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Meet our SciXchange Team

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Dr. Emily Agard - Director

Emily earned a B.Sc. (honours) in life sciences from Queen's University and a Ph.D. in immunology from the University of Toronto.  She taught biology at York University and the University of Toronto at Scarborough before joining Ryerson as an Assistant Professor, where she teaches immunology.  Currently, as Director of SciXchange, she is focused on making science accessible, engaging and inclusive of all groups and is mentor to many youth in the community. Emily regularly facilitates science enrichment activities and mentoring programs for elementary and secondary students. She embraces opportunities to speak about learning and applying science in everyday life and various career paths.  In her spare time, Emily also enjoys music, travel, sports and photography. She recently completed a certificate in photography studies through the Chang School at Ryerson.


  Follow her on Twitter @ProfAgard

  Connect with her on LinkedIn

Learn more at, external link

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Leigh Paulseth - Enrichment & Outreach Coordinator

Leigh coordinates SciXchange’s science outreach programs and manages our network of volunteers within and outside of the Ryerson community. She has a B.Sc. in conservation biology and Master of Resource and Environmental Management which fuelled her passion to work with communities to protect biodiversity. Leigh worked in the environmental non-profit sector for 6 years where she developed environmental education and community engagement programs and gained skills in volunteer management and science communication.  She joined Ryerson’s science outreach office in 2016 ready to build strong networks to promote STEM education and science literacy opportunities. In this capacity she works to support underrepresented voices in STEM sectors to strengthen the science community. She coordinated the first Soapbox Science, external link, opens in new window event in Canada in 2017. Leigh loves to share all kinds of science knowledge and is particularly passionate about supporting the ways in which society intersects with the science community. You can often find Leigh enjoying a Ken Ken puzzle, watching the latest sci fi series or spreading the word about protecting our planet.

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Amber Sandy - Coordinator, Indigenous Knowledge & Science Outreach

Amber coordinates SciXchange’s outreach programmes with a focus on Indigenous knowledge-based science. She is a member of Neyaashiinigmiing, the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation. Amber has managed various community based projects and programmes where she gained skills in resource and programme development, community outreach and educator training, and capacity building projects integrating traditional and western science in her approach to conservation and environmental science. She believes that Indigenous people are natural scientists as science is inherent in Indigenous languages, stories, and interactions with the environment. It is her passion and commitment to share these views with Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples alike through education.

Stephanie Sim
Stephanie Sim - Departmental Assistant

Stephanie joined our SciXchange team with a breadth of experience working at Ryerson.  She held a position as Departmental Assistant in the department of Chemistry and Biology, where she was the primary contact for students.  Before that she worked as a Recruitment Officer for Undergraduate Admissions & Recruitment, where she travelled around Ontario to promote educational opportunities at Ryerson and aided in on-campus recruitment events.  As a B. Comm. graduate of the Ted Rogers School of Management, Stephanie brings unique marketing skills to SciXchange.

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Adisa Julien - Let's Talk Science Site Coordinator

Adisa earned an honours B.Sc. in biology (minor in chemistry) from South Carolina State University and a Master of Environmental Science in biophysical interactions in terrestrial and aquatic systems at the University of Toronto.  He is currently pursuing a PhD in molecular science in the spatial ecology lab of Dr. Stephanie Melles, external link, opens in new window at Ryerson. In addition to being a teaching assistant for undergrad biology and ecology courses, he tutors middle and high school students in biology, chemistry, math, and physics. He has developed expertise in imparting scientific knowledge in an age-appropriate manner and looks forward to applying and sharpening these skills in the role of Site Coordinator for Let’s Talk Science. In his previous role as an executive board member of Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS), external link, opens in new window, a volunteer, outreach, and education organization affiliated with historically black universities and colleges, he saw first-hand the benefits of outreach programs that are fun and accessible to everyone. As a scientist with expertise in a variety of disciplines and subdisciplines, Adisa looks forward to helping young people find their scientific niche.  

