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2022 Conference Speakers

Tim Kopra is the Vice President for Robotics and Space Operations at MDA, a Canadian space company that has provided robotic arms, sensors, and operations for the Space Shuttle, International Space Station (ISS), and now for the Lunar Gateway. Tim is also an advisor for Blue Bear Capital, a venture capital firm investing in companies that provide digital technology solutions for the energy supply chain.

Previously, Tim served in various leadership and operational roles at NASA as an engineer and astronaut.  While at NASA, Tim lived and worked on board the ISS during two spaceflights, completing three spacewalks and logging 244 days in space.  In 2016, Tim was the ISS Commander for Expedition 47.  

Tim served in the U.S. Army for 25 years as an Army aviator.  He was deployed to Operations Desert Shield and Storm and then commanded an AH-64 Attack Helicopter Company.  Following studies at Georgia Tech and completing the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School, Tim was the Developmental Test Director for the Army’s Comanche Helicopter Program until his assignment to NASA in 1998.  Tim was selected as an astronaut in 2000.

Tim remains active in military affairs as a Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army for the East Texas region. He is also involved in the Texas entrepreneurship ecosystem as an advisor to Greentown Labs Houston, Pennybacker Capital, and two startups.

Tim earned his Bachelor of Science from the United States Military Academy, a Master of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College, a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Tech, and MBAs from Columbia Business School and London Business School

Qiyin Fang is a professor of Engineering Physics at McMaster University and held the Canada Research Chair in Biophotonics from 2005-2016. Dr. Fang is an elected fellow of the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE).  

Dr. Fang's current research interests include multimodality sensing and imaging technologies for biomedical applications, e.g. optical biopsy, wide-field imaging, endoscopy, microscopy, point-of-care/in-home/wearable sensing systems, and distributed environmental sensing.  Prior to his current position at McMaster, Dr. Fang was a research scientist in the Minimally Invasive Surgical Technology Institute at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. 

John Preston is a faculty member in the Department of Engineering Physics at McMaster University’s Faculty of Engineering and currently serves as the Faculty’s Associate Dean, Research, Innovation and External Relations. As such he oversees the Faculty’s $45M research portfolio. His own research is in the area of nanostructured materials for electronic and optical applications. He has been an Associate of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research in the area of Quantum Materials, has served as a founding member of the Board for the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology and served on the Materials Research Advisory Committee for the TRIUMF National Laboratory. He has represented Canada on numerous technical delegations including those to Germany, UK, Scandinavia, India and China, and has represented Canada on the ISO technical committee on nanotechnology.    

Prof. Preston is a device physicist and a materials scientist who specializes in the application of laser-based manufacturing approaches for novel device applications. Current activities within the Preston group include a new approach for 3D printing of BiTe to produce high efficiency thermoelectric generators and the pulsed laser deposition of solar cells on oxide crystals that can be subsequently lifted off those crystals. 

Bryce Dudley is a vision systems engineer with MDA's Robotics and Space Operations group (formerly Neptec Design Group). His work currently supports the use of LiDAR systems to enable autonomous rendezvous and berthing operations at the International Space Station (ISS), and vision systems for planetary exploration rovers and satellite servicing missions. 

He holds a degree in Mechatronic Systems Engineering from the University of Western Ontario, where he is currently a Masters student in Electrical & Computer Engineering, exploring the application of machine learning to 3D datasets. 

Bryce also holds a degree in Political Science from the University of Calgary, the city where he grew up. Bryce now lives in Ottawa with his wife Dominique and their dog, Lily.

Tim Kopra is the Vice President for Robotics and Space Operations at MDA, a Canadian space company that has provided robotic arms, sensors, and operations for the Space Shuttle, International Space Station (ISS), and now for the Lunar Gateway. Tim is also an advisor for Blue Bear Capital, a venture capital firm investing in companies that provide digital technology solutions for the energy supply chain.

Previously, Tim served in various leadership and operational roles at NASA as an engineer and astronaut.  While at NASA, Tim lived and worked on board the ISS during two spaceflights, completing three spacewalks and logging 244 days in space.  In 2016, Tim was the ISS Commander for Expedition 47.  

