Advisory Board and Committees

Advisory Board

WISEST is an associated unit of the Office of the Dean of Students and is affiliated with the Career Centre. Our programs and initiatives are guided by an Advisory Volunteer Board led by an Academic Co-Chair and Industry Co-Chair. The WISEST board consists of scientists, engineers, scholars, educators, and STEM students from the University of Alberta, industry, and the larger community. Under the direction of the Advisory Board, various committees oversee specific aspects of WISEST and its goals. Under the direction of the Advisory Board, various committees oversee specific aspects of WISEST and our goals.

Current Academic Co-Chair: Dr. Tian Tang

Dr. Tian Tang is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Alberta. She is a recipient of many awards, including the Alberta Ingenuity New Faculty Award, APEGA Early Accomplishment Award, Tier 2 Canada Research Chair, Martha Cook Piper Research Prize, as well as the Adhesion Society's Distinguished Paper Award and Outstanding Young Adhesion Scientist Award.

Dr. Tang received her Bachelor's degree in Engineering Mechanics from Tsinghua University in 2001, and a PhD in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics from Cornell University in 2005. Before joining the University of Alberta in 2017, she was a Visiting Research Scientist in the Chemical Engineering Department at Lehigh University. Her research interests involve the modeling and simulation of soft materials and interfaces - especially at micro- to nano-scales, and in biological systems, as well as applied computational analysis of nanostructures functional in a variety of applications, including environmental, biomedical, and nanotechnology.

Current Industry Co-Chair: Dr. Lisa White

Lisa White is an Industrial Professor at the School of Engineering Safety and Risk Management in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Alberta, and has over 15 years of professional and academic experience in Strategic Environmental Assessment, Environmental Risk Assessment, and Environmental Impact Assessment.

She has worked as an environmental consultant for over 11 years as a Project Manager, and in 2013 she received her Ph.D. in the area of Strategic Environmental Assessment for Sustainable Resource Development and Planning from the School of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Saskatchewan under Dr. Bram Noble. She was also awarded an Engineering MSc in the assessment of surface and groundwater contamination potential from point source pollutants in 2006 from the University of Saskatchewan.

Her research applied a strategic decision-making (SEA) framework in support of the development of energy resource policy that operationalized sustainability. This was accomplished by developing quantitative sustainability criteria linked to higher level social, environmental and economic sustainability principles and using an online assessment process to evaluate energy policy options. The structured decision-making framework provided for replicability, transparency, and accountability in the decision-making process; while the use of stakeholder focus groups and an online multi-criteria assessment process allowed for the meaningful participation of multi-party stakeholders.

Dr. White's most recent relevant project experience includes a Strategic Environmental Assessment for Parks Canada assessing the cumulative environmental impact of industrial development surrounding the Wood Buffalo National Park in Northern Alberta, as well as an environmental risk assessment for Alberta Transportation for a school expansion in Edmonton. Her other corporate experience in environmental management includes Environmental Scans and Reviews; Phase I and II Environmental Assessments; Environmental Impact Assessments; and project management and communications support.

Lisa also manages and leads multi-disciplinary projects and teams, and has been responsible for writing and editing many technical reports. 


Current Advisory Board Members

tian-tang-5x7.jpg
Tian Tang, Academic Co-Chair
Board Member Profile

Name: Tian Tang
Position: Academic Co-Chair
Current work title: Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Alberta

What motivated you to join the WISEST board: Growing up as a girl who loved math and physics, I always felt the lack of opportunities to know what I could do in the future and what I might excel in. This is why I became a WISEST volunteer role model in 2010 and started my interaction with young girls who were wondering about the same as I did. The pleasant and rewarding experiences I had with the WISEST programs encouraged me to join the WISEST Board in 2017.

What are you looking forward to/excited about as a board member of WISEST this year: The WISEST Board is rolling out a new 5-year strategic plan. I am very excited about the implementation of this plan, as we strategize our programming to meet the growing needs of students.

