2019 Speaker Biography

1. Kylynda Bauer

Introducing Kylynda Bauer, who will be speaking at the TEDxUBC Conference on March 9! She will be hosting the talk, “Microbes, Matisse, and the Expanding Universe”.

Kylynda is an NSERC Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar and Microbiology and Immunology doctoral candidate at the University of British Columbia. Born in Puerto Rico, Kylynda grew up in the United States and graduated from Andrews University with a Music BA and Honors Biology BS. She continued further studies while living in Spain, Argentina, and Singapore.

A microbe nerd, Kylynda began microbiome research as a FAS Systems Biology Intern at Harvard University (Turnbaugh Lab) and ORISE Post Baccalaureate fellow at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease.

She currently explores the impact of malnutrition and microbes on the gut-brain axis in the Finlay Lab at the Michael Smith Laboratories. Kylynda also works as a Program Reporter for the CIFAR Humans and the Microbiome Program and blogs about research and abundant living (grad life!) at Theskope.com.

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2. Idaliya Grigoryeva

Next up is Idaliya Grigoryeva, a Master’s student in Economics at UBC, who promises to challenge your conceptions about urban slums. She will be hosting “Moving Up: Can Urban Slums Create Opportunities or Do They Trap Residents in Poverty?”.

Idaliya holds a Bachelor in International Economics from National Research University – Higher School of Economics (NRU HSE) (2015) in Moscow, Russia, and also has a Master’s in Urban Geography from UBC (2017).

Minoring in China studies and learning Mandarin in her undergrad, Ida got interested in urbanization processes happening in developing countries, which are substantially different from those in Europe or Russia. Fascinated by the rapid urbanization and ubiquitous economic opportunity so evident in China’s major cities, she spent two summers living in China in different cities, participating in different summer schools, volunteering and learning Mandarin.

A summer school on ‘Urbanization in Asia’ at Beijing University in collaboration with London School of Economics enabled her to better understand and put into perspective what she had witnessed living in a slum-like area in Shanghai for a month a year before.

Inspired by personal experience and driven by natural curiosity, Ida reaffirmed her desire to pursue graduate studies, first getting a Master’s in Urban Geography and now in Development Economics. Ida is planning to continue on to a Ph.D. program when she is hoping to make a difference in expanding the research about urban slums, as well as pursue her passion for teaching becoming a professor at a university.

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3. Niloufar Vahid-Massoudi

Deliberate about cultural hybridity and grapple with contexts of stereotyping at Niloufar’s talk, “I’m Not My Culture!”

Niloufar Vahid-Massoudi immigrated to Canada from Iran at the age of 12 and has annually visited Iran ever since. Having had already established her roots in the Iranian community, she moved to Canada at a malleable age where she absorbed and adopted the culture of her new surroundings. Canada, being a multicultural society, offered her insights into many cultures and many ideas that provided her with a multidimensional and global view. A well-established bookworm fluent in Farsi, English and French, she has used reading to learn more about her own Iranian culture as well as to gain insight and appreciation for what the world has to offer.

Niloufar is currently completing her 5th year of undergraduate in the Department of Political Science at the University of British Columbia.

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4. Angelica Poversky

Angelica Poversky plans to unveil the oppressive algorithms of Google Images, during her talk, “Google Images: Where Digital Justice Can Begin”.

Angelica’s work is situated between art and activism. She intersects social justice, art and media ethics in her third year of Media and Political Science studies at the University of British Columbia. Her project “Google Images,” an interactive website that highlights the erasive algorithms of Google Images, received national recognition (http://goggleimages.ca/). Believing all ideas must be generated within an anti-oppressive framework, Angelica founded the week-long campus festival, “Artivism” where student artists explored creative resistance. She also co-developed the Strategic Art Plan for The City of Richmond and acted as the Artistic Director for UBC’s LGBTQIA2S+ Pride Festival and UBC’s International Women’s Day.

Angelica is also a spoken word poet. Check out her spoken word dance track on algorithms! https://youtu.be/9jWcxFCWraY

She has shared poetry at many political events including the United Nations Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial at the Vancouver Convention Center, Vancouver Sustainability Conference and the CHIMO Voices Against Violence Against Women Conference. Angelica’s collaborative spoken word film about mental health challenges “Entropy of Forgiveness” has been screened in festivals in Germany, Ireland and California and was chosen as a winner for the inspire wellness challenge hosted by Adobe Project 1324 and Born This Way Foundation.

She’s Vancouver’s Top 24 under 24 (2013), a City of Richmond Arts Award Winner (2015), a TD scholar (2016) and a Premier Undergraduate Award recipient and Wesbrook scholar (2019).

Angelica hopes to continue graduate studies in Media Art and Public Policy upon graduating in 2020.

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5. Avril Espinosa-Malpica

Avril Espinosa-Malpica will be talking about “The Improbability of Denting the Glass Ceiling Standing Still” at this year’s conference. Avril is a CanExport Program Officer of Global Affairs Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service, where she supports Canada’s efforts to diversify its export markets and to build a sustainable and inclusive economy (particularly for women, youth, visible minorities and indigenous peoples).

Outside of the office, Avril is a Young Director of the G(irls)20 Girls on Boards initiative, which aims to achieve gender-balanced representation in leadership roles. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Immigrant Women’s Services Ottawa – an organization that advocates for immigrant, abused and diverse women. As well, Avril helps advance dialogue on Canada’s role in global affairs as part of the Canadian International Council – Vancouver’s Executive Committee.

