Find Your Pulse


Winnipeg 2016 University Panel


Ryan Wang




Ryan is a second year student in the Faculty of Science at the University of Manitoba and has a passion for biomedical research and science education. He started volunteering in a lab at the St, Boniface Hospital Research Centre, researching the molecular mechanisms of cardiovascular pathophysiology in high school and presented his research through competing in regional and national science fairs. Ryan continued his research during his undergraduate studies and has attended international conferences and published his work in a scientific journal. Aside from academics and research, Ryan is heavily involved in science education and promoting science literacy. He is a site coordinator for Let's Talk Science, an active volunteer in the Faculty of Health Sciences' Biomedical Youth Program, and a member of the Manitoba Schools Science Symposium planning committee. In his spare time, Ryan likes to play piano, listen to music, watch movies, play badminton, and spend time with his friends. He is looking forward to joining Project Pulse Winnipeg's 2016 university panel and sharing his knowledge and experiences as an undergraduate student.

Joana Beltrano





Joana is a first year MSc student with diverse experiences in various sides of health sciences. Before graduate studies, she obtained a BSc in Biopsychology with a minor in Conflict Resolution Studies. In high school and undergrad, she volunteered at our local hospitals including Seven Oaks and Health Sciences Center with direct-patient care positions. At HSC, she was also employed as a Diet Aide where she helped with the timely delivery of meals to patients. She also volunteers for the Ovarian Cancer Walk of Hope annually, advocating for early detection and awareness. Having worked in an Ovarian Cancer Lab has given her valuable insight on the role of genetics in the complex progression of diseases. This and several molecular biology courses inspired her to pursue a MSc in U Winnipeg's Bioscience, Technology and Public Policy program. The focus of her research project is the evolutionary analysis of Adam genes within a group of individuals. Members of the Adam gene family has known functions in cancer, arthritis and fertility. At U Winnipeg, Joana is also a first year biology lab instructor and absolutely enjoys helping students reach their full potential. Fostering her passion for science education, Joana will be U Winnipeg’s grad student site coordinator for ‘Let’s Talk Science’ starting in the Fall of 2016. After the completion of her master’s thesis in 2017, Joana hopes to gain entry to medical school where she can continue a research path in medical genetics to help answer questions about the treatment and diagnosis of complex diseases. In her spare time, Joana enjoys cooking savoury yet healthy meals, appreciating nature, watching documentaries and being with family and friends.

Bryce Koch

Brett Vahkal



Bryce is a fourth year student in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Manitoba. After his final year is completed, he hopes to find work in either the emergency medical field or in harm reduction. Before entering university, Bryce worked as a lifeguard for the City of Winnipeg. After realizing his passion for emergency medicine, he pursued a career as a paramedic. He graduated from CritiCare Paramedics in 2012 with his Primary Care Paramedics. After completing his license, he decided to pursue nursing. He is a self described “adrenaline junkie” who thrives off the high energy environment of the emergency medical field.  Bryce is currently the Programming Director for the University of Manitoba Nursing Students’ Association and the IT Director for the Canadian Nursing Students’ Association Conference being held in Winnipeg this January.  He has a passion for harm reduction, which drove him to volunteer at Shambhala Music Festival this upcoming summer as a student nurse. In the future, he hopes to start a harm reduction program in Winnipeg focusing on safe substance use as well as diminishing risk taking behaviour. Bryce can be reached at if you have any comments, questions or concerns.







Brett is a second year MSc. student in the Bioscience, Technology, and Public Policy program in the Department of Biology at the University of Winnipeg. Her research is focused on the Relaxin superfamily and its presence and function in the immune system. Brett previously attended the University of Leicester, UK, where she obtained a BSc. in Medical Biochemistry. Throughout her academic career, Brett's primary interest has been in health sciences. She participated in numerous research projects involving many different aspects of health science research. In her second year at the University of Leicester, Brett worked to improve ligand binding to Tie-2 protein receptor, and to eventually lead to a more effective drug for cancer and sepsis among other potential targets. She also worked at a regional hospital in Tallinn, Estonia, where she was involved in disease diagnostics. At the University of Winnipeg. Brett has been involved with numerous activities, including the Let's Talk Science outreach program and teaching first year biology laboratory courses. She has presented her work both locally and regionally, winning 2nd prize for her presentation at the Prairie University Biology Symposium (PUBS). As of Spring 2016, Brett is the student representative on the University Animal Care Committee (UACC) at the University of Winnipeg. In her free time, Brett enjoys dancing, having been a cheerleader for the University of Leicester for three years, and playing the piano. She is also an avid baked goods connoisseur.

Keely Loewen




Keely is a second year medical student at the University of Manitoba. She attended a small high school in rural Manitoba. Before starting med school, Keely graduated with a BSc General (3 year) degree from the University of Manitoba focused on biology and chemistry. Her favourite courses during her degree were human physiology, psychology, and ethics. Keely's interest in medicine began when she worked as a lifeguard and swimming lessons instructor. She loved helping people at her job - she did basic first aid, taught children and adults new skills, and worked as a team with her fellow lifeguards. She is also interested in research. Keely worked at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (Arctic Sector) for two years as a lab technician and research assistant. She is currently working with scientists at CHRIM on a project about antibiotics and chronic diseases in childhood. Keely volunteers at an after school program run by medical students for kids living near HSC at Jacob Penner Park and is currently class president. She also mentors prospective medical students through the Faculty of Health Sciences Mentorship Program. Keely hopes to become a pediatrician so she can continue helping kids in Manitoba. In her spare time Keely enjoys visiting friends and family, going to yoga, jogging, and exploring new places.

Alex Czehryn

Alex is a second year Mechanical Engineer at the University of Manitoba, and in the future he hopes to be a biomedical engineer, specializing in tissue engineering. Alex's father has a disease called hemophilia which prevents his blood from clotting properly due to a defect in his liver. This disease has served as an inspiration for Alex to pursue tissue engineering in the hopes that some day, this will no longer be a disease that negatively impacts peoples' living conditions. An interest in health sciences also sparked in Alex because he took first aid and lifesaving sources through the Lifesaving Society. He has been grateful enough to receive the engineering Schulich Leader scholarship upon entering university which has allowed him to focus on his academic career. In the past two years of Alex's degree he has also participated in an engineering competition each year, making it to the regional level both years and also attaining the national level in his first year. Alex believes engineering is applicable to health sciences in that engineering is all about working with the tools available to surpass constraints and achieve a final goal. He thinks it's about how ingenuity and creativity, regardless if the tools are metal, electronics, or human cells, can come together to solve a problem. This summer, Alex is researching with a biomedical engineer at the University of Manitoba, and together, they are trying to develop a method for stroke patients to work on in their atrophied arm muscle in a fun way to improve their well-being. Apart from academics, Alex serves on the Engineering student council, plays trumpet in the university's concert band, and is also a member of the University of Manitoba's Society of Automotive Engineers, in which he is part of constructing an electric powered vehicle. In his spare time, Alex enjoys hanging out with friends, playing piano, longboarding, and cooking vegan cuisine.