Inspiring Future Women in Science

Perimeter Institutehosted an inspirational half day conference on Friday April 15, 2016. The goal was to bring together like minded young women with a strong interest in science and expose them to the rewards, challenges and possibilities of a career in science. 


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Natalie Panek

Natalie Panek

Rocket scientist, explorer, and champion for women in engineering. Natalie Panek is an Engineer at MDA’s Robotics and Automation division, working on Canadian space robotics and other space exploration programs. Natalie has had extraordinary experiences that have shaped her dreams of becoming an astronaut. Her love of space and aviation led her to obtain a private pilot’s license to fly a single-engine aircraft, as well as build and drive a solar-powered car across North America. She was the first female driver of the University of Calgary’s inaugural solar powered vehicle. She has participated in internships at NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center and at NASA’s Ames Research Center, where she worked on a mission to Mars. Natalie founded to encourage women to pursue challenging careers in typically male-dominated fields. She is both a mentor and program adviser for Cybermentor, through the University of Calgary and is on a mission to inspire more women to pursue careers in engineering and tech.

Natalie is the 2013 recipient of the University of Calgary Graduate of the Last Decade Award and the Northern Lights Award Foundation 2013 Rising Star in aerospace. She was named one of CBC’s 12 young leaders changing Canada and Canada’s Financial Post describes Natalie as “a vocal advocate for women in technology”. Natalie also joins an elite group of women as one of WXN’s 2014 Top 100 award winners and as one of Forbe’s 30 under 30 in 2015.  View Natalie's keynote address here.

Sage FranchSage Franch

Known internationally as the "Trendy Techie," Sage Franch is a developer, technologist and educator at Microsoft. As a Content Developer at Microsoft Learning, Sage builds online software and app development training for global audiences on and Microsoft Virtual Academy. Sage is the creator of, a lifestyle blog centred on her experiences as a young woman in STEM. She has been recognized for her work inspiring young women to explore careers in technology and teaching technical skills to youth across North America.

In addition to her role at Microsoft, Sage is currently in the final year of her undergraduate degree at Dalhousie University, where she studies Computer Science. As a dedicated advocate for women and youth in technology, she frequently volunteers her time to teach digital literacy skills to youth, encouraging them to explore the maker space and unlock the skills to build the future. View Sage's keynote address here.

Virginie Hotte-Dupuis

Ms. Virginie Hotte‐Dupuis is Manager of External Communications & Philanthropy at L’Oréal Canada since 2007. Her main responsibilities are to highlight L’Oréal Canada’s best practices, and develop the L’Oréal Foundation’s international philanthropic programs such as L’Oréal‐UNESCO For Women and Science, For Girls in Science, Beauty for a Better Life and several others in Canada. 

With a career spanning nearly 20 years in the cosmetics industry, Ms. Hotte‐Dupuis began her career as a beauty expert for a major Canadian drugstore chain where she learned (almost) all the trade secrets of the beauty and personal care industry. She joined L’Oréal Canada in 2001 as a Trainer and PR specialist for the Active Cosmetics Division and its dermo‐cosmetics brands such as Vichy and La Roche‐Posay, two of the most recommended brands by Canadian dermatologists. She then moved on to the L’Oréal Luxe division as a Communications Manager for the Biotherm brand, where she was responsible for managing the PR campaign around the brand’s first North American spokesperson, actor Chris Noth. Ms. Hotte‐Dupuis studied Communications at the Université de Montréal, where she obtained a BA in Communications and a Major in English Studies. View Virginie's keynote address here.



Following the keynote address, students were given an opportunity to engage in a panel discussion with women that are currently involved in careers using science.     View the panel discussion here.


Attendees had opportunity to engage in discussion with women in STEM careers in small groups.