Best of the WWEST: Inspiring Women with Real Stories

Welcome to Best of the WWEST, a podcast hosted by Westcoast Women in Engineering, Science and Technology! We believe that providing role models for women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) can change the world, so come along with us as we talk to incredible women in STEM about their lives, careers, and everything in between; as well as experts in issues impacting diversity. Episodes are released at least twice per month, so make sure to subscribe to us on Overcast, iTunes/Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, and iHeartRadio or search for us on your favourite podcast app and never miss an episode!

Please also consider leaving us a review on iTunes or Stitcher so that more people may find us.

Latest Episode

Jennifer Flanagan is an inspirational leader for girls and women in STEM, and in this episode, you are sure to be just that - inspired! She joins WWEST manager and podcast host Danniele to give insights into how it benefits all of us to support women, girls, and Indigenous communities in STEM; how she founded Actua, an organization that inspires future innovators; and she asks and explores the important question "How does a context and environment need to change to be more welcoming and accepting of girls and women?"

Previous Episodes

Episode 1: Cole Brown, Lead Front-End Web Developer
We talk to Cole Brown, a lead front-end web developer, about her career, the future of the tech industry, and her secret superpowers.

Episode 2: Justine Munich, PhD Student (Physics)
Justine Munich, a PhD student in physics, fills us in on life in academia, her proudest moment of her career, and her role models.

Episode 3: Creating Connections 5.0
Join WWEST Manager Danniele Livengood and Creating Connections 5.0 Coordinator Jenna Anderson for a recap of the biennial Creating Connections 5.0 conference.

Episode 4: Christiana Cheng, PhD, Research Associate
Best of the WWEST host Danniele interviews Christiana Cheng, Research Associate at the Rick Hansen Institute.

Episode 5: WWEST Goes to the Yukon
Join Dr. Lesley Shannon as she speaks with two successful women engineers, Sandra MacDougall and Alison Anderson, in a special on-location Best of the WWEST interview in Whitehorse, YT.

Episode 6: Gordana Pejic, Software Engineer
Danniele speaks with Gordana Pejic, a software engineer originally from Serbia, who immigrated to Canada to receive a masters degree in Software Systems.

Episode 7: Victoria Camp, Geological Engineer in Training
This episode, we're talking to Victoria Camp, an Engineer in Training working in geological engineering at BGC Engineering Inc.

Episode 8: Janet Fraser, PhD, BC Green Party MLA Candidate
Danniele interviews Janet Fraser, PhD, BC Green Party MLA candidate and STEM professional.

Episode 9: Anne Simon, PhD, Virologist and "X-Files" Science Advisor
WWEST Assistant Coordinator Vanessa sits down with Anne Simon, PhD - professor at the University of Maryland, prominent virologist, and long-time science advisor of the "X-Files" series.

Episode 10: Cybele Negris, CEO,
Best of the WWEST chats with Cybele Negris, CEO of since 2000, about her most memorable career moments, work-life balance, and her dirty little secret.

Episode 11: Maria Klawe, PhD, President, Harvey Mudd College
As part of the President's Dream Colloquium, we welcome Dr. Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College, to chat about increasing participation and support of women in STEM.

Episode 12: Shari Graydon, Founder, Informed Opinions
As part of the President's Dream Colloquium, WWEST manager Danniele chats with award-winning author, advocate, and speaker Shari Graydon about the participation of women experts in the media.

Episode 13: Jane Gachuche, Fire Safety Engineer in Training
Fire Safety Engineering, big families, and coming to Canada from Kenya to study and work - these are all topics covered in this interview between WWEST manager Danniele and Jane Gachuche, consultant and Fire Safety Engineer in Training.

Episode 14: Steven Spencer, PhD, Psychology Professor, Ohio State University
Dr. Steven Spencer, Psychology Professor and Researcher at Ohio State University, chats with Best of the WWEST about the exciting work he and others are undertaking at the Engendering Success in STEM Consortium. This interview is also part of our series with speakers from the President's Dream Colloquium.

Episode 15: Leigh Wall, Apprentice Truck and Transport Mechanic
We are joined by Leigh Wall, Apprentice Truck and Transport Mechanic, Student Recruiter, and Public Speaker with a passion for engaging women and girls in Trades.

