Finalists for the 2019 Catalyst Award for Top New Biotech Hire announced

May 29, 2019, Ottawa – BioTalent Canada today announced the three finalists for the Catalyst Award for Top New Hire. The three finalists are:

  • Leanne Bourgeois, Research Scientist, Hyasynth Biologicals, Montreal, QC
  • Mina Huang, Co-op R&D student – Intestinal Team, STEMCELL Technologies, Vancouver, BC
  • Thomas Pedron, Backend Software Developer, Ample Organics, Toronto, ON

As the HR partner and catalyst for growth in Canada’s bio-economy, BioTalent Canada launched its annual Catalyst Award in 2015 to recognize the employers who invest in young talent and the dedicated young people, hired through wage subsidies. With the success of the Student Work Placement Program, this year’s award included nominations from students gaining on-the-job skills and experience through work-integrated learning.

“Bio-economy businesses are experiencing first-hand the benefit from wage subsidies to give young innovators the opportunity to showcase their abilities,” says Rob Henderson, President and CEO of BioTalent Canada. “Their success in pushing the boundaries of Canadian innovation are stories worth sharing.”

Leanne Bourgeois
Research Scientist, Hyasynth Biologicals

Hyasynth Biological’s primary objective is to improve the yield of their biosynthetic pathways by using various genetic engineering techniques. As a small and rapidly expanding start-up, their team incorporates many new and inventive techniques and strives to make breakthroughs that will make them competitive and increase the speed at bringing their products to market. Leanne’s work and management of her project was exemplary in overcoming challenges and delivering on key milestones for the company. Leanne’s first task was to test a new genome editing technique, that she was familiar with from her past work. The technique failed after several tries. Instead, she used an older and more robust technique which succeeded in increasing the productivity of our yeast strains and helped her reach her primary objective for the internship. With this technique, which she also modified herself after incorporating recent literature work, she managed to increase the yields of her aspect of the biosynthetic pathway by ten times. Later, she plans to revisit the novel technique for another aspect of the pathway. She has successfully shown the project management and leadership in her work, that we hope to propagate throughout our company.

Mina Huang
Co-op R&D student – Intestinal Team, STEMCELL Technologies

STEMCELL Technologies is driven by five core values: innovation, quality, responsiveness, integrity, and collaboration. These core values enable us to deliver the highest quality products and support, driving cutting edge basic and clinical research around the globe; for this to happen it is imperative for our employees to embrace, and embody these core values in their company culture. Within weeks after beginning her term, Mina was functioning as an internal ambassador for STEMCELL both employing theses values into her own work but also working to expand the company culture within the co-op student body. Mina functioned as an unofficial mentor for new students. Her natural scientific curiosity led to spending her own time performing literature searches well beyond what was required for her position. This initiative led to her being extremely prepared and able to discuss aspects of hers and other projects well beyond a student level. As more members in her group become comfortable with her level of understanding, she was treated as a valuable asset. Her reputation as a quiet leader was quickly identified amongst the other students and resulted in her spending extra time transferring the fundamentals of her skillset within her co-op cohort. Her combined work ethic with natural skills led to her fitting in very quickly with both student and full time employees. Within her group she was able to communicate results effectively and developed excellent troubleshooting skill with all technical aspects of her project. By the end of her term, Mina had not only fit perfectly with the defined STEMCELL culture but was able to increase the standards for what was expected both at the student and early full-time employee levels.

Thomas Pedron
Backend Software Developer, Ample Organics

Management quickly recognized Tom’s high potential for both technical and leadership skills. Shortly after he was hired, Tom was promoted to Team Lead on a key project. When he took on these new responsibilities, Tom then noticed several areas of concern with the project, realizing that in its current state it would not properly integrate with any of Ample Organics’ other systems. This put the project at risk and ultimately could have delayed several other projects if it were to continue in its current form. He brought the issue to management and at his suggestion, the whole project including its requirements, architecture, and purpose was re-evaluated, ending up with a decision to reboot the project in a smaller, simpler form. Throughout this business obstacle, Tom acted as a key strategic decision maker and ultimately saved valuable company resources by alerting management to the flaws of the project.

BioTalent Canada congratulates the finalists and salutes their employers for hiring outstanding young talent.

The finalists were chosen among the many entries received and evaluated by an independent judging committee. The winner of the 2019 Catalyst Award will be awarded a cash prize of $1,000 and will be announced in June.


About BioTalent Canada
BioTalent Canada™ is the HR partner of and a catalyst for growth in Canada’s bio-economy. Our engagement with employers, associations, post-secondary institutions, immigrant serving agencies and service providers has built a dynamic network that is strengthening skills, connecting job-ready talent to industry and creating opportunities. Please visit for more information.

Media inquiries:
Siobhan Williams
Director, Marketing and Communications
BioTalent Canada
613-235-1402 ext. 229
[email protected]