Join Lotus STEMM for the first virtual Degrees of Success conference

A week of fun-filled learning on how to succeed in Science, Tech, Engineering, Math & Medicine (STEMM) catered for you and your daughters.

July 27th - July 31st, 2020

4:00 PM - 6:00 PM


What can I expect?

Parents, Teachers & Students

"Degrees of Success" is aimed at parents and youth alike. Expect to hear from esteemed speakers and panelists talking about how their South Asian culture has paved their career paths and shaped their experiences in STEM, including a keynote address and Q&A by the prestigious Dr. Ananya Tina Banerjee. Appropriate for parents, teachers and students.

Line up of speakers and panelists: 

  • (Keynote) Dr. Ananya Tina Banerjee, Assistant Professor in the Divisions of Social & Behaviour Health Sciences and Epidemiology at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto.

  • Ms. Prieeyya Kaur Kesh, Founder & CEO of Our Wave Hub.

  • Dr. Kalaichelvi Saravanamuttu, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology, McMaster

  • Ms. Arushi Nath, Co-founder of 

  • Ms. Riya Karumanchi, Founder & CEO of SmartCane

Youth STEM Outreach

Girls (ages 10-15) will rotate between fun hands-on activities provided by Indus Space Inc., Mining Matters, and Canadian Association of Girls in Science, learning from professional scientists and engineers. They will learn about space science, Earth sciences, chemistry and biology!

Family & I Code Together

This fun-filled workshop provides a beginner level introduction to coding using the online program Scratch. Work together or compete with one another, either way this unique workshop provides a bonding opportunity for you and your daughter(s) over coding.

STEM competition 

Awaken your inner scientist - youth can participate in the DOS STEMM challenge using household items, in partnership with CAGIS, Indus Space, and Mining Matters. Competition opens on July 13, closing on July 24. Prizes will be awarded on July 31. 


Conference Schedule

July 27th


workshop by Lotus STEMM

 4-6 pm

July 28th

Youth Activity by Indus Space 

4-5 pm

Keynote Address

 5-6 pm

July 29th

Youth Activity by Mining Matters

 4-5 pm

Equity in STEMM

 5-6 pm

July 30th

Youth Activity by CAGIS

 4-5 pm

Career panel 1 featuring Lotus STEMM team

5-6 pm

July 31st

Career panel 2

4-5 pm

AWARDS & Closing Remarks

5-6 pm


Esteemed Speakers and Partners

Keynote Speaker

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Dr. Ananya Tina Banerjee is Assistant Professor in the Divisions of Social & Behaviour Health Sciences and Epidemiology at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. She also is the Interim Program Director for the MPH –Health Promotion program. Her public health research on diabetes prevention for South Asian communities exemplifies a commitment to providing a strong foundation in mixed-methods guided by principles of the socio-ecological framework, anti-oppression, intersectionality, community partnerships and cultural safety. She launched and offers the first course on “Race, Ethnicity, And Culture and Health” for graduate students at the University of Toronto. She is also trained in Indian classical music and loves travelling rural areas of the world.

Workshop speaker

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Sayema Chowdhury is a life-long educator and advocate currently seconded to the Faculty of Education at York University where she teaches a variety of subjects, with a focus on Diverse and Equitable Classrooms. She entered teaching hoping to increase the possibility for students to see self-representation within the education system and to break stereotypes about South Asian women. She now focuses her energy on ensuring that all students, regardless of background or identity, are represented and celebrated within Ontario classrooms. She acts as co-chair for FESI (York University’s Faculty of Education Annual Equity Conference), and participates widely in diversity and equity initiatives throughout Ontario and is committed to anti-oppressive education and learning. Prior to this role, Sayema was employed by the Peel District School Board where she taught Science, English and Special Education, and was in the role of Science department head for 7 years.

Sayema delivers numerous workshops on a variety of Equity topics including, Culturally Responsive Pedagogy, Islamophobia, Mental Health and Anti-Oppression, Queering Pedagogy, Anti-Black Racism, Building Inclusive Climates in Schools, and Decolonizing Classrooms. She also delivers workshops on Leadership Development and Conflict Resolution. Sayema is a certified MBTI practitioner with Psychometrics, Restorative Practices trainer with the IIRP.