Episode 16: Dr. Danielle Gaucher, Social Psychology Professor, University of Winnipeg
As part of the President's Dream Colloquium, Danniele speaks with Dr. Danielle Gaucher all about gendered language in job advertisements.

Episode 17: Jo Miller, Founder, Be Leaderly
Jo Miller chats with WWEST manager Danniele about sponsorship versus mentorship, as part of the President's Dream Colloquium.

Episode 18: Negar Rohanian, PhD Candidate (Civil Engineering)
In this interview, Negar Roghanian tells us all about her life as a PhD student in Civil Engineering at the University of British Columbia, where her research focuses on developing sustainable coating for rehabilitation of corroded pipes.

Episode 19: Angie Byron, Drupal Core Committer
Join WWEST manager Danniele for a lively interview with Angie Byron, Drupal Core Committer and open source evangelist who lives and breathes Drupal.

Episode 20: Rahael Jalan, PhD, Founder, Eagles of Tomorrow Education Society
Rahael Jalan, PhD, joins Danniele to discuss her journey from India to Canada, where she settled to help Aboriginal youth excel in mathematics.

Episode 21: Best of the WWEST Highlight Reel
Best of the WWEST producer Vanessa showcases highlights from the podcast!

Episode 22: Holly Burton, Leadership Coach
Holly Burton joins WWEST manager Danniele with her "awkward turns of phrase" (her words!) and fills us in on leadership coaching for women in male-dominated industries.

Episode 23: Zhila Pirmoradi, PhD, Industrial Engineer
Hear all about improving processes at the City of Vancouver, industrial engineering, and mentoring immigrant women in STEM in this interview with Zhila Pirmoradi, PhD.

Episode 24: Judy Myers, PhD, Professor Emerita, Zoology
What was it like to rub elbows with the first Canadian women pioneering for other women's place in STEM? Dr. Judy Myers has seen a lot in her long career in Zoology - find out more in this interview with Best of the WWEST.

Episode 25: Katie Aitken, PhD, Ornithologist, Yukon College
WWEST Associate Chair Alison Anderson hosts this episode with Dr. Katie Aitken and speaks to her about bird watching, practicing science in the Yukon, and even what birds can teach us about climate change.

Episode 26: Halimat Alabi, Interactive Visualization Designer
Our guest of this episode, Halimat Alabi, brings us along on her journey through video game design, film and television, and research and teaching, with lots of laughs and poignant moments.

Episode 27: Gail Anderson, PhD, Forensic Entomologist & Professor
In this episode, WWEST manager Danniele chats with Dr. Gail Anderson about bugs and other animals, a career in forensics that makes a real difference in the world, and the benefits of university if one chooses to attend.

Episode 28: Deanna Burgart, Indigeneer
WWEST Associate Chair Alison Anderson sits down with Deanna Burgart to discuss her work integrating Indigenous traditional knowledge in engineering.

Episode 29: Angelica Lim, PhD, A.I. Roboticist
Come along with Dr. Angelica Lim and hear about her discovery of computing science and her passion for robotics!

Episode 30: Dr. Lori Brotto, Psychologist & Professor
In this episode, Danniele speaks with Dr. Lori Brotto about her career in psychology and gynaecology and how they can intersect.

Episode 31: Dawn MacDonald, Institutional Research and Planning Officer, Yukon College
Chickens in the kitchen, positron beams, and asking big questions about the universe - you will hear about all of these things in this episode with Dawn MacDonald.

Episode 32: Stacey Mulcahy, Principal Program Manager, the Garage, Microsoft
In this episode, Stacey Mulcahy tells us all about working at The Garage at Microsoft and how she is involved with many of its fun projects.

Episode 33: WWEST Celebrates LGBT STEM Day
On July 5th, WWEST Manager Danniele and Best of the WWEST Producer Vanessa visited the Telus World of Science for the First International Day of LGBTQ+ People in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math! (Short name: LGBT STEM Day.)

Episode 34: Kirsten Hogan, Environmental Engineer
Alison Anderson, the WWEST Associate Chair at Yukon College, interviews Kirsten Hogan and asks the real questions!