Tim served in the U.S. Army for 25 years as an Army aviator.  He was deployed to Operations Desert Shield and Storm and then commanded an AH-64 Attack Helicopter Company.  Following studies at Georgia Tech and completing the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School, Tim was the Developmental Test Director for the Army’s Comanche Helicopter Program until his assignment to NASA in 1998.  Tim was selected as an astronaut in 2000.

Tim remains active in military affairs as a Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army for the East Texas region. He is also involved in the Texas entrepreneurship ecosystem as an advisor to Greentown Labs Houston, Pennybacker Capital, and two startups.

Tim earned his Bachelor of Science from the United States Military Academy, a Master of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College, a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Tech, and MBAs from Columbia Business School and London Business School

Qiyin Fang is a professor of Engineering Physics at McMaster University and held the Canada Research Chair in Biophotonics from 2005-2016. Dr. Fang is an elected fellow of the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE).  

Dr. Fang's current research interests include multimodality sensing and imaging technologies for biomedical applications, e.g. optical biopsy, wide-field imaging, endoscopy, microscopy, point-of-care/in-home/wearable sensing systems, and distributed environmental sensing.  Prior to his current position at McMaster, Dr. Fang was a research scientist in the Minimally Invasive Surgical Technology Institute at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. 

John Preston is a faculty member in the Department of Engineering Physics at McMaster University’s Faculty of Engineering and currently serves as the Faculty’s Associate Dean, Research, Innovation and External Relations. As such he oversees the Faculty’s $45M research portfolio. His own research is in the area of nanostructured materials for electronic and optical applications. He has been an Associate of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research in the area of Quantum Materials, has served as a founding member of the Board for the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology and served on the Materials Research Advisory Committee for the TRIUMF National Laboratory. He has represented Canada on numerous technical delegations including those to Germany, UK, Scandinavia, India and China, and has represented Canada on the ISO technical committee on nanotechnology.    

Prof. Preston is a device physicist and a materials scientist who specializes in the application of laser-based manufacturing approaches for novel device applications. Current activities within the Preston group include a new approach for 3D printing of BiTe to produce high efficiency thermoelectric generators and the pulsed laser deposition of solar cells on oxide crystals that can be subsequently lifted off those crystals. 

Bryce Dudley is a vision systems engineer with MDA's Robotics and Space Operations group (formerly Neptec Design Group). His work currently supports the use of LiDAR systems to enable autonomous rendezvous and berthing operations at the International Space Station (ISS), and vision systems for planetary exploration rovers and satellite servicing missions. 

He holds a degree in Mechatronic Systems Engineering from the University of Western Ontario, where he is currently a Masters student in Electrical & Computer Engineering, exploring the application of machine learning to 3D datasets. 

Bryce also holds a degree in Political Science from the University of Calgary, the city where he grew up. Bryce now lives in Ottawa with his wife Dominique and their dog, Lily.

Melissa Farrell is currently the President, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, an academic and research healthcare organization.  St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton (SJHH) is committed to making a difference in people’s lives and creating a lasting future for our community through integrated health services and internationally recognized programs. Our threefold mission is to provide dynamic research, revolutionary methods in health sciences education, and the highest standard of clinical care in a spirit of compassion, innovation and commitment.  Melissa is an Assistant Professor (Part-time), Division of Education and Innovation, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University.

 Prior to working at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Melissa had a long and distinguished career largely focused in the public sector and was most recently the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s Hospitals and Emergency Services Division, leading a large and diverse team responsible for delivering on the province’s funding and quality priorities in the pre-hospital, hospital, community care access, and long-term care sectors.

 In addition, Melissa was at a time, the Director of the Primary Health Care Branch with the Ministry’s Negotiations and Accountability Management Division, where she managed over 2,000 primary care provider contracts and supported the development of strategies to further enhance primary care services across the province.

