Meet Charlene

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Fast Facts!

Education and Background:

  • B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Biology from the University of Ottawa
  • Completed an Honours project at Health Canada in food microbiology and a Masters thesis on cell biology investigating mechanisms involved in the development of neurons.

Became a Scientists in School presenter in:

  • 2014

Charlene is a dynamic presenter for:

  • Shine a Light (Grade 4)
  • Every Body Moves (Grade 5)
  • Finding Solutions (Grade 7)
  • Genetic Diversity and You (Grades 6-8)

Get to know Charlene!

What sparked your interest in STEM?

When I was a little girl, I was fascinated with the natural world and I especially enjoyed observing our local wildlife like birds, insects, and frogs.  My high school Biology teacher was instrumental in my choosing science as a career. His infectious enthusiasm and encouragement helped me to believe that I could be a scientist!

What inspired you to become a presenter?

When my youngest child was in grade one I had the privilege of participating in a Scientists in School workshop as a parent volunteer. I was hooked! Today as a workshop presenter, I have the best of both worlds, sharing my passion for science and sparking an interest in STEM in young children!

What do you find most rewarding about being a Scientists in School presenter?

There are so many but the biggest reward is witnessing the excitement on a student’s face when they share their ideas with me.  I also love seeing girls getting engaged in the workshops! Girls pursuing STEM is something I am really passionate about.

What would readers find surprising about you?

I’m an avid birder!  I’ve always loved birds and the silver lining of the pandemic was the extra time I had to go out and observe and identify birds. It has become a little bit of an obsession for me!

What is the coolest STEM job out there right now in your opinion?

There are so many cool STEM careers but personally I am fascinated with wildlife conservation and cutting-edge research on genetic diseases.

Describe your perfect Sunday afternoon!

Birding!  Spending time in my backyard watching resident birds eating at my feeders and foraging in our gardens is wonderful. Then there is always the joy of reading a book on a Sunday afternoon!

What are you reading right now?

It may not surprise you to discover that I am currently reading a book about birds and bird intelligence titled, “Bird Brain, An Exploration of Avian Intelligence” by Nathan Emery.  I also just recently finished reading “Talking to Canadians”, a memoir by Rick Mercer.

Who is your favourite scientist and why?

Jennifer Doudna is my favourite scientist! Her biography “The Code Breaker” was fascinating and I was surprised to learn that we share a lot of common interests. I am most impressed by her tenacity and how she never let anyone tell her that science wasn’t for girls. She followed her passion and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, along with her colleague Emmanuelle Charpentier, in 2020 for their work in gene editing (CRISPR).  Jennifer Doudna is truly an inspiration for young girls aspiring to follow a career in STEM!

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