Diane Gray – Founding President and CEO, CentrePort Canada Inc.; Chair of the Mitacs Board of Directors

Ms. Diane Gray is the founding President and CEO of CentrePort Canada Inc. CentrePort is Canada’s first tri-modal inland port and Foreign Trade Zone and encompasses 20,000 acres in the North West quadrant of Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Ms. Gray previously worked for the Province of Manitoba from 1995 to 2009 and simultaneously served as Deputy Minister of Finance, Deputy Minister of Federal-Provincial and International Relations, and Deputy Minister of Trade. In December 2010, she was awarded the Lieutenant Governor's Medal for Excellence in Public Administration for Manitoba.

Ms. Gray currently serves on the boards of Manitoba Technology Accelerator; Manitoba Film and Music; Mitacs; the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, Manitoba Division; the Canada West Foundation; the Associates of the Asper School of Business; and the World Trade Centre Winnipeg.

Ms. Gray is a graduate of the University of Manitoba's and University of Winnipeg's Joint Masters of Public Administration Program and has an undergraduate degree in political studies from the University of Manitoba.


Board Members


Alejandro Adem – Chief Executive Officer and Scientific Director, Mitacs Inc.

Alejandro Adem received his BS from the National University of México in 1982, and his PhD from Princeton University in 1986. He held a Szegö Assistant Professorship at Stanford University (1986–89). He then became a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1989 to 2004, where he served as Chair of the Department of Mathematics from 1999 to 2002. He was appointed as a Canada Research Chair in Algebraic Topology at the University of British Columbia in 2004 and served as Director of the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences from 2008 to 2015.

Dr. Adem has held visiting positions at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the ETH-Zurich, the Max Planck Institute in Bonn, the University of Paris VII and XIII, and Princeton University. He is a highly regarded researcher in mathematics, with numerous publications in his name, and he has delivered over 300 invited lectures about his research around the world.

He has received numerous distinctions, including an Alfred P. Sloan Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship (1985), a US National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award (1992), a Romnes Faculty Fellowship from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (1995), a Vilas Associate Award from the University of Wisconsin (2003), a Canada Research Chair (2004), an American Mathematical Society Fellowship (2012), and the Canadian Mathematical Society’s Jeffery-Williams Prize (2015). Since 2013, Dr. Adem has served as the Managing Editor of the American Mathematical Society’s Transactions and Memoirs, and served on numerous scientific and governance boards for the worldwide mathematical sciences community.  


Jacques Beauvais – Vice-President, Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Université de Sherbrooke

Jacques Beauvais received his Ph.D. in physics from Université Laval in 1990 then pursued post-doctoral studies in electrical engineering at the University of Glasgow, UK. His training in optics coupled with his experience in engineering led to his appointment as Professor of electrical engineering at the Université de Sherbrooke (UdeS) in 1993. His passion and experience in nanotechnology led him to establish the first nanolithography laboratory in a Canadian university while directing the Microelectronics Research Group at Sherbrooke until 2003. From 2003 to 2006, he was Director of the Centre for nanofabrication and nanocharacterization then became the Founding Director of the Centre for Excellence in Information Engineering at UdeS, now the Interdisciplinary Institute for Technology Innovation (3IT). In 1997, his research group discovered innovative processes for the nanofabrication of electronic devices in integrated circuits. Six patents related to this technology were the basis of a startup company, Quantiscript inc. Jacques was the President of Quantiscript from 1999 to 2004 then VP, Technoloty from 2004 to 2006. Since 2007, his research activities have focused mainly on developed carbon nanotube based sensors which are at the core of a new patent (2010) and several industrial collaborations. He also established a close collaboration with a robotics research group and is now developing a tactile skin technology. He also joined an interdisciplinary research group in 2007 in order to study the social acceptability of new technologies, resulting in three collaborative books on the subject for which he is a co-author with the other group members. In 2007, Jacques Beauvais was named Vice-president, Research, at the Université de Sherbrooke. He was responsible for the development, the financial support and the launch of the MiQro Innovation Collaborative Centre (C2MI) in Bromont, Québec, in partnership with IBM Canada and Teledyne Dalsa. He is a member of C2MI’s board of directors. He was a member of the council of the National Research Council of Canada (2009-2012) and is currently a member of the research council of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CiFAR). He is a member of the board of directors and president of the audit committee of the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et Technologies (since 2009). Since 2010, he is also a member of the board of directors and member of the executive committee of PROMPT. He is the president of the board of Calcul Québec, the research consortium for high performance computing in Québec, and vice-president of the board for the Centre d’expertise en santé de Sherbrooke (CESS), the organisation responsible for commercialisation of health innovations of the Université de Sherbrooke and its hospital affiliates. He is responsible for the development and deployment of the Innovation, Partnership and Entrepreneurship strategy of UdeS, and his mandate was consequently modified in 2014 to Vice-president, Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship.


Sarah Bevan, Managing Director, President and CEO of UBS Bank (Canada), a wholly owned subsidiary of UBS AG

With over 30 years of experience in the field of international wealth management, Ms. Bevan demonstrates a depth of expertise as a versatile and dynamic business leader. Ms. Bevan was educated in England and holds a B.A. (Honours) in Modern Languages (French/Spanish) and History from CCAT in Cambridge. With UBS AG since 2007, Ms. Bevan brings to Canada decisive leadership and extensive management skills, with a proven ability to significantly increase revenues in an intensively competitive environment. Prior to joining UBS AG, Ms. Bevan spent 15 years in New York, working for Barclays Bank plc which was then acquired by RBC. At RBC she headed the international wealth management division in New York. Prior to New York, she worked for 15 years in London, England where she started her financial markets career with Nesbitt Thomson Bongard Limited followed by Credit Suisse and Citibank NA, covering and traveling to Latin America and various corners of the world. She sits on the Board of UBS Bank (Canada).


Karen Chad – Vice-President Research, University of Saskatchewan

Dr. Karen Chad is the Vice-President Research at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) and is also a faculty member in the U of S College of Kinesiology.

