Mission Statement

Science & Policy Exchange (SPE) is a Montreal-based, non-profit organization whose aims are two-fold: (1) to foster the student voice in evidence-based decision making and (2) to bring together leading experts from academia, industry, and government to engage and inform students and the public on issues at the interface of science and policy. Science & Policy Exchange is one of the few bilingual student led initiatives directly engaging the local political scenes and effectively bridging the gap between academia, industry and government leaders.

 
 

Executive Team

University of Alberta
Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Email:
 afsaneh@ualberta.ca

Dr Lavasanifar is a Professor of Pharmaceutics in the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Alberta. Afsaneh is the Chief Scientific Officer and Vice President of Meros Polymers, a spinoff company established based on the technology developed her lab. Her research is focused on the development of delivery systems that can increase solubility, modify the pharmacokinetics, reduce toxicity, and increase the activity of different therapeutics with a focus on the development of nanomedicines for cancer chemo- and immunotherapy.

Saishree Badri

Co-President

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Pronouns: she/her (EN), elle (FR)

Saishree is a PhD candidate in the Integrated Program in Neuroscience at McGill University. For her research project, she investigates the inner GPS system in mice (the neural circuits responsible for spatial navigation and memory) under Prof. Mark Brandon’s guidance at the Douglas Mental Health Institute. She is passionate about finding a common ground between researchers, policy-makers and the public on issues that are at crossroads between policy and science. Furthermore, she believes it is indispensable to create a sense of trust between the three, which eventually leads to more evidence-based policies that the scientific community can benefit from. Saishree joined SPE as VP News in 2018 and served as the treasurer in 2019. Going forward, she is keen to continue her efforts for promoting evidence-based policies, strengthening ties and creating a dialogue between policy-makers, scientists and the public. Saishree is also a student of Takshashila Institution’s Graduate Course in Public Policy -  Health and Life Science programme. 

Anh-Khoi Trinh

Co-President

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Pronouns: he/him (EN), il (FR)

Anh-Khoi Trinh is a physics PhD candidate studying string theory and quantum gravity at McGill University. With experiences in physics educational development and outreach, Anh-Khoi aims to inspire the next generation to engage in STEM fields and to provide them with the necessary resources to succeed. As such, he has turned his attention towards science policy where he aims to advocate for better policies to support science, academia and students, all while inspiring the research community at large to engage with policymakers to strengthen the foundations of Canadian research.

Adrián Noriega de la Colina

VP Administration

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Pronouns: he/him (EN), il (FR)

Adrián Noriega de la Colina is a Ph.D. student in Biomedical Sciences, with a specialty in Aging Research at the Université de Montréal, where he studies the impact of cardiovascular diseases on brain aging and cognition. His current work consists on developing preventive health strategies, specifically targeting early detection of dementia. Adrián has a Master in Health Economics from the London School of Economics, where he built a passion for Policy-making and Science Communication, which led him to volunteer at Science & Policy Exchange (SPE) as Vice-President Administration since November 2019. At SPE he intends to further expand his knowledge in Public Policy and advocating for evidence-based decision-making.

Sumedha Sachar

Treasurer

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Pronouns: she/her (EN), elle (FR)

Sumedha recently completed her Postdoctoral research at CHU-Ste Justine, where she had been working on targeting Glioblastoma multiforme with Liposome mediated miRNAs in mice models. She is currently working as a science writer. Sumedha joined Science & Policy Exchange (SPE) in Dec 2019 and became Treasurer in Oct 2020. Sumedha has been involved with women in STEM initiatives and is further expanding her knowledge in Science and policy-making with SPE. She strongly advocates science beyond borders and believes inclusion and diversity aren’t just politically correct statements but are the key to growth.

Maïa Dakessian

VP Editor

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Pronouns: she/her (EN), elle (FR)

Maïa is a Master’s student in Bioethics, at the School of Public Health, Université de Montréal. She is mostly interested in neuroethics and how language is represented in the brain. She holds an undergraduate degree in Cognitive Neurosciences as well as one in Linguistics and Psychology, both from the Université de Montréal. Maïa joined Science & Policy Exchange as a volunteer in August 2019 and became VP Editor in October 2020. As part of SPE, she wishes to promote the importance of considering science in policy-making as well as the ethical considerations of such decisions. 

