NSERC Chair for
Women in Science & Engineering

Dr. Donna F. Vine

Being a girl or a young woman is not a barrier to what you can achieve.

Associate Professor, Human Nutrition
University of Alberta

Associate Professor, Co-Director Metabolic and Cardiovascular Disease Laboratory, Alberta Diabetes Institute, Division of Human Nutrition, Faculty Agriculture Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada. Recipient of McCalla Professorship (2015-2016) in Teaching, Service and Research. Research Focus – Research program is translational from basic animal models to human clinical trials, focussing on how diet and metabolic factors, such as androgens and insulin, regulate intestinal and hepatic lipid and lipoprotein synthesis, lipid absorption and metabolism, and how these pathways are altered in disease states leading to atherogenic-remnant dyslipidemia; inclusive of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and polycystic ovary syndrome.

As an academic, what is your favourite part of your job?
Seeing students succeed in science, and being able to learn and discover new science in my research everyday.

What are you researching and what excites you about it?

I am researching how the endocrine hormones - androgens impact whole body and intestinal lipid metabolism, and how they regulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-endocrine-ovarian-intestinal axis, in normal and disease conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome and metabolic syndrome. This research is exciting as we have a limited understanding of how androgens work in the body, particularly in different tissues, and androgens effect us throughout our life stages: in utero to puberty to ageing.

What types of professions can students graduating in your field enter?

Research Scientist or Clinical Scientist for industry, academic or non-for profit organisations. Postdoctoral positions in the field.

Is your workplace male-dominated? If so, how do you negotiate being a woman in a male-dominated workplace and/or field?

My immediate workplace is balanced. However as a woman and academic researcher with three children I have learned that I have to work consistently and persistently to achieve my research and academic goals, and to accept that my progress may be slower than my male counter-parts.

How do you foster and encourage diversity in your workplace?

Diversity is the 'new' culture due to the age we live in - we just need to embrace it and simultaneously encourage values of working hard and having discipline to achieve our goals, and demonstrating integrity in everything we do.

What kinds of systemic support could institutions provide to help encourage girls and women to pursue careers in science and engineering?

Scientific concepts, critical thinking and creative discovery need to be encouraged and instilled in all children at elementary school. Children need education standards at a higher scientific level, and these need to be delivered by highly motivated-educated individuals - this can be achieved by increasing the resources for education, training and expertise of teachers in primary and secondary education.

What advice would you give to girls or young women who are interested in careers in science or engineering?

Being a girl or a young woman is not a barrier to what you can achieve, everyone needs to work hard and to stay focussed to achieve our goals.

As a professional in science or engineering, who are your role models and mentors?

My role models and mentors are the academic women I have as colleagues who amaze me and inspire me everyday.