SBME Synergy 2022

Welcome to 2022’s Synergy
Summer Studentship Program

You’ll find everything you need to know on this year’s events and participating cohort below.

Quick Links


All participating students will attend in-person and virtual workshops, presentations and networking events as part of the program. Attendance is mandatory.


There is a lot of learning, connecting, research and preparation in the months ahead. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions at all about the program.


The Synergy program gives you the opportunity to work with driven and talented students in multiple fields. Congratulations to all who were chosen for this year’s program.

Program Expectations

During the program, students will work on a defined research project with a UBC supervisor, participate in professional development programming, and present their research at our Undergraduate Research Day.

You will benefit from research skill workshops, career development seminars, complementary social events and more, all while expanding your knowledge and experience in active research. To make sure that all students can get the most out of this year’s program, all events and workshops will be available in a hybrid virtual and in-person format except for the Career Panel which will be strictly virtual.

Please carefully review the schedule below. Make sure you lock these dates and times into your calendar so that you can guarantee your attendance. Interacting with speakers, networking with other students, and asking questions directly is the best way to get the most out of these sessions.

Events Schedule

Note: All events below are mandatory components for the Synergy Summer Studentship Program.
More details will be provided closer to the event date.


Synergy Welcome Orientation!

This is your chance to kick off the new program right. Meet your peers, the program leaders and learn more about all that’s in store over the course of the 2022 Synergy schedule.

WHEN: May 10 | 10:00am PT

WHERE: Life Sciences Institute | Room LSC 1003


Learn to create a strong application. This session covers resume/CV building, cover letter basics, interview preparation and best practices.

WHEN: July 13 | 10:00am PT

WHERE: Life Sciences Institute | Room LSC 1003

FACILITATOR: Dr. Danielle Barkley

BIO: Danielle Barkley is a Career Educator who works with the Centre for Student Involvement and Careers to support graduate students at UBC. She completed her PhD at McGill University and has previous experience as a university instructor and writing consultant.


Meet and network with professionals in academia, healthcare, and industry, to learn about their career paths, and hear their advice on career development.

WHEN: July 27 | 10:00am – 11:30am PT


MODERATOR: Danielle Walker, Partnerships Manager, SBME


Anna Blakney, Assistant Professor, SBME & MSL
Tony Yang, Medical Science Liaison, Merck
Kristy Lonergan, Senior Director, adMare Academy
Joban Bal, Medical Student, UBC


Identify how you currently spend your time and how you would like to better manage it. The session will focus on effective time management strategies that you can personalize to fit your values, priorities, and lifestyle.

WHEN: May 25 | 10:00am PT

WHERE: Life Sciences Institute | Room LSC 1003


Properly assessing published research, as well as your own work, requires the acquisition of knowledge and skill-development in order to critique. There’s an ongoing reciprocal relationship between these two processes that shape what we believe to be true, as well as our best explanations of reality.

Prof. Jenna Usprech will give you the fundamental skills that underpin the effective application of experimentation and design for a career in science and engineering.

WHEN: June 29 | 10:00am PT

WHERE: Life Sciences Institute | Room LSC 1003

FACILITATOR: Dr. Jenna Usprech

BIO: Dr. Usprech, PhD, PEng, is an Assistant Professor of Teaching in the School of Biomedical Engineering. She received her PhD from the University of Toronto, her Master’s from Queen’s University (both in different areas of tissue engineering research), and her Bachelor’s degree in Biological Engineering from the University of Guelph. Dr. Usprech joined UBC in 2019 so that she could introduce new areas of the field to undergraduate students and continue to be immersed in biomedical engineering education. She is particularly passionate about student wellness, science communication, and classroom strategies that promote critical thought and retention of material.


Delivered as a seminar focusing on oral, graphical and written forms of communication, this
session will aim to give you some familiarity with the theory and practical techniques of effective communication.

WHEN: August 4 | 10:00am PT

WHERE: Life Sciences Institute | Room LSC 1003

FACILITATOR: Laura Stankiewicz

BIO: Laura Stankiewicz is a 3rd year PhD student in Biomedical Engineering at UBC. In her research she uses spatial multiomic techniques to study how immune cells develop within the human thymus, with the goal of translating these findings to grow stem cell-derived immune cells in the lab for use in cancer therapy. Laura is the winner of the Cell Manufacturing and Technology 3 Minute Thesis competition, runner up in UBC 3MT, and co-founder of the grass roots science communication podcast and training team, The (Un)scientific Method.