With a Ph.D. from the University of Queensland in Australia, Dr. Chad is a prolific researcher holding several research grants and contracts and has supervised numerous graduate students. She has received numerous awards for her research leadership, including the YWCA Woman of Influence Award, the International Award for Innovation in Research, the National Leadership Award from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, the “Woman of Influence” Business Award, and Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award.  

Dr. Chad sits on a number of national and international boards and has chaired or overseen more than 200 key boards, committees, research programs, and teams in a wide range of areas including indigenous matters, health, natural resources, energy, global food and water security, digital innovation, and environment. She is highly regarded for her strong competencies in partnership development, governance, strategic planning, and innovative organizational structures.  With a commitment to research with impact, bringing expertise on issues of importance to communities and to society, Dr. Chad stands solidly on the foundation of the 4-P model (public, private, post-secondary partnerships).

Karen has developed many multi-disciplinary centres, institutes and flagship programs with multi-sector partners, including provincial and federal governments, industry, and not for profit organizations. Over the past years, there have been few new initiatives that have not incorporated this stakeholder governance model under Karen's leadership.  An example of Dr. Chad's commitment and creativity to graduate training is the Mitacs Industry Executive in Residence—Minerals.  This novel research and training initiative was developed with an innovative partnership among the Saskatchewan’s International Minerals Innovation Institute, Mitacs, and University of Saskatchewan which identifies and creates new research initiatives that will lead to innovation in the minerals sector, strengthening companies and enhancing Canada’s economy. Through this exciting new partnership, students obtain the skills, knowledge and training to seamlessly transition to jobs in this burgeoning industry.

Dr. Chad is also very familiar with Canada's major science initiatives. This is evidenced in the leadership she has and continues to provide to the development and oversight for two of Canada's largest national science initiatives - The Canadian Light Source and The International Vaccine Centre - to enhance Canada's leadership in globally important research and development through partnerships and international standards of excellence.


Meric Gertler – President, University of Toronto

Professor Meric Gertler is one of the world’s foremost urban theorists and policy practitioners. He is widely known as an expert on innovation, creativity, and culture as drivers of the economic dynamism of city-regions. On November 1, 2013, Professor Gertler began his term as the 16th President of the University of Toronto. Previously, President Gertler served as the Dean of the University’s largest and most diverse academic division, the Faculty of Arts & Science, a position he had held since December 1, 2008. As Dean, his priority was to provide students with a top quality academic experience in which they benefit directly from UofT’s strength and diversity in research and teaching.

Before becoming Dean, Professor Gertler was Vice-Dean, Graduate Education and Research in the Faculty, where he led the division’s ambitious graduate expansion plans, established governance mechanisms for graduate education and played a key role in UofT’s tri-campus graduate curriculum committee.

Professor Gertler is internationally renowned as a distinguished scholar. His research focuses on the geography of innovative activity and the economies of city-regions. He has served as an advisor to local, regional, and national governments in Canada, the United States, and Europe, as well as to international agencies such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (Paris) and the European Union. He was the founding co-director of the Program on Globalization and Regional Innovation Systems (PROGRIS) at the Munk School of Global Affairs, served as director of the Department of Geography’s Program in Planning, and holds the Goldring Chair in Canadian Studies.

His research has attracted $8.4 million in external funding and he has published seven books including Manufacturing Culture: the Institutional Geography of Industrial Practice, and Innovation and Social Learning, the latter co-edited with Professor David Wolfe.

Professor Gertler’s more than 80 journal articles and book chapters have had significant impact in his field and have led him to be one of Canada’s most highly cited geographers. He is co-editor of the widely used Oxford Handbook of Economic Geography and winner of Choice Magazine’s “Outstanding Academic Book” award. He has held visiting appointments at Oxford University, University College London, UCLA, and the University of Oslo. He won the 2007 Award for Scholarly Distinction from the Canadian Association of Geographers. Professor Gertler was also a member of the Expert Panel on Business Innovation established by the Council of Canadian Academies, which published its landmark report “Innovation and Business Strategy: Why Canada Falls Short” to wide acclaim in 2009.

In May 2012, he was awarded an honorary doctor of philosophy from Lund University, Sweden for his exceptional contributions to the fields of economic geography and regional development. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (UK). Most recently, Gertler received the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of California, Berkeley and the 2014 Distinguished Scholarship Honor from the Association of American Geographers (AAG).


Philippe Gervais – Principal, Navigator

As the Principal for the Montreal office, Philippe brings over 25 years of experience of strategic advice to politicians, corporate executives and not-for-profit sector decision makers.

Philippe has distinguished himself in the fields of government relations, strategic advice and campaign planning and execution at the national and international levels. He provides strategic advice and communications counsel to Navigator clients in sectors such as energy, environment, mergers and acquisitions and international trade.

He has played key roles in political campaigns both here in Canada and abroad, including US Presidential campaigns. During the 2006 election, he served as National Deputy Campaign Manager for the Conservative Party of Canada.

Prior to joining Navigator Philippe ran the Quebec operations of a national government relations firm for 22 years. From 1990 to 1993, he worked for the Minister of National Revenue as Special Assistant responsible for the implementation of the GST. His government service continued with positions as Executive Assistant to the Federal Minister of Public Works and Government Services and then as Political Attaché to the Deputy Premier and President of Treasury Board of Quebec.

Philippe currently is a member of the board of directors of many organizations including the not-for-profit Mitacs, where he Chairs the Audit and Finance Committee, and H2O Innovation Inc. (TSXV: HEO) as Chairman of the Board of one of Canada’s fastest growing clean tech companies.


