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SPE in the News


SPE receives the Research Canada Leadership in Advocacy Award 2019

SPE was honored to be awarded the Research Canada: An Alliance for Health Discovery Leadership in Advocacy Award at the Health Research Foundation’s Research Award Gala held in the Marriott Château Champlain in Montreal on 20th November, 2019.

Health Research Foundation has a long-standing tradition of recognizing the efforts of the champions of Canadian health research with its multiple established award programs. The Leadership in Advocacy Award was created to honor the work of leaders of health advocacy whose work has been valuable in educating policymakers, media and the public about the health and socio-economic benefits of health research and innovation.

The SPE team was represented at the award ceremony by ex-president and Internal Director Tina Gruosso and current co-president Marie Franquin, both of whom have made key contributions to SPE’s advocacy work over the last 5 years. The award was also presented to Dr. Roderick McInnes, Professor of Biochemistry and Genetics at McGill University, and Dr. Ryan Wiley, Assistant Professor at McMaster University and President of Health Shift.

This award is not only testament to SPE’s valuable work on health research advocacy since its creation, but also a shining example of the important contribution of the next generation of health research advocates towards the advancement of health research and the Canadian healthcare system. We warmly thank every volunteer and SPE champion who has contributed over the past 10 years to making this moment happen.


Vanessa Sung (former co-President and Internal Director) interviewed at the Canadian Science Policy Conference 2019This is a Title 02

The Canadian Science Policy Conference team held a special interview with Dr. Vanessa Sung at the 11th Canadian Science Policy Conference (CSPC 2019) held in Ottawa from the 13-15th of November, 2019 during which she spoke about her training in science policy working in SPE and her current work towards promoting equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in Canadian science. A link to the full interview can be found here.

Vanessa trained as cancer biologist earning her doctorate from McGill University in 2018. She joined SPE during 2015 as an executive team member, serving as the co-president in 2018 and the internal director in 2019. For the past year, she has been working as a policy analyst in the office of the Chief Science Advisor of Canada, Dr. Mona Nemer.

Speaking of her work in the office as the lead on EDI in science, Vanessa mentions her close correspondence with Dr. Nemer to generate effective research material to guide her policy discussions and collaborations with various institutions, offices and International partners. She attributed her initiation into the science policy world as well landing the opportunity to work for the Chief Science Advisor of Canada to her training and activities in the SPE.

Answering a question about the CSPC, she encouraged students looking to learn about and seeking careers in science policy to attend conferences such as CSPC as they offer great learning and networking opportunities. Vanessa was also invited to be a panelist on an interactive opening session at the CSPC2019 symposium about implementing EDI goals and policies in Canada.


Science and Policy Exchange brings student voices to Canadian science policy issues

When it comes to science policy issues in Canada, there are plenty of perspectives to consider. A key demographic is graduate students and post-doctoral fellows; unfortunately, their voices often go unheard. With this in mind, the Montreal-based student group Science & Policy Exchange (SPE; or Dialogue Sciences & Politiques) is focusing on bringing student voices to the science policy table.

Established in 2009, SPE is a non-profit, bilingual science advocacy group led by graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. SPE aims to promote student voices in evidence-based decision-making by bringing together students, experts, and the public to discuss issues critical to science and policy, as well as providing training opportunities to those new to science policy. The core team consists of around ten executives, with a broader group of student volunteers driving SPE’s efforts and making its initiatives a reality.

So what does student-led science advocacy involve?

In an interview with Science Borealis in the summer of 2018, Shawn McGuirk and Vanessa Sung, SPE co-presidents at the time, said that SPE practices science advocacy through a combination of events and initiatives, including student consultations, science policy cafes, and public forums.

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