Photo of Ambika Opal

Ambika Opal is interested in the intersection of the technical and social sciences. She believes that many data scientists do not have enough understanding of social systems to build models that are effective and bias-free – for example, the Gates Foundation’s ‘Empowering Effective Teachers’ project that went bust – and that social scientists could better leverage mathematics, programming, and data to add new dimensions to their research. Ambika hopes to work towards bridging this gap.

Ambika completed her undergraduate degree in Systems Design Engineering at the University of Waterloo, and complemented her technical studies with work placements at Global Affairs Canada, the former Indigenous & Northern Affairs Canada, the Treasury Board Secretariat, volunteering with Engineers Without Borders Canada, and her current work with Hon. Bardish Chagger. From these diverse experiences, Ambika fosters a wide range of interests, including remote and northern communities, environmental governance, illicit trade, development indicators, complexity science, and much more.

Community development also plays a large role in Ambika’s life. She currently sits on the Board of the Social Development Centre of Waterloo Region, helps settle refugee families through Reception House Kitchener-Waterloo, volunteers as a Special Olympics and speed skating coach, and facilitates the Waterloo Riding Youth Council. In her free time, Ambika enjoys short track speed skating, softball, reading, and learning languages.

Academic / Professional Awards

  • Reception House Kitchener-Waterloo Volunteer of the Year, 2018
  • University of Waterloo Faculty of Engineering Valedictorian, 2017
  • Sir Sandford Fleming Foundation Award for Technical Writing, 2015
  • City of Waterloo Community Builder Award, 2015


  • Opal, A., Bradbeer, W., Dyck, C., Huynh, D., Bachmann, C., & Fieguth, P. A Quantitative Impact Analysis of the Container Security Initiative (CSI). Peer-reviewed conference paper, presented at the 97th meeting of the Transportation Research Board, Washington D.C., 10 January 2018.
Environment and Resources
Science and Health Policy
  • Bachelor of Applied Science in Systems Design Engineering, University of Waterloo, 2017

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