Keynote Speakers

Douglas McDougall, Professor 
Professor of Mathematics Education
Faculty of Education, University of Toronto Ontario Institute for Studies in EducationEditor-in-Chief, Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education
Toronto, Canada
Keynote Address: Exploring STEM: From Roots to Flowers

This presentation will take place in the summer time in Vancouver. We will expect to see some flowering plants. The roots of a plant anchor the plant to the ground and keep it steady. The stem carries water and other nutrients to different parts of the plant. It also provides support to keep the plant standing. The leaves and flowers provide beauty, growth and colour to the plant.

In this presentation, Professor Douglas McDougall will use the metaphor of a plant to discuss where we started with STEM (the roots), and the characteristics of successful STEM activities and emerging research findings (the stem). It is the STEM activities and the possible educational and employment opportunities that provide the variation of the present (the flowers). Finally, he will explore the possible directions we can go in the future (the seed).

To explore the stem of STEM, Doug will summarize some of the research that has helped us identify the benefits of STEM and to keep the field moving forward. But the beauty of many plants can be seen from the flower. There are many ways to create collaborative, dynamic and interactive lessons in elementary and secondary schools. Doug will discuss the principles of STEM-focused lessons to help teachers and researchers to create a STEM-infused classroom (and a bouquet of beautiful and colourful flowers).

Finally, we should always be asking the question “What kind of flower do you plan to have with your STEM?”

Professor McDougall is a Professor at the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto. He is also an Associate Dean, Programs at the Faculty of Education at the University of Toronto. He served as Co-Director of the Master of Teaching Program from 2000 to 2004 and Coordinator of the Master of Teaching Program from 2004 to 2009. In addition, he served as Associate Chair of the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning (CTL) from 2005 to 2008, and Chair since 2010. In 2018, Prof. McDougall became Chief Editor of the Canadian Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education - one of the leading international journals in the field.

With a distinguished record of scholarship and teaching in mathematics education, Professor McDougall's research on improving instructional strategies at the elementary and secondary school levels has attracted funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Education, and the Toronto District School Board. He has supervised more than two-dozen doctoral students to completion. He is a former president of the Psychology of Mathematics Education, North America Chapter.

Professor McDougall’s contributions to leadership at the University of Toronto are many. He served as a member of the University of Toronto Academic Board from 2005 to 2014, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Academic Policy and Programs from 2006 to 2012, and Chair of the Committee from 2012 to 2014.

Leah Edelstein-Keshet, Professor
Department of Mathematics
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, Canada
Keynote Address: Teaching Calculus to Life Science Students

Students arrive at university with little idea of what science is really about, and even less conception of why mathematics is important and helpful. Yet, many of them aspire to be MDs, or biologists, and to solve the important problems of humanity. How do we teach them not only to appreciate scientific ways of thinking but also to see the interconnections between the sciences, the power of mathematics, and the ways science, math, and medicine can illuminate one another? In my talk, I will describe an effort to use first-year calculus to introduce students to some of these notions, though at a basic and accessible level. I will discuss the curriculum and open resources that were developed locally, and showcase some of the case-studies. I conclude with some of the challenges faced by educators, and others by students and speculate on how to address these in future efforts.

Professor Edelstein-Keshet’s career is dedicated to using mathematics as a tool for research in the life sciences. She has become recognized as one of the world leaders in the area of mathematical biology, in which she has been at the forefront for 25 years. Her work spans many topics, from the sub-cellular to the ecological. For the past decade, she has focused on biomedical research, including autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes. She also researches Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Edelstein-Keshet earned her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Mathematics from Dalhousie University and received her doctorate in Applied Mathematics from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel in 1982. She held teaching positions at Brown University and Duke University before joining The University of British Columbia (UBC) as Associate Professor in 1989, becoming Professor in 1995. Her book Mathematical Models in Biology (Random House) is regarded as the definitive textbook in the rapidly growing field of mathematical biology.

She has been awarded the Canadian Mathematical Society’s Krieger-Nelson Prize, which recognizes outstanding research by a female mathematician, and, at UBC, the Faculty of Science Award for Leadership. She has also served as President of the Society for Mathematical Biology.

Daniel Roehr, Associate Professor
School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture
Faculty of Applied Science
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, Canada
Keynote Address: STEM + Art = Design Education: How can Youth Education promote STEM learning?

Today’s youth are the biggest asset for our world’s positive development. Instilling passionate connections to future professions especially during high school right through college, university or craft education, is the foundation of youth’s professional development. High school teachers are therefore, together with the parents, the ‘General Practitioners’ (or gatekeepers) for what education a high school student will need for any future profession. One of the biggest challenges in high school education is to balance state required knowledge and skill transfer, with the youth’s own desires and interests in learning, exploring and thriving. When it comes to design education, it is therefore important that high school teachers’ oral training and syllabus creation includes a link between STEM and Art subjects. STEM should act as an education driver for other subjects, but STEM teachers need to integrate art in their teaching. The awareness of traditional academic subjects such as law, medicine and engineering is not a broad enough palette to entice the youth to be inspired to be the next generation of thinkers, developers and leaders. STEM Syllabuses should include not so well-known subjects like landscape architecture and graphic design and promote the value of an additional craft education such as carpentry, tailoring, plumbing etc. to widen youth’s exposure to professional choices. In fact, teacher training and syllabuses should place priority on niche subjects. STEM subjects should be related to and combined with ART. Often isolated high school art education alone cannot manage this task but integrating the complex interconnected processes of STEM with art education could. This lecture will present examples of how STEM subjects could be integrated with the art and design disciplines of landscape architecture, environmental design or urban design. For example, youth could be applying math exercises in context of the environment to calculate how much rainwater is accumulated by different roof sizes and shapes in relation to the changing climate. This could ignite awareness in the environment, encourage respect for the usefulness of math and introduce the interdependence of design and math in calculating the quantity of water accumulated on different roof shapes. With Google being the biggest library of the world, accessible peer reviewed online research can stimulate and support syllabus content and assignments. The increasingly more complex and researched world provides many opportunities for high school educators to stimulate STEM and Art and can provide the nurturing ground for our future thinkers, craftsman and leaders of the world.

