From laboratory to legislature: Fellowship deploys 23 researchers to government

10/31/2018
Mitacs fellows reinforce evidence-informed decision making in Ottawa and Victoria

Ottawa, ON and Victoria, BC Beginning this fall, 23 researchers will undertake one-year placements in the federal and British Columbia governments to apply their expertise to develop policy-based solutions for pressing issues facing Canadians. The researchers, hailing from disciplines as disparate as climate change and quantum imaging, make up the 2018–19 cohort of the Canadian Science Policy Fellowship.

The Canadian Science Policy Fellowship builds relationships between academic researchers and policy-makers in support of evidence-informed decision making. The program is administered by Mitacs, a not-for-profit organization that fosters innovation and growth in Canada. Through the fellowship, accomplished PhD-holders contribute their unique research and scientific expertise to government policy-making in Ottawa and Victoria offices and receive hands-on training in public policy to support their transition from academia to government.

The recipients of the 2018–19 Canadian Science Policy Fellowship are:

Federal cohort, Ottawa

  • Aimee Gunther, University of Waterloo
    Host: Defence Research and Development Canada
    Project: Assessing the security and policy implications of public access to detailed satellite map information from commercial GPS providers
  • Alana Westwood, Dalhousie University
    Host: Natural Resources Canada
    Project: Developing the transparency of scientific advice that informs natural resource development projects
  • Christine Gonsalves, Laurentian University
    Host: Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
    Project: Incorporating diverse Indigenous voices and knowledge in the development of government policies and programs
  • Daniel Grégoire, University of Ottawa 
    Host: International Development Research Centre
    Project: Understanding methods of sharing of data generated by publicly funded international development research
  • Elisabeth Mantil, Carleton University
    Host: Canadian Food Inspection Agency
    Project: Helping food importers understand contamination risks along international supply chains to mitigate the spread of foodborne illness 
  • Elnaz Shadabi, University of Manitoba
    Host: Canadian Food Inspection Agency
    Project: Implementing a strategy to coordinate international responses to infectious disease outbreaks
  • Jaigris Hodson, Royal Roads University 
    Host: Environment and Climate Change Canada
    Project: Evaluating how to improve and develop communication tools for sharing environment and climate change research with the public
  • Jespal Panesar, University of Waterloo
    Host: Employment and Social Development Canada
    Project: Developing new programs to address emerging social issues such as income volatility, and improving government service delivery for marginalized and at-risk Canadians
  • Kathlyn Woolfson, Western University
    Host: Canadian Food Inspection Agency
    Project: Implementing strategies to safeguard against the spread of disease and parasites in agricultural and forest products intended for export
  • Konstantin Petoukhov, Carleton University
    Host: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    Project: Bridging the gap between western and Indigenous agricultural knowledge through community consultation and the development of best practices 
  • Lushani Nanayakkara, University of Regina 
    Host: Fisheries and Oceans Canada 
    Project: Understanding how to incorporate Indigenous knowledge into the management of aquatic ecosystems governed by the Fisheries Act
  • Monica Granados, University of Guelph
    Host: Environment and Climate Change Canada
    Project: Creating tools to support the sharing of research among government and industry organizations concerned with ecosystem resilience, climate change, northern science, and environmental prediction
  • Shawn McGuirk, McGill University
    Host: Natural Science and Engineering Research Council
    Project: Measuring how research collaborations develop skills to prepare Canadian youth for the jobs of the future and determining opportunities for improvement to policy and programs
  • Stefanie Sultmanis, University of Toronto
    Host: Canadian Food Inspection Agency
    Project: Evaluating and managing challenges in import-export regulations arising from new disease detection tools for agriculture and forestry products
  • Virginie Lachapelle, Université de Montréal
    Host: Canadian Food Inspection Agency
    Project: Helping Canada’s livestock industry to support animal health through livestock nutrition while mitigating the risk of foodborne illness for humans

Provincial cohort, Victoria

  • Amandeep Bassi, University of Ottawa 
    Host: Ministry of Public Safety & Solicitor General 
    Project: Understanding how stigma and criminalization contribute to at-risk individuals avoiding harm-reduction services designed to prevent overdose
  • Felicitas Egunyu, University of Saskatchewan
    Host: Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development
    Project: Creating tools and strategies to incorporate science into resource management in BC
  • Liese Coulter, Griffith University
    Host: Ministry of Agriculture 
    Project: Identifying opportunities to support BC’s agricultural industry to prepare for extreme weather events caused by climate change
  • Lisi Feng, University of British Columbia
    Host: Ministry of Children & Family Development
    Project: Identifying which programs have the greatest potential to create positive outcomes for child and family welfare through the implementation of best practices
  • Mehdi Bagheri, University of Victoria
    Host: Ministry of Finance
    Project: Analyzing BC’s long-term economic trends to inform sustainable spending and taxation policies
  • Noushin Nabavi, University of British Columbia
    Host: Ministry of Jobs, Trade & Technology
    Project: Generating insights from program data to inform policies that address complex social and economic issues
  • Orly Salama-Alber, University of Victoria
    Host: Ministry of Health
    Project: Understanding how to determine which technologies are most cost-effective for improving service delivery in BC’s health care system
  • Zaheera Jinnah, University of Alberta
    Host: Ministry of Children & Family Development
    Project: Creating tools to encourage a culture of quality improvement from front-line staff to senior leadership throughout child and family services and programs

Quotes:

Alejandro Adem, CEO and Scientific Director, Mitacs

“Mitacs believes that building bridges between academia and the public sector can benefit all Canadians. The researchers chosen for the Canadian Science Policy Fellowship will steward this knowledge sharing as they apply their academic expertise to contribute to novel solutions for pressing societal challenges addressed by their government hosts.”

Loren Matheson, Science Advisor, Office of the Chief Science Operating Officer, Canadian Food Inspection Agency

In my opinion, the Mitacs science policy fellowship is an invaluable program to attract highly qualified personnel to the Government of Canada. In fact, CFIA has now hosted nine fellows in three years. We view the program as a mutually beneficial way to introduce how the government addresses critical food safety, plant and animal health challenges to those with roots in academia. In return, we have been rewarded with talented, highly motivated, natural leaders who continue to make valuable contributions.”

Quick facts:

  • The Canadian Science Policy Fellowship is made possible thanks to Professor Sarah Otto, Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia; the Government of Canada and the Government of British Columbia; the University of Ottawa’s Institute for Science, Society and Policy; the University of Victoria; and the Canadian Science Policy Fellowship Advisory Council.
  • Mitacs is a national not-for-profit organization, led by Canadian universities, that has designed and delivered research and training programs in Canada for more than 19 years.
  • Working with more than 60 universities, thousands of companies, and federal and provincial governments, Mitacs builds partnerships that support industrial and social innovation in Canada.

Links:

  • To learn more about the Science Policy fellows, read biographies of the Ottawa and Victoria cohorts.
  • For information about Mitacs and our programs, see mitacs.ca/newsroom

 

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Media Contact
 

Heather Young
Director, Communications 
Mitacs
hyoung@mitacs.ca
604-818-0020