Her abilities to deliver, transform, connect and inspire have been recognized with six ministry Achievement, Commitment and Excellence nominations and awards, and Gold and Amethyst Public Sector Leadership awards from the Institute of Public Administration of Canada.

Melissa was Co-Chair of the inaugural Hospital Advisory Committee, comprised of membership from the ministry, the Ontario Hospital Association and the Local Health Integration Networks and also has sat on the boards of MaRS EXCITE and Health Quality Ontario. She is currently a Board Member of the Ontario Hospital Association.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Philosophy and a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning (with a focus on healthcare planning), both from Queen's University. Melissa has completed additional training at the Harvard Business School, Ivy Business School, Rotman School of Management and Ontario Public Service Leadership.

Tak W. Mak, was one of the first scientists to work on apoptotic mechanisms, initially from an immunological perspective. 

This interest sprang from his early work, which was dedicated to understanding mechanisms of T-cell recognition and development. Indeed, his laboratory was the first to clone the gene encoding the beta chain of the human T-cell receptor (TCR) and among the first to define the function of the immune checkpoint regulator CTLA-4. For his discoveries, Dr. Mak has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and a Foreign Member of the National Academy of Sciences (USA). He has also won many international prizes as well as received a dozen Honorary Doctoral degrees, including from the Karolinska Institute as well as from the Universities of Zurich, Göttingen, Hong Kong and Rome (Tor Vergata). His latest work ranges from defining novel connections between the nervous system and immune cells to exploiting properties unique to cancer cells in such a way as to kill them.

Jason Michaud is an experienced Chief Executive Officer with a demonstrated history of working in the information technology and services industry. Skilled in Computer Science, Customer Experience, and Strategic Planning.

Mr. Michaud is a strong business development professional, with passion in entrepreneurship and the business marketing world. Mr. Michaud been the Chief Executive Officer, President, and Founder of Stardust Technologies and Tech Galaxy with over 10 years of entrepreneurship and business development internationally.

Mr. Michaud studied at Collège Boréal in Computer Engineering and is a Certified Practitioner for CyberSecurity Certification (CPCSC) by Watsec Cyber Risk Management.

Mr. Michaud as established multiple international innovation projects with universities and partners cross the world, and has worked in collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency and the National Research Council of Canada on the EDEN project towards creating a solution utilizing virtual reality, neural systems, haptics feedback in Lunar, Martian, and Micro gravity environments to help astronauts cope with their mental health during their time on the International Space Station, space habitats and space exploration.

Mr. Michaud has also been very active in the community of Cochrane Ontario, by being a Director on the Cochrane Board of Trade and Centre de Formation for multiple years. Mr. Michaud has brought the technology, aerospace, and defence industries to his community and is working building economic growth for the region in these sectors.

Anastasiia Prysyazhnyuk is accountable for the convergence of scientific priorities and medical operations needs, aimed at informing the Canadian deep space healthcare contribution. She actively liaises with national stakeholders and international partners to help establish a strong Canadian innovation ecosystem that can address the synergies in healthcare challenges in space and on Earth.

 Anastasiia received a Master’s of Health Sciences Health Informatics degree from the Ontario Tech University. In her thesis, she proposed a wholistic framework for the assessment of human adaption to conditions of spaceflight environment. She has actively participated in various international projects involving space analogs.

 Anastasiia is passionate about innovation and continues to explore ways in which science and technology can be leveraged for the betterment of health outcomes in space and on Earth.

Melissa Farrell is currently the President, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, an academic and research healthcare organization.  St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton (SJHH) is committed to making a difference in people’s lives and creating a lasting future for our community through integrated health services and internationally recognized programs. Our threefold mission is to provide dynamic research, revolutionary methods in health sciences education, and the highest standard of clinical care in a spirit of compassion, innovation and commitment.  Melissa is an Assistant Professor (Part-time), Division of Education and Innovation, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University.

 Prior to working at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Melissa had a long and distinguished career largely focused in the public sector and was most recently the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s Hospitals and Emergency Services Division, leading a large and diverse team responsible for delivering on the province’s funding and quality priorities in the pre-hospital, hospital, community care access, and long-term care sectors.

