Women in STEM: Meet Janice Acio

Janice Acio works in the chemistry lab of BC BTAC

'Not many girls did STEM back then and I wanted to be a bit different. I’ve never regretted my choice and never looked back'

What is your education and background?

I received a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the Philippines and studied Environmental Engineering at BCIT, specializing in hydrology and lithology. Currently, I am taking the Winemaking Certificate Program at the University of California-Davis Institute and a certified Applied Science Technologist – Chemical in BC.  Overall, I accumulated 20 years of work experience in various fields including laboratory work, environmental management, manufacturing and academic research.

What is your area of interest?

I am often found in the lab using analytical chemistry to perform qualitative and quantitative analysis, preparing samples, and working with instrumentation. Since it is part of my job to do research and development, I would also typically spend time reading literature and trying experiments to determine the best way to analyze a beverage sample.  I need to be organized, good at multitasking, and confident at learning new approaches and testing new protocols.

Why did you choose to work at Okanagan College - BCBTAC?

I’ve worked in production plants before, and I remembered the rigorous schedule we had. So, I really appreciate the work-life balance that the college provides. It creates the right kind of environment that enables me to feel like I can do a good job and still be able to prioritize important things in my personal life like enjoying time with family or pursuing my hobbies.

Favourite working experience in BCBTAC?

We often get inquiries from beverage companies regarding their unique production issues. It’s our job to figure out if their request can be accommodated and how we can perform the testing. It can be quite intimidating to constantly have to learn and figure out new approaches to analysis.  Sometimes we try out entirely new protocols and methods; however, problem-solving is enjoyable and I love the challenge. We are continually carrying out new studies on fermented beverages, helping the beverage community, and get to be there right at the start of these really exciting projects.

Who gave you the best advice you ever received?

My math teacher in high school said, “Always learn new things.” With that, I still give a few hours a day or during my days off work to learn something new. I also take courses regularly either for personal or professional development. And just never stop learning.

When did you know you had found your discipline?

I was pretty good at school, but when I was choosing what to study at university, I wasn’t sure what to go for. It was a tie between engineering and accounting. When I got offered a scholarship from the Department of Science and Technology I jumped at the opportunity.  I opted for STEM.  Since I am interested in how things work, I liked math and, to be honest, not many girls did STEM back then and I wanted to be a bit different. I’ve never regretted my choice and never looked back.

Why do you think women and girls should pursue a career in STEM?

Today with our shortages in skilled labor, there are incredible opportunities for women and their abilities to be recognized and promoted within STEM. Talented people with STEM skills are important to our future. You could end up exploring ways to preserve our environment or play a part in inventing a new way to save water or energy. You can make a real difference to improve the lives of millions of people.  It is very rewarding to know that your contributions will increase knowledge and hopefully help people.

What advice do you have for women and girls who want to pursue a career in STEM?

Gender should not matter, but still, be prepared for a challenging working environment.  Always remember that no matter who you are, you can be as successful as you dream to be.  Just work hard and learn as much as you can. Also, be kind to yourself and others.  Appreciate and celebrate your own achievements. I think we often forget to do that.

If you could go back in time, is there anything you would do differently?

Nothing. Changing the past causes a ripple effect changing major or minor things in the present which can greatly impact your life. I’m kidding, I’d change one thing I should have learned in grade school; I would learn how to ride a bike.

Where are you the happiest?

I’m happiest when I’m being creative or when I’m fully absorbed in something, whether it be reading, woodworking, painting, sketching, or gardening. This causes me to lose track of myself as I try to do/make something meaningful for myself. It is one of my most enjoyable experiences, therapeutic too.

Published By College Relations on February 2, 2023

International Day for Women and Girls in Science

The United Nations has designated Feb. 11 as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. A significant gender gap has persisted throughout the years at all levels of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines all over the world. Even though women have made tremendous progress towards increasing their participation in higher education, they are still under-represented in these fields. 


British Columbia Beverage Technology Access Centre (BC BTAC) supports the Canadian beverage industry’s innovation and growth by providing a comprehensive range of expert analytical, commercial and sensory services and resources.

We work with individuals, companies and organizations within a collaborative framework to exchange knowledge, ideas and resources leading to real-world solutions for the development of domestic beverages, including fermented, brewed, distilled and non-alcoholic products. Our vision is to work with industry toward sustained economic and intellectual growth.