Iain Klugman – CEO, Communitech

Iain Klugman is totally obsessed with start-ups and tech companies. As CEO of Communitech in Waterloo Region, Iain gets up every day and works hard to support the growth of more than 1,000 small, mid-sized and large tech companies. He is fanatical about making Waterloo Region one of the hottest tech hubs in North America, and believes passionately in the power of the entrepreneur-driven economy to deliver big results for Canada. Iain holds an MBA from Laurier University, an MPA from Dalhousie, an HBA from Laurentian, and has completed the APHRM at the University of Toronto. Before joining Communitech in 2004, Iain’s career spanned leadership roles in the private and public sectors, including Director of Global Branding and Advertising for Nortel, Executive Director of Communications with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), CEO of a provincial Crown corporation, and roles with the Privy Council Office and Industry Canada. His success in helping to build Waterloo Region into a world-class tech community has made him a trusted adviser to numerous organizations, including the Advisory Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship for the Minister of Industry and the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program. Iain has been recognized with many awards; in 2015 he was named by Canadian Business Magazine as one of the 50 most powerful business people in Canada and was awarded the Startup Canada Award for Entrepreneur Promotion.


John Milloy – Former Minister of Research and Innovation and former Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities; Government of Ontario

John Milloy holds an Honours B.A. from Carleton University, an M.A. from the London School of Economics and a Doctorate in Modern History from the University of Oxford where he was a Commonwealth Scholar. From 2003 to 2014, he served as a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario for the riding of Kitchener Centre. During that period he held a number of Cabinet Portfolios including: Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities; Research and Innovation; Community and Social Services; Government Services and Government House Leader. Prior to that, he worked as the Director of Public Affairs for the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), a Waterloo based Think Tank. He came to CIGI from Parliament Hill, where he worked for several senior Cabinet Ministers, including five years in the office of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. Upon retirement from politics, John returned to the academic world and currently serves as the Co-Director of the Centre for Public Ethics and Assistant Professor of Public Ethics at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, and the inaugural Practitioner in Residence in Wilfrid Laurier’s Political Science Department. He is also a lecturer in the Master of Public Service Program at the University of Waterloo. As well as his work with Mitacs, John sits on a number of other boards including the Kitchener-Waterloo Community Foundation, Waterloo North Hydro, and is the Government of Ontario representative on the board of MaRs. John is married to physician Sara Pendergast and has two young sons.


Gilbert Nolasco – Consultant, Cohérence RH

Gilbert Nolasco has over 30 years of experience working in a variety of complex organizational contexts in finance, retail, and distribution. Mr. Nolasco holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Montreal and a senior management framework Diploma from the International Centre for Research and Studies in Management (CIREM). In 2014 he started Cohérence HR, a consulting service that is focused on coherent people management with a main goal of helping clients with clear alignment of business objectives, contribution of all stakeholders, and quick and constructive problem solving. It aims to bring success to businesses by focusing on committed leaders, inspiring their teams to develop their business potential and talent. From 2009 to 2013, he participated in the organizational transformation of Desjardins Group and the implementation of its Strategic Plan. He has held the positions of Vice-President, Human Resources, Support Functions Movement and Vice-President Talent Management and Employee Services. Prior to joining Desjardins Group, Mr. Nolasco worked at RONA Inc. from 2000 to 2009, where he contributed to the growth of pan-Canadian acquisition projects and successively held the positions of Director of HR, HR Vice-President Retail Operations, and Vice President in-charge of Enterprise Integration and Optimization of Business Processes. As such, from 2005 to 2009 he was a member of RONA’s Management Committee. Before that, Mr. Nolasco joined Desjardins in 1976. He had risen through the ranks for 20 years, until becoming Regional Director of the Federation des Caisses Populaires Desjardins of Montreal and the Western Quebec. For over two decades, Mr. Nolasco has been an invited speaker on a broad range of topics including labor relationships, talent management, compensation, and acquisition-integration. Groups to whom he has given expert lectures include the Conference Board of Canada, IT Federation of Quebec (FIQ), and Manitoba Quality Network. He served on the board of directors of the Père Lindsay Foundation from 2004 to 2012.


Santa Ono – President and Vice Chancellor, UBC

Professor Santa Ono officially stepped into his role as President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of British Columbia on August 15th. As a professor of Medicine and Biology, Professor Santa Ono has worked at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, University College London, and Emory universities. Last year he was inducted by Johns Hopkins into its Society of Scholars, which honours former faculty who have gained distinction in their fields. Ono’s research encompasses the immune system, eye inflammation and age-related macular degeneration – a leading cause of blindness. He and his research team are working to develop a blood test that could identify biomarkers in people who are progressing towards the disease. As a university administrator, Ono is also known for his vision beyond the laboratory. He was the first Asian-American president of the University of Cincinnati when he was appointed in 2012. Previously, he served as the University Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. Prior to his recruitment to the University of Cincinnati, Ono was Senior Vice Provost and Deputy to the Provost at Emory University. Ono is deeply committed to diversity and his achievements were recently recognized by the American Council on Education with an award that honours individuals who have demonstrated leadership and commitment on a national level to the advancement of racial and ethnic minorities in higher education. Inside Higher Education named him America's most notable university president in 2015. An avid music lover, whose tastes range from Rihanna to Rachmaninoff, Ono studied at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore and remarkably still finds time to sing and play his cello – even taking to the concert stage to perform on occasion. His family also helps him stay grounded. Ono is an active father to his two daughters, Juliana, 18, and Sarah, 11, who are also musically talented. UBC is certain to enjoy the lively engagement of his wife Wendy Yip, who trained as an immunologist at McGill and as a lawyer at Boston University.