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Arushi Nath is the Co-Founder of

I am 10 years old and study in Grade 5.  I have been making science and space projects for the last 5 years. I especially like to make projects that mix science, arts, and music. I can code using Arduino, Micro:Bit and Python. Some of the projects I have made include the Canada Arm, the Trappist-1 Exoplanetary Model, Make an Astronaut Smile (MARS) Robot, KiloNova Battle Bot, the Dragonfly Bot and many others. My project "YES I CAN" won the Canadian Space Apps Challenge 2017 and I was invited to present my project at the Canadian Space Agency and to meet the new astronauts. I also won the 2017 Jesse Ketchum Award for my Solar-X project to measure Total Solar Eclipse and 2019 Imagining the Skies Award of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.


My projects have been displayed at Maker Festival Toronto, Ontario Science Centre, Toronto International Film Festival, MakerExpo, Science Rendezvous, and MakerFest (Delhi). They have appeared on TVO Kids, The Star, and the Breakfast TV Toronto.


I have participated in over 30 hackathons and my favorite one is the NASA SpaceApps Challenge held every year. I won the NASA SpaceApps Toronto in 2018 and 2019.  I believe the best way to learn new things is to make projects and then teach others how to do them. This was one of the reasons to start to bring projects on space and science to the Next Generation.    


I am bilingual in French and English.

Riya Karumanchi is a 16-year-old student from Toronto, Ontario. She is an entrepreneur and CEO of SmartCane and is extremely passionate about harnessing technology to better people’s lives. Riya is an Innovator at The Knowledge Society, an avid ML developer & is recognized as one of the Top 20 Teen Entrepreneurs Worldwide. She’s also very honoured to be on Teen Vogue’s 21 Under 21 & to be featured on Time Magazine's list for young inventors changing the world. Throughout her journey, companies like Google, Deloitte, Microsoft, the DMZ and TD have been supporting her. She has been speaking at conferences worldwide as an enormous advocate and champion for women and girls in STEM & Health-tech Innovation, and speaks to many to inspire them to pursue their interests and develop innovations in the space.


Prieeyya Kaur Kesh is the Founder & CEO of Our Wave Hub.

OurWave is a Toronto based startup that is working to develop talent for the future of work. OurWave’s approach is to develop a challenge-based personalized learning pathway for students at the high school and undergraduate levels. The program participants solve 3 real-world challenges during their time in the program using either artificial intelligence or robotics. The program also include soft skills training, exposure to entrepreneurship as a career, and leadership development training.

In addition to student-focused programs, OurWave has developed introductory level Bootcamp courses for mid-career workers focused on technologies like Blockchain, Quantum Computing and Augmented Reality.

Prieeyya has also previously worked with the UNHCR, LAB B, the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), and the Sikh Heritage Month Foundation before starting Our Wave Hub. Past clients include Ryerson University, Sheridan College, IBM, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and the City of Brampton.

Prieeyya is an accomplished musician, vocalist and Indian Classical Dancer. She plays the piano, violin, sitar, the bongos and an ancient Sikh instrument called the Taus that resembles a peacock. She has been trained in both Carnatic and Hindustani genres of vocal training, and has over 10 years of dance training in styles like Kathak and Odissi. She represented Canada at the World Pipe Band Championships as a Grade 1 Tenor Drummer in the Peel Regional Police Pipe Band. Her love and admiration for Scottish music and culture was cultivated during her role with the Sri Dasmesh Pipe Band ( A Malaysian Sikh Pipe Band ) where she served as lead musical theory instructor for 6 years. Prieeyya also holds a Black Belt in Taekwondo.

A creative and curious spirit at heart, Prieeyya is someone who enjoys building solutions that push society forward.


Prof. Kalai Saravanamuttu received the B.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Chemistry from McGill University and completed a FCAR post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Oxford before joining the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at McMaster University. She leads an interdisciplinary research group, which combines soft materials chemistry and engineering with optical physics to probe fundamental light-matter interactions and to develop applications in photonics.

Shefali Chaudhary is a senior developer at Citi Canada, working to design, implement, and enhance applications used within the company.