Jessica Bou Nassar

VP Member Relations

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Pronouns: she/her (EN), elle (FR)

Jessica is an MSc candidate in the Department of Bioresource Engineering at McGill University. Her research focuses on participatory modelling of human-water systems, using techniques that facilitate the inclusion of marginalized communities in model-building processes and decision-making. Jessica holds a B.E. in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Her research interests include participatory modelling, human-water systems, stakeholder engagement, community-based decision-making, and science policy. She joined SPE in November 2019 as the Community Outreach Coordinator and was elected as VP Member Relations in October 2020. With her colleagues at SPE, she wishes to amplify and advance their common goal: science-based policy-making. 

Pablo C. Martínez

VP Communications

vpcomm[a]sp-exchange.ca

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Pronouns: he/him (EN), il (FR)

Pablo has a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Polytechnique Montréal where he focused in metabolic engineering, production and purification of biotherapeutics. He works now as a bioprocess specialist producing bacteriophages to treat antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. He joined Science & Policy Exchange as Co-Interim VP communications in September 2019 and was then elected for the permanent position for the past two terms.

Arnaud Cheuk

VP Marketing

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Pronouns: he/him (EN), il (FR)

Arnaud obtained his Ph.D. degree in biochemistry from the University of Quebec at Montreal in 2018. His doctorate focused on molecular biology and oxidative stress in plants. After his doctorate, he began a post-doctoral internship in the same field and a certificate in marketing management at HEC Montreal. Arnaud joined SPE in July 2020 and was elected to the position of VP Marketing in October 2020. At SPE, he intends to bring his marketing expertise to promote SPE's notoriety and engagement in the political scenes.

Saina Beitari

VP News

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Pronouns: she/her (EN), elle (FR)

Saina is a post-doctoral fellow at the National Research Council of Canada where she supports COVID-19 and other viral infection R&D efforts. She obtained her PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from McGill University. Her passion for infectious diseases led her to work on a broad range of viruses of public health significance. Saina joined SPE in January 2020 as a volunteer and was elected as VP News in October 2020. Moving forward, she is aiming to advocate for a better inclusion of science in public policymaking and to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion in the research community.

Vivienne Tam

VP Technology

webmaster[a]sp-exchange.ca

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Pronouns: she/her (EN), elle (FR)

Vivienne is a 3rd year PhD student in Mining and Materials Engineering at McGill University. Her research focuses on developing light-controlled on-demand drug delivery from polymer and silica coated up conversion nanoparticles and she is passionate about translating biomedical technology from bench to bedside. She joined Science and Policy Exchange (SPE) as a volunteer in June 2019 and is interested in fostering conversation around broader issues in academia such as mental health among graduate students. She was elected as Webmaster in October 2020 and also manages her personal website where she writes about the PhD experience: beautyinthemargins.com. 

Paalini Sathiyaseelan 

SPE Café Coordinator

community[a]sp-exchange.ca

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Pronouns: she/her (EN), elle (FR)

Paalini is a PhD candidate in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at Simon Fraser University. Her focus lies in oncology research, specifically in studying the therapeutic potential of targeting a recycling pathway in pancreatic cancer. As an international student and a fellow early career researcher, Paalini recognizes the lack of personal agency students have on policies that affect the student body. Paalini joined SPE in July, 2020 as a volunteer and she was elected as the SPE Café Coordinator in October 2020. Her goal is to amplify the voices of students by bringing underlying issues to light for better evidence-based policy decisions.  

My An Nguyen

Social Media Manager

my.an.nguyen[a]umontreal.ca

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Pronouns: she/her (EN), elle (FR)

Pronounced “mee-ann”. My An is a Master’s in bioethics candidate studying at Université de Montréal. As an aspiring academic and ethicist, her research interests are wide-ranging. 