Anita Punamiya – CEO, Propel ICT

Anita wears multiple hats – she is an entrepreneur, a management consultant and an educator. In February 2016, Anita took on the role of CEO at Propel ICT, a Pan-Atlantic accelerator for ICT startups. Anita’s connection with Propel ICT started in 2005 as an MBA intern who was part of the team that conducted the “DNA study of the ICT sector in New Brunswick”. Between 2008 and 2014, she was also a Director on the Board of Directors at Propel ICT. As an entrepreneur, Anita has founded two businesses in Canada, CompreCultures Ltd. (2007) and Shaping Purpose Inc. (2013). Anita is also a management consultant and specializes in cross-cultural communications and international business. Some of her clients include Qualcomm (US & India), Bell-Aliant, Mariner Partners Inc., Saint John Regional Hospital, Innovatia, City of Saint John, Enterprise Saint John, and Enovex among others. As a management consultant, Anita has also worked for three levels of government on various projects related to immigration, settlement, and integration of immigrants in NB. Additionally, Anita is a part-time professor at the University of New Brunswick (UNB), Saint John campus and teaches ‘Cross-Cultural Communications and Negotiations’ and ‘Social Entrepreneurship’ as part of the UNBSJ MBA program. In the past she has also taught ‘Diversity in the Work-place” as part of the Public Service Management Program at the College of Extended Learning at UNB, Fredericton and the ‘Role of Culture in Healthcare’ to 4th year Nursing students at UNBSJ. Anita moved to Canada in 2004. Originally from India, she worked in the United Arab Emirates between 1994 and 2004, which gave her great exposure to a wide range of nationalities and cultures. She has more than 20 years of experience in a variety of roles in management, consulting, training and development.


Marie Rajic – Senior Vice-President and General Manager, Prairie Region, Hill+Knowlton Strategies

Marie Rajic has been Senior Vice President and General Manager Alberta for Hill + Knowlton Strategies since January 2016. Before that, she was the Director of Sustainability & Strategy with TransCanada Corporation. She led a multi-disciplinary department that worked with TransCanada's pipeline, power, operations, and major projects to provide strategic advice and direction on issues of stakeholder relations and sustainability. Marie previously worked for the Harper government as the Executive Director Regional Affairs where she was the senior government spokesperson and oversaw coordination of policies, programs, and communications in Alberta and the northern territories. Marie also serves on the board of Canada 2017. She is a former Top 40 under 40 in Calgary and is a recipient of the Queen’s Jubilee Medal. Marie has a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Calgary, a Master of Arts in political studies, and a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Manitoba.


Kim Sturgess – CEO, Alberta WaterSMART

Kim Sturgess is the founder and CEO of Alberta WaterSMART, a services organization committed to improving water management through better technologies and practices. WaterSMART has been widely recognized for its work in collaborative watershed management and contributions to key issues of flood and drought management. A professional engineer, Kim graduated from Queen’s University with a degree in Engineering Physics, and received an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from her Alma Mater. She earned a Masters of Business Administration degree from the University of Western Ontario. As the CEO of several technology based companies over her career, she has extensive experience in technology start-ups and technology management, as well as in oil and gas, pipelines, and industrial products and services. In addition to serving on the boards of her own companies, she serves on the boards of CCI Thermal Technologies, the Alberta Chamber of Resources and the Alberta Land Institute.  Formerly she served as a director of the Alberta Water Council, the Calgary Airport Authority, the Council of Canadian Academies, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the National Research Council, APEGA, the Alberta Economic Development Authority, and Queen's University. She served as President of the Canadian Academy of Engineering. She has been recognized with the YWCA Women of Distinction award, the Global Woman of Vision award, the Distinguished Service Award and the Alumni Achievement Award from Queen's University, the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Alberta Centennial Medal. In 2007, she was named as one of Canada's Top 100 Most Powerful Women, and in 2012 she was named Business Woman of the Year in Calgary by the Consumers Choice Awards. In 2015 she was awarded the SCI Canada Medal and was recognized by the Alberta Science and Technology Foundation for Outstanding Contribution to the Alberta Science and Technology Community. Kim is a Member of the Order of Canada.


Mitacs Observer

Olga Stachova, Chief Operations Officer


Alejandro Adem, Chief Executive Officer and Scientific Director

Dr. Alejandro Adem is Mitacs’ Chief Executive Officer and Scientific Director. Born in Mexico City, he holds a BSc from the National University of Mexico and a PhD from Princeton University, both in mathematics.

Dr. Adem has been a faculty member at Stanford University and the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and is currently a Professor of Mathematics at the University of British Columbia. He has been a visiting scholar at several institutions around the world, including the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, the Max-Planck Institute in Bonn, Germany, the ETH in Zurich, Switzerland, and the University of Paris.

He is a renowned expert in the field of algebraic topology and has received numerous distinctions for his research, including a Tier I Canada Research Chair (2004) and Fellow of the American Mathematical Society (2012).

Prior to joining Mitacs in February 2015, Dr. Adem was the Director of the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences (2008–2015) and has served on a variety of scientific, editorial, and governance boards for the worldwide mathematical sciences community.



Ridha Ben-Mrad, Chief Research Officer and Associate Academic Director 

Professor Ben-Mrad joined the University of Toronto in 1997 and was previously with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the Ford Research Laboratory. Professor Ben-Mrad developed a number of new technologies through collaborations with industrial partners from across Canada. His research led to a number inventions as well as ten US, Canadian, European, and Chinese patents along with more than 160 research publications. 

Professor Ben-Mrad received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University; a Master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering both from the University of Michigan; and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering also from the University of Michigan.



Eric Bosco, Chief Business Development & Partnerships Officer

Eric Bosco is an entrepreneur and business leader who helps companies grow through research and development. As Chief Business Development & Partnerships Officer at Mitacs, he works closely with governments, academia and industry to promote innovation.

Prior to joining Mitacs in 2007, Eric served as the founder and President of XYZ Imaging, a company he led from a small start-up to a world leader and innovator in the use of holography in the 3-D imaging industry with capital investments totalling $25 M. His research led to the practical realization of direct-write digital holography. Eric was also the director of a not-for-profit holography laboratory for the purpose of teaching holography to CEGEP students in Québec and conducting scientific outreach and research by academics. He also worked on the science team of the Tokamac de Varennes, Canada’s experimental nuclear fusion reactor, where he participated in the development of a sub-millimetre interferometer.

As a pioneer in his field, Eric’s understanding of the importance of academic research to the growth of commercial enterprises led him to join Mitacs, a national research organization that promotes innovation. Eric’s combination of business and scientific research experience provides him with the ideal skill-set to lead our business development team to connect companies and Mitacs’ academic partners.



