2018 AquaHacking Speakers

Jill Heinerth
Jill Heinerth


Explorer-in-Residence, The Royal Canadian Geographical Society

More people have walked on the moon than have visited many of the places that Jill Heinerth has seen on Earth. From the most dangerous technical dives deep inside underwater caves, to searching for neverbefore- seen ecosystems inside giant Antarctic icebergs, Jill’s curiosity and passion about our watery planet is the driving force in her life. In her remarkable presentations, Jill encourages audiences to reach beyond their limitations, challenge the unknown, and overcome their fears, while applying her practical experience when it comes to lessons on risk management, discovery learning, failure, and collaboration strategies.

Ken Cook
Ken Cook


President and co-founder of the Environmental Working Group

He is widely recognized as one of the environmental community’s most prominent and influential critics of industrial agriculture, U.S. food and farm policy and the nation’s broken approach to protecting families and children from toxic substances.

Under Cook’s leadership, EWG has pioneered the use of digital technologies to empower American families with easy-to-use, data-driven tools to help reduce their exposure to potentially harmful ingredients in foods, drinking water, cosmetics and other household products.

Kat Kavanagh
Kat Kavanagh


MC of the event - CEO, Water Rangers & 2015 AquaHacking Challange Winner

Driven by her love of nature and design, Kat Kavanagh is a passionate environmentalist who firmly believes in the power of technology to transform our relationship with water. For over 10 years, Kat has designed and built apps, websites and games through her company, Capra Design Limited. Kat’s magic comes from her enthusiasm and ability to take on any challenge. As founder of Water Rangers, Kat does everything from project management, fundraising, social media, public speaking, training, test kit prototyping, testing, UX design, web design and build. Kat conceived and lead a team to build the first version of Water Rangers, which won the Aquahacking competition in 2015. Since then, Water Rangers has also won the GLOS Data Challenge (2016), the Friends of the Tay Watershed Award for Water Resources (2017) and the WatersNext: Early Adopter Award (2018). Kat is also a passionate advocate for women in tech and entrepreneurship: she’s been a mentor for Ladies Learning Code, and in 2017 was an instructor for Girls Learning Code on International Day of the Girl. Over half the Water Rangers’ team are women, too.

Nan-b de Gaspé Beaubien
Nan-b de Gaspé Beaubien


Co-chair of Aqua Forum and Founder of the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation

Nan-b de Gaspé Beaubien is co-chair of the de Gaspé Beaubien foundation and devotes her time to philanthropic endeavors that continue to break new ground supporting environmental causes, enterprising families and enterprising women, public health, and education.  An internationally renowned expert on topic of family enterprise, she is a regular speaker at global conferences and top universities worldwide. 

Prior to this role, Nan-b worked alongside her husband Philippe in their company Telemedia, a Canadian wide media company engaged in broadcasting, publishing, satellite delivery, and cellular telephone. She held the position of Exec.VP of Human Resources. She has served as Director of numerous companies, both private and public, among them Campbell Soup Company, and the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and she was often the first woman to do so.

Nan-b has been recognized for her contributions to Quebec and Canadian society with many awards, including: Order of CanadaCanadian Broadcasters Hall of Fame, Philanthropy Merit Award from the Quebec Chamber of Commerce, Honorary Doctorate from the University of British Columbia, and Canadian Business Hall of Fame.

David Ullrich
David Ullrich


Co-Chair of Aqua Forum

David Ullrich is an advisor the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative after having been the Executive Director. His responsibilities include working with over 100 U.S. and Canadian mayors from across the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Basin to advance the protection and restoration of the resource. 

Mr. Ullrich served also for thirty years at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes regional office in Chicago, working on environmental issues in the six states of the upper Midwest. He worked in many capacities over the years, including Acting Regional Administrator, Deputy Regional Administrator, Waste Management Division Director, Deputy Regional Counsel, Air Enforcement Chief, and Water Enforcement Attorney. 

He currently serves as Chair of the Great Lakes Water Quality Board for the International Joint Commission, Chair of the Great Lakes Advisory Board, and in 2006 and 2012 was appointed by the President to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission where he serves as Vice Chair. 

Lauren Smith
Lauren Smith


CEO, PolyGone Technologies Inc, 2017 AquaHacking Challenge Finalist

Lauren is the CEO and Co-Founder of PolyGone Technologies – a Canadian innovative start-up that is addressing the problem of microfibres, the predominant source of microplastic pollution. These tiny fibres are released during the washing of synthetic textiles and end up in our waterways where they collect harmful toxins linked to major health concerns. What's worse - microfibres are turning up in all sorts of food and beverage, including tap and bottled water!

Lauren grew up near Lake Erie, no stranger to water quality problems. She was able to combine her passion for water, the environment, and psychology through her graduate studies and, ultimately, through the AquaHacking 2017 challenge. She met her partner, Nicole, in grad school and together they have been developing PolyGone Technologies into the solution it is today: an effective, sustainable filtration material to get plastic out of our waters, out of our food, and out of our lives.

Jason Deglint
Jason Deglint


CEO Blue Lion Labs, 2017 AquaHacking Challange Winner

Currently a PhD Candidate in Systems Design Engineering at the University of Waterloo where he functions as a member of the Vision and Image Processing (VIP) group under the supervision of Dr. Alexander Wong and Dr. Chao Jin. His research interests include computational imaging as well as using machine learning and multispectral imaging for computational biology and water conservation. He has a strong interest in business and entrepreneurship so that he can solve big problems and turn great ideas into value. 

The  2018 Full Program
The 2018 Full Program


Check the full program of the 2018 AquaHacking Challenge Final event here