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Meet the 2024 cohort of the Science to Policy Accelerator

The Science to Policy Accelerator (S2PA) program aims to equip early-career researchers from across Canada with foundational knowledge in governance, science policy and communication, and apply these concepts to specific forms of policy engagement.

This week, we’re excited to kick off the S2PA program, and share our 2024 cohort with you today. Over the next five weeks, these individuals will be exploring opportunities to bring science and research more deeply into the fabric of public policy.

For now, join me in welcoming our 2024 cohort!

Alex Wilkinson

Alex Wilkinson is a Postdoctoral Associate at the Arctic Institute of North America. His current research focuses on the design and development of diversified local food production portfolios in remote northern communities. The emphasis is on integrated food, water and energy systems that include gardens, greenhouses, hydroponic systems, and renewable energy. Applying agroecological and social-ecological frameworks, Alex investigates local food production as an effective response to change. Alex earned his PhD in Environmental Design from the University of Calgary, where his doctoral research focused on understanding how farmers, ranchers, and food producers experience, perceive and respond to change.

Amy Irvine

Amy Irvine recently attained her Master of Science from Dalhousie University, focusing on how climate change will influence protected marine ecosystems in Atlantic Canada. She now works for a non-profit, Oceans North, based in Halifax, Nova Scotia where she has scaled up her work to include protected areas in the high seas. Collaborating with government and non-profits, Amy aims to help integrate climate change into marine policy on a national and international scale to better preserve ocean ecosystems in the long-term. In addition to her work, Amy loves to travel, scuba dive, play rugby, and volunteer with local beach clean-ups.

Ana Watson

Ana’s expertise in political ecology and participatory environmental governance is grounded in her extensive experience as a biodiversity specialist, transdisciplinary researcher and her passion for environmental justice. With a PhD in Geography from the University of Calgary, she brings a unique blend of academic experience and practical knowledge to her work. Through her research, Ana aims to uncover the underlying conditions and power dynamics that promote inclusive and participatory environmental governance. Her goal is to bridge the gap between transdisciplinary knowledge production and decision-making in order to facilitate effective and equitable science-policy.

Anna Zarina

I am a recent graduate of the University of British Columbia’s Master of Sustainable Forest Management Program. My interests lie in the potential of community forestry in BC as well as the role they can play in wildfire prevention. During my graduate studies, I focused on helping find more value-added and sustainable uses for wood harvested from a community forest located in the rural-urban interface. I joined the S2PA to learn how to advocate for better support for inclusive and diverse wildfire prevention related policies and overall sustainable forestry practices.

Andrea Villalon

My name is Andrea Villalon and I completed my Masters of International Forestry at the University of British Columbia where I got the opportunity to visit and learn from Indigenous communities in Canada and Latin America. Currently, I work as a Research Associate at the University of Waterloo and Indigenous Clean Energy, a nonprofit organization, where I am focusing on Indigenous Environmental Justice and Offshore Wind research. I am interested in learning how to bridge knowledge gaps between research and public policy in Canada, as well as how to effectively communicate and engage with government stakeholders regarding Indigenous Environmental Justice issues.

Anupama Sharan

Anupama Sharan is a recent PhD graduate from the University of Toronto in Chemical Engineering. She has 9+ years of academic experience focusing on value addition to forestry biomass through biocatalytic pathways. Her research on enzymatic valorization of lignins was nationally recognized through the Chisholm Awards for Innovation in Forestry for its potential to meet national net-zero climate change goals. Alongside global bioeconomy development, she is also passionate about DEI in STEM, science policy and outreach. She was the past president of Society of Women Engineers at UofT and currently works as environmental analyst at Forest Products Association of Canada.


Bretta McCall

Bretta is currently an Environmental Monitoring Technician with Metro Vancouver, contributing to the study of aquatic pollution in the region. Her MSc from the University of British Columbia examined microbe-microplastic interactions in coastal environments in BC. She also has a BA in Biology from Grinnell College in Iowa, where she gained an interest in the impacts of farming practices on water quality.

She is interested in pollution, coastal restoration, environmental justice, and seabirds. Originally from Seattle, Bretta is interested in how governments can work together to protect the Salish Sea.