Olga Stachova, Chief Operating Officer

Olga joined Mitacs in October 2000.  As Chief Operating Officer, her responsibilities include oversight of all corporate operations and management, delivery strategy for all Mitacs programs and strategic initiatives, as well as their implementation, ongoing evaluation and monitoring, and allocation of Mitacs resources and oversight of budgetary expenditures.

Olga has a Master’s Degree in English and Philosophy from the University of Constantine the Philosopher in Nitra, Slovakia. Prior to emigrating to Canada, she was Senior Project Manager at Management Partners, the leading HR consulting company in the Slovak market. She was highly successful in her role of recruiting personnel for international organizations opening subsidiaries in Slovakia.  Olga is the recipient of the 2009 Business in Vancouver Top Forty Under 40 Award, as well as the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.



Jennifer Wilkie, Chief Financial Officer

Jennifer joined Mitacs in September 2008.  As Chief Financial Officer, her role includes oversight of all Mitacs corporate services teams including Financial Services, Grant Management, Human Resources & Administration, Information Systems & Technology, and Marketing & Communications.

Prior to joining Mitacs, Jennifer worked as Corporate Planner for the City of Coquitlam. She was also a senior manager at KPMG in various offices across the country. In addition to her Chartered Accountant designation, Jennifer also has her BBA from Simon Fraser University.





Christine Gillies, Vice-President, Marketing Communications (Calgary)


Josette-Renée Landry, Vice-President, Business Development (Montreal)


Deanna Lanoway, Vice-President, Programs (Winnipeg)


Forrest Parlee, Vice-President, National Partnerships (Toronto) 


Duncan Phillips, Vice-President, Strategic Enterprises (Vancouver)



The Mitacs Research Council (MRC) is a committee of the Mitacs Board and is dedicated to maintaining the research integrity of Mitacs programs.  The role of the MRC is to provide research expertise to the Board and to advise the Board on strategies, initiatives and issues related to Mitacs research.  The duties and responsibilities of the MRC are to safeguard standards for research and innovation and scholarship consistent with policies of the Board.

The MRC consists of the Chair and 18 members.  MRC members provide broad representation of research in Canada across regions, disciplines, and sectors from academia, industry, and the public sector. 

Catherine Adams — University of Alberta

Dr. Adams is an Associate Professor, and currently the Associate Chair Graduate Program in the Department of Secondary Education at the University of Alberta. She holds a B.Sc. (Computing Science) and PhD (Secondary Education) from the University of Alberta, and a Masters in Adult Education from St. Francis Xavier University. Since 2009, she has directed Curriculum & Pedagogy Interchange (CPIn), a collaborative association of faculty, students, and teaching professionals dedicated to the pursuit of theoretical and applied issues in the areas of curriculum and pedagogy. CPIn is affiliated with the International Research Center for Phenomenological Pedagogy and Teacher Education at CNIER (China National Institute for Educational Research), Beijing. Previously, Dr. Adams coordinated the Faculty of Education’s MEd (Technology in Education) program (2012-2014).

Dr. Adams’ interdisciplinary research investigates the integration of computing technologies across a wide range of educational environments, and focuses on their pedagogical, relational, epistemological, and ethical implications. A popular teacher, she was the runner-up in the University of Alberta’s Last Lecture series (2015); she is regularly invited to give lectures, seminars, and workshops on phenomenological research, and on studying the everyday use of digital technologies in educational, healthcare, and other professional settings.


Cristina Amon — University of Toronto

Cristina Amon has been the Dean of the University of Toronto's Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering and Alumni Professor of Bioengineering in Mechanical & Industrial Engineering since 2006. She received her Mechanical Engineering diploma from Simón Bolívar University, and her MS and ScD degrees in 1988 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Prior to her leadership at the University of Toronto, she was the Raymond J. Lane Distinguished Professor and Director of the Institute for Complex Engineered Systems at Carnegie Mellon University.

A pioneer in the development of Computational Fluid Dynamics for formulating and solving thermal design problems subject to multidisciplinary competing constraints, she conducts research in nanoscale thermal transport in semiconductors, energy systems and bioengineered devices.

Dean Amon serves on the BoD of MKS Instruments Inc., a leading global provider for advanced manufacturing of semiconductor devices, energy generation and electro-optical products. She is chair of the research committee of NCDEAS (National Council of Deans of Engineering and Applied Science), past chair of the Global Engineering Deans Council, and serves on advisory boards for several institutions including Stanford, UCLA, UIUC and Waterloo. 

Cristina Amon has received numerous professional and leadership awards, including the ASME Gustus Larson Memorial Award, ASEE Westinghouse Medal, ASME Heat Transfer Memorial Award, and the Society of Women Engineers' Achievement Award. In 2012 she was recognized as one of Canada's most Influential Women. She was inducted to four academies: Canadian Academy of Engineering, Spanish Royal Academy, Royal Society of Canada and the U.S. National Academy of Engineering. She is an elected fellow of all major professional societies in her field and has authored over 350 refereed articles in education and research literature.

Ridha Ben-Mrad — Mitacs Associate Academic Director

Ridha Ben-Mrad, P.Eng., FCSME, Director of the Mechatronics and Microsystems Group and a Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Toronto. He joined the University of Toronto in 1997, having previously held positions at the National Research Council of Canada in Vancouver, BC, and the Ford Research Laboratory in Dearborn, Michigan. R. Ben-Mrad received a PHD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1994. He also received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering with Honors and with Distinction from Penn State, a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering both from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. R. Ben-Mrad’s research interests are micro-actuators and sensors, MEMS, microfabrication, and development of smart materials based devices. He led a large number of collaborations with industrial partners from across Canada working on developing a number of new technologies. His research led to a number of patents and inventions including 10 US, Canadian, European and Chinese patents and more than 160 refereed research publications. He supervised the work of more than 16 PHD students, 38 Master’s students, 14 researchers, 3 Post-Doctoral Fellows, and 64 senior undergraduate students. He received the Faculty Early Career Teaching Award in 2002 and the Connaught Innovation Award in 2013 and in 2014. R. Ben-Mrad chairs the IEEE IES Committee on MEMS and Nanotechnology (2015-2016), is a member of the Executive Board of the CanSmart Group, is Associate Editor of the IEEE Industrial Electronics Tech News (2013-current), serves on the Steering Committee of the IEEE Journal on Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (2010-current) and is a member of the IEEE IES Publication Committee (2013-current). He was a Technical Editor of the IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics (2010-2014) and a guest editor of the IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics (2010-2012). He was as the founding Director of the Institute for Robotics and Mechatronics at the University of Toronto (2009-2011), served on the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Mechanical Engineering Grant Committee (2008-2011) and was Associate Chair of Research of his department (2009-2012).


