BHSc Alumni Spotlight

Biomedical Sciences

Emily

Emily Hicks, BHSc'13

President and Co-Founder at FREDsense Technologies

  • BHSc - Biomedical Sciences - University of Calgary

I not only came out of the program with a ton of hands-on lab experience, but I also had gained experience reading the literature, formulating my own research questions, designing ways to test them and even writing grants.

Emily Hicks, BHSc'13

What is your favourite BHSc memory? 

My absolute favourite BHSc memory is being involved in the iGEM competition. I met so many wonderful friends and got to be involved in some really cool research over several years. I got my first experience managing teams with several components and really discovered my skills at presenting and pitching. Getting to present our work on an international stage and bring home multiple awards was an amazing experience that I will not forget. Since graduating, I have stayed involved in the competition, mentoring student teams and other spin-out companies in Alberta and beyond

Looking back, what advice would you give yourself as a student?

I wish I hadn't been so stressed all the time! Grades matter, but ultimately the skills you develop and the experiences that you have while you're a student matter so much more. I think I could have enjoyed my time as an undergraduate more if I had focused more on these things

What is the best thing about your current job?

My favourite part of my job is that I get to see science that I helped create actually turn into a product. I love the idea of being able to use biology to accomplish some kind of useful task that can make an impact. Developing our first product and seeing it through the commercialization process has been an extremely challenging yet exciting process.

How has your career evolved?

I am still pretty early in my career, however so far I have taken on many different roles within FREDsense. In the very early days, I was much more involved in the bench science side of things, physically running experiments and setting up our first lab. I also spent a lot of time securing grants and funding for the team. I slowly moved out of the lab as we brought on more people and managed all aspects of the technology development for several years. As we have grown, my role has become more and more focused. Today I manage the Product and Operations teams at FREDsense, focusing on how we translate results from the R&D team into sensors that can be deployed in the field with clients.

How did your BHSc degree help you get to where you are now/current career? 

My BHSc degree helped me in a lot of different ways that I am only realizing now. The focus on inquiry learning has been a tremendous benefit. I not only came out of the program with a ton of hands-on lab experience, but I also had gained experience reading the literature, formulating my own research questions, designing ways to test them and even writing grants. Through the program, I became a better writer and ultimately learned how to design research projects from the ground up. I also learned how to present and communicate my work, a very crucial skill to an entrepreneur and one that has been extremely useful to me.

What is the best piece of advice you have received during your career journey?

I have received many pieces of great advice over the years however one that has really stuck with me is to not be afraid to change course. I've often felt the pressure to figure out exactly what I want early on and go for that, however the truth is you can change course so many times in your career. You're not locked into something and it's important to remember that. Sometimes the best opportunities are not the ones you carefully planned out.

 

 

Arch Awards 2019 recipient

The Arch Awards are the highest honour awarded by the UCalgary Alumni Association. Since 1985, they have celebrated bold alumni who've transformed business and community, art and technology, sport and health, for the betterment of all.