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Panel 9: Looking to 2020 and beyond: Training the next generation of innovation leaders in Canada

Audio: 
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This panel will provide a national-level discussion on the future of graduate student and postdoctoral training in Canada. What does Canada’s next generation of innovation leaders look like? What skills will they want and need to succeed? What are their career aspirations and whose responsibility is it to ensure that they are properly prepared for those careers upon completion of their academic training? The panel will examine the evolving research training ecosystem for grad students and postdocs and discuss what challenges need to be overcome to meet the increasing demands of Canada’s knowledge-intensive economy. One possibility is to increase the linkages and collaborations that exist between the university and the wider community through research, training and innovation. Practical ways to do this and address other skills training challenges will be discussed, while recognizing the broader goal of ensuring that students and postdocs can succeed as future innovation leaders. This is a timely topic as these questions are being debated across the country and calls are being issued to consider new and re-imagined forms of graduate and postdoctoral research training.

Moderator Details

President
Finest Point Periodicals Limited

In her work as a reporter, editor, publisher, and freelance writer in Canada and Australia over the past two decades, Rachel Brighton has paid particular attention to the policy angle in her coverage of and commentary on economic development. She is currently a freelance business columnist with The Chronicle Herald in Halifax, a regular columnist with Herald Magazine, and a contributor to trade publications serving forestry and agriculture in Atlantic Canada. Her staff positions in the Canadian media have included The Daily News in Halifax, The Canadian Press, and Nova Scotia Open to the World magazine (as editor); her magazine articles have appeared in the United States, Ireland, Scotland, and Canada. She is also the author of The Road Here: Stories from Senior Women in Rural Nova Scotia, and an occasional commentator on CBC Radio in Halifax. In Melbourne, Australia, Rachel was business editor of the statewide newspaper, The Sunday Herald Sun.

Panelist Details

Andre Bezanson
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Dalhousie University

Andre Bezanson is a 4th year Ph.D. student in the School of Biomedical Engineering at Dalhousie University. His
research has focused on developing the technology to miniaturize ultrasonic probes to about the size of a pencil eraser so they can be used for endoscopic imaging applications. During his undergrad in mechanical engineering, Andre discovered a passion for the engineering design process whereby one could see a project evolve from an idea through to a tangible product. During his work with Daxsonics Ultrasound Inc, on a Mitacs-funded internship, he was able to pursue a project successfully developing high-frequency ultrasonic transducers and electronics for dermatological imaging applications. The technology was adopted by the Daxsonics and Andre was offered a key position in the company as a result of the success of the work. Upon completion of his degree, he hopes to turn his developed technology into a commercial product, opening up benefits of ultrasonic imaging to new clinical applications.

Valerie Walker
Director, Policy
Mitacs

As Director of Policy at Mitacs, Val develops and maintains strategic relationships with key policy stakeholders and liaises with policy leaders across Canada to share ideas, promote Mitacs policy work, and maintain Mitacs’ reputation as a thought leader for research and innovation. Val was co-lead author on the CAPS–ASPC and Mitacs 2013 Canadian Postdoc Survey: Painting a Picture of Canadian Postdoctoral Scholars that identified insufficient training and career preparation as major concerns among Canadian postdocs. Prior to joining Mitacs, she worked as a Senior Policy Analyst at the Public Health Agency of Canada, conducting policy research and providing recommendations to senior decision makers at the Agency on topics including social determinants of health, the science-policy interface, and mental health. Val was recruited to the Government of Canada through the Recruitment of Policy Leaders Program following the completion of her PhD in Physiology from McGill’s Faculty of Medicine.

Kevin Dunn
Director, Industry Liaison and Innovation (ILI)
Dalhousie University

As Director at Dalhousie University, Industry Liaison and Innovation (ILI), Kevin Dunn leads the business interaction and industrial relationships for the university as they relate to contract research and issues of intellectual property. Kevin is also serves on several committees locally and nationally, including as chair of the Board for the Alliance for Commercialization of Canadian Technologies. Prior to joining ILI, Kevin worked with Dalhousie’s Technical Cooperative and Career Services, helping engineering coop students find learning opportunities and meaningful employment. Before joining Dalhousie University, Kevin has worked in senior technical sales management positions across North America with both a multi-national companies and a small regional company. Throughout his career his roles have required close interactions with small and medium-sized business clients but also with large organizations throughout Canada, US and globally.

Ross Laver
Vice President, Policy and Communications
The Canadian Council of Chief Executives

Ross Laver is Vice President, Policy and Communications, with the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, an association composed of the CEOs of 150 leading Canadian companies. He has overall responsibility for the Council’s communications strategy and engages in policy work in a wide range of areas, including innovation, competitiveness, education and skills development and corporate citizenship. Earlier in his career he spent 23 years in the national media as a reporter, editor and columnist. He has also held marketing roles with two information technology companies. He is the author of two books: Random Excess, published by Penguin Books Canada in 1998; and Savage Messiah, published by Doubleday in 1993.