One fun fact about you: I enjoy drawing Chinese paintings and practicing traditional Chinese dance. I am improving my ski skills in the Rocky Mountains.

lisawhite-5x7.jpg
Lisa White, Industry Co-Chair,  External Relations Committee Chair
Board Member Profile

Name: Lisa White
Position: Industry Co-Chair, External Relations Committee Chair
Current Work Title: Industrial Professor at UAlberta

How long have you been with WISEST and in what capacity (roles): I have been involved with WISEST since 2014, where I first attended the golf tournament and shortly thereafter and the industrial co-Chair.

What are you looking forward to/excited about as a co-chair of the communications committee: As the Lead of the newly formed External Relations Committee, I'm looking forward to developing new champions and ambassadors for WISEST and hosting events to help raise funds for the group.

One fun fact about you: I enjoy horseback riding and love showing my four-year-old Morgan-Arabian cross (Pete!) in English performance classes.

_denise-hemmings-5x7.png
Denise Hemmings, Past Chair/FoMD
Board Member Profile

Name: Denise Hemmings
Position: Past Chair/FOMD
Current work title: I'm an Associate Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology with an adjunct position in Medical Microbiology and Immunology. I am also the Graduate Program Coordinator and the Reproductive Sciences Division Director in our Department.

What motivated you to join the WISEST board: When I first started graduate studies in 2001, I had three school-aged children. As I worked through graduate studies, I noticed that my daughter (and not so much my two sons) lost interest in science the further along in school she went. I found WISEST as I was looking for programs that could address this. I began volunteering for WISEST then and have continued to work with WISEST in one way or another throughout the years. I joined the Board working with and eventually leading the Program Committee for a few years until I then became the WISEST Chair which I held for several more years. I enjoy continuing my relationship with WISEST as a Board member to provide further support, continuity and to ensure that the amazing work that WISEST does can continue.

What are you looking forward to/excited about as a board member of WISEST this year: I am excited to see where the new strategic plan will take us. The new committee structures should increase capacity to accomplish great things and increase awareness of WISEST in the general public as well as at home in the University. I'm looking forward to being a part of the committee that looks after identifying and applying for awards for WISEST and its members. I was also thrilled to hear that both UA-WiSE and WISER have strong leadership and are moving forward in excellent ways. 

One fun fact about you: As a single mom for lots of years, I learned how to fix and often "MacGyver" things on my own. I'm proud of the fact that my adult children are able to do this too, especially my daughter!

blessie-mathew-5x7.jpg
Blessie Mathew, DoS Representative
Board Member Profile

Name: Blessie Matthew
Position: DoS Representative
Current work title: Director, Career Center and Experiential Learning

What motivated you to join the WISEST board: I sit on the WISEST Board as a representative from the Dean of Students office. I am proud to say that WISEST falls under my portfolio and I work very closely with the Team Lead of WISEST providing operational and administrative support.

What are you looking forward to/excited about as a board member of WISEST this year: We worked hard over the past year crafting an exciting new strategic plan for WISEST. There are a lot of new initiatives starting that I am looking forward to seeing take shape.

One fun fact about you: I have a (somewhat) rare ability to wiggle my ears.

mandy-quon-5x7.jpg
Mandy Quon, DoS Representative
Board Member Profile

Name: Mandy Quon
Position: DoS Representative
Current work title: Assistant Dean, Advancement Faculty of Native Studies, Dean of Students and FGSR

What motivated you to join the WISEST board: I recall attending the Choices Conference in grade 6 and was chosen out of my class to go; I was so excited to attend and felt very special to be able to come on campus and learn about the opportunities in the world of science.

What are you looking forward to/excited about as a board member of WISEST this year: Look at more funding opportunities and new partnerships

One fact about you: I have been on reality TV!

ingridpederson-5x7.png
Ingrid Pederson, Program Committee Lead
Board Member Profile

Name: Ingrid Pederson
Position: Program Committee Co-Chair
Current Work Title: Engineer Specialist, Corrosion Prevention at Enbridge

How long have you been with WISEST and in what capacity (roles): I have been on the WISEST board for over 9 years as the Program Committee Chair since 2011.

