2019-2020 Team

Executive Team

Farah Qaiser, President

Farah is a graduate student at the University of Toronto’s Molecular Genetics department, where her research involves sequencing patient DNA (whole genome sequencing) to better understand complex neurological disorders. When not in the lab, Farah writes, speaks and organizes various science communication, policy and outreach initiatives. Of note, Farah was a member of the organizing committee for the 2018 Toronto March for Science before co-founding the Toronto Science Policy Network.


Sivani Baskaran, Vice-

Sivani is a PhD student in Environmental Chemistry at the University of Toronto. Her research looks at methods for measuring and predicting physical-chemical properties that are important for bioaccumulation assessment. She became interested in science policy during her undergraduate years at Trent University and helped co-found the Toronto Science Policy Network.


Maegan Ong, Treasurer

Maegan is a first year Masters of Public Policy student at the Munk school in the University of Toronto. She completed a double major in chemistry and history, researching the synthesis and reactivity of novel iron complexes for her bachelor’s thesis. She is passionate about scientific communication and making science more accessible to the public. Prior to joining TSPN, she was president of the Chemistry Students’ Union at UofT. Outside of school she can be found rock climbing, skiing or walking her labradoodle.

Samantha McWhirter, Marketing Officer

Sam is a PhD student in Chemistry in the Walker Lab at U of T. Her research focuses on developing lipid-coated gold nanoparticles for biodiagnostic purposes. Sam was a volunteer with TSPN last year (and was part of the team who travelled to Ottawa for CSPC2018), and she is excited to be more involved with TSPN this year as marketing officer! In this role, she hopes to expand TSPN’s outreach in the GTA and to increase volunteer participation by reaching out to the community mainly through social media. Outside of the lab, Sam enjoys cooking, watching bad reality television and exploring the different types of beer that Toronto has to offer.

Caroline Pao, Internal Communications Officer

Caroline is a PhD student in Chemistry at the University of Toronto where she develops gold nanoparticle-based optical probes to improve the detection of cancer cells. She is a strong advocate for mental health and dedicates her time towards improving work culture in academia. She is also vocal about the need for professional development training in graduate education and has created long-lasting initiatives in her own department to train students for life after graduation. She is a Science Outside the Lab North alumna and Internal Communications Officer for TSPN. In her free time, Caroline enjoys binge-listening to crime podcasts, watching dog rescue videos, and exploring Toronto’s vast selection of craft beers.

Frank Telfer, External Communications Officer

Frank is a graduate student in the Department of Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto, studying Genetics and Genome Biology at the Hospital for Sick Children. Frank’s research focuses on identifying and characterizing novel modalities for reducing cancer risk/preventing cancer in children and young adults who are at increased risk due a mutation inherited from their parents. Outside of the lab, Frank works on expanding and improving science culture in his local community and throughout Canada, through leadership of a variety of education and advocacy initiatives. Frank is highly passionate about evidence-informed decision-making, especially in the sphere of health policy, and has been a member of TSPN since its first year.


Isabella Lim,
External Communications Officer

Isabella Lim is a graduate student in the Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto. Her research interests lie within visual attention and memory. Through the TSPN she hopes to foster a community enthusiastic for evidence-based policy issues, both within and outside of academia. Outside of school she enjoys horror movies and going to concerts.

Dawn Bannerman, Fundraising Lead

Dawn Bannerman is a PhD student at the University of Toronto in Chemical Engineering with a collaborative specialization in Biomedical Engineering. Her research focuses on cardiac tissue engineering approaches to improve heart function after a heart attack. She joined TSPN in its first year because she cares about the use of scientific evidence to inform decisions that lead toward a healthy population and environment.

Bryony McAllister, Executive-at-Large

Bryony is a PhD candidate in Polymer & Materials Chemistry at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on the development of organic polymers for sustainable energy storage applications, which led her to cofound the organic battery start-up Pliant Power Devices. Prior to joining TSPN, Bryony held elected positions on the Chemistry Graduate Student Union (ChemClub), Women in Chemistry Toronto (WICTO) and co-founded the Canadian Women in Chemistry Network (CWIC). As an Execute-at-Large, she hopes to leverage her past experience to develop events and materials to help make science more accessible to the public, and help the public identify trustworthy sources of information. In her free time, Bryony enjoys cooking, baking, and playing with her cat.

Claudia Lutelmowski,

Claudia is a first-year Pharmacology PhD student with a collaborative specialization in Neuroscience at the University of Toronto. She is investigating the role of the endocannabinoid system in psychiatric disorders, like schizophrenia. She utilizes animal models to better understand how cannabinoid exposure contributes to disorder development and how the system can be targeted in the discovery of therapeutics. In her free time, Claudia enjoys volunteering and engaging in extracurricular activities that aim to promote scientific outreach and communication within the community.

Committee Members & Volunteers

Dr. Molly Sung

Molly received her PhD in Chemistry at the University of Toronto where she studied the design of metal-based catalysts for conversion of CO2 to fuels. She is a vocal proponent of changing the culture of graduate departments (particularly her own) from a academic-pipeline towards an experience that prepares students for a diverse range of careers. Prior to co-founding TSPN, Molly served as chair for the Toronto branch of the Chemical Institute of Canada and established their policy initiatives to engage local politicians and candidates on science issues and policies. She currently serves on the Youth Council of the Chief Scientist of Canada.



Vidhant Pal

Vidhant is a PhD student in the University of Toronto’s Biomedical Engineering department. Vidhant’s research involves applying new biomedical engineering innovations to the study of Type 2 diabetes. His focus is primarily on understanding the role of fibroblast growth factor receptors during beta cell metabolic dysfunction. Vidhant has previously worked with Indian NGOs to teach underprivileged children foundational science and has enjoyed working in the field of science promotion ever since. When not in the lab, Vidhant enjoys reading, working out, and volunteering with other community organizations to promote evidence based policy.

Jenny Bicong Ge

Jenny has worked in the Government of Ontario since 2016 in various roles, the most recent being a Senior Sector Advisor at the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. Prior to that, she spent 3 years at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, developing expertise in healthcare policy and programs. Jenny holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, Honors Specialization in Genetics with a Minor in French Studies, from the University of Western Ontario in addition to an Honors Business Administration degree from Ivey Business School. She is currently a Masters of Arts candidate in Public Policy and Administration at Ryerson University. Jenny is passionate about health technology and has been an avid community volunteer since 2006.