I grew up in Windsor after immigrating from the Philippines at the age of five. Dad was an autoworker and Mom worked in customer service. From an early age, my parents taught me the value of hard work and education. The Magic School Bus was my favourite TV show. I always wanted to be a scientist.
After high school, where I was valedictorian, I earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from the University of Windsor. I worked multiple part-time jobs as a cashier, banquet server, photo-lab technician, and customer service rep to get through school. After my bachelors, I moved to Ottawa for my Masters of Science in Chemistry, where I met my fiancée, a frontline worker who now works as a nurse at Sick Kids Hospital.
After my MSc, I pursued a Doctor of Philosophy in Materials Science & Engineering at the University of Toronto. I discovered new technology to convert waste carbon dioxide emissions into useful products like fuel. My work was published in high-impact journals like Science and Nature and covered in mainstream media like Forbes, VICE, Globe & Mail, Newseek, and more. During my PhD, I spent summer internships and exchanges at IBM in New York, the University of California-Berkeley, and the Toyota Research Institute in San Francisco.
I was a Junior Fellow at Massey College and graduated with a Governor General Gold Medal for my PhD work. I attribute much of this success to the mentorship of my PhD supervisor and the loving patience of my fiancée.
During my PhD, I competed in the Carbon XPRIZE, a $20M competition to capture and convert the most carbon dioxide into a useful good. I helped raise over $2M in funding to scale up technology that I was developing at the University of Toronto. Because of this work, I was named a Forbes Top 30 Under 30.
In the last year of graduate school, I wanted to start a cleantech company but my mentor and supervisor thought the technology was too early for commercialization. Instead, I found a job posting for a director position at the National Research Council in Toronto to develop new disruptive technologies to help decarbonize Canada. I applied, interviewed, and was offered the job.
For the last two years, I was leading a $57M collaborative research program at the National Research Council on new clean energy technology. I serve on the board of the carbontech non-profit Carbon Management Canada, worked with the OECD on collaborative platforms for materials discovery, with the Creative Destruction Lab as a mentor to help science-based startups scale, with the Canadian Commission for UNESCO on artificial intelligence to advance sustainable development, and as an Action Canada Fellow where I co-wrote a report with recommendations to lower barriers of entry for new farmers – especially women, visible minorities, immigrants, and indigenous peoples.
In my spare time, I co-host and executive produce a podcast, “What’s Next In…” about the rapidly changing world and how we can get ahead of it. I am also a two-time TEDx speaker, a Mission Innovation Champion for Canada, a Clean50 Emerging leader, a GreenBiz Top 30 Under 30, and a Bay St. Bull 30×30.
Today, I’m running to be a Member of Parliament in Toronto-St. Paul’s for the Green Party. I am passionate about representing voices that are not commonly heard in government – scientists, youth, visible minorities, and first-generation Canadians. I believe that in Canada, anyone can achieve anything they want, but I also know the importance of having examples of people who look like you to show you what is possible. I never knew many Filipino-Canadians in academia, the startup world, or in executive positions in the private or public sector, but I hope I’ll see more in parliament soon.
I deeply understand that we need bold change to tackle the crises we face – climate change, housing affordability, caring for society’s most vulnerable, and creating innovative jobs for a sustainable future. I am ready to demand more from Ottawa, to bring new ideas and energy to parliament, and to not take no for an answer. The moment calls for transformative change, change that we can only bring together.
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