Last December, we announced the Science to Policy Accelerator (S2PA) — a new training program for 25 early-career researchers from across Canada. The program aims to equip participants with foundational knowledge in governance, science policy and communication, and then to apply these concepts to specific forms of policy engagement.
Meet the inaugural cohort of the Science to Policy Accelerator
The interest we received was incredible!
Hundreds of individuals from across the country expressed their interest in the program, and members from across the science and policy communities reached out to support our efforts to launch the initiative. We were very encouraged by the volume of interest, and hope to offer this training program again in future years.
This week, we’re excited to kick off the S2PA program, and share our pilot cohort with you today. These individuals will be exploring the opportunities of bringing science and research more deeply into the fabric of public policy over the next four weeks. We’ll share our guest speakers across social media in the coming weeks too.
For now, join me in welcoming our inaugural cohort!
Adekunbi (Kunbi) Adetona is an Environmental Scientist with a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the University of Calgary. For her master’s and doctoral studies, Kunbi focused on nature-based solutions to climate change. Currently, she is a research contributor at Canadian Energy Systems Analysis Research and the Transition Accelerator. Her research explores pathways for the agricultural and forestry systems to help Canada in meeting net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The Science to Policy Accelerator program will help Kunbi gain the hands-on policy-related experience that she needs to inform policy and investment decisions relating to climate change and associated challenges.
Richard Quansah Amissah
I am Richard Quansah Amissah, a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Guelph, Ontario, studying the mechanisms that underlie edible cannabis-induced poisoning, a phenomenon that occurs following the overconsumption of cannabis-infused products, which is on the rise among young children, with the aim of identifying possible treatments for the condition.
I recently completed my PhD in Biology from the University of Ottawa. During my graduate studies I investigated how mining pollution can affect the toxicity of mercury in northern freshwater lakes. Throughout my career, I have had first-hand experience in understanding the environmental repercussions of poorly managed sites. As such, I have been interested in the applicability of my research, specifically, how it can be used to make better science policy decisions for the future. Outside of academia, I am passionate about giving back to my community by volunteering with Let’s Talk Science, starting laboratory recycling programs at uOttawa, and organizing an environmental science conference.
I completed my PhD in 2020 from the Medical Sciences Program at McMaster University, specializing in Infection and Immunity. My thesis focused on examining the effect of female sex hormones on immune responses, specifically in response to sexually transmitted infections. I am currently working as a Project Analyst with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Institute of Infection and Immunity (CIHR-III). My passions include advocating for the rights of women and children belonging to underserved communities and supporting women’s leadership in STEM.
Dr. Lisha Berzins (she/elle) is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Saskatchewan. Her research focuses on understanding the threats that birds face and how they can be indicative of healthy ecosystems. She is aiming to find better ways to conserve birds and develop solutions to create more healthy ecosystems for people and birds. Dr. Berzins is passionate about nature, science communication and outreach.
My name is Andrew Chan. I am a biomedical engineering researcher with a medical degree. As an engineer-physician, I straddle both the technical and clinical worlds and have a passion for developing technology that fits into the clinical workflow. I am part of a national collaboration to develop remote patient monitoring technologies for older adults to age in place, and for rehabilitation assessment and monitoring in the home. I am interested in seeing how development of these technologies can be driven by public policy to improve the quality of life of older adults and reduce health care costs.
I am currently a postdoctoral fellow continuing my doctoral research in vaccine development and infectious diseases at the University of Calgary. Prior to beginning my doctoral studies, I graduated with a bachelor’s in biomedical sciences with honours and a minor in health and society from the University of Calgary. Since then I have been intrigued with the intersection between science and society, which I have mainly explored through doing science communication during my studies. I am now interested in learning about tackling policy challenges related to biological innovations and infectious diseases and advance evidence-based policy making.
Ashley Davidson is an early career researcher who recently completed a PhD at University of British Columbia. Her PhD work focused on detecting and tracking chromium in its different chemical redox states as it moves through the environment. She has also worked as an educator, developing and evaluating new lab activities and assessments to help support students from all backgrounds in the learning of new STEM concepts and ideas. Passionate about revealing the science surrounding everyday life, she is looking to apply her technical training to help support the development of evidence-based public policy.