Lisa Crossley — CEO, Reliq Health Technologies, Inc.

Dr. Lisa Crossley is the CEO of Reliq Health Technologies, Inc., a publicly-traded healthcare IT company with offices in Vancouver, BC and Hamilton, ON. Lisa has diverse experience across multiple market segments, including biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, life science tools, diagnostics and healthcare information technology. Prior to joining Reliq Health, Lisa was CEO of VitalHub Corp., CEO at Quantum Dental Technologies and President & CEO at Natrix Separations. In these roles she raised over $38 Million in venture capital and angel financing from investors in the US and Canada. She is a current member of the Genome Alberta Board of Directors and has previously served on the Board of the Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization (OBIO), Viron Therapeutics, Boyd Technologies, and Women in Science and Technology Businesses (WSTB). She was a member of the Council of Canadian Academies’ Expert Panel on the State of Industrial R&D in Canada. Lisa holds a B.Sc. in Anatomy & Cell Biology from McGill University and a B.A.Sc. and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Queen’s University, and is a licensed Professional Engineer in the Province of Ontario. 

Don Duchesne — Public Works and Government Services Canada, Ottawa

Mr. Don Duchesne held the position of Senior Heritage Conservation Engineer with Public Works and Government Services Canada Heritage Conservation Directorate from 2001 to 2011 and is currently working with the Parliamentary Precinct Directorate (Major Capital Projects). He current holds the position as Project Director responsible for the rehabilitation of the East Block on Parliament Hill. Prior to moving to Public Works, Mr. Duchesne worked as a Senior Engineer with Adjeleian Allen Rubeli Limited working on commercial projects including the Rogers Centre in Toronto. Mr. Duchesne obtained a B.Eng (Distinction) in 1978 and M.Eng. in 1980 from Carleton University.

Miguel Anjos – Polytechnique Montréal

Miguel F. Anjos is Full Professor at Polytechnique Montréal and a Licensed Professional Engineer in Ontario. His research interests are in the theory, algorithms and applications of mathematical optimization. He currently holds an Inria International Chair on Power Peak Minimization for the Smart Gird. He is the Founding Academic Director of the Trottier Institute for Energy at Polytechnique. His accolades include a Canada Research Chair, the Méritas Teaching Award, a Humboldt Research Fellowship, and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. He is a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering.


Monique Haakensen – Contango Strategies Ltd

Dr. Monique Haakensen holds a PhD in applied microbiology, and post-doctoral research associateship in environmental microbiology and biogeochemistry.  With over a decade of experience, Dr. Haakensen’s expertise in bioremediation and passive/semi-passive water treatment spans from conceptual design, to technical and public regulatory hearings, through to implementation and long-term closure. She has worked on passive treatment systems such as constructed wetlands for more than a dozen mines at various stages of operation including exploration, active, closed and abandoned, many of which are located in Northern Canada.  A specialist in passive water treatment, constructed treatment wetlands, biogeochemistry and genetic microbial profiling (microbiome, metagenomics, metatranscriptomics), Dr. Haakensen oversees research programs for technology development in these areas at Contango in addition to their consulting activities.  Since founding Contango in 2010, she has grown the company into a thriving environmental firm with laboratories and dedicated pilot facilities.  As a result, she has been named one of Canada’s future entrepreneurial leaders by Profit Magazine (2011), and to their W100 list of Canada’s top female entrepreneurs (2015).

Outside of her business activities, Dr. Haakensen serves as an Adjunct Professor in the School of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Saskatchewan and as an Adjunct Assistant Professor in Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences at Clemson University (South Carolina).  She previously served as an Academic lead for the University of the Arctic.  In 2014, Dr. Haakensen became the youngest person ever appointed to Canada’s Science, Technology and Innovation Council, providing the federal government with confidential, evidence-based advice on key issues that affect Canadian society and our economic development.

Farid Golnaraghi — Simon Fraser University

Professor Golnaraghi studied Mechanical Engineering at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, where he received both his Bachelor and Master of Applied Science in 1982.  He then moved to Cornell University to study Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, and received his PhD in 1988.

In 1988, Dr. Golnaraghi became a professor of Mechanical Engineering, and later Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering, at the University of Waterloo. He also became a Tier I Canada Research Chair in Mechatronics and Smart Material Systems at Waterloo in 2002. Between 1988 and 2006 in Waterloo he has graduated more than sixty Masters and PhD students.  His pioneering research has resulted in two textbooks, more than a hundred and fifty journal and Conference papers, four patents and two startup companies.

Professor Golnaraghi joined SFU in August of 2006 as the Director of Mechatronics Engineering Program – the flagship program at SFU Surrey.  Surrey is SFU’s new campus with a variety of unique programs inspired by ever-evolving technology, and the ever-changing global marketplace, and Mechatronics program will be the centerpiece of these activities.  So far the program has proven to be very successful and in high demand – with an average of 100 new undergraduate and 25 new graduate student admission yearly.  Dr. Golnaraghi also holds a Burnaby Mountain endowed Chair at SFU, and his primary research focus is on Intelligent Vehicle Systems.