Research Day is an opportunity for Synergy’s students to showcase their summer research projects, hear an inspirational keynote talk, and celebrate the end of the Synergy Summer
Studentship Program!

WHEN: August 16 | 9:00am – 12:00pm PT

WHERE: LSC West Atrium

KEYNOTE: Dr. Milena Radzikowska

BIO: DR. MILENA RADZIKOWSKA is a Professor in Information Design at Mount Royal University. Since 2005, she’s collaborated on over 25 interdisciplinary design research projects, several with budgets in the millions, extending over longer periods. She’s the co-author of Visual Interface Design for Digital Cultural Heritage (Routledge Publishing, 2011), and two upcoming books, Design + DH, and Prototyping Across the Disciplines (Intellect Books).
Milena lives and works in Alberta, Canada.

Meet Your Synergy 2022 Cohort

Congratulations to all the students chosen for our inaugural SBME Synergy class.

Get to know your peers, partners and collaborators for the months ahead.

Click here to expand the 2022 Roster

Allison Dummel

Allison Dummel is a third year student in the Faculty of Sciences, working on her Biology degree. She is working with the Blakney Lab to develop a procedure for freeze-drying RNA-encapsulating lipid nanoparticles in order to increase the shelf life and stability of future RNA vaccines.

Amy Ker

Amy Ker is a UBC medical student part of the Class of 2025. Amy grew up in Vancouver, on Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Traditional Territory. She completed her BSc at McGill in Neuroscience in 2020. After spending time researching the development of spinal circuitry in her undergrad, Amy became interested in the complexity of brain and spinal cord injury. She hopes to continue pursuing this interest in the field of medicine by exploring novel treatment options for nervous system injury. She will be working with Dr. Michael Berger at ICORD investigating functional outcomes following nerve transfer surgery. She is grateful and excited to be a part of the SBME Summer program. 

Angie Peng

Angie Peng is currently a second year Biomedical Engineering student at the University of British Columbia. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, skiing, and baking. Angie is originally from Calgary, Alberta, and is interested in neurodegenerative diseases and therapeutics. She also has a mechanical engineering role on the Biomedical Engineering Design Team (BEST). This summer, Angie will be working under the guidance of Dr. Shernaz Bamji to ultimately determine factors which impact myelination rates, with future applications in regenerative medicines for patients with Multiple Sclerosis. She will be working with cuprizone treated demyelinated mice, and exhibiting differing expression rates of the palmitoylating enzyme DHHC9 to measure its sufficiency in increasing myelination. Angie is extremely eager to see what this summer holds, and looks forward to the opportunities provided under Synergy.

Ardin (Art) Sacayanan

Ardin (Art) Sacayanan is a graduating student majoring in biomedical engineering, specializing in cellular bioengineering. This summer, he will be working with Dr. Laksman to study arrythmias in patients with a history of sudden cardiac arrest. In his spare time, he likes to hike, camp, read, sketch, paint, build, and do a bit of gardening. He has also developed an interest for watching movies recently, and he welcomes suggestions. He looks forward to meeting everyone.

Christian Thorson

Christian Thorson is a first-year bachelor of science student at UBC. Christian has lived in Vancouver for most of their life, and graduated from Mulgrave school last year. Christian’s project involves the usage of machine learning to automatically grade prostate cancer. Christian’s interest in machine learning and the intersections between health and engineering was kickstarted by working under Dr. Abolmaesumi on a machine learning project – Christian had the opportunity to sit in on several meetings with his team, who were at the time collaborating with the Vancouver General Hospital echocardiography lab on the implementation of artificial intelligence in echocardiography.

Christina Pan

Christina Pan is a third year student in UBC’s Biochemistry Honours program. While at UBC, she completed the Science One program in her first year and continues to be involved with this program as a Wellness Tutorial Leader – providing first year students with tools to help them manage their time, stress levels, and general wellbeing. Over the summer, she will be working on a project that seeks to identify substrates of MALT1 and whether or not the cleavage of known substrates will vary with different CBM platforms. Outside of school, Christina enjoys playing the piano and tennis.

David McKay

David McKay is a 4th year undergraduate student in the Biomedical Engineering program at UBC. His project this summer will focus on characterizing stem cells while optimizing their maintenance and differentiation to insulin-producing cells for type 1 diabetes treatment in the Kieffer Lab. He enjoys playing soccer, going for long runs, and listening to podcasts while cleaning. He looks forward to meeting everyone in the Synergy program and seeing their projects on Research Day. 

Emilie Wang

Emilie Wang is studying integrated sciences at UBC while minoring in health and society. She loves long walks, being outside in the sun, and is always happy to read a good book. This summer, she is working with Dr. Jenna Usprech. Her project focuses on research communication and education strategies that can promote science and health literacy in newcomer women to BC.

George Xu

George Xu is an undergraduate student in Engineering Physics, with a focus on software and biomedical imaging. His current project aims to develop an AI lung nodule management system, with an end goal of integration with a microwave treatment system.

Ipek Egilmez

Ipek Egilmez is finishing up her fourth year as an undergraduate student at SBME. She will be working in the Shakiba lab this summer. She moved to Canada from Turkey in 2018 to pursue a degree in engineering as one of the 35 international students in her admission year to be given the International Leader of Tomorrow Award by UBC for her achievement in academics, as well as leadership skills and community engagement projects. Ipek is in the cellular bioengineering stream of the Biomedical Engineering degree, and also doing a minor in Microbiology and Immunology. She is the team lead of UBC BEST’s Biochemical Innovation Team, and also one of the three founding members of the non-profit Building Blocks Employment.

Jason Sunardi

Jason Sunardi will be entering his third year of undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto in the fall, majoring in Biomedical Systems in the Engineering Science program. This summer he will be conducting a research project in the Yachie lab focusing on developing a novel random mutagenesis tool for high-resolution cell lineage tracing and gene editing. In his free time, he enjoys cooking, playing strategy games, and watching movies. He’s looking forward to a great summer at SBME! 

Jessica Jung

Jessica Jung is a fourth-year student enrolled in the Cellular Bioengineering stream of the Biomedical Engineering program at UBC. She recently completed her co-op placement at Amgen BC where she worked collaboratively with the Functional Screening Group to examine the applications of advanced cell culture systems for bioassay antibody screening. Jessica’s final co-op term will be completed this summer at the Neural Circuits for Computation, Cognition and Control (NC4) Laboratory at UBC headed by Dr. Manu Madhav. Her work will entail optimizing and performing the protocol for iDISCO brain clearing, immunolabeling and imaging of whole brain tissue using light sheet microscopy. Jessica is actively involved with student-led teams including her role as Vice President External of Engineers Without Borders UBC, where she works with an interdisciplinary team to foster global thinkers by facilitating connections among community members and introducing them to new perspectives.

Karolina Moo

Karolina Moo is a second year undergraduate biomedical engineering student at UBC, originally from Ottawa, Ontario. She believes in technology’s potential to improve human health and diagnosis, and is particularly interested in fostering collaboration between engineers, medical professionals, and researchers alike. Karolina is also passionate about helping students from underrepresented populations pursue their interest in engineering and STEM, which she does through outreach and mentorship. Through the Synergy program, Karolina will be working with Dr. Karen Cheung and graduate students to develop a microfluidic airway-on-a-chip model to study the effect of air pollution and woodsmoke on COPD, in addition to working on the Mend the Gap spinal cord injury project. Outside of school and work, she enjoys exploring the outdoors, learning new languages and singing with her a cappella group.

Kate Halverson-Kolkind

Kate Halverson-Kolkind is a fourth year student currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Sciences at UBC. Kate became interested in research during high school, when she participated in a program offered by Oregon Health and Sciences University. She gained laboratory experience working within the Department of Proteomic where I assisted research in cataract formation. Through the experience, Kate came to appreciate the importance of collaboration, persistence, and curiosity. This summer Kate will assist Dr. Anna Herrmann in developing immunomodulating polymer conjugates to target and treat glycocalyx dysfunction in inflammatory conditions.

Katelin Flick

Katelin Flick is completing her third year of mechanical engineering at Dalhousie university and is working towards a certificate in biomedical engineering. Katelin first became interested in biomedical engineering after being introduced to it in her previous job when she was tasked with the mechanical design of a biomedical device. She is excited to have the opportunity to learn more about this field while working with a great team.