Episode 35: Colleen Legzdins, PhD, Entrepreneur & Metals and Materials Engineer
How does someone who hates math and science with no role models of women in STEM end up as a Metals and Materials Engineer? Colleen Legzdins will tell you all about it in this interview with WWEST Manager Danniele.

Episode 36: Danniele Livengood, Project Manager, WWEST
Best of the WWEST producer Vanessa interviews WWEST Program Manager Danniele about what got her into STEM, why she loves the work she does at WWEST, and what it takes to run such a program.

Episode 37: Jocelyn Joe-Strack, PhD Student, Land Use Planning and First Nations Studies
In this episode of Best of the WWEST: Yukon Edition, Alison Anderson chats with Jocelyn Joe-Strack about how she incorporates her First Nations background in her work strengthening the land planning process in the Yukon.

Episode 38: Rachel Nelson, Marine Mammal Trainer
What's Rachel Nelson's favourite part of her job? The otters, of course! Download this episode to learn more.

Episode 39: Jessica Lu, Corporate Analyst
In this episode, Jessica takes us along on her past journeys to Ireland, China, and Rome through her memories and the life lessons she learned.

Episode 40: Carmen Wong, PhD, Ecologist Team Leader, Kluane National Park
In yet another Yukon-focused episode, Alison Anderson speaks with Carmen Wong all about ecology. You'll find out that it's about more than just trees and bears!

Episode 41: Aerin Jacob, PhD, Ecologist, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative
In this episode, WWEST manager Danniele speaks with Aerin Jacob all about the importance of diversity in STEM, but especially in ecology and conservation.

Episode 42: Kai Scott, Principal Partner, TransFocus Consulting
Danniele is joined by Kai Scott, Principal Partner at TransFocus Consulting, to discuss how organizations can be the best employers they can for trans and non-binary folks.

Episode 43: Bella Kazwell, Web Engineering Lead, Asana
In this episode, Bella Kazwell, Web Engineering Lead at Asana, a leading web-based work management system, tells host Danniele about her work at Asana, describes how she got her dream job, and gives advice for all STEM professionals.

Episode 44: Leslie Leong, Civil Engineer & Visual Artist
 Host Alison Anderson talks with Leslie Leong about whether or not new technology really simplifies our lives and whether or not we should separate STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) from the arts.

Episode 45: Marcia MacDonald, PhD, Deputy Director, World Anti-Doping Agency
Marcia MacDonald, PhD, chats with host Danniele this week about working at the World Anti-Doping Agency. You'll hear about how her work helps to implement more efficient processes in the Athlete Biological Passport Program or ABP. But you'll also hear about Marcia's life as a woman in STEM.

Episode 46: Leigh Joseph (Styawat) Ethnobotanist & Community Activist
In this episode, we hear from Leigh Joseph about how having a more Indigenous presence in ethnobotany is key to community collaboration, and how researching traditional Indigenous plant medicine can help Indigenous communities return to their cultural practices and build a foundation for healing and self-care at a community and cultural level.

Episode 47: Jennifer Jakobi, PhD, Associate Dean & WWEST Associate Chair (UBCO)
Danniele sits down with Jennifer Jakobi, PhD, newly appointed WWEST Associate Chair at the University of British Columbia Okanagan. They cover many subjects, including - but not limited to - how to give students the opportunity to empower themselves and how STEM professionals can move forward in their careers successfully.

Episode 48: Monika Stachura, PhD, Research Scientist, TRIUMF
In this episode, you'll hear from Monika Stachura, PhD, about her career as a research scientist, how to have a successful interdisciplinary STEM career, and how to network and thrive.

Episode 49: Pamela Tannouri, Technology Development Manager, HealthTech Connex
From being the first employee at her current workplace, to growing a startup, to managing a team that is creating a revolutionary "blood pressure cuff for your brain," Pamela Tannouri tells host Danniele all about her journey through her career.

Episode 50: Dana Mills, Youth STEM Outreach Coordinator, Yukon College
Alison Anderson and the Yukon Edition of Best of the WWEST are back! This time, you'll hear from Dana Mills, and why it's so important to support youth in their passions and the fascinating research Dana undertook about youth transitioning out of foster care.

Episode 51: Mily Mumford, Writer/Director/Scientist
Host Danniele is joined by Mily Mumford to talk about scifi, bridging theatre and science, and the study of psychological effects of being in space.


