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Meet the 2023/24 Executive Team


Emma Elder


Emma’s responsibility is to ensure smooth operation of the UPSA and its events, as well as represent the student body at department meetings. She is a 4th year student in the Davidge lab examining the effects of high cholesterol during pregnancy on maternal vasculature. She is the Director and Editor-in-Chief of Eureka Science Journal, and is passionate about enriching the experience of undergraduates in science. Emma is also an advocate for accessible healthcare; she spends her free time doing nightly intake at Hope Mission shelters and is a board member for Open Arms Patient Advocacy. On her time off, she loves live music, poetry, and a binge-worthy TV show.


Elmy Castillo

VP Social

Elmy’s responsibility is to plan and coordinate social events such as our annual BBQ and holiday party, as well as off-campus activities. She is a 3rd year student who spends her summers working as a Medical Office Assistant in family medicine clinics in Calgary, AB helping doctors prepare for patients’ appointments and enhancing patient care. Elmy is also part of the University of Alberta Mixed Chorus and performs choir concerts throughout the school year. With all the studying and responsibilities, Elmy likes to make time for some of her hobbies like going to the gym, baking, donating blood, and spending time with friends at events around the university.


Jacques Zhang

VP Internal

Jacques’ responsibility is to design and produce Physiology themed merchandise such as hoodies, lanyards, and water bottles. He is a 3rd year student in the Yue Lab, studying energy metabolism for diabetes and obesity research. Additionally, Jacques is the secretary of the CBA Youth Council, a group actively engaged in the Chinese Community. Their involvement includes volunteering for various missions of other Chinese clubs, in addition to organizing events in Chinatown. To relax, Jacques enjoys walking with his pomsky, Oreo. He enjoys spending time with friends and is an avid foodie.


Grace Rusk

VP Fundraising

Grace’s responsibility is to plan and coordinate fundraisers including food sales and social events. She is a 3rd year student who plans to become a Nurse Practitioner in the future. She loves women’s health and is fascinated by the reproductive and gastrointestinal systems. Growing up in Airdrie, Alberta, she made the big move up to Edmonton to join this wonderful program. When she's not studying, she loves crocheting, playing tennis, and hanging out with friends, family, and her two very cute dogs!


Ella Dunsmore

First Year Representative

Ella represents first-year students and works with the VP Fundraising and External. She is a 1st year student who plans to pursue medical school. In 2022, Ella researched the impact of an anti-nausea drug on two types of pediatric cancer cell lines. To continue her aptitude for research and lab work, Ella worked at the Libin Cardiovascular Institute in Calgary, Alberta, where she had the opportunity to work on various projects. She researched women’s health to create outreach projects and raised awareness for cardiovascular disease in women, she worked in a lab to study autonomic function, and worked in collaboration with others on a review. Despite spending lots of time in the lab, Ella can be found cuddling her dogs and watching Netflix during her down time.


D'arci Sutton

VP Academic

D’arci’s responsibility is to plan and host academic events such as Your Future in PHYSL, Lab Tours, and Research Seminars. She is a 4th year student in the Yue lab researching neurophysiological mechanisms involved in dysregulated glucose metabolism for diabetes and obesity. She is also a UAlberta Ambassador and is a passionate volunteer with Diabetes Canada, where she raises awareness and strives to improve access to health resources for those living with diabetes or prediabetes. She is an avid violinist, and a member of the University of Alberta Symphony Orchestra. When D'arci is not studying or playing music, she loves golfing and hanging out with family, friends, and her beloved chihuahua Lilo.


Nicholas Duta

VP Finance

Nick’s responsibility is to manage the UPSA budget, apply for funding, and handle our day-to-day financial operations. He is a 4th year student who is currently part of the Kurata lab researching voltage gated potassium channels. Nick is from Grande Prairie and still helps the Regional Hospital by making Activity booklets for inpatients and seniors under AHS Peace Region Care. When he’s not busy running western’s or studying physiology, Nick enjoys biking, playing tennis, skiing and of course, being with his friends and family.


Ryaad Asif

VP External

Ryaad’s responsibility is to promote the Physiology program to high school students and plan graduation. He is a 4th year student in the Pagliardini Lab studying the neural controls of breathing. He is also an executive in the University of Alberta Optometry Club and a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. When he is not grinding away on his physiology research or hanging out with his fraternity brothers, he can be found volunteering as a Big Brother or engaged in sports such as soccer, basketball, weightlifting, and mixed martial arts.

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Ana Sofia Parra Sanchez

VP Communications

Ana Sofia’s responsibility is to manage the UPSA social media accounts and produce monthly e-newsletters. She is a 3rd year student in the Pagliardini Lab studying the neuromodulation of breathing. She works as a Child Development Assistant facilitating service plans for children with developmental needs (such as ASD and down syndrome). As a volunteer at the Misericordia, Ana Sofia works in the ER department assisting staff with patient intake as well as visiting patients during their stay at the hospital. In her freetime, she enjoys spending time with friends and family and walking her three dogs. Ana Sofia also serves as VP Communications for the Latin American Students’ Association.


Linden Stuart

Second Year Representative

Linden represents second-year students and works with the VP Social and Communications. She is a 2nd year student who plans to pursue a health-care related profession, and is greatly considering potentially attending medical school. In addition to UPSA, she is also a part of TeamUP science which plans STEM events for high school students and United for Literacy as a tutor and event volunteer. She is very passionate about mental health, and strives to achieve a healthy work/life balance. In her spare time, she loves to read, listen to music, volunteer in her community, as well as spend time with her family and numerous pets.


Katelyn Ngo

Third Year Representative

Katelyn represents third-year students and works with the VP Academic. She is a 3rd year student in the Cummine Lab analyzing the effects of physiotherapy on brain volume in individuals with chronic jaw pain. She is also an Assistant Coach with Edmonton Girls Hockey Association and BB Hockey Development, where she has helped facilitate yearly evaluations, summer camps, and practices. With BB Hockey Development, Katelyn has had the opportunity to provide free developmental skate sessions for a local community league. When she is not studying or at the rink, she can be found editing creative writing pieces, or just listening to a good playlist.

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