Burhan Hussein

Dr. Burhan Hussein is an NSERC postdoctoral fellow currently developing porous materials to capture and recycle carbon at Concordia. His journey from sustainable technologies at TMU enhancing photovoltaics and pioneering cancer therapies at McGill shows his commitment to advancing science. His Ph.D. research at Durham University in the UK focused on incorporating molecular devices to improve plant resilience and yields to address sustainability challenges in agriculture. Burhan actively promotes Canadian-led science-based research and engages in impactful science outreach initiatives. As a program lead at the Canadian Black Science Network, his focus is to amplify the black Canadian voice in STEM.

Devin Holterman

Dr. Devin Holterman is a Canadian citizen of settler origin. He grew up in Saskatchewan on Treaty 4 territory and is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Northern British Columbia and the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. Devin leads a collaborative multi-year research project that explores and develops the conservation social sciences across the 3,400 km Yellowstone to Yukon region. His broad research interests include the political, economic, and ecological dynamics of the biodiversity conservation and resource development sectors, which includes ongoing research on conservation decision-making, human-wildlife conflict reduction, and efforts that support Indigenous-led conservation.

Félix Proulx-Giraldeau

I am a postdoctoral researcher in bioinformatics at Université de Montréal with training in theoretical and computational biophysics from McGill University who is extremely passionate about improving the state of science and research in Canada. I am also a member of the Comité intersectoriel étudiant of the Fonds de recherche du Québec (FRQ) whose mandate is to advise Quebec’s Chief Scientist and the FRQ Boards of Directors in identifying strategies to promote accessibility to research funding, optimize the potential of the next generation of researchers, and enhance their influence and impact on society.

Galen Guo

Dr. Galen Guo is a microbial ecologist at the University of Ottawa’s NorthOmics Lab. His research is focus on unraveling the intricate interactions between the human gut microbiome and foreign substances. During his Ph.D., he investigated how dietary factors influence the gut microbial response to toxicant exposure. Presently, Dr. Guo’s focus lies in unraveling the gut microbiome’s involvement in xenobiotic exposure and how it can improve current chemical risk assessment. He is keen on leveraging gut microbiome research to inform science policy decisions, aiming to integrate microbiome data into regulatory frameworks for public health and environmental protection.


Gwenyth Lu

Gwenyth recently graduated with a Master of Science in Cognitive Science of Language from McMaster University. Her research focused on stability of event-related potentials (ERPs) in concussed adolescents and retired professional football athletes. She is currently the Lab Manager for the McMaster English Language Development (MELD) Office where she helps to explore how second language speakers of English learn language. Gwenyth is passionate about science communication and outreach. She co-founded Wunderkinds, an initiative aimed at creating open source PDFs of evidence-based storybooks for children ages 5 to 10. The materials are adapted from peer-reviewed research on Linguistics, Neuroscience, and Psychology.

Haley MacLeod

Dr. Haley MacLeod is a postdoctoral fellow with WCS Canada and Trent University. Haley is a freshwater ecologist and toxicologist interested in understanding how anthropogenic changes impact freshwater ecosystems, fishes, and the communities reliant on these environments. Through a co-led project with Moose Cree First Nation, her research focuses on integrating different types of ecological, physiological, and contaminants data to understand the cumulative effects of development on Lake Sturgeon within the Moose Cree Homeland. Additionally, Haley is a Research Associate at NORDIK Institute where she helps to support multiple community-based projects.


Hyejun Kim

Hyejun Kim (she/her) is a public health professional with diverse experience and training in health policy, evaluation, and performance measurement. Originally from Korea, she attended the University of Alberta for her Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences and Master of Public Health in Health Policy and Management and now calls Calgary home. Having spent time building a dynamic career spanning several industries including applied and scientific research, government, social impact consulting, healthcare, and nonprofits, Hyejun aspires to transition her career towards the Environment, Social, Governance (ESG) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) sectors.

Isabella Lim

Isabella Lim is a recent PhD graduate in experimental psychology from the University of Toronto. She is currently a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychology, where her research focuses on attentional control and categorical memory for real-world, visual stimuli. Throughout her PhD, she was involved in graduate researcher advocacy and worked as a Teaching Assistant. She is interested in how behavioural science principles and methodologies can be used to design solutions to problems in the policy/public service space.


