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Christine Wong Chong

When Christine Wong Chong enrolled as a biomedical engineering student at UVic, she was inspired by the prospect of working in a field that contributes to medical advancements that improve people’s lives.

Engineering, technology and public health

Christine Wong Chong, an engineering co-op student, is standing in a vineyard on a sunny day, reaching up to touch one vine. Christine is framed by the vines.
Christine Wong Chong on-site at the Sidney Centre for Plant Health.

On her fourth co-op work term, Christine joined the software development team at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) Sidney Centre for Plant Health, Canada’s only post-entry quarantine research and diagnostic facility for grapevines, fruit trees and small fruit. The Centre tests plants for virus to ensure plants are healthy for import, domestic movement, and export from Canada. The Centre is currently collaborating with Dr. Xuekui Zhang (University of Victoria Department of Mathematics and Statistics) and the Clean Plant extraction Sequencing Diagnostics (CLEANSED) for clean grapevines in Canada project, which is partially funded by GenomeBC and GenomeCanada.

 “Working on critical projects that directly impact public health and safety made me extremely excited about this job,” Christine says. “Knowing that my contributions are making a safer and healthier food supply motivates me to perform at my best.”

Technology for healthy communities

Supervised by Lead Bioinformatician Ian Boyes, Christine worked on bug fixes and new features in Virtool, a CFIA web app that allows lab technicians to easily detect viruses in plant samples. Students at the Centre for Plant Health receive mentorship in current software development practices, languages, frameworks and concepts. Christine took this learning back to the classroom when she collaborated with other biomedical engineering students on a web and mobile application for heart disease risk detection, where she applied insights about successful web design and implementation that she gained at CFIA.

What's next

Moving forward, Christine plans to continue combining the intersection of her passions in engineering, technology, and public health, leveraging technology to tackle healthcare challenges.

“I want to leverage my skills in software development and engineering to contribute to advancements in healthcare systems,” she says. “The transformative experiences gained during my co-op work terms have reaffirmed my passion for biomedical engineering and its potential to make the world a healthier place to live.”