Professor Roehr teaches Landscape Architecture in the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at UBC and is a licensed landscape architect in BC and Berlin. Since 2007, he runs the research group greenskinslab http://blogs.ubc.ca/greenskinslab/. His research focuses on the integration of living roofs as part of holistic systems for storm water management. Daniel coauthored the book “Living Roofs in Integrated Urban Water Systems” (Routledge 2015) and regularly publishes in scientific journals and professional magazines https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Daniel_Roehr. He is working on his new book "Seeing Environment: Interacting with the Landscape - A Guide for Designers" (Routledge exp. 2021) and recently developed a Low Impact Development (LID) application with his research team to calculate stormwater run-off in the initial urban design and planning phase. He also runs a hand drawing blog https://blogs.ubc.ca/drawingsdanielroehr/ and Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/danielroehrdrawings/?utm_source=ig_profile_share&igshid=1onvlm1tna69x which archives 30 years of his architectural hand drawings to inspire students to continue to use hand drawing as a design and research tool additional to current digital modelling applications. In 2013/14, he was a UBC Sustainability Research Fellow and was selected as a team member to compete designing the Canadian National Holocaust Memorial in Ottawa and in 2016 he received the Killam Teaching Prize from UBC. Daniel has practiced extensively in Europe, North America, and Asia. From 1995 to 2000, he was project architect of the award-winning Daimler-Chrysler Green Roof Project, Potsdamer Platz, Berlin, Germany and ran his own firm in Berlin from 1999 to 2007, and co-founded a firm in Shanghai in 2004.

Deborah McGregor, Associate Professor
Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Environmental Justice
Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University
Toronto, Canada
Keynote Address: STEM as an Expression of Indigenous Science

Professor McGregor is the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Environmental Justice.  Her work is in the area of Aboriginal environmental and resource management and governance. The approach she takes is interdisciplinary, and includes such topics as: environmental justice, health, traditional ecological knowledge, water quality, environmental assessment, sustainability, sustainable forest management, environmental planning, and Indigenous knowledge systems.

Her research focus has for the last few years centred on four areas: Indigenous knowledges in an urban context; Indigenous knowledge and environmental justice; Indigenous perspectives on water quality/quantity with a focus on gender; and Indigenous research approaches.

A core aspect of her work involves combining research and teaching in areas such as Indigenous governance and justice, Indigenous knowledge systems, Indigenous pedagogies and research approaches.

Melissa Sariffodeen,  Co-Founder and CEO Ladies Learning Code and Canada Learning Code
Toronto, Canada
Keynote Address: Canada Learning Code: The Future of the Workforce

According to current projections, there will be a shortage of more than 200,000 information and communications technology (ICT) workers in Canada by the year 2020. These figures, published in the 2016 ICTC Digital Talent Strategy Report, paint a grim picture of our not-too-distant economic future. Left unaddressed, this looming skills mismatch will have far-reaching consequences for Canada.

As a nation, our ability to prosper both socially and economically will undoubtedly be compromised if only a small portion of Canadians are equipped with the skills necessary to participate fully -- let alone innovate -- in our increasingly digital world. The good news is that Canada is uniquely positioned to rise to the occasion and become a world leader in computer science education. We have the expertise, the infrastructure, the resources, and the political will to develop and execute a comprehensive and cohesive coding education strategy.

In this keynote, Melissa speaks to:

  • The changing reality of work in the western world
  • The causes of the impending skills gap
  • Policy and grassroots solutions for developing a Canadian workforce primed and ready to take on the lucrative, rewarding tech-powered careers of the present and future
  • The importance of applying a diversity lens to digital literacy efforts

Melissa is a social entrepreneur, leader and big thinker. As Co-Founder and CEO of Ladies Learning Code and Canada Learning Code, Melissa has established a reputation as a fierce advocate for women and youth. She is dedicated to ensuring that they receive the critical skills, confidence, and opportunities that they need to become passionate builders -- not just consumers -- of technology and to thrive in our increasingly digital world.

Since 2011, Ladies Learning Code has championed digital literacy for Canadians, working nation-wide and across all sectors to equip women and youth with technical skills. To date, the organization has taught over 60,000 Canadians code through their programs, which are offered in over 30 cities across the country. The organization runs programming for adult women, a thriving girls' program called Girls Learning Code, and a co-ed youth program called Kids Learning Code. The organization’s latest initiative is a program for educators: Teachers Learning Code.

In 2016, Melissa and her team launched their most ambitious initiative to date: Canada Learning Code - a ground breaking cross-sector coalition to create 10 million technology learning experiences for Canadians over the next ten years.

Her efforts to promote digital literacy in Canada have garnered attention from national media outlets like CTV, CBC, and the Globe & Mail -- and landed her a spot on Elle Canada’s list of 9 Canadian Women Making a Difference. She’s spoken on the TEDx stage as well as at notable conference such as Canada2020, GoNorth and the Canadian Association for Business Economic Forum. Melissa hosted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to participate in a coding workshop in 2016, and she attended the G7 for Team Canada in 2017.

Melissa holds an HBA degree from the Richard Ivey Business School and is currently pursuing her Master’s in Education Policy at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.  She taught herself how to build websites from scratch using HTML when she was 11 years old and has been coding ever since.