Our People

Together, we combine our strengths and expertise to identify priorities, catalyze research, and develop evidence-based solutions.

WISA is made up of passionate researchers, innovators, and leaders who contribute their skills, knowledge, and resources to the development of sustainable solutions in aeronautics.

Our members include faculty, researchers, graduate students, staff, and other members from the University of Waterloo and beyond.


Dr. Suzanne Kearns, Founding Director

The Founding Director of WISA is the distinguished Dr. Suzanne Kearns who is responsible for the high-level management of WISA operations. She is supported by four Associate Directors whose duties align with the three pillars of sustainability (social, environmental, and economic), as well as the WISA team. 

Read the message from the director →

WISA Associate Directors

The Associate Directors of WISA support the Director in identifying critical research issues in the areas identified by the WISA Board and Advisory Committee. This includes coordinating the research strategy, liaising with faculty members to facilitate research teams, developing and evaluating research projects that are critically important for the strategic direction of WISA. They are also responsible for the engagement of faculty colleagues to achieve the objectives of WISA.  


Ewa Niechwiej-Szwedo, Associate Director

Dr. Ewa Niechwiej-Szwedo completed her graduate work at the University of Toronto and joined the University of Waterloo in 2012. Her research program is grounded in systems neuroscience and focuses on discovering the fundamental mechanisms involved in the central nervous system control of eye and hand movements across the lifespan.

Read more about Ewa Niechwiej-Szwedo →


XiaoYu Wu, Associate Director

A focus on sustainable energy conversion and chemical production processes! XiaoYu Wu is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering. He obtained his PhD and was a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He also obtained his MS and BS degrees in Zhejiang University. He is enthusiastic about sustainability, especially how clean technologies can impact sustainability and how countries can incorporate sustainability in their development.

Read more about XiaoYu Wu →


Derek Robinson, Associate Director

Derek is currently using remotely piloted aircraft to remotely sense agriculture and urban areas using thermal, multi-spectral, and LiDAR sensors to advance science in the areas of interests that lie at the center of land use, land management, and the carbon cycle.

Read more about Derek Robinson →


Mihaela Vlasea, Associate Director

Mihaela's research focuses on innovative design, process optimization and adoption of new materials for powder bed fusion and binder jetting additive manufacturing processes. Dr. Vlasea collaborates closely with industry partners in the additive manufacturing supply chain and applications, including aerospace. In recognition of her scholarly work, student mentorship, and industry outreach.

Read more about Mihaela Vlasea →