Iselle Flores Ruiz
Originally from Mexico, Iselle studied her undergraduate and master's degrees at the University of British Columbia. Her masters thesis focused on trace metal bioaccumulation in marine zooplankton in the Strait of Georgia. Now as an Analytical Scientist for Ocean Diagnostics, she is focused on developing rigorous, high-throughput protocols for microplastic analysis. Although they are an ubiquitous pollutant, microplastics have yet to become well regulated. Iselle is excited to learn how to better connect researchers and policy makers in order to create regulations pertaining to microplastic pollution in a more efficient way.
Dr. Alexandra Gellé’s curiosity for sciences knows no bounds. With a long-standing interest in the way that sciences are shared with the public, she has directed and founded a number of organizations that endeavour to bridge the gap between the scientific community and society. In parallel with her PhD in green chemistry, Alexandra has worked as a science communicator. She now works as a knowledge broker for a research center dedicated to renewable energy located in Gaspé, QC. Alexandra uses her scientific and communication skills to promote renewable energy as well as research and researchers’ expertise in this field.
Dr. Stephanie Glegg is an occupational therapist and implementation scientist whose research examines the barriers, enablers, and effectiveness of strategies to move knowledge into action to improve health care. Partnering with the people who will benefit from or be impacted by the research, her research spans individual, organizational, community and policy contexts. Her work focuses primarily on the priorities of groups who have been marginalized, including children with exceptionalities and their families, Indigenous peoples, and people with lived/living experience using substances.
Eric is an Analyst with the Pacific Salmon Foundation, an environmental NGO focused on salmon conservation. For the Pacific Salmon Foundation, Eric leads efforts to understand the status and trends in salmon populations across British Columbia. Eric earned his PhD from the University of Victoria and has worked on salmon ecology and management for over a decade. Throughout his career, Eric has been driven to answer interesting scientific questions that influence resource management decisions.
I recently completed my Ph.D. in Psychology with a Concentration in Quantitative Methods from Carleton University (2021). My doctorate research focused on body image, disordered eating, and quality of life among community youth, and youth with severe complex obesity. I am a Postdoctoral Scholar in the READY Lab at Carleton University and a Data Analyst for Engage Nova Scotia. I have a keen interest in eating and weight-related disorders and how these are related to physical and mental health behaviours. Currently, I am exploring how binge eating is related to physical activity and sleep among undergraduate students.
Linda is a Scientist with expertise in Toxicology, Environmental Epidemiology, and Sustainability. She has extensive experience in research, mentoring/teaching, and scientific advisory. She is developing liaisons between health, environment, gender equality, indigenous engagement, creativity, science policy, and science diplomacy to build a sustainable world. Moreover, she is part of the Homeward Bound (Team HB6) Women in STEMM Leadership program taking action against climate change on a global scale.
Christine Leclerc lives in Coast Salish Homelands / Burnaby, B.C. She is an award-winning author and science communicator who studies climate science at Simon Fraser University‘s Climate Research Lab. In addition, Leclerc Chairs the BC NDP‘s Standing Committee on Agriculture. She is a past member of SFU’s Hydrology Research Group and has served on the non-profit boards of Embark Sustainability and Sierra Club BC.
Tad Lemieux is a researcher and editor whose work abuts contemporary rhetoric, sovereignty, and environment. He received his doctorate in Rhetoric from Carleton University in the Department of English Language and Literature (2019), with a focus on Inuit philosophy and history, Arctic anthropology, and philosophy at the intersections of sovereignty, health, and climate ecology. Today, his work engages shifts to on- and offline environments and health in Arctic Canada, the “environmental” rhetoric of the online far right, and digital interconnectivity in the context of global climate change.
