BGSA Executives 2023-2024


Emily Holden


Program: PhD in Ecology

I am a PhD student studying coexistence in grassland plant communities. By understanding how species coexist, we can understand what makes biodiverse communities stable over time. I like to spend my free time outside and am an avid runner and gardener.

Favourite Organism: Sisyrinchium montanum





Vice Presidents

Ish Jain
Program: PhD in Genetics

I was born and grew up in India and moved to Canada to pursue a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences. I am trying to decipher the mechanism involved in fertilization and oocyte maturation. I am using nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as a model system for my research. These microscopic roundworms are entirely transparent, allowing direct observation of cellular events and development in their body.

I sincerely follow tennis and am a big fan of the Williams sisters. I love to read and write, watch documentaries, and play with my nephew in my spare time.

Regarding animal model organisms, I love nematodes and naked mole rats; they are amazing, but otherwise, I am always fascinated by peacocks (the national bird of India).


Julia Briand
Program: PhD in Ecology

I am a PhD student interested in the ecosystem-level recovery of coral reefs through restoration. Specifically, I am evaluating the success of reef restoration both globally and locally in the Florida Keys. When I am not conducting research, I enjoy reading, spending time outside (on the ocean if possible), and cafe hopping!
Favourite organism:Balistes vetula


Milène Wiebe
Program: PhD in Ecology

Originally from Manitoba, my degree has moved me to Edmonton to study the management and functional eradication of European green crabs, with my fieldwork occurring along the central coast of B.C. I like to spend my free time outside, preferably in the water, or asking people if I can pet their dogs.
Favourite Organism: Canis lupus (specifically the familiaris subspecies)



Meghan Dueck
Program: PhD in Systematics and Evolution

I am studying the systematics of the freshwater sculpin genus, Cottus, and the hybridization of Cottus spp. in various river drainages throughout BC, Canada. I am an avid reader of any and all genres, with my favorite book being “The Lonely Hearts Hotel” by Heather O’Neill. I also enjoy running, crocheting, and reality TV – though not all at the same time.

Favorite Organism: Hemilepidotus hemilepidotus







Wyatt Villetard (Events)
Program: MSc in Ecology

Hi, Everyone! My name is Wyatt Villetard, I am a master’s student in Dr. Mark Boyce’s lab currently studying the movement ecology of Alberta’s sandhill cranes, and I will be the BGSA Secretary for the 2023/24 academic year. In my free time you’ll find me skiing, biking or even just throwing a ball up in the air. Currently my favourite animal is a black bear, but that is subject to change depending on if my short attention span latches onto something else. I hope to see you all my fellow graduate students around campus in throughout the coming semesters!


Paris Brown (Meetings)
Program: MSc in Microbiology & Biotechnology

I study the biological programmes of novel hybrid toxins in certain Salmonella strains to learn a little bit more about the evolution of AB5 toxins, like the typhoid and cholera toxins, in bacteria. I completed my BSc in Immunology and Infection at the U of A in 2018. I am a big fan of climbing, biking, and going to as many concerts as possible.
Favourite organism: Reovirus



 Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) Representatives

Samantha Tan
Program: MSc in Physiology & Developmental Biology

I am a current MSc student studying the effects of anticonvulsants on post traumatic seizures in zebrafish and their potential application as a prophylactic treatment for the abnormal aggregation of tau proteins in characteristic tauopathies. Tauopathies can be described as neurodegenerative diseases that are characterized by these protein aggregates and most notably include diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). I’m an avid mountain biker and backpacker in the summer and enjoy a good snowboard trip to the mountains in the winter. I also climb and route set in my free time and love a good gym day or a good rip around the river valley on my longboard.

Favourite Organism: Hapalochlaena lunulata


Jillian Sims
Program: MSc in Biology
Originally from Ontario, I completed my BSc in Neuroscience and Mental Health at Carleton University. After my undergraduate degree, I pursued my love of animals by working in veterinary medicine. I took many trips out to the west coast, where I fell in love with the ocean and learned about marine life. Knowing I wanted to pursue a career in research, I headed to the University of Alberta to combine my passions for biology, animals, and the ocean into research. My current research explores the neurotoxicity and developmental effects of artificial sweeteners on embryonic zebrafish. Throughout the rest of my degree, I will use artificial sweeteners as a novel odorant to explore the complex olfactory system and its mechanisms that fish use for migration. I hope to continue researching environmental contaminants with non profit organizations focused on ocean and marine life health. In my free time, you can find me hanging with my kitty, Wallen, hiking, painting, or cooking!
Favourite Organism: Orcinus orca