Episode 52: Ania Kwiatkowski, PhD, Nuclear Physicist
This time, Danniele hears from Ania Kwiatkowski, PhD, a nuclear physicist at TRIUMF who is passionate about her work.

Episode 53: Rike Moon, PhD, Manager, STEAM Mentor Initiatives, Science World
In this episode, Rike Moon tells Danniele about her journey from a farm in Germany to her career at Science World in Vancouver. Rike gives great advice for STEM students and professionals and takes us down memory lane to explain how she overcame crippling exam anxiety.

Episode 54: Ellyne Kinney, Senior Systems Engineer, Earth Observation Systems
Ellyne Kinney relives her time working on big deal astronomy projects (Hubble Space Telescope and Goddard Space Flight Centre to name-drop just a couple), tells us about her fascination with space, and gives advice on how to be successful both in post-secondary school and in STEM careers.

Episode 55: Ella Chan, Sci-Files YouTube Host & Student
Ella Chan joins host Danniele to talk about all sorts of topics, including starting university and the importance of balancing the A in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics).

Episode 56: Michele Romanow, Dragon on CBC's "Dragons' Den"
Best of the WWEST producer Vanessa interviews Michele at Creating Connections 6.0 where Michele was a keynote speaker on May 4, 2019.

Episode 57: Creating Connections 6.0
In this special episode, podcast producer Vanessa will walk you through the Creating Connections 6.0 conference, which took place on May 3-4, 2019 in Vancouver, BC. Creating Connections is a diversity conference focused on attracting, engaging, and retaining women and underrepresented groups in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).

Episode 58: Nemaiah Shaw, Apprentice Aircraft Maintenance Engineer
This time, we look at the trades again and speak with Nemaiah Shaw, who tells us why she loves being an apprentice aircraft maintenance engineer, what it takes to become one, and her excitement for her eventual licensing.

Episode 59: Tara Robertson, Diversity & Inclusion Lead, Mozilla
Tara Robertson, Diversity & Inclusion Lead for Mozilla, is a diversity champion. You're going to hear about a lot of things an organization is doing right when it comes to diversifying their workplace and supporting their people.

Episode 60: Deborah Harford, Executive Director, Climate Change Adaptation Team
Deborah Harford gives background on the organization she co-founded, the Climate Change Adaptation Team (ACT), and explains how studying how animals and humans will have to adapt to climate change is extremely important.

Episode 61: Lianna Mah, VP Business Development, Associated Engineering
Lianna Mah has seen big change at Associated Engineering in her 29 years of being part of the organization. You'll hear all about diversity in engineering and how it has evolved over the years.

Episode 62: Leanne Roed, Game Designer & Artist
What is it like to release a mobile game from start to finish? How does game design foster collaboration? Is there space for the silly and strange in the video game sphere? This week's guest, Leanne Roed, answers all of these questions with WWEST manager and podcast host Danniele.

Episode 63: The Red Arrows
WWEST manager Danniele had the opportunity to speak with two aircraft engineers from the Red Arrows, the aerobatics display team of the British Royal Air Force.

Episode 64: Elyssa Manis, Web Technologies Expert
Elyssa Manis has built her company NavaWeb from the ground up, and tells WWEST manager Danniele all about it in this episode.

Episode 65: Vienna Lam, Lab Manager & Researcher, SFU Centre for Forensic Research & School of Criminology
In this episode with Vienna Lam, you'll hear about her passion for the whole research cycle as well as strategic planning, and you'll even learn what it was like for her to find her first human remains while on an excavation in Fiji.

Episode 66: Wendy Hurlburt, President & CEO, LifeSciences BC
Life sciences is not a widely understood area of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), but Wendy Hurlburt is here to set the record straight. She tells host Danniele about her hopes to establish life sciences as a vital part of the economy.

Episode 67: Maite Taboada, PhD, Professor, Linguistics, Simon Fraser University
We've heard it time and time again: Don't read the comments. Except today, WWEST manager Danniele speaks with Dr. Maite Taboada, a professor in linguistics at Simon Fraser University, who actually takes time out of her day to read and study those very comments online.

