SBME Interfaces

SBME Interfaces with Anna Blakney and Nika Shakiba | Ep. 10

April 19, 2021 UBC School of Biomedical Engineering Season 1 Episode 10
SBME Interfaces
SBME Interfaces with Anna Blakney and Nika Shakiba | Ep. 10
Show Notes Chapter Markers

Welcome to Episode 10 of SBME Interfaces

In this episode, we interface with Drs. Anna Blakney and Nika Shakiba, both Assistant Professors at UBC's School of Biomedical Engineering, on moving and starting labs during a pandemic, science communication, using social media to educate the public about vaccines, the future of health and healthcare, and much more.

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Dr. Anna Blakney
Assistant Professor, SBME & Michael Smith Laboratories

Dr. Anna Blakney is an Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia in the Michael Smith Laboratories and School of Biomedical Engineering. She received a BSc in Chemical and Biological Engineering prior to pursuing her PhD in Bioengineering at the University of Washington. She then completed her postdoctoral training at Imperial College London, co-supervised by Prof. Robin Shattock and Prof. Molly Stevens. Her group is interested in molecular and formulation immunoengineering to develop the next generation of RNA vaccines and therapies. She is passionate about public engagement and is a part of Team Halo- a group of scientists and clinicians who educate the public about vaccines using TikTok.

Follow Dr. Blakney on TikTok

Dr. Nika Shakiba
Assistant Professor, SBME

Dr. Nika Shakiba is an Assistant Professor in the School of Biomedical Engineering (SBME) at UBC. Her research program ( applies a combined systems and synthetic biology approach to reverse- and forward-engineer the role of cell competition in developmental and stem cell systems. Prior to joining SBME, Nika was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and completed her PhD in Stem Cell Bioengineering at the University of Toronto. Nika is a big believer in outreach and mentorship. Beyond her research and teaching, she is passionate about providing equity in mentorship and advice access through her latest project, Advice to a Scientist.

Check out Dr. Shakiba's Advice to a Scientist

Dr. Payam Zahedi

Strategic Planning & Operations Director, UBC School of Biomedical Engineering

Payam is a born problem solver and dot connector who believes that real impact only occurs when everyone is given the means to chase it. He's the Director of Strategic Planning and Operations at UBC's School of Biomedical Engineering and holds a BASc in Biomedical Engineering and an MSc and PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences, from the University of Toronto. He believes we are better together and is an advocate for equity and inclusivity. In his spare time, when he's not chasing his two sons around, he's experimenting in the kitchen, reading crime fiction and untangling the mechanisms of effective leadership.

Miguel Eichelberger
Communications & Engagement Manager, UBC School of Biomedical Engineering

Miguel is an unflinching optimist. He is a communicator and writer whose work has appeared in literary magazines and on stages around the world. His most recent publications include Harpur Palate, the Literary Review of Canada, Plainsongs Magazine, and Soliloquies Anthology. He believes in authenticity; in doing and saying what you actually believe, and he is an obsessive student of leadership from the biological and anthropological perspectives. You've likely heard him rant about it, and he's not sorry.

SBME Interfaces with Drs. Anna Blakney and Nika Shakiba
On moving and starting labs during a pandemic
On what sparked an interest in Engineering
On how to bring more diversity to science
On the draw of UBC
On a new evolution of Biomedical Engineering in the biggest BioTech hub in Canada: Vancouver
On the challenges of being a new Principal Investigator
On building a team over Zoom
On being thrust into a leadership position, and the importance of academic lineage
Nika Shakiba on Advice to a Scientist
Anna Blakney on using Tik Tok for scientific outreach
On advice for your 20 year old self
On projects we can all get excited about