 In addition, Melissa was at a time, the Director of the Primary Health Care Branch with the Ministry’s Negotiations and Accountability Management Division, where she managed over 2,000 primary care provider contracts and supported the development of strategies to further enhance primary care services across the province.

Her abilities to deliver, transform, connect and inspire have been recognized with six ministry Achievement, Commitment and Excellence nominations and awards, and Gold and Amethyst Public Sector Leadership awards from the Institute of Public Administration of Canada.

Melissa was Co-Chair of the inaugural Hospital Advisory Committee, comprised of membership from the ministry, the Ontario Hospital Association and the Local Health Integration Networks and also has sat on the boards of MaRS EXCITE and Health Quality Ontario. She is currently a Board Member of the Ontario Hospital Association.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Philosophy and a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning (with a focus on healthcare planning), both from Queen's University. Melissa has completed additional training at the Harvard Business School, Ivy Business School, Rotman School of Management and Ontario Public Service Leadership.

Tak W. Mak, was one of the first scientists to work on apoptotic mechanisms, initially from an immunological perspective. 

This interest sprang from his early work, which was dedicated to understanding mechanisms of T-cell recognition and development. Indeed, his laboratory was the first to clone the gene encoding the beta chain of the human T-cell receptor (TCR) and among the first to define the function of the immune checkpoint regulator CTLA-4. For his discoveries, Dr. Mak has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and a Foreign Member of the National Academy of Sciences (USA). He has also won many international prizes as well as received a dozen Honorary Doctoral degrees, including from the Karolinska Institute as well as from the Universities of Zurich, Göttingen, Hong Kong and Rome (Tor Vergata). His latest work ranges from defining novel connections between the nervous system and immune cells to exploiting properties unique to cancer cells in such a way as to kill them.

Jason Michaud is an experienced Chief Executive Officer with a demonstrated history of working in the information technology and services industry. Skilled in Computer Science, Customer Experience, and Strategic Planning.

Mr. Michaud is a strong business development professional, with passion in entrepreneurship and the business marketing world. Mr. Michaud been the Chief Executive Officer, President, and Founder of Stardust Technologies and Tech Galaxy with over 10 years of entrepreneurship and business development internationally.

Mr. Michaud studied at Collège Boréal in Computer Engineering and is a Certified Practitioner for CyberSecurity Certification (CPCSC) by Watsec Cyber Risk Management.

Mr. Michaud as established multiple international innovation projects with universities and partners cross the world, and has worked in collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency and the National Research Council of Canada on the EDEN project towards creating a solution utilizing virtual reality, neural systems, haptics feedback in Lunar, Martian, and Micro gravity environments to help astronauts cope with their mental health during their time on the International Space Station, space habitats and space exploration.

Mr. Michaud has also been very active in the community of Cochrane Ontario, by being a Director on the Cochrane Board of Trade and Centre de Formation for multiple years. Mr. Michaud has brought the technology, aerospace, and defence industries to his community and is working building economic growth for the region in these sectors.

Anastasiia Prysyazhnyuk is accountable for the convergence of scientific priorities and medical operations needs, aimed at informing the Canadian deep space healthcare contribution. She actively liaises with national stakeholders and international partners to help establish a strong Canadian innovation ecosystem that can address the synergies in healthcare challenges in space and on Earth.

 Anastasiia received a Master’s of Health Sciences Health Informatics degree from the Ontario Tech University. In her thesis, she proposed a wholistic framework for the assessment of human adaption to conditions of spaceflight environment. She has actively participated in various international projects involving space analogs.

 Anastasiia is passionate about innovation and continues to explore ways in which science and technology can be leveraged for the betterment of health outcomes in space and on Earth.

Dr. Leyla Soleymani received her PhD from University of Toronto in 2010 in Electrical and Computer Engineering and joined McMaster University in 2011.

Dr. Soleymani is currently an Associate Professor in the Departments of Engineering Physics and Biomedical Engineering at McMaster and is a University Scholar and the Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Miniaturized Biomedical Devices.

