2020 Women of Distinction Nominees | Research, the Sciences & Technology

Recognized nationally, the YWCA Women of Distinction Awards honours individuals and organizations whose outstanding activities and achievements contribute to the well-being and future of our community.

Congratulations to the 2020 nominees in the category of Research, the Sciences & Technology.


Dr. Karen Cheung is a Professor at the UBC Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Associate Director of the School of Biomedical Engineering and Director of its Graduate Program. Dr. Cheung also acts as the Graduate Advisor for the school, assisting more than 100 graduate students. Karen works on cutting-edge research, helping develop “lab-on-a-chip”-based technologies to tackle a wide variety of clinical and diagnostic problems. Karen includes at least 50% of women in her research group and is celebrated for her mentorship for women scientists and engineers. She recently expanded a UBC program that funds summer research positions for Indigenous youth in partnership with ICORD and secured funding to run a “Women in MEMS” workshop, with the goal to promote women's leadership participation in engineering.


Dr. Joy Johnson is SFU’s first woman Vice-President of Research and International, where she has established the university as one of Canada’s top research institutions. During her tenure, research income jumped 70% reaching $161 million in 2019 and she helped commit to a new Strategic Research Plan establishing SFU as a global leader in big data, innovation, knowledge mobilization, business development and entrepreneurship. Joy oversees research activities across eight faculties and leads SFU’s institutional strategic research initiatives, including SFU Innovates, which has helped launch more than 400 start-ups and contributed more than $1.3 billion to BC’s economy. Committed to increasing access to education, Joy chairs a committee to advance equity, diversity and inclusion. Joy will assume the role as SFU’s 10th President and Vice-Chancellor on September 1, 2020.


Dr. Megan Levings is a Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at UBC and a Researcher at BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute. An immunologist and preeminent researcher of regulatory T cells (Tregs), her world-leading study changed the understanding of how this immune cell works in humans, providing valued new insight into how it can be used as cell therapy in disease and for improving outcomes of organ transplantation. She holds five provisional patents of which two, describing methods to use regulatory cell therapy as a new way to improve the success of transplantation, have been licensed by TxCell S.A. (a French biotechnology company) which plans to begin clinical testing of the approach in 2020. A proud non-scientific achievement is her contribution to bringing systemic changes to UBC to prevent gender pay inequity.


A Ph.D. particle physicist by training, Christin uses her scientific background and analytical skills to dissect complex problems involving large computer software systems. Christin is President of Radical I/O, a technology consultancy and lab that specializes in enterprise software development, working with smart cities, government, fintech, social- impact enterprises and education organizations. Christin applies her creativity to act as a catalyst, facilitating organizational growth and performance, and she is passionate about initiatives that aim to move the technology sector forwards. Christin is an outspoken advocate for women in STEM, having served on the Board of Directors for Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology and revitalized the dormant BC Chapter of Women in Communications and Technology. 

Meet the 2020 Women of Distinction Award nominees in other categories.

This category is sponsored by