Dr. Golnaraghi is also very active in different academic circles across Canada and internationally with activities such as:

  • NSERC Strategic Program “Competitive Manufacturing” Committee (2011–2012)
  • NSERC GSC 1053: Grant selection committee member for Mechanical Engineering (2007–2010)
  • Associate Editor: Journal of Intelligent Materials Systems & Structures (2005–Present)
  • Associate Editor: Journal of Dynamics & Control (2005–Present)
  • Leaders Opportunity Fund Advisory Committee (LOFAC): CFI (2005–2007)
  • College Board of Reviewers: Canadian Foundation for Innovation, CFI (2004–2005)
  • CSME, Director & Fellow; Chair: Mechatronics & MEMS Tech. Committee (2000–2014)
  • Mitacs College of Reviewers (2009–Present)

Fahima Nekka — Université de Montréal

Dr. Fahima Nekka is a professor at the Faculty of Pharmacy of Université de Montréal. After obtaining her Ph.D. in mathematics in the field of fractal analysis, her interests brought her to the pharmaceutical sciences motivated by the quantitative perspective of this area. Her research evolved since then at the interface of mathematics and pharmacy. After a joint position between Centre de recherches mathématiques (CRM) and the Faculty of Pharmacy, she was appointed in 2002 as a regular professor at the Faculty through an NSERC Faculty University Award (UFA). Her research remarkably spans a whole pathway of fundamental research to a range of applications in pharmaceutical sciences. Working outside a mathematical department has never precluded Dr. Nekka’s research to be deeply rooted in the rigor to which mathematics are associated. Motivated by real applications, her projects have always been focused on the foundations of solid basis for the concepts and methods she develops. She is the main promoter of pharmacometrics in Canada and plays an important role in reshaping the field through original methodological contributions. Dr. Nekka’s expertise has been recognized internationally; she regularly participates as an invited speaker or organizer of scientific events.

She also actively contributes to the formation of a whole new generation of highly qualified personnel, trained between mathematics and pharmaceutical sciences. For the period of 2007-2012, Dr. Nekka served as Mitacs Regional Scientific Director for the province of Québec where she contributed to design and improvement of several research programs and to help diffuse the strategy of academic-industrial collaborations among the scientific community. She has also been involved in the NSERC scholarship program from 2009-2012 by acting as a member, then the chair of the Committee of pure and applied mathematics. Since 2010, Dr. Nekka has been a co-founder and member of the Centre for Applied Mathematics in Biosciences and Medicine (CAMBAM), which serves as a leading institution in the application of mathematics in bioscience and medicine.

Stephen Perelgut — IBM

Stephen Perelgut is currently the IBM Canada Cloud Ecosystem Business Development Manager. His previous role was managing University Relations for IBM Canada where he interacted with researchers from every research university in Canada as well as government labs and public sector funding agencies.  His interests and activities cover a broad spectrum of computing sciences but he has always maintained a passion for undergraduate education in computing topics, having lectured for a total of 18 terms at the University of Toronto's Department of Computing Science.  Stephen currently sits on many faculty, school and government advisory boards, commenting on program development.

Helge Seetzen — TandemLaunch

Helge Seetzen is a successful multi-media technology entrepreneur with deep experience in the university tech transfer space. He currently serves as the CEO of TandemLaunch – a unique venture fund that scouts, accelerates, and commercializes early-stage technologies from the world's top universities in close partnership with major Consumer Electronic brands and world-class entrepreneurs. 

Prior to TandemLaunch, Helge co-founded Sunnybrook Technologies and later BrightSide Technologies to commercialize display technologies developed at the University of British Columbia. BrightSide was successfully sold to Dolby Laboratories at high return to shareholders after having grown to over 30 developers and receiving accolades such as the Best Buzz Award at the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show and a "Top 100 Technologies in 2006" rank by Popular Science Magazine. At Dolby he led all cross-functional development activities for Dolby's first two consumer video products. In this capacity he built research and engineering departments in Canada and the US, and was closely involved in licensing negotiations with many major consumer electronics manufacturers. 

Helge's leadership in the technology transfer, innovation and entrepreneurial space has been widely recognized through awards such as Business in Vancouver's 40 under Forty award for business accomplishment, the NSERC Innovation Challenge Award for university technology transfer, and a Special Recognition Award from the Society for Information Display for the pioneering of LED TV technology. Helge is a Fellow of the McGill Dobson Center for Entrepreneurship, board member of the Parcours Entrepreneurial Rémi-Marcoux at HEC Montreal, and frequent supporter of many other organisations encouraging entrepreneurship. As a technical leader, he served as the General Chair for Display Week, the largest technical conference on displays, as well as currently on the Executive Board of the Society for Information Display. He has published over 20 journal articles, writes a regular column on venture capital innovation in the Information Display Magazine, and holds over 50 patents with an additional 60 pending US applications. Helge received a B.Sc. in physics and a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary imaging technology (physics & computer science) from the University of British Columbia.

Maryam Tabrizian — McGill University

Professor Tabrizian received her PhD in Physical Sciences from Univ. P. et M. Curie and École de Physicochimie de Paris (France) in 1990. Her postdoctoral fellowship was conducted in the Center for Sciences and Engineering of Macromolecules at Laval University (90-92) (Canada). She joined the Department of Biomedical Engineering at McGill University (Canada) in December 2000 where she is currently a Full Professor and Biomat’X Laboratories’ director. Professor Tabrizian is FRSQ chercheure-Nationale awardee and the founder of the FQNRT Centre for Biorecognition and Biosensors (CBB) that she directed from 2002 to 2011. She became the Guggenheim fellow in 2010 and International Fellow of the Biomaterials Science & Engineering in 2011 for her contribution to the field of biomedical sciences and engineering. The development of novel interface for improved interaction of biomaterials with biological environment is the overall objective of her research. This is carried out through the design, fabrication and characterization of multifunctional and bioactive surfaces as well as developing methodologies and protocols for creating these new biointerfaces. Her laboratory masters a broad expertise in surface modification techniques, namely chemical, molecular assembly and biological methods to cope with the highly divergent requirements for surface properties in biomedical applications. The target applications are mainly focused on regenerative medicine, nanomedicine and Lab-on-a-Chip platforms. Her work has so far led to 160 publications, 80 invited lectures, many book chapters, patents and over 270 communications. She is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Materials (MDPI), member of Advisory Board of American Chemical Society-Bioconjugate Chemistry, of Journal of Biological Engineering (JBI) and Associated Editor of International Journal of Biomaterials Research and Engineering (IJBRE).

