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Careers in Chaos: Discussing the Impact of COVID19 on Science

May 26, 2020

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Careers in chaos


Panel title: Careers in chaos: discussing the impact of COVID19 on science

Date/time: Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 5-6pm EST

Panelists: Ashley Chen (Medical Scientific Liaison, Spartan Bioscience), Lindsay DeVorkin (Senior Research Scientist, AbCellera), Carolina Ilkow (Scientist, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute)

Moderator: James SeongJun Han, PhD Candidate, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre

Panel description: The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the Canadian scientific landscape at every level. The unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on government, private sectors and academia has also created unique challenges and uncertainties amongst the Highly Qualified Personnel (graduate students and post-doctoral fellows) navigating through their early career. Amongst the myriad of challenges experienced by HQPs, many trainees are particularly uninformed of how the workforce and job market is rapidly changing day-by-day. Thus, the objective of the panel is to 1) demystify how scientists in academia and industries are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and 2) discuss potential strategies to navigate through the current job market. Through the discussions in the panel, trainees will acquire insights from Canadian scientists in each field and apply the knowledge in the context of career development.

Panelist bios:

Ashley Chen, MSc
Ashley is a Medical Scientific Liaison at Ottawa-based Spartan Bioscience. She recently completed her master’s degree under the supervision of Dr. John Bell and Dr. Carolina Ilkow at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, characterizing tumour-targeting extracellular vesicles produced by recombinant oncolytic Vaccinia virus infection. Now her role is to support the sales and marketing initiatives at Spartan for their medical products, including their rapid point-of-care RT-PCR COVID-19 system. In under 1 hour, this assay screens for SARS-CoV-2 infection using the portable Spartan Cube analyzer, and is intended for use by technical and non-technical users in decentralized settings. Prior to her current role as a Scientific Liaison, Ashley worked for the R&D department of Spartan, and continues to aid in product development by offering insight from her end-user clinical experiences.

Carolina Ilkow, PhD
Carolina is originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina where she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Science. After working for two year in outreach projects aiming to address the unmet health care needs of the Indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest, Carolina then decided to move to Edmonton, Canada to continue her graduate studies at the University of Alberta. Carolina obtained her PhD in cell biology and virology under the supervisor of Dr. Tom Hobman, after which she joined Dr. John Bell’s lab as a post-doctoral fellow. Carolina’s work in the Bell lab aimed at developing novel and tailored virotherapies to fight Pancreatic cancer. Her discoveries in this field led Carolina to win a prestigious Researcher in Training Award and to publish impactful papers.

In 2016, Carolina was recruited as a Scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, and an Assistant Professor in the department of biochemistry, microbiology and Immunology at the University of Ottawa. Her research is focused on developing novel biotherapeutics for cancer treatment.

Lindsay DeVorkin, PhD
Lindsay DeVorkin received a PhD in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from Simon Fraser University where she studied the regulatory mechanisms and crosstalk behind apoptosis and autophagy. During her postdoctoral studies at the BC Cancer Agency’s Deeley Research Centre, she investigated how autophagy regulates tumour metabolism and T cell function. Lindsay joined AbCellera in 2017 where she helped establish high-throughput single cell and functional assays. She is currently leading discovery projects with top pharma and biotech partners.

Webinar details: The registration confirmation email will include log-in details

Questions about this webinar can be directed to Megan Mahoney at

About BioCanRx: BioCanRx – Canada’s Immunotherapy Network, is a federally funded Network of Centres of Excellence focused on the development of novel approaches in the treatment of cancer using immunotherapy. Learn more here: