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Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee

The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee facilitates the development and maintenance of collaborative partnerships within GlycoNet to achieve a community in which group members are represented and participate equitably at all levels. The Committee works to implement the Network’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion plan and raise awareness of inclusivity within GlycoNet.

The EDI Committee’s Terms of Reference was approved by the Board on July 8, 2020. Read the following message from the Chair of the EDI Committee:

Organizations that successfully embrace principles of equity, diversity, and inclusiveness (EDI) improve their creativity, productivity, and products. The Board of Directors of GlycoNet believes that, if we as a community support equity, diversity, and inclusiveness, we will improve the innovation and research outcomes within the network. Accordingly, the Board established the EDI Committee, which has representation from across the GlycoNet community and reports directly to the Board. Its mandate is broadly to recommend actions and programs that will enhance EDI throughout the network. In the upcoming months, we will provide you with details of activities that the EDI Committee is considering.  Meanwhile, read the Terms of Reference document and initiate discussions among your colleagues about what EDI means to you.


Nils O. Petersen,
Chair, EDI Committee
Vice-Chair, Board of Directors

Members of the Committee

Akay Akohwarien Akay completed her M.Sc degree in Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Saskatchewan under the supervision of Professor David R.J. Palmer in 2019. She currently works as a Research Technician for Dr. Christopher Phenix at the University of Saskatchewan. Her research involves developing non-radioactive probe and radioactive inhibitors of GCase for labeling and imaging the enzyme.

University of Saskatchewan
Joerg Bohlmann Dr. Bohlmann holds academic appointments in the Department of Botany, the Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, and is an Associate of the UBC Wine Research Centre. He is co-director of the UBC Genome Science and Technology (GSAT) graduate program. His research deals with the molecular biochemistry and biology of plant secondary metabolites, genomics of conifers, grapevines, and various medicinal plants, and plant defense against insects.

Professor, Michael Smith Laboratories
University of British Columbia
Nils Petersen Dr. Petersen is a Fellow of the Chemical Institute of Canada. He currently serves as a member of three boards of not-for-profit organizations including Compute Canada, TECTERRA, and the Canadian Light Source (CLS) for which he is Chair of the Board. He recently finished terms as a member of the boards of ArboraNano, a Business-led NCE, the California Nanosystems Institute (CNSI), and the Pacific Institute for Mathematical Sciences, and as Chair of the Board of NSERC’s Strategic Network program BiopSys at the University of Toronto.

Professor Emeritus,
University of Alberta
Norma Sebestyen Norma has extensive experience over a 28-year career with Merck in Sales, Marketing, Strategic Planning, Corporate Affairs, Pharmacoeconomics, Health Education and Training, Government Relations, Operations and Policy and Patient Access. Most recently she was involved in developing and management of key partnerships for Merck in Health Information Technology, and Health Data Science along with Life Sciences Accelerators/Research collaborations.

Warren Wakarchuk Dr. Wakarchuk is a Professor from the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta. The Wakarchuk lab investigates the structure and function of the enzymes which make and degrade various glycoconjugates. This work has been enabling the chemo-enzymatic synthesis of bioactive glycoconjugates both in the laboratory and for industrial projects. The Wakarchuk lab has expertise with both mammalian and bacterial carbohydrate active enzymes for glycan remodelling applications.

Associate Scientific Director,
Lisa Willis Dr. Willis’ research group leverages glycobiology, microbiology, and immunology to address fundamental questions regarding the pivotal roles of glycans in human immune systems. Specifically, she is investigating how glycans are involved in population-specific autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, scleroderma, and rheumatoid arthritis. Her research group also studies the function of bacterial protein glycosylation and its influence on cellular homeostasis and environmental sensing in the microbiome.

Assistant Professor,
University of Alberta


Elizabeth Nanak Dr. Nanak is the Network’s Executive Director. Dr. Nanak was involved in the GlycoNet initiative since the Letter of Intent stage and served as the Associate Director, Business for the Alberta Glycomics Centre from 2007–2015. Prior to her position with the Centre, she worked as a manager of large-scale and multi-institutional projects with Genome Prairie. In addition to her PhD in biochemistry, Elizabeth has an MBA in biotechnology management.

Chief Executive Officer,


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