Professional Development Track: Careers in Chemistry - Exploring Your Options

Sunday, May 27, 2018
Shaw, Salon 3

Attendees will learn about various career paths that are available to them, particularly those outside of academia. Speakers will discuss their own careers, as well as strategies and resources available that can help prepare chemistry students and young professionals for their own career transitions.

Opening Remarks & Presentations (14:15-14:45)

Participants will hear about the importance of professional development and opportunities to do so through the Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC) and the Canadian Society for Chemistry (CSC, one of the three CIC constituent societies). Michel Gravel, CSC Director of Student Affairs, will welcome participants and provide an overview of how the CSC supports its Young Professional members. Zhongxin Zhou from Gilead, sponsor of the CSC 2018 Professional Development Track, will also discuss professional development and career paths in chemistry from his perspective in the chemical industry.


Prof. Michel Gravel - CSC Director of Student Affairs and Associate Professor of Chemistry, University of Saskatchewan

Michel GravelBio: Prof. Michel Gravel obtained his BSc (Pharmaceutical Chemistry) at the Université de Sherbrooke and his PhD at the University of Alberta under the supervision of Prof. Dennis G. Hall. During his graduate work, he developed a new polymeric support for the immobilization and further reactions of boronic acids. He also developed a novel asymmetric Lewis acid-catalyzed allylboration reaction. He then joined the group of Prof. Viresh H. Rawal at The University of Chicago for a postdoctoral fellowship. In Chicago, he worked on hydrogen bond-catalyzed aldol reactions and on the total synthesis of the indole alkaloid aspidophytine. He joined the Department of Chemistry at the University of Saskatchewan in August 2006 as an assistant professor and was promoted to associate professor in 2011.

Dr. Zhongxin Zhou - Senior Director, Process Research and Development, Gilead Sciences

Zhongxin ZhouBio: Dr. Zhongxin Zhou is currently a Senior Director, Process Development and Manufacturing, at Gilead Alberta, overseeing the activities of organic process research and development, technical operations and laboratory and plant manufacturing for active pharmaceutical ingredients and advanced intermediates. After he received his BSc (Hons) and MSc, Zhongxin had worked at Hubei Research Institute of Chemistry in China for five years, focusing on organic process research and development for the synthesis of commercially important fine chemicals. He then obtained his PhD in 1994 from the Memorial University of Newfoundland. After a short stay as postdoctoral fellow at the University of Ottawa, he joined Raylo Chemicals, which later became Gilead Alberta. Zhongxin expanded his role from process chemistry to management of process research and development, as well as manufacturing operations. He has been at the management posts for the over 20 years and helped Gilead in putting many drugs into the market in various therapeutic areas, including HIV, HCV, oncology and inflammation. During this period, he has also pursued and received his MBA from the University of Alberta.


Careers in Chemistry (Panel Discussion) (14:45-15:30)

This panel will showcase the variety of careers that are possible with a chemistry background, and the breadth of skills that are required beyond technical training. Panelists will briefly introduce themselves and their career path, followed by Q&A from the audience. This is your chance to ask any questions related to pursuing a career in chemistry!

Moderator: Dr. Laura Reyes - Career Development Leader, Chemical Institute of Canada


Dr. Erica Tiong - Senior Research Scientist, Gilead Sciences

Erica TiongBio: Dr. Erica Tiong is a Sr. Research Scientist in Process Development at Gilead Alberta. Erica completed her BSc, Chemistry (Honours) and Mathematics (Minor), degree at the University of British Columbia and a PhD in Organic Chemistry at McGill University in 2011. Her PhD studies examined the stereoselective formation of quaternary carbon centers. She has been with Gilead for 7 years and work on developing manufacturing processes for antiviral compounds used in treatment of HIV and Hepatitis C.


Dr. Lauren Mercier - Research and Innovation Specialist, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

Lauren MercierBio: Dr. Lauren Mercier holds a BSc in Chemistry from the University of Waterloo (Fillion Group – Honours Thesis) and a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Calgary (Piers Group). She completed postdoctoral work at the University of Laval, University of Ulm (Germany), and University of Alberta (UofA). She is the recipient of a JSPS/NSERC Summer Studentship Award (University of Nagoya, Japan) and an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellowship (University of Ulm, Germany). Exposure to applied research gave Lauren the drive to pursue a career in Business Development (BD), which started with her role as the Network Strategic Lead at the Biorefining Conversions Network, a research network based at the UofA focused on commercialization of bioconversion technologies. She then took on a BD Specialist position with Mitacs and WCIO based at TEC Edmonton/University of Alberta where she helped build collaborative research projects involving academic researchers and industrial/community partners. In her current role at NAIT as a Research and Innovation Specialist, Lauren continues to carry out BD to build a new applied research centre working with the electricity sector. The centre is focused on the integration of renewables on to the grid, as well as the transition to decentralized electricity model. In her spare time, Lauren enjoys spinning, playing the cello in community orchestras, and walking her dog Axel.