Episode 68: Sharona Gordon, PhD, Professor, Physiology & Biophysics
This time, WWEST manager and podcast host Danniele speaks with Dr. Sharona Gordon, a professor at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine who is making waves with her various projects, including Below the Water Line, whose mission is to combat sexual harassment in academia.

Episode 69: Mary-Jane Piggott, Senior Water Resources Engineer
WWEST manager and Best of the WWEST host Danniele talks to Mary-Jane Piggott, Senior Water Resources Engineer, about why she came to Canada from Australia, how the arts can intersect with STEM, and how her job lets her travel to really cool places. 

Episode 70: Alexa Bailey, Founder, Girls to the Power of Math
Girls to the Power of Math is a girl-to-girl math mentorship program, and it was all born out of research into whether gender influences confidence in math for elementary students. This program was started by Alexa Bailey, and she's our guest for this episode.

Episode 71: Leila Abutaleb, Digital Communications Manager, BC Hydro
Leila Abutaleb joins WWEST manager and podcast host Danniele to get nerdy about digital communication.

Episode 72: iSTAND Mini Series: Women in STEM from the Okanagan
This episode marks the first in a miniseries by the WWEST Associate Chair program hosted at iSTAND at the University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBCO). In this episode we are introduced to 3 women in STEM in the Okanagan.

Episode 73: The Women of "In Plain Sight"
In this episode of Best of the WWEST, podcast host and WWEST manager Danniele will introduce you to the 7 women who are featured in WWEST's new photography project, "In Plain Sight." This project is a photojournalistic look at the lives and careers of women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields, where they are often overlooked.

Episode 74: Louise Wilkinson, Quality Manager, Integral Group
Which career allows you to marry environmentalism and data science? Being a quality manager at an engineering firm! Louise Wilkinson is our guest on the podcast for this episode.

Episode 75: LCdr Calley Gray, Royal Canadian Navy
In this episode, WWEST manager and Best of the WWEST host Danniele speaks to Lieutenant Commander Calley Gray, Marine Systems Engineer Officer in the Royal Canadian Navy. She gives us all a rare glimpse into what it's like to be a woman in the Navy and the amazing and big strides the Armed Forces have taken to create a more diverse and equal landscape.

Episode 76: Mitzi Dean, MLA
Mitzi Dean, MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin and British Columbia Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity, has 3 main priorities: Tackling gender-based violence, getting rid of systemic barriers, and economic and political empowerment of girls and women.

Episode 77: Quarantimes with Claris Cyarron
This time on the podcast, Danniele introduces us to a very special guest - her wife, Claris. Danniele asks Claris about her work as a the Consultancy Director of Silverstring Media, a small video game studio in Vancouver, BC.

Episode 78: Yuka Takemon, PhD Student, Genome Science and Technology
Yuka Takemon joins Best of the WWEST host Danniele in a socially-distanced interview to talk all about bioinformatics and why research in the field can give quick rewards.

Episode 79: iSTAND Miniseries Part 2: Indigenizing STEM Education
In our second episode of the miniseries by the WWEST Associate Chair program hosted at iSTAND at the University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBCO), host Maxine (iSTAND Communications and Resource Design Assistant) speaks with a panel of experts on Indigenizing STEM education.

Episode 80: Erin Karaim, Civil Engineering Technician, WSP
Best of the WWEST host Danniele welcomes Erin Karaim to the podcast. Erin tells us all about what it’s like to be a draftsperson - the ins and outs of her education and her career creating technical drawings for engineering projects.

Episode 81: Sheryl Cumming, P.Eng., Metro Vancouver Regional District's Planning and Environment Department
How does Sheryl Cumming, Professional Engineer with the Metro Vancouver Regional District’s Planning and Environment Department “pay it back” into the world with her work? Hear all about it plus more in this podcast episode.

Episode 82: Rebecca Sorbara, Applied Science Technologist/Director of Building Science, McCuaig & Associates
Rebecca Sorbara joins Danniele, WWEST manager and Best of the WWEST host, to get nerdy about building science and advancing women in STEM.

Episode 83: Anne Simonen, Civil Engineering Technologist
Anne Simonen is keeping it real by telling us about her journey from being a student who wasn't strong in math to a civil engineering technologist who is supporting really important projects in wastewater treatment.