Katrina Jewell

Katrina Jewell is a second-year biomedical engineering student passionate about applying engineering principles to better understand and manipulate biological systems and improve the lives of others.  Her current research with the Biomedical Engineering Student Team investigates the potential of cinnamon polyphenols as a novel treatment for insulin resistance and diabetes.  Through the Synergy program with the Zandstra Stem Cell Bioengineering laboratory, Katrina will be developing a molecular reporting system to track expression of key transcription factors during in vitro T cell differentiation.  These sensors will be used to drive the expression of transgenes to enhance T cell differentiation, which has the potential to massively lower the cost of and thereby increase accessibility to T cell therapy.

Makenna Clement-Ranney

Makenna Clement-Ranney was born and raised in Vaughan, Ontario, and is a third-year undergraduate student at the University of Western Ontario completing an Honours Specialization in Genetics. This summer Makenna will be moving to Vancouver to work under Dr. Pamela Hoodless at the BC Cancer Research Institute on an NSERC USRA. Makenna’s project will focus on analyzing human induced pluripotent stem cells, using mouse and human in vivo data to establish the best in vitro model to study human liver development. Throughout Makenna’s undergrad, she has been a member of multiple peer support groups on campus, including the University Students’ Council Peer Support Center and the Genetic Mentorship Program, to provide students with support that is rooted in the shared student experience at Western University. Makenna loves to spend time outdoors hiking and swimming and is very excited to explore beautiful British Columbia. Makenna is excited to advance her knowledge in the field of research and aspires to one day pursue a career as a genetic counselor, whereby she hopes to use the principles of biomedical engineering to advance genetic testing and diagnosis, improving human health.  

Marcus Shew

Marcus Shew is a third-year student at UBC.  He is thrilled to be able to continue with research at the CBR and the opportunity to study the quality of red blood cell quality in fatty whole blood donations this summer.  He is grateful for the support and mentorship of Dr. Dana Devine, Dr. Narges Hadjesfandiari, as well as the Centre for Blood Research.

Melody Weng

Melody Weng is an aspiring UBC nursing student who has completed her second year in microbiology and immunology. She is passionate about equitable public health and STEM-focused educational initiatives. On the microbiology end, she has dabbled in research involving genome extraction and sequencing on microbial matter isolated from secondary wastewater treatment plants. This summer, she is excited to perform research exploring the efficacy of calcium administration in promoting hemostasis and reducing hypovolemic shock in trauma patients. She will be quantifying relationships between calcium administration, patient outcomes, and other relevant laboratory values with data from patient charts. Through her research, she aims to gain more insight into improving trauma patient prognoses by exploring best practices in calcium administration, providing trauma physicians with empirical guidance under time-critical situations

Nathan Louie

Nathan Louie is excited to be a part of the Synergy Program and to be working in the Foster Lab this summer! Nathan will be entering the final year of the Microbiology and Immunology program at UBC this upcoming fall, and is interested in research focused on bacteriology and host immune responses. Nathan enjoys running cycling, and going out to eat with friends!

Paniz Ghavimi

Paniz Ghavimi is a second-year student in the faculty of Sciences at UBC. Paniz is interested in human anatomy and physiology, and has a particular interest in the cardiovascular system. This summer, Paniz will be working in Dr. Conway’s lab, and investigating and exploring alternative roles for Factor D in vascular homeostasis. Paniz looks forward to developing skills and being a part of the CBR and SBME academic community.

Quan Nguyen

Quan Nguyen recently completed my undergraduate degree in Biochemistry Honours at UBC. Quan worked in the Kim lab for his thesis project, investigating the role of the actin cytoskeleton in platelet microparticle formation and release. During that time, Quan also investigated the mechanisms related to platelet activation by bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) through the toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) pathway. This summer, Quan looks forward to continuing my project to explore the signaling pathways (and intermediates) downstream of TLR4 activation in platelets.

Ralph Uy

Ralph Uy is a 4th year student at UBC majoring in Integrated Sciences with a focus on immunology and physiology. Ralph enjoys playing badminton or going to the gym, and is excited to be a part of the Synergy program!! As someone who is considering going into research in the future, being able to have the opportunity of working in a lab will help Ralph build skills and experience. Ralph is looking forward to working on his project.

Sana Ahmed

Sana Ahmed is a recent graduate with an Honours Biochemistry degree from UBC. Sana’s undergraduate thesis focused on examining the membrane contact sites between the mitochondria and the endoplasmic reticulum using super-resolution microscopy, and is planning to continue this project by examining their dysregulation. This has Sana occupied at the lab but outside it she loves to play the piano, converse in Vines, and explore the sights that Vancouver has to offer.