Dr. Heather Phillips - Director of Operations, Nanalysis

Heather PhillipsBio: Dr. Heather Phillips is passionate about the benefits of new technology and applies her physical sciences background to create value and achieve technology commercialization, technical communication, and intellectual property (IP) business objectives. Heather recently joined Nanalysis Corp. as Director of Operations. Nanalysis is a Calgary-based company that develops and manufactures benchtop Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectrometers for the global laboratory and instrumentation market. Prior to Nanalysis, Heather pivoted from academia to industry, working as a technology licensing analyst at Innovate Calgary and then in strategic oil & gas IP management at Cenovus Energy Inc. As an undergraduate (BSc Chemistry, University of Calgary), Heather was intrigued by the applicability of scientific discoveries to industry challenges. During graduate studies (PhD Chemistry, Dalhousie), she investigated the chemistry of bismuth, employing mass spectrometry to characterize a fundamentally new library of metal coordination complexes. A postdoctoral position (McGill University) provided the opportunity to examine elusive inorganic molecules relevant to cardiovascular chemistry and malaria.

Dr. Preston Chase - Director, Academic Business Development, GreenCentre Canada

Preston ChaseBio: Dr. Preston Chase has 10 years of experience in the technical and commercial development of chemical technologies and in sales and marketing of new products and processes with a broad expertise in catalysis, materials, synthesis, green solvents and water treatment. Preston previously worked at GreenCentre Canada as a Senior Scientist where he managed a variety of early-stage technology projects. Subsequently, he was the Product Development Manager for a GreenCentre spin-off company and most recently, was an account manager with Baker Hughes, a multinational oil & gas service company, in the Water Management Group. Preston received his PhD from the University of Calgary and was an NSERC postdoctoral fellow at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. In addition, he was a core contributor to the development of ‘frustrated Lewis pair’ chemistry at the University of Toronto. Preston is an award-winning researcher with an extensive research publication portfolio and is a named inventor on three patents.


Gaining Skills & Experience Outside of the Academic Lab (15:30-16:00)

Presentations from Mitacs and NSERC representatives will highlight programs and grants that are available for students, postdocs, and early-career researchers to gain professional skills and experience outside of the academic lab.  


Dr. Ian Mallov - Research Scientist & Mitacs Postdoctoral Fellow, Inkbox Inc & York University

Ian MallovBio: Dr. Ian Mallov is currently a research scientist/Mitacs post-doctoral fellow with Inkbox Ink, a 3-year-old startup company based in Toronto. Inkbox develops and markets semi-permanent tattoos based on natural dye. Ian grew up in Nova Scotia and attended Dalhousie University and University of Ottawa for his BSc and MSc degrees in chemistry, and worked in the chemical analysis of environmental contaminants for ALS Laboratories in Grande Prairie, Alberta, and for Exova Laboratories in Ottawa before resuming his academic career at the University of Toronto. In May 2017 he completed a PhD in the group of Professor Doug Stephan focused on the synthesis of main group Lewis acid reagents designed to mediate polar bond activations. He started with Inkbox in the summer of 2017. As a Mitacs post-doctoral fellow, Ian splits his time between the Inkbox office in downtown Toronto and the research lab of Professor Chris Caputo at York University. Ian is responsible for developing new dye molecules and ink formulations, and ensuring regulatory compliance for Inkbox products. A sustainability enthusiast, Ian was a past co-chair of the Green Chemistry Initiative at the University of Toronto and in his free time enjoys running, writing and hockey.

Dr. Elizabeth Boston - Director, Mathematical, Environmental and Physical Sciences, NSERC

Elizabeth BostonBio: Dr. Elizabeth Boston is the Director, Mathematical, Environmental and Physical Sciences, Research Grants Directorate, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). She has over 20 years of experience with granting agencies in Canada and in the United Kingdom, and is responsible for the strategic direction, development and delivery of discovery research funding programs. Previously, Elizabeth has served as the Director of Life and Earth Sciences, Research Grants Directorate and as a Special Advisor to the Executive Vice President’s Office at NSERC. Elizabeth received her PhD in atomic physics from the University of Oxford, UK.


Coffee Mixer (16:00-16:45)

Participants will get a chance to network with one another and the invited speakers over coffee and light refreshments. This casual mixer will allow participants to ask any additional questions related to the topics covered throughout the workshop, and have follow-up conversations on how to best prepare for a career in chemistry.



Pre-registration for this event is sold out. Priority will be given to pre-registered attendees, but drop-ins are welcome to the Sunday workshops if there is space available.


Professional Development Track Sponsors: