What do you do?
Eden Redman is the Executive Director of NeurAlbertaTech (NAT) Neurotechnologies Ltd., which is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting development and education in the area of brain-computer interface technology. NAT’s goal is to “build a worldwide community rooted in Alberta that facilitates neurotechnological innovation by initiating and supporting cross institutional collaboration.” NAT accomplishes this by organizing hands-on skill development workshops, free speaker events, and facilitating several project teams to compete internationally.
What inspired you to do what you do now?
“I always had a strong interest in developing my own neurotech.”
Eden has always had a personal interest in neurotech. With family members that have debilitating mental illness, he has identified a strong need for efficacious non-pharmacological treatment, and where neurotech can play a big role in it. He has worked in research labs and has run experiments in attentional neuroscience. After initially prototyping the NAT workshops with just a handful of people, Eden has worked tirelessly to refine them into multiple workshop streams that continue to foster a community of learning
What does diversity in STEM mean to you?
“Having diversity in demographics directly translates to a diversity in ideas.”
Eden believes that diversity in STEM means to have a diversity of ideas, which is rooted in a variety of backgrounds, cultural ethnicities, and languages. Socioeconomic status is especially important to tackle since it “underlies a lot of discriminatory policy and majorly overlaps with other demographics.” To combat such policies, he and his team have worked with sponsors to offer workshop subsidies to those in financial need. Furthermore, NAT is “really looking forward to working with their incoming WISEST summer student in the coming weeks”
What are some challenges you have faced linked to EDI (Equality, Diversity, Inclusion) in your experiences/work?
“I was in a group interview in this one instance and was very clearly the most qualified...and I was just flat out told “no but it's nice to see a man applying.”
Eden has accumulated much experience in counseling traumatized children and adults through E4C’s ArtStart program and the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Edmonton Distress line However, when given the opportunity to interview for an internship, he was unfortunately faced with sexism. This showed him how “pervasive and insidious discrimination can be” as interviewers did not look at his experiences and achievements and instead viewed him “as a male.” Despite this setback, this has not stopped Eden and his team from working against such instances, “having just recently incorporated, one of our first focuses is on drafting inclusive codes of conduct and ensuring our online presence and events are accessible and inviting to everyone, from all backgrounds.
What are some ways individuals like yourself can help increase EDI in STEM?
“As a corporation we're hoping to hire students and have diversity in those hired.”
NeurAlberta Tech has taken an active approach to addressing barriers to accessing education to neurotech. For example, they have paired up with sponsors to offer workshop discounts to participants. Additionally, they are working on a system level by developing more cost effective research equipment, to further democratize neurotechnology for personal and research uses. An example of this is the creation of an integrated eye, body tracking, and EEG system in their Bermuda project. NeurAlberta Tech has already involved many into their workshops, ranging from high school students to graduate students, post-docs, and even industry professionals.