Pertaining to medical ethics, she’s interested in moral distress and clinical ethics consulting. Pertaining to public health ethics, she’s interested in healthcare governance and health policy development. Pertaining to research ethics, she wishes to bring awareness to issues related to responsible conduct in research, integrity, fraud, authorship, and conflicts of interest. By joining SPE as social media manager and translator, she hopes to improve working conditions in academia for women & POC and to cultivate ethical sensibilities in scientific, political and governmental institutions.

Jack Bauer

Social Media Manager

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Pronouns: he/him (EN), il (FR)

Jack is a PhD candidate in molecular biology at the University of Montreal. He studies fundamental mechanisms of cell division using the tiny soil worm C. elegans with fluorescence microscopy. Jack believes that scientific research should be accessible to all to become a major societal issue and have a greater impact in decision making. He has been Social Media Manager at Science & Policy Exchange since October 2019 and relays relevant information about current scientific and policy issues.

Vanessa Wong

Volunteer News Researcher

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Pronouns: she/her (EN), elle (FR)

Vanessa is a third year undergraduate student studying Molecular Biology and Genetics at McMaster University. Her program may be very specialized, but she has a variety of interests including science communication, clinical epidemiology, plant biology, and more! She joined SPE in October 2020 as a volunteer news researcher to gain more exposure to the dynamics between science and policy and raise awareness for different issues involving science policy. She hopes to incorporate what she learns through this experience into her future work as a researcher.

 

Volunteers

 

Board of Directors

Shawn McGuirk

Internal Director

E-mail: s.mcguirk[a]sp-exchange.ca

Pronouns: He/him (EN), il (FR)

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Shawn McGuirk is a Senior Policy Advisor at the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and is an alumni of both the Mitacs Canadian Science Policy Fellowship program and the Recruitment of Policy Leaders program of the Public Service Commission of Canada. During his PhD at the Goodman Cancer Research Centre of McGill University, his research centered on the role of metabolism in cancer progression (https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7183-7962). As a long-standing director and past president of Science & Policy Exchange, Shawn is committed to capacity building in science policy and to elevating the voices of the next generation as key stakeholders in policy discussions. Shawn also represents the next generation as a member of the board of directors of Acfas.

Tina Gruosso

Internal Director

E-mail: t.gruosso[a]sp-exchange.ca

Pronouns: She/her (EN), Elle (FR)

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Tina is a translational scientist working for Forbius, a biotech company that develops new therapeutics for oncology and rare diseases where she works as a liaison between preclinical and clinical research. She completed her PhD at Institut Curie in Paris and her Postdoctoral fellowship at McGill University on immunotherapy and tumor microenvironment.

Tina is an engaged scientist and an advocate for science and scientific values in all sectors of society. As a board member and ex-president for Science & Policy Exchange, Tina is devoted to establishing the next generation voices as key stakeholders in science policy, diplomacy and communication. Tina is also a member of the CCA expert panel on The Labour Market Transition of PhD Graduates, the Global Young Academy, and the redaction committee of the ACFAS magazine.

Marie Franquin

Internal Director

E-mail: m.franquin[a]sp-exchange.ca

Pronouns: She/her (EN), Elle (FR)

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Dr. Marie Franquin is currently External Relations Officer at IIASA. In this role, she helps coordinate and develop relationships with the IIASA NMOs across the world. Prior to her work at IIASA, Marie has obtained a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from McGill University, Canada. During her Ph.D., she advocated for the importance of combining several models for the study of human diseases, including human stem cells. In parallel of her Ph.D., Marie was also involved in several Science Communication initiatives and held the presidency of the Science & Policy Exchange from 2019 to 2020, where she worked to promote the early career researcher voice in Canadian policymaking through public events and targeted reports, as well as participation to national conferences. Marie obtained her undergraduate degree in Life Sciences from the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in France, where she is from and her M.Sc. in Brain and Mind Science from University College London in the United Kingdom.

