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Panel 11: Communication & Collaboration: Government Science as a Partner for Innovation

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Government science is currently undergoing a historic transition that will ultimately re-define its internal structure, the direction of its partnerships and networks, and the future of Canada’s science, technology and innovative capacity. Alongside cuts to science-based departments and agencies (SBDAs), government policies and practices are shaping the ways in which government science collaborates with academia, industry, and the international S&T community.

Government of Canada and departmental-specific strategies highlight the essential role of collaboration and transparency to Canada’s innovative capacity, emphasizing the importance of partnering with universities and the private sector. Despite these strong principles, government scientists and science advocacy groups have drawn attention to the ways in which cuts to science funding, restrictive policies on communication, and cumbersome red-tape have limited the ability for scientists to collaborate and, in turn, are stalling Canada’s capacity for research and innovation. In response, Canada has seen an unprecedented mobilization of scientists, academics, and public supporters who are leveraging a diversity of tactics to “stand up for science.”

This panel will bring together stakeholders from across sectors and disciplines to discuss the gaps between policy and practice, addressing the following questions:

Is there still a role for government science in innovation? In the current environment, can federal government scientists still collaborate effectively? If not, what is required to enable them to do so?

What are the guiding principles of government science that support open communication and collaboration? What are key enablers and barriers to implementing these principles?

What are some examples of successful partnerships between government, industry and academia, and what are some of the lessons learned from these experiences? What avenues do scientists and policy makers have to share ideas and collaborate on ideas and policies?

How can we ensure that collaborative networks are inclusive, pan-Canadian, and engage the next generation of young scientists who value creativity, open communication, and autonomy?

Moderator Details

Science Reporter
Globe and Mail

Ivan Semeniuk is the national science correspondent for The Globe and Mail where he currently reports on all areas of science and science policy. A long time science journalist and broadcaster in Canada and the US, he previously served as the Washington-based news editor for Nature and as a bureau chief for New Scientist. He has been a producer and presenter with Discovery Channel’s science news magazine show Daily Planet and he writes and hosts the astronomy series Cosmic Vistas on Oasis. Ivan has held journalism fellowships at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Toronto. He began his career developing exhibits and public programs at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto and turned to media full time after earning a graduate degree in science journalism at Boston University.

Panelist Details

Peter Morand
Former president of NSERC

Peter Morand, Ph.D. is President (1996-) of Peter Morand and Associates Inc., a consulting firm that undertakes assignments related to governance, business development, technology management and performance measurement with companies, universities and other R&D organizations in Canada and abroad. At the invitation of the Alberta government, Peter Morand was a member of the International Review Committee that carried out an assessment of the performance of the Alberta Science and Research Authority for its initial six years of operation. He was also a member of the International Review Committee that carried out an assessment of the performance of Valorisation Recherche Québec, created in 1999 to accelerate and leverage research and innovation in that province. He is past President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and was founding CEO of the Canadian Science and Technology Growth Fund. He is a current and past Board member of many advanced technology start-ups and non-profit organizations (currently Board Chair of SOVAR (ULaval) and of the Medical Devices Commercialization Centre, CECR, UOttawa).

Michael Halpern
Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)

Michael Halpern is the Program Manager in the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists.He works to promote solutions that ensure government decisions are fully informed by scientific information and that the public understands the scientific basis for those decisions. His work includes successful efforts to defend scientists from harassment, secure White House commitments to restore scientific integrity to federal policy making, and engage scientists to bring their expertise to the public. Prior to joining UCS, Michael worked as a public awareness director for the Brain Injury Association of Minnesota and as a community organizer in St. Paul, Minnesota. He has written for and been quoted in numerous media outlets, including the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Associated Press, CNN.com, and National Public Radio. Michael holds a B.A. in sociology and communication studies from Macalester College.

Thomas J. Duck
Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science
Dalhousie University

Tom Duck earned his Ph.D. in Physics (1999) at York University, where he studied the dynamics of the Arctic stratosphere. After spending two-and-a-half years at MIT Haystack Observatory in Boston, Massachusetts, he joined the faculty at Dalhousie University where he is now an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science. While at Dalhousie he co-founded the Canadian Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Change (CANDAC) which operates the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) in the High Arctic at Eureka (Nunavut). He was an International Science Team Co-Investigator and lidar specialist on the Phoenix Mars Scout mission that detected water and snowfall on Mars in 2008. He is a fellow of the Broadbent Institute and over the past few years he has been an advocate for science and evidence-based policy making. His work on raising awareness about federal government cutbacks and the loss of scientific capacity at Environment Canada, and in particular the closure of its world-renowned ozone group, earned him the 2011 Neil J. Campbell medal from the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society.

Katie Gibbs
Executive Director
Evidence for Democracy

Katie Gibbs is a scientist, community organizer and advocate for science and evidence-based policies. While completing her PhD at the University of Ottawa researching threats to endangered species, she was the lead organizer of the ‘Death of Evidence’ rally which was one of the largest science rallies in Canadian history. Katie is a co-founder and Executive Director of Evidence for Democracy, a national, non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that promotes science integrity and the transparent use of evidence in government decision-making. She has a diverse background organizing and managing various causes and campaigns including playing an integral role in Elizabeth May’s winning election campaign in 2011. Katie is frequently asked to comment on science policy issues and has been quoted and published in numerous media outlets, including the CBC, The Hill Times, the Globe and Mail and the National Post.