Dr. Soleymani’s research is focused on developing technologies for rapid disease diagnostics and health monitoring, as well as solutions for reducing the spread of infectious diseases.

Dr. Soleymani was awarded the Ontario Early Researcher Award in 2016, the Engineering Innovation of the Year Award by the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers in 2020, and the grand prize for Tech Brief’s Create the Future Contest in 2020 for her work on biosensors and biointerfaces.

Dr. Soleymani has over 60 high-impact publications and holds several patents in the areas of biosensing and biointerfaces with multiple diagnostics technologies licensed to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

As CTV News’ Medical Correspondent, Avis Favaro specializes in health stories that can make a difference in the lives of Canadians. Based in Toronto, Favaro is Canada’s longest serving television Medical Correspondent, having started this beat for CTV News in 1992.

Since then she has reported on a wide variety of health issues, including medical errors, drug shortages, mental health, so many health stories that she has dubbed herself the “Network Hypochondriac”

She’s received multiple awards over her years, and built extra shelves at home (just kidding) and appreciates the recognition but her high points are when she gets emails from patients and doctors saying her stories are accurate, that they helped inform someone, in some cases, helped change a life.

Favaro holds an honorary PhD from McMaster University and is a graduate of Western University and the pandemic helped make her a grandmother 3 times over. ​

Richard L. Hughson is the Schlegel Research Chair in Vascular Aging and Brain Health in the Schlegel-University of Waterloo Research Institute for Aging, a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, and the recipient of the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal. He is the PI of 6 experiments selected for research on ISS. His research is exploring underlying mechanisms for the accelerated “aging-like” changes in the cardiovascular systems of astronauts using tools such as ultrasound investigations and oral glucose tolerance testing in space. Back on Earth, he studies the impact of increased arterial stiffness on brain blood flow and why older persons experience dizziness and increased risk of falling.

Dr. Leyla Soleymani received her PhD from University of Toronto in 2010 in Electrical and Computer Engineering and joined McMaster University in 2011.

Dr. Soleymani is currently an Associate Professor in the Departments of Engineering Physics and Biomedical Engineering at McMaster and is a University Scholar and the Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Miniaturized Biomedical Devices.

Dr. Soleymani’s research is focused on developing technologies for rapid disease diagnostics and health monitoring, as well as solutions for reducing the spread of infectious diseases.

Dr. Soleymani was awarded the Ontario Early Researcher Award in 2016, the Engineering Innovation of the Year Award by the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers in 2020, and the grand prize for Tech Brief’s Create the Future Contest in 2020 for her work on biosensors and biointerfaces.

Dr. Soleymani has over 60 high-impact publications and holds several patents in the areas of biosensing and biointerfaces with multiple diagnostics technologies licensed to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

As CTV News’ Medical Correspondent, Avis Favaro specializes in health stories that can make a difference in the lives of Canadians. Based in Toronto, Favaro is Canada’s longest serving television Medical Correspondent, having started this beat for CTV News in 1992.

Since then she has reported on a wide variety of health issues, including medical errors, drug shortages, mental health, so many health stories that she has dubbed herself the “Network Hypochondriac”

She’s received multiple awards over her years, and built extra shelves at home (just kidding) and appreciates the recognition but her high points are when she gets emails from patients and doctors saying her stories are accurate, that they helped inform someone, in some cases, helped change a life.

Favaro holds an honorary PhD from McMaster University and is a graduate of Western University and the pandemic helped make her a grandmother 3 times over. ​

Richard L. Hughson is the Schlegel Research Chair in Vascular Aging and Brain Health in the Schlegel-University of Waterloo Research Institute for Aging, a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, and the recipient of the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal. He is the PI of 6 experiments selected for research on ISS. His research is exploring underlying mechanisms for the accelerated “aging-like” changes in the cardiovascular systems of astronauts using tools such as ultrasound investigations and oral glucose tolerance testing in space. Back on Earth, he studies the impact of increased arterial stiffness on brain blood flow and why older persons experience dizziness and increased risk of falling.