organizer of Innovation 4 Health’s Health Hack Competition, I’m bringing along a dual perspective and an adaptable approach to my work for Neuro Nexus 2020.
Sometimes glass glitters more than diamonds because it has more to prove.
- Terry Pratchett