What are you looking forward to/excited about as a co-chair of the communications committee: The Program Committee is undergoing massive change, which coincidentally is at a great time as a result of the pandemic. Our previous focus on outreach activities is impossible to do with the cancellation of science events, conferences, and other gatherings. Now we have a new purpose!

One fun fact about you: I graduated in June 2020 from University of Alberta Extension - receiving my Visual Arts Certificate from their Visual Arts Program.

nancymanchak-5x7.jpg
Nancy Manchak, Communications Committee Lead
Board Member Profile

Name: Nancy Manchak
Position: Communications Committee Co-Chair
Current Work Title: Pipeline Integrity Engineer at Enbridge

How long have you been with WISEST and in what capacity (roles): I have been involved with WISEST since 2008 when I was a Summer Research Program Participant and worked in a Mining Engineering Lab at the U of A. During my undergrad, I joined the WISEST Program Committee and then the WISEST Board in 2016 as the Golf Tournament Committee Chair.

What are you looking forward to/excited about as a co-chair of the communications committee: I am excited to help connect the vibrant WISEST history with our past, present and future stakeholders as Co-Chair of the new Communications Committee!

One fun fact about you: With my engineering career to date, I have worked north of the 60th parallel and south of the 49th parallel - all while in Canada!

knechtel-colleen-5x7.jpg
Colleen Knetchel, Secretary
Board Member Profile

Name: Colleen Knechtel
Position: Secretary
Current Work Title: PhD student in Education

What motivated you to join the WISEST board: I was motivated to join the WISEST board for several reasons, mostly to contribute to the great work of Dr. Margaret-Ann Armour to support student diversity in scholarship. I was also interested in the structure of WISEST as a model for post-secondary explorations. 

What are you looking forward to/excited about as a co-chair of the communications committee: This upcoming year I am looking forward to WISEST growing their reach by expanding their programming. 

One fun fact about you: during a gap year in my undergraduate years, I rode my bicycle from Banff to San Francisco. This outdoor adventure helped me to seek clarity of my personal aspirations.

sam-pearson-cropped-5x7.jpg
Samantha Pearson, Faculty of Science Representative
Board Member Profile

Name: Samantha Pearson
Position: Faculty of Science Representative
Current work title: Enjoying retirement.

What motivated you to join the WISEST board: We need to excite and encourage more young people into STEM subjects and I have been involved with different organizations over the years to help to achieve this, both in North America and Europe. It's incredibly important that the general public is somewhat scientifically literate to understand the science around them and how scientific breakthroughs come about.

What are you looking forward to/excited about as a board member of WISEST this year: Meeting and working with interesting people.

One fun fact about you: I love my neighbour’s dog so much she comes for sleepovers.

Lisa Willis, Faculty of Science Representative
Board Member Profile

Name: Lisa Willis
Position: Faculty of Science Representative
Current Work Title: Assistant Professor at UAlberta

What motivated you to join the WISEST Advisory Board: I am passionate about improving the participation and lived experiences of diverse individuals in STEM and WISEST has a long history of excellence in this area.

What are you looking forward to/excited about as a board member of WISEST: I am looking forward to working with people who are also passionate about supporting diversity in STEM.

One fun fact about you: I love to try new things involving food and drink, especially restaurants, wine and recipes.

heather-bruce-5x7.jpg
Heather Bruce, Faculty of ALES Representative
Board Member Profile

Name: Heather Bruce
Position: Faculty of ALES Representative
Current work title: Professor Carcass and Meat Science

What motivated you to join the WISEST board: I really want to be able to make a difference for female and non-binary students wishing to pursue a career in the STEM fields.

What are you looking forward to/excited about as a board member of WISEST this year: Learning more about WISEST and its affiliates, and making a difference.

One fun fact about you: I was a 4-H kid that grew up on a purebred Hereford farm in Ontario, and I love cows.

Ben Tucker, Faculty of Arts Representative
Board Member Profile

Name: Benjamin Tucker
Position: Faculty of Arts Representative
Current work title: Professor of Phonetics, Department of Linguistics, University of Alberta 

What motivated you to join the WISEST board: I love WISEST and what it stands for. 