Avril’s interest in global socio-economic issues can be traced back to her pre-professional days at the University of British Columbia (UBC), where she received her BA, Combined Economics and Political Science Major, French Minor. At UBC, she became passionate about women empowerment issues after writing her senior economics research paper on the effects of women in leadership on GDP and finding a positive relationship. Avril was also published in UBC’s Outside-In International Photojournal; her piece explored the importance of minority language inclusion in decision-making processes. During her time at UBC, Avril received the Arts Co-op Undergraduate Student of the Year Award and was featured in UBC’s For a Better BC campaign.

Having lived in Mexico, Canada and France, Avril is trilingual, culturally adaptable and globally minded. In her spare time, Avril enjoys developing her photography interest.

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6. Ira Sutherland 
“UBC’s Biggest, Oldest Secret: The Avatar Forest” promises to be a fascinating talk led by Ira Sutherland. Growing up among the tall forests near UBC, Ira developed an appreciation and curiosity for forests early on. He has explored extensively in the forests and mountains around Vancouver and has travelled widely abroad, often by bicycle or on remote forest research expeditions. He has become increasingly intrigued by remnant ancient forest ecosystems.
Following a ten-month long bicycle trip to explore the tallest trees on Earth, he began a MSc in Renewable Resources from McGill University (2015) to investigate the long-term recovery of old-growth forests and the important values they provide. After two years working in forestry and consulting arboriculture, Ira is now pursuing his PhD in UBC Forestry as a Vanier Canada Scholar. In his PhD he aims to tell a quantitative history of British Columbia’s forests through the lens of how people and their relationship with forests have evolved over time, and continue to evolve as they face new challenges under a changing climate. In an effort to engage the public to learn about old-growth forests and sustainability he employs use of film, photography, and story-telling. He is also now the chair of the BC Big Tree Committee, a Forester-in-Training, and author of a popular online Big Tree Hiking Guide for Vancouver (www.vancouversbigtrees.com).
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7. Retsepile Sello

Discover the meaning of home at Retsepile Sello’s talk “Home Can Be Anywhere, Everywhere and Nowhere. That’s Okay.” Rets is a first year Master of Applied Science (M.A.Sc) in Mining Engineering student at UBC. With her research, she aims to improve mine safety in operations by investigating how organizational learning can be effectively applied to change the safety culture. During her undergraduate studies, Rets completed an analytical project on Organization Behaviour in South African underground gold mines. Her findings and recommendations in that project landed her the titles of ‘One of UBC Engineering 2018 Rising Stars’, and ‘One of Canada’s Leading Innovators from the class of 2018’.

Rets is also interested in reducing the environmental impact of mining. She completed an internship with the largest metallurgical research institute in South Africa to investigate biotechnical means of extracting metals with minimum waste production. Additionally, she believes that mining still plays a significant role in everyone’s day-to-day lives so she is co-running an online platform, Mine2Me that educates the public about mining. Outside of mining, Rets works as a Residence Advisor and a Centre for Accessibility invigilator. She is also an aspiring public speaker.

Prior to coming to UBC, Rets studied at Waterford Kamhlaba United World College of Southern Africa. During this time, she did some community service with the entrepreneurship group that equipped unemployed youth in Swaziland with skills to start and run their own businesses. It was also at this time that she developed an interest for youth development and when she came to UBC, she founded a high school mentorship initiative. This program partnered with UBC students from the African Awareness Initiative and Engineers Without Borders to mentor high school students in Lesotho and Ghana with career development skills.

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8. Tamasha Hussein 

Tamasha Hussein will be hosting an eye-opening talk about “Refugee Girls’ Education”. Having moved from a refugee camp, where she thought all hope of attaining a better education was lost, to a prestigious university like UBC has been a huge transition that created a ray of hope in her life. Refugees are usually portrayed to be helpless and hopeless. By sharing her success story from a refugee camp to UBC, she hopes to change the narrative on refugees and bring out to the open some of the challenges refugee girls face in terms of access to education. It is also an important platform for her to advocate for the valuable work of WUSC, a non-profit Canadian organization that supports student refugee programs.

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9. Neor Tiku 

“Digital Inclusivity: Is your smartphone a privilege or a right?” Neor’s talk is sure to make you deliberate the grey areas where right and privilege collide, promising a resounding conclusion to that question.

Neor Tiku is a 3rd-year Political Science student at the University of British Columbia. At the age of 16, Neor co-founded the Connect Vancouver Foundation, a youth-run organization dedicated to making technology and the internet more accessible to Vancouver’s homeless and at-risk. For almost five years, the organization has focused on providing free smartphones and phone plans to some of the cities most vulnerable, while also recently launching digital literacy training programs.

Neor strongly believes that charitable causes must create tangible local impacts and allows this principle to drive his work. He is currently using his Political Science background to explore the benefits of technology-empowerment for homeless and at-risk demographics through a research lens and seeks to better understand the potential for a fresh approach and an updated policy framework. In his spare time, Neor is the lead project developer for the Youth Leadership Challenge, a leadership event for BC youth and policymakers to materialize solutions to contentious community issues. He has received wide media recognition and continues to speak about the various unaddressed issues facing Vancouver’s homeless and at-risk population, and how technology can help mobilize change in these communities.