Jennie Day

Dr. Jennie Day is a Mitacs Postdoctoral Fellow in the University of Ottawa’s Engineering faculty. Straddling social science and STEM fields, her research examines the relationship between emerging technologies (ex. Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Vehicles) and society, with the aim of influencing sociodigital futures towards fairer, more inclusive and democratic ends. Jennie is passionate about bridging the gap between scientific and policy communities, and leveraging evidence-based public policy to build more equitable and sustainable societies.

Katie Manning

Hello, my name is Katie Manning. I completed my Master’s of Environment and Sustainability from the University of Saskatchewan in 2022. In my master’s I conducted the first qualitative research on the human-grizzly bear interactions, attitudes, and innovations in Manitoba. I explored the evolving relationship between humans and all three bear species on Western Hudson Bay with local and traditional knowledge experts. Currently I am working with Parks Canada in the Human Wildlife Coexistence team for the Lake Louise, Yoho, and Kootenay National Park Field Units. I am looking forward to being a part of the S2PA Program!


Meaghan Barlow

I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University, and the Director of the Self-regulation, Emotion, and Aging (SEA) Lab.

My research interests are broad, spanning lifespan, social, personality, and health psychology. Through this lens, I work with communities to explore the self-regulatory, emotional, and social factors that protect well-being and health well into advanced old age. In the future, I aim to bridge the gap between my research and public policy by advocating to ensure equitable and ample access to social programs aimed at optimizing well-being across the adult lifespan.

Muhammad (Moe) Qureshi

Moe Qureshi is a renewable energy expert, scientist, and active conservationist. He is passionate about transforming the energy sector towards achieving net-zero emissions. In his spare time, Moe enjoys cooking, road trips, hiking, and the great outdoors.

Rosanna Carver

Rosanna is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Victoria. She works with partners on collaborative projects to better understand some of the social, cultural and economic effects of ocean management changes in British Columbia. Rosanna is a political ecologist/political economist and has a background in oceanic geography. She was previously an Ocean Leaders Postdoctoral Fellow at University of British Columbia, where her research looked at the Blue Economy Agenda and Deep Sea Mining.

Sarah Atoui

Sarah Atoui, PhD, is the Coordinator of Research and Development at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre’s Centre for Innovative Medicine in Montreal. An expert in clinical research with a PhD from McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sarah excels in translating complex data into actionable health policies. She has spearheaded projects that foster stakeholder communication and advance public health. Eager to deepen her expertise, Sarah joins the S2PA program to enhance her impact at the intersection of science and policy.

Shawn Hercules

With a Ph.D. from McMaster University focused on investigating epidemiological and genomics profiles of Nigerian and Barbadian women with aggressive triple negative breast cancer, Shawn Hercules is an interdisciplinary scientist passionate about advancing health equity and promoting diversity in science. Shawn is a postdoctoral researcher at UHN-Princess Margaret Cancer Centre where they are profiling precancerous high-risk breast tissues to enable novel risk stratification, early detection, and breast cancer prevention. In addition to his research, Shawn is dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion in STEM and is a co-founder of Science is a Drag which challenges cis-heteronormative stereotypes in science.

Timothy Low

Timothy is a science communicator with a PhD in genetics and molecular biology with over 15 years of experience in teaching and 10 years in laboratory science. He has expertise in knowledge translation, communications, and evidence-based decision making; his passions include equity, environmental and social sustainability, cooking, and creative writing.



Tonya Smith

I am a third generation Euro-Canadian settler researcher born on WSANEC territories in Sidney, BC. For my PhD work (2022), I sought to untangle and inspect the many ways that settler-colonial land management continues to constrain Li̓lwatúl (Indigenous) livelihoods and relationships with the land, with the intention of supporting the restoration of land-based health practices led by Indigenous peoples. My previous research includes performing sustainability impact assessments on forestry value chains, assessing provincial government practices regarding scientific integrity, documenting Indigenous knowledge about food and medicinal plants and analyzing Payments for Ecosystem Services programs.

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