I have a degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Waterloo and have always enjoyed the challenge of building something from scratch, taking a deep dive into figuring out how something works or what is causing the problem and how to fix it. Throughout my education, I have noticed that this field consists predominantly of males with very few female developers and even fewer females in leadership roles. I would like to encourage more young women to enter a career in engineering or the technology industry. I hope to be able to see and take part in this shift in gendered leadership positions, where more females and minorities are empowered by being given opportunities to step into leadership roles. In my free time I like to do art and like to try different styles, whether it be drawing, sculpting or painting. I also really enjoy baking different desserts and try to learn a new recipe when I get the chance.

Priya Iyer is a public health professional and freelance writer. She completed a Bachelor of Science in Genetics and a Master of Public Health. She was a Fellow in Global Journalism at the Munk School of Global Affairs in 2019. She volunteers with Lotus STEMM as a social media manager and CAGIS co-ordinator.

Dr. Nida Rehmani serves as a mentor for the Global STEM Alliance, New York Academy of Sciences and, USA. She is the scientific editor for and research lead with Lotus STEMM. 

Dr. Rehmani completed her B.S. & M.S. in Biochemistry from India. Her zeal for higher education led her to pursue Ph.D. in Molecular Biology. Under the auspices of the Obama-Singh exchange dual degree program, she continued her research in the Department of Radiology, The Ohio State University, USA. During the program, she earned a M.Ed., specialized in STEM higher education.

Mariam Raza is a Professor and Program Coordinator at Conestoga College for the Administrative Business Management Graduate Certificate Program and the Office Administration Executive Diploma and General Certificate Programs, where she provides support to over 300 students and over 20 faculty across three campuses. Mariam brings a diverse global perspective to the classroom as well as a strong background in office management and business support. She has over 11 years of operational and administrative experience. Before becoming an educator, Mariam worked with Toronto Dominion Bank in the Greater Toronto Area and Singapore before moving to India and joining Estee Lauder Companies (MAC Cosmetics). She continued working for MAC Cosmetics in Dubai before joining Thomson Reuters Middle East where she supported numerous executive leaders.She holds a B.Comm. in Information Technology from Ryerson University, a Graduate Certificate in HR from Sheridan College, and an M.Ed in Curriculum Studies and Instructional Design from the University of New Brunswick. Her graduate research focuses on the effects of parental pressure on the educational choices of second-generation South Asian women in Ontario. Currently, Mariam is pursuing Doctoral studies at the University of Western Ontario in Educational Leadership (2020-2023).

Panel Moderators

Maryam Heba is a recent graduate of the Honours Life Sciences program at McMaster University. She focused her last year of studies on science communication and has worked to develop her media and design skills. Maryam completed a major part of her final-year thesis with Hamilton's YWCA's STEM Girl's Club to complete an evaluation of the club which would help them gain funding. There, she researched of the disparity between men and women in the STEM workforce and became passionate about encouraging girls and young women to engage in the STEM field. Maryam has also been a member of the Let's Talk Science organization where she has taught Science to students through fun and engaging activities. Currently, she is a volunteer with Lotus STEMM. Maryam aims to keep communicating science and to grow her skill set through experience.

Dr. Shaiya Robinson is a post-doctoral research fellow at the Hospital for Sick Children’s Research Institute, where she studies how probiotics interact with intestinal stem cells. Before her postdoc, Dr. Robinson earned her Ph.D. at McMaster University, where she studied the molecular causes of inflammatory bowel disease. Outside of research, Shaiya actively participates in various outreach initiatives that increase access to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) among minority groups. As a member of the Degrees of Success organizing committee and Lotus STEMM Board of Directors, Shaiya contributes to improving equity and visibility in STEMM among South Asian women and girls.


Thank you to our outreach partners

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For more than 25 years, Mining Matters has been educating young people to develop knowledge and awareness of Earth sciences, the minerals industry, and their roles in society.  As part of the Degrees of Success Conference, Mining Matters will highlight Earth Sciences through a series of hands on learning activities that focus on rocks, minerals, metals, and mining, and varied careers available in this interesting and important STEM field.

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Indus Space is focussed on bringing the role of space exploration and related sectors within STEM to the forefront. The activities will be hands on and will participants to get a direct introduction to this sector.


The Canadian Association for Girls In Science (CAGIS) is an award-winning club for girls aged 7 to 16 that supports interest in Science, Technology, Trades, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). CAGIS chapter members meet monthly to explore STEM with fun, hands-on activities led by experts in a variety of STEM fields.  Learn more at


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