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S2BN Ottawa Chapter’s Third Annual Graduate and PDF Mentorship Program Wraps Up!

Sept 1st, 2022 | Written by: Rayanna Birtch (PhD Student, uOttawa), Dr. Megan Mahoney (founder of the Science to Business Mentorship Program led by the Ottawa Chapter), Claire Fong-McMaster (Master’s Student, uOttawa), Anjali Patel (Research Technician, Sinai Health), Dr. Leslie Nash (Evaluator, Health Canada), and Mihir Bhatt (Talent Acquisition Specialist, Prodent Search, Inc.)

It’s a wrap - the Ottawa Chapter S2BN Mentorship Program has come to an end, but read on to learn more about the program, our mentors, and tips and tricks about how to network!

Taken at the 3rd Mentorship Program Kick-off Event March 3, 2022

Fostering mentorship for STEM graduate and postdoctoral fellows

In an ever-changing STEM landscape, graduate students and post doctoral fellows in STEM fields ask “what’s next and how do I get there?” when thinking about their career and professional progression. Addressing these questions is part of the ‘raison-d’etre’ of the Ottawa Chapter’s S2BN Mentorship program that just wrapped up its third year of programming.

This year, the S2BN’s Mentorship Program brought together 25 mentees (graduate students and postdoctoral fellows from Carleton University and the University of Ottawa) and 25 mentors from across Canada to participate in a 6-month, one-on-one hybrid-based mentorship program. The overall goal of the program is to facilitate the transition of STEM trainees to careers outside of academia and to provide an environment that allows for meaningful relationship development with professionals. By linking highly qualified personnel (HQP) from research-intensive institutions with subject matter experts and industry professionals, this program helps facilitate the professional development of STEM-based HQP and provides them with the transferable skills and know-how to gain a competitive edge in the job market and insights to make difficult decisions about how to choose a career path. This year, the program was structured with one-on-one monthly touchpoints between mentors and mentees along with multiple virtual networking sessions in which the cohort came together to engage and learn from each other.

Increasing Demand for Mentorship

The program has been immensely popular - since the launch of the program in 2020, there has been an increase in both attendance and interest, which resulted in a 220% increase in the number of pairings. Indeed, this year, the program received 87 mentee applications, which speaks to the interest in mentorship by HQP. Based on cumulative feedback received over the three years of the program, the S2BN mentorship program participants have reported 95% program satisfaction, by both mentors and mentees, with close to 100% of mentees indicating they would recommend the program to a colleague!

“My mentor was extremely kind, helpful and also pushed me to really get myself ready for job interviews. In fact, I just got a job offer yesterday for a job in industry. And I am going to be working at the company my mentor works at as a senior manager. I feel so grateful to the S2BN for providing me with such a great mentor who really worked to give me the tools to land my first industry job!!” - Testimonial (Mentee)

“Great experience overall. I wish I had something like this when I was in grad school! The executive team put in a lot of effort to make things work well this year and it really paid off. I would be happy to continue supporting this in future years, either as a mentor myself or helping you find other mentor candidates.” - Testimonial (Mentor)

This year’s mentees represented a diverse cohort of domestic and international graduate students and postdoctoral fellows from the University of Ottawa and Carleton University. Mentees were selected from programs including mathematics, biochemistry, physics, health sciences, human kinetics, chemistry, bioinformatics, cellular and molecular medicine, neuroscience, plant biochemistry, environmental sciences, and clinical epidemiology. Mentors were selected and matched based on their role, professional background, skillset, location, career stage, and mentee goals.

A HUGE thank you to the Mentors!

This program is made possible by the time commitments and expertise of our Mentors:


  • Health Canada: Dr. Timao Li, Manager, Health Canada

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada: Dr. Adam Smith, Dennis He

  • Public Health Agency of Canada: Dr. Deepa Rao, Acting Chief of Staff and Advisor

  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada: Dr. Liam Crapper, Policy Analyst

  • National Research Council Canada: Dr. Risini Weeratna, Senior Research Officer and Team Lead

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada: Dr. Jonathan Griffiths, Research Scientist

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada: Dr. Brittany Beauchamp

Biotech & Industry:

  • AmorChem: Dr. Elizabeth Douville, Founder and Managing Partner

  • Amplitude VC: Dr. Juliana Munoz, Analyst

  • Allarta Life Science: Dr. Nadia Al-Banna, Director of Research& Business Development

  • GlaxoSmithKline: Dr. David Willer, Sr Global Medical Affairs Lead

  • Genomadix: Tara Linesman, Product Usability and Applications Manager

  • Tribe Medical: Dylan Bailey, Vice President

  • Treventis: Dr. Mark Reed, Founder & Chief Scientific Officer

  • Sickkids Toronto: Dr. James Dowling, Senior Scientist

  • Tika Pharma: Dr. Abdi Ghaffari, Founder & Managing Director

  • VBI Vaccines: Michelle Yuan, Andrea McRae: Sr. Research Technician, Project Manager

Data science & Physics:

  • Ciena: Dr. Fanqi Kong, Research Scientist Engineer

  • Deep Genomics: Dr. Carl Spickett, Lead Scientist

  • Tutte Institute for Mathematics and Computing: Dr. Leland McInnis, Research Mathematician and Data Scientist

  • QuBridge: Dr. Mattia Montagna, Chief Executive Officer

  • Shopify: Dr. Ali Khanafar, Lead Data Scientist

  • Xanadu: Dr. Eli Bourassa, Quantum Computing Researcher

Tips & Tricks on Successful Networking from our Mentors

We asked our mentors for their tips and tricks on successful networking. These a few of their responses:

  • Interactions generally go better if you approach folks with an interest in getting to know what they do, rather than trying to get some key insight or job opportunity out of them.

  • Get out there and introduce yourself. Ask questions.

  • You have to put yourself out there and you need 'to kiss as many frogs as possible' to have a few sticks. It's a numbers game. Not all people you meet at conferences will lead to lasting network relationships. These relationships are built over time and there is attrition over time.

Paying it forward: Initiative led by HQP and Early-Career Professionals

Each year, the program is led by volunteer HQP and working professionals who have a common goal of supporting the next generation of talent - knowing the value of strong mentorship. The 2022 S2BN Mentorship Program was made possible through the leadership of the S2BN’s Mentorship Committee, which is composed of: Claire Fong-McMaster (Master’s Student, uOttawa), Rayanna Birtch (PhD Student, uOttawa), Anjali Patel (Research Technician, Sinai Health), Leslie Nash (Evaluator, Health Canada), Megan Mahoney (Director of Scientific Affairs and Training, BioCanRx), and Mihir Bhatt (Talent Acquisition Specialist, Prodent Search, Inc.) The Mentorship team can be reached at any time via email at

If you are interested in learning more about the mentorship program, would like to be a mentor, or are interested in getting involved in the committee itself, please do not hesitate to reach out!


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