I am a biologist who’s interested in predicting the outcomes of disturbance (e.g. range shifts, climate change and translocations) on wild populations. I use statistical genetics to answer questions about hybridization, reproductive isolation, competition and physiology. I did my undergraduate and master’s degrees at University of Guelph, my PhD at Uppsala University in Sweden, and my first postdoc at University of Edinburgh in Scotland. I’m now working remotely at University of Wyoming, while living in Guelph. I’ve worked on squirrels, birds, and deer, and have, unfortunately, traded lots of time in the woods for too much time at a computer.
I am a social epidemiologist and mixed methods researcher with a passion for women's health and examining and addressing structural inequities that cause gender disparities. I recently completed my PhD in Community Health Sciences, specializing in Epidemiology, at the University of Calgary. My dissertation focused on structural influences (including child welfare involvement) affecting adolescent girls’ pregnancy rates. I currently work within the University of Calgary’s Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, conducting both qualitative and quantitative research on women’s reproductive health issues.
Lucksini is a first generation Tamil-Canadian and a health policy professional. Her early years growing up in the civil war period led her to understand many health disparities due to unjust policies. She went on to complete her master’s training, focusing on improving equitable and sustainable access to health services for priority populations. Also, she supported innovators in program evaluation for a portfolio of maternal and child health projects implemented in low-and- middle-income countries. She looks forward to addressing knowledge gaps to better bridge scientific evidence and policy by identifying what works, what hasn’t, and what opportunities exist for further improving Canada’s healthcare system.
Christina completed her Masters of Public Health in Epidemiology at the University of Toronto. She has had the opportunity to work within public health and epidemiology within the pharmaceutical industry and academia. A lot of her current work is around COVID-19 due to inflammatory diseases in children and breastfeeding practices in Canada. Christina is very interested in perinatal health and chronic disease as a result of fetal exposures. She is also interested in programming and policy and using these instruments to alleviate health inequities which exist around perinatal care in Canada and maternal mortality globally.
First completing his BSc and MSc in physics at the University of Lethbridge, Matthew then attended the University of Waterloo for his PhD in physics. Currently, he is a sessional instructor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Waterloo.
During his PhD, Matthew became involved in graduate student advocacy as Speaker of Council in the University of Waterloo Graduate Student Association. Matthew also served as Coordinator of the Graduate Studies Endowment Fund, which is an organization committed to improving the academic and social experience of graduate students at the University of Waterloo.
Affan is interested in applying mathematical and computational technologies (e.g. machine learning, optimization, agent-based modelling) to understand epidemiological dynamics of communicable diseases and effectiveness of health interventions. He holds a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics, focusing on dynamical systems and their applications to the fields of mathematical biology and bioinformatics.
Dr. Karthika Sriskantharajah is an agricultural scientist with a diverse background in plant physiology, biochemistry, and omics technologies. She recently graduated as a Ph.D. scholar from the Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph. During her Ph.D., she looked at the ways of reducing field and postharvest losses of fruit crops using hexanal, a natural plant-based compound known to slow spoilage. Karthika’s research has already been applied to ‘Honeycrisp’ apples with great success. Karthika is very excited to participate in the first cohort of the Science to Policy Accelerator program by Evidence for Democracy with other early-career researchers.
Nadine Wellington is a PhD chemist and a passionate community-builder. She has advocated for youth STEM education in her community for 10 years, by creating interactive science presentations to communicate the accessibility of science. As the Public Forum Coordinator for the Science and Policy Exchange, she also promotes civic engagement among scientists to bolster public trust in science, and encourage inclusive, sustainable, evidence-based policy solutions to challenging social issues. Nadine has published articles on health assessment and health policy that have engaged thousands of readers, and have been featured in the Hamilton Spectator and Science Daily.
Klara Winkler is a sustainability scientist interested in human-nature relationships and processes of sustainable transformation. Working, non-subsistence landscapes are the focus of her research as they are the places where change is urgently needed in order to provide an ecological system that can contribute to human well-being today and in the future. She is currently the Deputy Science Director of the NSERC strategic network ResNet which researches modelling, monitoring, and management of Canadian working land- and seascapes. She is eager to connect research findings from place-based research with local and national decision-makers for a sustainable future.