Sarah Lim

Sarah Lim is a second year undergraduate student in the electrical/biomedical engineering program. She is interested in the application of technology to healthcare and is excited to be undertaking a research project which bridges medicine and engineering. Sarah will be completing her research at the BC Cancer Research Institute’s Terry Fox Laboratory in the Eaves Lab. She is looking forward to gaining experience utilizing cellular assays to analyze variable cancer and hematopoietic stem cell behavior.

Sofie Levy

Sofie Levy is an undergraduate student at the University of British Columbia completing her Bachelor of Science with a major in Biology. She spent the past year at Oak Tree Clinic as a co-op student assisting with clinical study visits for the BCC3 study which aims to learn more about the healthy aging of women living with HIV. She will now be working in the Cote lab to analyze how persistent viral infections may further contribute to HIV-induced chronic inflammation and affect all-cause mortality risk.

Stephanie Nguyen

Stephanie Nguyen is a biomedical engineering student who’s passionate about learning and creating nanotechnology, and anything related to therapeutics. She aims to be able to create novel solutions to address the needs in healthcare and industry, not just in the lab but also by working with organizations to disseminate awareness.

Sze Lok Ng

Sze Lok Ng is an incoming third-year Biomedical Engineering student. Sze enjoys reading, working out and hanging out with family and friends. Sze also greatly enjoys playing video games and watching Kdrama. Sze’s research interest is in developmental biology, especially in the process of stem cell differentiation, development and their regenerative properties. Moreover, Sze is interested in the similarities between cancerous cells and stem cells.

Tien Do

Tien Do (preferred name: Tien, pronunciation: /ti – en/, pronouns: she/her) has just finished the second year of her Joint Honours Combined UBC-BCIT Biotechnology degree. She is passionate about Microbiology and Molecular Biology, especially about how they can transform human health. As a recipient of the Centre of Blood Research Award 2022, she is going to work at Hancock Lab on evaluating the synergistic interaction between antimicrobial peptides and other antibiotics to tackle the current antibiotic resistance problem.

Tiffany Huang

Tiffany Huang is a second-year Biomedical Engineering student at the University of British Columbia. She is interested in stem cell and tissue regeneration research. This summer, under the guidance of Dr. Fabio Rossi, Tiffany will be investigating the role of stromal cells in modulating muscle mass. In her spare time, Tiffany enjoys staying active by dabbling in calisthenics, playing sports and doing Kendo. She is also a project lead on the UBC Supermileage design team and is competing at the Shell Eco-Marathon competition this April.

Waris Bhatia

Waris Bhatia is in the final year of his undergraduate degree pursuing a Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science (BMLSc) in the Department of Pathology. He is currently supporting the universal blood project in the Kizhakkedathu Lab at the Centre for Blood Research (CBR). His interests lie in conducting translational biomedical research as well as interdisciplinary health research. In his free time, he enjoys playing chess, pottery, and going on long hikes.

Xavier Lam

Xavier Lam is a first year Applied Science student and Schulich Leader Scholar at UBC who was born and raised in Vancouver, BC. He is passionate about the use of technology and AI to improve health and well-being. Currently, he is a research assistant in the Human Motion Biomechanics Lab (HUMBL) at UBC using wearable sensors and machine learning to analyze soccer moves to predict the risk of injuries. His past personal projects include a machine learning algorithm that helps detect skin cancer, and an AI pipeline to expedite CT scan segmentation for mandible imaging. In his free time, he enjoys playing piano and saxophone, watching anime, and listening to jazz music. Xavier’s background as a competitive épée fencer for over 10 years inspired his Synergy project this summer. Under the supervision of Dr. Calvin Kuo, he will analyze the biomechanics of fencing lunges using motion capture techniques in order to examine the physical stresses responsible for common knee injuries in fencers.

Yasmin Lau

Yasmine Lau is a 4th year Biochemistry student in KMM Lab. Her ongoing projects heavily involve podocalyxin protein and consequences of its heterozygosity relating to focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). For the past year, Yasmine has been studying and carrying out induction of nephrotic syndromes in in vivo renal disease murine models, working towards a mechanism of FSGS. Her current inquiries involve a multidisciplinary collaboration with other labs and experts at Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) to develop a non-invasive, inexpensive method of detecting and diagnosing fibrotic kidney disease with quantitative ultrasound (QUS). Apart from research, Yasmine’s interests include art projects of varying mediums, bone maceration, and foil fencing.