Graduate Student Council

The Western Space Graduate Students’ Council provides a means of bidirectional communication between participating graduate students and the Western Space Executive Council. The student's council is comprised of a senior leadership team consisting of a President, Vice-President, Treasurer, and Secretary, each of whom serves for a one-year term. Each Western Space-linked department is represented by a member of the council for a period of one year. The council actively seeks to create a sense of community amongst students emanating from a variety of departments across campus by organizing various social gatherings enabling graduate students from the different departments to meet in a non-academic setting.

The 2021/2022 Council members are:

Catheryn  Ryan

Catheryn Ryan


Biography: Catheryn Ryan is a PhD candidate in the Department of Earth Sciences and the Institute for Earth and Space Exploration. They study astrobiology, mineralogy, and geochemistry with Dr Mariek Schmidt (Brock University) and Dr Roberta Flemming (Western). Their work examines the geological context of microbial ichnofossils in volcanic glass, found in environments on Earth that are similar to those found on Mars. Catheryn was the Vice President of both WSGC and the Graduate Geology Society in 2020-2021. In their spare time, Catheryn enjoys rock climbing, sewing and quilting, knitting, photography, hiking, playing Dungeons and Dragons, and spending time with their rescue dog, Ellie.
Lauren  Stone

Lauren Stone

Vice President

Biography: Lauren is a PhD student working under Dr. Gordon Osinski in Western’s Department of Earth Sciences and Institute for Earth and Space Exploration. Her interests include astrobiology, molecular geomicrobiology, and the origins of life. Her current research investigates the effects of impact shock on the habitability basalts— the primary rock type at the Martian surface. Additionally, she is investigating geologic and geochemical changes resulting from microbial activity within impact shocked basalts under simulated early Mars conditions relevant to NASA’s Mars 2020 mission.
Vidhya Ganesh Rangarajan

Vidhya Ganesh Rangarajan


Biography: Vidhya Ganesh Rangarajan is a PhD candidate with the Department of Earth Sciences and the Institute for Earth and Space Exploration and studies active Martian surface processes with Dr. Gordon Osinski and Dr. Livio Tornabene. His research utilises high-resolution remote sensing data from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the ExoMars TGO. His work aims to develop techniques to monitor active surface processes on Mars like gullies, dunes, seasonal frosting-defrosting activity, etc. to learn more about the present and past climatic history of the planet. Outside of school, Vidhya Ganesh loves hiking, biking and music, and enjoys spending time making music on his tabla, an Indian percussion musical instrument.
Jin Sia

Jin Sia


Biography: Jin is an MESc student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and at the Institute for Earth and Space Exploration. He currently researches thermal/structural analysis and systems engineering for multispectral imaging instruments with Dr. Jayshri Sabarinathan, specifically for applications to Canada’s planned micro-lunar rover. He is also interested in analog research, having participated in a two-week simulated Mars mission at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah in 2021 as part of Crew 228. Jin is passionate about space advocacy and currently serves on the Mars Society of Canada’s Board of Directors.
Steffen  Shaigec

Steffen Shaigec

Project Liason

Biography: Steffen Shaigec is a MSc candidate in the Surface Climate Lab in the Department of Geography and Environment and the Institute for Earth and Space Exploration. His research interests include orbital, aerial, and ground-based remote sensing of urban areas, where he aims to develop new remote sensing instrumentation and techniques. Steffen’s spare time activities include cycling, rock climbing, and hockey. 
Leah  Sacks

Leah Sacks

Department Rep: Earth Science

Biography: Leah Sacks is a PhD student in Earth Sciences and a member of the Institute for Earth and Space Exploration. Her work focuses on studying outer solar system planet tectonics and surfaces, with a side dose of martian impact craters. In addition to research, Leah spends her time reading, hiking, relaxing at the beach or by a campfire, and trying out new hobbies! As the Earth Science Representative on the WSGC, she hopes to encourage the growth of community within the Insitutue, and welcome and support students who have begun their programs during the difficult period of the COVID Pandemic.
Ruthy Brito

Ruthy Brito

Department Rep: Engineering

Biography: Ruthy is a MESc student in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. Currently, her main research interests are in image classification and object detection. Outside of school, she enjoys watching movies and cooking.
Cole Gregg

Cole Gregg

Department Rep: Physics and Astronomy

Biography: Cole Gregg is a PhD candidate in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Institute for Earth and Space Exploration. His current research interests are in dynamical astronomy and minor body detection. Cole is currently working under the supervision of Dr. Paul Wiegert, where he is using remotely operated, robotic telescopes to search for lunar co-orbital asteroids. He is also examining the interstellar meteoroid population in the Solar System through dynamical modelling of material ejected from nearby star systems.