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Jenna Barnhardt - Research Assistant

Jenna is a a recent graduate of the biomedical sciences program at Ryerson where she also completed her minor in psychology, and a Chang School certification in mental health and addictions. She is an Indigenous scholar from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory and works closely with Amber Sandy to promote Indigenous traditional knowledge-based learning in STEM applications and outreach to Indigenous communities throughout Ontario. Jenna was an active member of the Indigenous student community at Ryerson University as the Executive Diversity Coordinator for the Indigenous Students Association (ISA), external link, opens in new window and peer support volunteer at the Ryerson Aboriginal Student Services, opens in new window. She is passionate about cognitive behavioural neuroscience, and neuropsychology and strives to create better education and resources for Indigenous mental health.

Melissa Jane Alconcel
Melissa Alconcel - Student Outreach Lead

Melissa is entering her 4th year of biomedical science while also completing a minor in music and culture. This summer she is working as a science outreach and communication student lead, which includes being a science instructor for Eureka science and engineering camp. She strongly believes in making STEM topics engaging and accessible to everyone, especially to young girls because one day she hopes the stigma behind girls in STEM no longer exists. Outside of science and SciXchange, she is a recreation worker with the City of Toronto where she works as a preschool specialist in the fall, winter, and spring and in previous summers she worked as a camp counsellor. She has been playing piano for 15 years where she spent 9 of those years playing and learning with the Royal Conservatory of Music. She also enjoys sushi, ice cream and watching Disney movies.

Aleen Shakeel
Aleen Shakeel - Student Outreach Lead

Aleen is a 4th year biomedical sciences student at Ryerson University. She has explored different careers in science through her extracurricular experiences, such as gerontology, pediatrics and health administration. Between interacting with older adults in nursing homes and preschoolers in summer camps, her passion for working with individuals from diverse backgrounds and different stages in life grew. After volunteering with SciXchange to deliver several science outreach programs, she joined the summer team to help plan a virtual Eureka camp with the hopes of keeping young campers engaged in STEM-related activities during uncertain times. She loves acrylic painting in her spare time.

Renee Coelho
Renée Coelho - Student Outreach Lead

Renée is entering her 4th year of studies in the biology program at Ryerson University. She will help run SciXchange’s Eureka summer camp, which will aid her in achieving her goal of making science engaging to young students so that they are able to learn and apply it to everyday life. She has a passion for mentoring youth and encouraging girls to pursue a career in STEM, as a role model in the field of life sciences. Renée is passionate about improving public health within communities, as well as increasing science literacy. In her spare time, she enjoys martial arts, music, playing the piano, cooking, travelling, and exploring different cultures.

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Riley - Chief Morale Officer

Riley is an Australian bernedoodle born May 17, 2018 at Swissridge Kennels, external link, opens in new window in Schomberg, Ontario.  His mother Noelle, external link, opens in new window is a Bernese mountain dog and his father Levi, external link, opens in new window is an Australian labradoodle.  Before moving to his forever home with Emily Agard, Riley spent 2 months living with dog trainer Agnes Beau through the Swissridge imprinting program, external link, opens in new window.  Once home with Emily, Riley took puppy conditioning level 2 classes with Deena Cooper, external link, opens in new window. A smart, eager to please puppy, Riley continued working with Deena and his "pawrents" on training.  On April 2, 2019, Riley proudly passed his Canine Good Neighbour, external link, opens in new window evaluation tests approved by the Canadian Kennel Club, external link, opens in new window. The exam consisted of 12 tests Riley and the other pups performed over a period of almost 1.5 hours!  Now an adolescent, he continues training with Dan Josselyn, external link, opens in new window of Golden Rule Dog Training, external link, opens in new window. Some of Riley's older siblings, like Myca, external link, opens in new window and Shep, are St. John Ambulance therapy dogs.  You can find Shep, external link, opens in new window working at Toronto Pearson Airport. Perhaps when Riley is old enough, he can be one of Ryerson's official therapy dogs.  Currently this sweet boy enjoys making new friends and learning new tricks.