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Dr. Bonnie Schmidt, CM, FRSC, ICD.D, Founder & President, Let’s Talk Science


Dr. Bonnie Schmidt is the founder and president of Let’s Talk Science, a national education charity that she started in 1991 while completing her graduate studies in Physiology. Let’s Talk Science supports youth engagement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) engagement. The organization serves youth, educators and volunteers, engaging an estimated million people since its inception.  An active volunteer herself, Bonnie currently serves on the Genome Canada Board of Directors. She is also a member of the Federal Government’s AI Public Awareness Working Group and committees for several national and international organizations. For her efforts in education and youth development, Bonnie has received more than a dozen awards, including an Honorary Degree from Ryerson University. She was named a Member of the Order of Canada in 2015 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2018.

Dr. Naveed Aziz, CEO, CGen


Dr. Naveed Aziz serves as CEO of CGEn, Canada’s national platform for genome sequencing & analysis, with nodes at The Hospital for Sick Children (Toronto), McGill University (Montréal) and Canada’s Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre (Vancouver). Dr. Aziz leadership has enabled CGEn to fuel Canadian research and innovation, playing a key role in the advancement of technological developments within the field of genomics. He is passionate about the development of powerful and efficient solutions for big data generation, storage and deposition to “open-science” databases, enabling high-speed data exchange at national and international scale. Dr. Aziz is servers on numerous national & international scientific advisory committees. Dr. Aziz holds a PhD in Gene Targeting from University of Dundee, UK, in addition to an MPhil in Biotechnology and an Executive MBA from Bradford School of Management, UK. His previous roles include serving as the Director of Technology programs at Genome Canada, Head of Genomics at University of York, UK and as Research Fellow at the Noble Research Institute, USA.

Rachael Maxwell (she/her), Executive Director, Evidence for Democracy


Rachael Maxwell joins Evidence for Democracy with a deep knowledge of the science landscape in Canada and a strong track record of success working at national not-for-profit research organizations. From 2018-21 she held progressively responsible roles at Genome Canada, working across the organization on key priorities in communications, public affairs and strategic planning. Previously, Rachael worked at Mitacs on 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 science, society and policy. She speaks to diverse audiences at home and abroad about the need to improve the mechanisms that connect science and policy. Rachael also brings years of experience working in arts management and an academic background in cultural studies.

Dr. Shawn McGuirk. Internal Director and Past President, Science & Policy Exchange 


Shawn McGuirk is a Senior Policy Advisor at the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and is an alumnus 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. As a long-standing director and past president of the student-led non-profit organization 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. He is also a member of the board of directors of Acfas, a non-profit organization that promotes research, innovation, and scientific culture in the francophone community.

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