What are you looking forward to/excited about as a board member of WISEST this year: The WISEST SRP is my favorite part of each year. I love the final event when program participants get to share their research. I am always impressed by how much the participants learn during such a short program.

One fun fact about you: I love pizza!

Noor Al-Zanoon, WiSER Co-Chair
Board Member Profile

Name: Noor Al-Zanoon
Position: WiSER Co-Chair
Current work title: PhD Candidate in Rehabilitation Science (University of Alberta).

What are you looking forward to/excited about as a board member of WISEST this year: I am looking forward to learning about the history of WISEST and working with different teams that make up this great organization.

What motivated you to join WiSER/UA-WiSE as Co-Chair: The people. WiSER’s community is full of diverse individuals who share their unique stories and experiences as women and underrepresented groups in STEM. Serving as co-chair gives me the platform to amplify underrepresented voices in STEM.

What are you looking forward to/excited about as the WiSER/UA-WiSE Co-chair this year: I am really excited about working with our exec team and sister organizations to promote new initiatives and develop community partnerships.

One fun fact about you: I have a mermaid cactus named Merl and she has been with me since I started my PhD.

alichou-5x7.jpg
Ali Chou, WiSER Co-Chair
Board Member Profile

Name: Ali Chou
Position: WiSER Co-Chair
Current work title: Research Scientist

What motivated you to join WiSER/UA-WiSE as Co-Chair: To join WiSER: to help in building a supportive community for women and underrepresented individuals in STEM. To serve as Co-chair: To challenge the status quo for women and underrepresented individuals in STEM fields and contribute to a positive change.

What are you looking forward to/excited about as the WiSER/UA-WiSE Co-chair this year: I am looking forward to working with and learning from a diverse team from WiSER, WISEST, and UA-WiSE.

What are you looking forward to/excited about as a board member of WISEST this year: I am excited about supporting goals that resonate with WiSER and strengthening the bond between WISER and WISEST.

One fun fact about you: I was left-handed when I was a toddler. Although I have become right-handed now, I can only brush my teeth with my left hand.

Venkata Prateeksha Vadali, UA-WiSE Black Tie Affair Co-Chair
Board Member Profile

Name: Venkata Prateeksha Vadali
Position: UA-WiSE Black Tie Affair Co-Chair
Current work title: Undergrad student, Year 3, Bachelor of Science Honors Environmental Earth Sciences.

What are you looking forward to/excited about as a board member of WISEST this year: I am excited about being able to provide perspective from an undergrad's perspective regarding WISEST programs, being able to learn from the experience of the other board members and improve the communication between UA-WiSE and WISEST.

One fun fact about you: I can speak four different languages and I am learning a fifth language.

Anahita Sourate, UA-WiSE Mentorship Co-Chair
Board Member Profile

Name: Anahita Sourate
Position: UA-WiSE Mentorship Co-Chair
Current work title: Civil engineering Undergrad, 4th year.

What are you looking forward to/excited about as a board member of WISEST this year: I'm excited to be a board member to see what goes on at the higher levels of the club. 

One fun fact about you: A fun fact about me is that I play field hockey and in high school I played in a tournament in California where we placed 3rd.


The WISEST Advisory Board is supported by four Board Standing Committees including:

Program Committee - to assist with strategic delivery and improvement of programs that achieve WISEST’s objectives

Communications Committee - to assist with strategic communications to achieve WISEST’s objectives, including audience identification, communication plan development and execution

External Relations Committee - to assist with external relations activities that achieves WISEST’s objectives including fundraising, funding diversification and networking.

Promotions and Recognition Committee - to assist with the promotion and recognition of WISEST

Committee membership is open to non-board members and the structure and meeting frequency of each is committee specific.  Each committee seeks to have diverse representation including the thoughtful inclusion of men, racialized women, a young adult (18 - 25), from a broad cross-section of disciplines and with the goal to have a representative from each of the following sectors: industry, government, academic, education.