I'm E4D's New Senior Research Associate

Tuesday, April 21, 2020 - 09:19

Hey everyone! My name is Tej Heer and I recently started as the Senior Research Associate at E4D. I am very excited to start my new role at the organization. Due to the current pandemic, I joined the team remotely at the beginning of April and look forward to joining in-person in the future.

Obviously, this is a weird time to be celebrating starting a new job. I am very lucky to be starting a job that I can do from the safety of my home, especially with daily news of rising death rates and infections, coinciding with rising unemployment rates and many people struggling to pay their basic expenses. With this weighing on my mind, I have thought about how to use my fortunate position to the greatest public benefit.

The current pandemic has brought to the forefront how vital the use of science and evidence-based decision-making is. We have seen varying responses from governments around the world, with similarly varying results. These cases provide insight into how not acting according to the best possible science can have potentially devastating outcomes. I am proud to be joining E4D, and its associated networks, which have been doing great work to aid and amplify scientific responses to COVID-19 and which have been working for years to create transparent and evidence-based governance. Now I am excited to be a part of the effort to continue this push for increased evidence-based decision-making and increased transparency in how decisions are made.

A little about me! Right now I am finishing up my PhD in Physical and Environmental Sciences at the University of Toronto Scarborough – hopefully by September 2020. I also hold an undergraduate degree in Physics and a Masters in Climate Change. My PhD focused on four invasive fish species, known popularly as “Asian carp”, where I worked to inform prevention efforts in the Great Lakes basin. The experience included exposure to working with different stakeholders and government groups across federal and state/provincial governments, in both the USA and Canada. This exposure was mostly positive, although it alerted me to larger scale problems that impede the transfer of knowledge from researchers into policy and into demonstrable results. 

My research passions are varied and ever changing. I have broadly been interested in environmental science, specifically in climate change, hydrology, and invasive species. Throughout my research career, I have tried to work across disciplines to make my research policy relevant. More recently, I have done work evaluating how science turns into policy, work which I am excited to continue in my current position. All of these experiences and education have led to a varied background and unique perspective that I am excited to bring to E4D. 

 

Some things to look forward to:

Right now, I am focused on updating E4D’s 2017 Oversight at Risk report on science capacity and integrity in the BC government. This project has been underway since this winter, so you can expect to see this report very soon!

My second project focuses on evaluating transparency in the development of federal government policies. Based on work in the UK, the project will aim to create a Canadian framework to evaluate how transparent the federal government is with respect to publicly sharing evidence used to inform policy. The work will involve working directly with government departments and agencies, and producing written reports. 

Lastly, online misinformation threatens our democracy, and the health and safety of Canadians. E4D has been conducting recent work on how to recognize and respond to misinformation. In my role, I will also initiate new research looking at potential policy and regulatory solutions to minimize the harm of misinformation on our democracy.

I am very excited to join E4D and look forward to working with a great group of people.

Feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns: tej@evidencefordemocracy.ca

 

Tej Heer

Senior Research Associate

Tej Heer is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences at the University of Toronto Scarborough. He predominately conducts interdisciplinary research at the science-policy interface. His PhD focused on the prevention of spawning of four invasive fish species, known as Asian carps.