Claude Laguë – University of Ottawa

Dr. Claude Laguë, P.Eng., ing., FCAE│MACG, FEC│FIC, is a tenured Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. An agricultural engineer holding degrees from Université Laval and from the University of California – Davis, Dr. Laguë specializes in the engineering of agricultural machinery and manure management systems and in the assessment and mitigation of the environmental impacts of agricultural activities. He is a registered Professional Engineer in Ontario and in Québec.

Dr. Laguë was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Ottawa in August 2006 and he completed his 10-year tenure on June 30, 2016. As the Chief Executive Officer of the Faculty of Engineering, Dr. Laguë's responsibilities extended to all academic and resource matters within the Faculty. He chaired the Faculty Council and the Faculty Executive Committee. At the University level, Dr. Laguë was a member of the University of Ottawa Senate. He has actively contributed to various committees, workgroups, and task forces dealing with academic, financial, labour relations, and space issues. A member of the National Council of Deans of Engineering and Applied Science (NCDEAS|CCDISA) from 2002 to 2016, Dr. Laguë chaired that organization between 2008 and 2011. In that capacity, he represented Canadian engineering schools at the Canadian Engineering Leadership Forum (CELF|FLGC) and served as an Advisor to Engineers Canada's Board of Directors. Between 2011 and 2013, Dr. Laguë served as Chair of the Council of Ontario Deans of Engineering (CODE).

He was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Canadian Engineering Memorial Foundation (CEMF|FCGC) in 2009 and to that of Actua in 2012. Dr. Laguë was elected Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering in 2014. In 2016, the Regroupement des gens d’affaires de la Capitale nationale (RGA) presented him with a ‘Coup de cœur’ prize in recognition of his important contributions to the promotion and support of student entrepreneurship at the University of Ottawa. And in 2016 also, Engineers Canada named Dr. Laguë a Fellow in recognition of his many contributions to the advancement of the engineering profession in Canada.

Carolyn Watters — Dalhousie

Dr. Watters is a Full Professor in the Faculty of Computer Science at Dalhousie University specializing in human computer engagement in information spaces from documents to social media. Her interdisciplinary and collaborative work has spanned all three tri-council areas, NSERC, SSHRC, and CIHR.  She has published well over 150 peer-reviewed articles and supervised many PhD and Masters students. Dr. Watters has been a member of a NSERC Discovery Grant committee, the NSERC Discovery Grant Process Review Panel, and the initial Chair of the NSERC Create Competition Committee.  She is currently a member of the SSHRC Governing Council, Chair of the Maritimes Higher Education Commission, and Chair of CALDO, a consortium engaged in graduate initiatives in Latin America. Dr. Watters is the Provost and Vice President Academic for Dalhousie University, one of Canada’s oldest universities and a member of the U15 group of research-intensive universities in Canada.


Jimi Tjong – Ford Motor Company

Dr. Jimi Tjong is the Technical Leader and Manager of the Ford Powertrain Engineering, Research & Development Centre (PERDC). It is a result oriented organization capable of providing services ranging from the definition of the problem to the actual design, testing, verification, and finally the implementation of solutions or measures. The Centre is currently the hub for Engineering, Research and Development that involved Canadian Universities, Government Laboratories, Canadian automotive parts and equipment suppliers. The Centre includes16 research and development test cells, prototype machine shop, PHEV, HEV and BEV development testing which occupies an area of 200,000 sq ft. The Centre is the hub for Production / Design Validation of engines manufactured in North America and an overflow for the Ford worldwide facilities.  It also establishes a close link worldwide within Ford Research and Innovation Centre, Product Development and Manufacturing Operations that can help bridge the gap between laboratory research and the successful commercialization and integration of promising new technologies into the product development cycle.

His principal field of Research and Development encompasses the following:

Optimizing Automotive Test systems for cost, performance and full compatibility. It includes the development of test methodology and cognitive systems.
Calibration for internal combustion engines.
Alternate fuels, bio fuels( including DME/OME), lubricants and exhaust fluids
Lightweight materials with the focus on Aluminum, Magnesium, bio materials.
Battery, Electric motors, super capacitors, stop/start systems, HEV, PHEV, BEV systems.
Nano sensors and actuators.
High performance and racing engines.
Surface Coating for friction reduction, thermal barrier and lightweighting
Non destructive monitoring of manufacturing and assembly processes.
Advanced gasoline and diesel engines focusing in fuel economy, performance and cost opportunities.

He has published more than 120 Technical papers and presented in the above field internationally. Dr. Tjong is also an Adjunct Professor of University of Windsor, McMaster University and University of Toronto. He continuously mentors graduate students in completing the course requirements as well as career development coaching.

Allan Woodbury — University of Manitoba

Dr. Woodbury is a senior groundwater hydrologist and professional engineer with over 40 years of experience across western Canada, and internationally. His   focus is on contaminant transport and fate in the environment. He is internationally recognized for innovative research and high-level technical reviews.  Allan is a Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering, at the University of Manitoba and currently a Visiting Professor, Earth & Environmental Sciences, UBC Okanagan.  He is also on the Board of Advisors for Aquanty Hydrosphere Analytics of Waterloo, Ontario.

Dr. Woodbury’s impactful work has been highly cited by peers and sought after by governments. His 65 peer-reviewed publications (to date) average 19 citations each. He has published in six books/monographs, wrote numerous technical reports for Canadian governments and businesses, provided consultation to 16 governments and organizations across North America, and presented in at least 61 conferences across the globe.

The focus of Dr. Woodbury's professional efforts is the role of groundwater in geotechnical, mining, environmental and water supply issues, particularly in a regulatory framework. These efforts involve investigations, assessment of remediation methods for contaminated waters and soils, water supply quality and quantity, engineering design, and the development and application of regulatory guidelines.