Paul Dufour 

External Director

Pronouns: he/him (EN), lui (FR)

    Paul Dufour has been senior adviser in science policy with several Canadian agencies and organizations over the course of the past 35 years. Among these:  senior program specialist with the International Development Research Centre, and interim Executive Director at the former Office of the National Science Advisor to the Canadian Government advising on international S&T matters and broad questions of R&D policy directions for the country. He is a member of Science and Policy Exchange board as well as the Mitacs Science Policy Fellows advisory board, and was on the Gold Medal winning Canadian International Polar Year National Committee. Mr Dufour was an investment committee member for Grand Challenges Canada on global health for several years.

    Born in Montréal, Mr. Dufour was educated at McGill, the Université de Montréal and Concordia University in the history of science and science policy, and has had practical S&T policy experience for over three decades having been with such bodies as the Science Council of Canada, Ministry of State for Science and Technology, Foreign Affairs, and special adviser to the Prime Minister's Advisory Council on S&T. 

    Dufour lectures regularly on science policy, has authored numerous articles on international S&T relations and Canadian innovation policy. He is series co-editor of the Cartermill Guides to World Science and is the author of the Canada chapter for the UNESCO 2015 Science Report. More recently he has co-edited books on the history of the Science Council of Canada (with Jeff Kinder) and the value of science in society and culture (with Agnes Herzberg).

    Nicole Arbour

    External Director

    Pronouns: she/her (EN), elle (FR)

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    Nicole Arbour is currently External Relations Manager at IIASA, where she plays an active role in building and maintaining relationships with IIASAs national and regional member organisations (NMOs and RMOs). 

    Nicole comes to IIASA from Canada, where she most recently held the role of Senior Advisor with the International Innovation Office at the National Research Council Canada (NRC). In this role she led the development, implementation and management of NRC’s engagement with the UK. She also coordinated the NRC’s Grants to International Affiliations Program, where she was active in the engagement and development of Canada’s affiliation/membership to several international organisations, including the International Science Council (ISC). She also provided strategic advice to senior executives related to the development and management of bilateral and multilateral relationships for the NRC, as required. 

    Prior to that, Nicole was the Team Lead for the UK’s Science and Innovation Network in Canada - at the British High Commission in Ottawa. In this position, she was responsible for liaising with Federal science and technology organisations, working to establish, foster, and strengthen scientific collaboration and partnerships between the UK and Canada. 

    Nicole has also worked as a research scientist in the Canadian biotech sector. She holds a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Ottawa.

    Rachael Maxwell  

    External Director

    Pronouns: she/her (EN), elle (FR)

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    Rachael Maxwell joined Genome Canada in 2018 and serves as the Manager of Public Affairs and Communications, where she manages the planning and execution of communication and stakeholder activities. Previously, Rachael worked at Mitacs as the Program Lead for the Canadian Science Policy Fellowship, where she managed the design and delivery of the program from its inception through its first three cohorts. Rachael is also a member of the Board of the Directors at the Science and Policy Exchange.

     

    Rachael is passionate about working at the intersection of academia, government and industry, and continues to learn how to best serve society through science and policy. She speaks regularly to government and academic audiences at home and abroad about the need for better mechanisms to connect science and policy. Rachael also brings years of experience working in arts management and an academic background in cultural studies.

    Madison Rilling

    External Director

    Pronouns: she/her (EN), elle (FR)

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    Madison is currently finishing her PhD in Physics at Université Laval and is an early-career medical physicist working in radiation oncology at the Centre régional intégré de cancérologie in Lévis, QC. Parallel to her academic training, Madison has been involved in research administration, science policy and women in STEM initiatives. From 2016 to 2019, she was vice president of the Comité intersectoriel étudiant (CIÉ) des Fonds de recherche du Québec. Her role was to advise Québec’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Rémi Quirion, on matters relative to the accessibility of research funding for student researchers and trainees, the promotion of their research both locally and internationally, and their greater involvement and valorization within society. During this time, she was also the sole student to sit on the Board of Directors of the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies (FRQNT), the province’s funding agency for science and engineering. In March 2020, she was nominated to the first Youth Council of the Chief Science Advisor of Canada, Dr. Mona Nemer.

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