Meet geekStarter's 2017-2018 Mentors

In the picture above, mentors Erin Kelly and David Lloyd work with students at geekStarter’s start-up workshop on December 2nd, 2017

Mentors add tremendous value to the geekStarter high-school program, and our 2017-18 teams are lucky to work with an amazing group of mentors. Let us introduce them.

Dr. Aydan Salman-Dilgimen completed her PhD in the Division of Biology, Chemistry, and Pharmacy at Freie University, Germany in 2008.  In 2014, she completed her postdoctoral training under the direction of Dr. George Chaconas in the Bacterial Pathogenesis Group at the University of Calgary and further worked 4 years as a Research Associate in Chaconas Lab. She is currently Adjunct Assistant Professor at St. Mary’s University and also Lecturer in the Department of General Education at Mount Royal University.

Chris is currently a graduate student in Biochemistry at the University of Lethbridge having completed his B.Sc. Biology in 2017. The focus of his research is understanding common pathways in cancer and dementia. He has participated in iGEM both as a high school student, and as a collegiate team member since 2012. In addition, he has been involved in Youth Technopreneurship, AGILITY, the Chinook Entrepreneur Challenge, and has spoken at the United Nations Biological Weapons Convention as an iGEM Delegate.

David received his MSc in Biology from the University of Calgary and is the CEO of FREDsense, a synthetic biology startup building water sensors for contaminants. David has been a research technician, a project manager and an avid iGEMer competing as a student, advisor and a judge for five years.

Dennis received his BHSc in Biomedical Science from the University of Calgary in 2017. His iGEM experience began in 2014 with the University of Calgary iGEM team. Their project consisted of designing a cost-effective blood test for tropical diseases common to Africa. He has been a geekStarter mentor for the past three seasons, working with Ted Harrison School, Central Memorial and Our Lady of the Snows.

Emily has a degree in biomedical sciences from the University of Calgary. During her program, Emily was heavily involved in the university’s iGEM team. An avid public speaker, Emily has won several awards for her presentations and has been named a top 30 under 30 in Canada last year by both Corporate Knight’s and the Bay Street Bull. Currently Emily is the president of FREDsense Technologies.

Erin is pursuing her MSc in RNA Biochemistry at the University of Lethbridge. She worked with the Lethbridge High School iGEM team in 2012 – 2013 and 2017, transitioning from student to instructor. In 2015, she worked at the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, characterizing yeast strains that produce jet fuel additives.

Himika was part of iGEM Calgary in 2009, 2012 and 2013 as team member & team leader. She also mentored high schools in 2014. Himika finished her MSc in Microbiology, immunology and infectious diseases in 2016 and has extensive experience in cloning, cell biology, virology, immunology, including with troubleshooting experiments, designing posters and presentations. She looks forward to mentoring again.

Kaj is a Mechanical Engineering graduate working in Oil and Gas as a Project Engineer (EIT) on a varied scope of equipment and projects. In addition to previously mentoring with First Robotics he likes to play sports, spend time in the mountains and has far too many hobbies.

Lisa obtained her M.Sc. (2016) focusing on microbial hydrocarbon remediation. She is a co-founder & head of biological development at FREDsense, building biosensors for water chemistry analysis. She has experience with operon design, protein expression & engineering, alternative microbial chassis, anaerobic & environmental microbiology, genomic analysis, presentations, and poster design, and has been involved in iGEM (2012-present) as a team member, leader & mentor.

Rachelle has been involved with iGEM Calgary as both a team lead (2016) and teaching assistant (2017). During her BSc in Cellular, Molecular and Microbial Biology and iGEM experience, she acquired knowledge in DNA morphology, sequence synthesis and design, and protein expression. She currently works as a DNA sequencing technician with the University of Calgary.

Robert is a PhD student in Chemistry at the University of Calgary focusing on the combination of chemistry, nanoscience and biology to create sensors for airborne biothreats in collaboration with the Canadian military. He has co-led collegiate iGEM teams from 2011-2013 and is also a co-founder of FREDsense Technologies.

Rochelin started in iGEM as a mentor for UrbanTundra Edmonton in 2016. In 2017, she mentored both Edmontonian teams, UrbanTundraHS and UAlberta. Outside of iGEM, Rochelin combines her interests in chemistry, neuroscience and molecular biology to engineer fluorescent protein-based sensors for imaging in neuroscience, with a focus on engineering sensors for detecting neurotransmitters.

Sydnee has been involved with the iGEM competition since 2015 at both the high school and collegiate levels. Currently she is entering her fourth year majoring in Biochemistry at the University of Lethbridge. She looks forward to her third year mentoring the Lethbridge High School team.

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