CAN President Charles Bourque participation in the Canadian Science Policy Conference as panelist

Professor Charles Bourque will participate in the session: Roles & Responsibilities of Academic Science Societies in informing Policy: Lessons & Observations from Around the World – November 17th at 8:30 via zoom, as part of the Canadian Science Policy Conference which takes place virtually this year.

Take a look at the whole program here:

Panel description and participants

In contrast to other parts of the world, science societies in Canada have traditionally had limited interaction with policy makers. There are few examples of an intentional mission by science societies or even perhaps a perceived need among scientists to engage with politicians, decision makers or policy influencers with the exception of, perhaps, the Royal Society of Canada, which has, to some degree, tried to provide academic input to the federal government on specific issues. This separation of collectives of expertise, which the societies represent (e.g. Canadian Association of Physics, Canadian Molecular Biosciences Society, Canadian Association of Neuroscience, Canadian Society of Ecology and Evolution) from policy makers who are tasked with dealing with complex issues such as public health, the economic development and environmental stewardship represents a missed opportunity to bring relevant, timely & expert advice to much needed decision making. While government ministries and departments have “in-house” scientists, we suggest that increased engagement between non-government scientists, from across the country, with policy makers in Canada can be additionally useful in connecting policy makers to evidence, data, science and the latest in research findings. An added benefit of bringing the solitudes together will be a richer understanding by scientists of the complex decision making that goes into policy that may, in turn, impact the research enterprise in Canada. The exchange of information and educational possibilities are thus truly bilateral. We propose that science societies (such as those mentioned above) can and should play a significant role in filling the gap between scientists and policymakers. In support of this, we point to the roles that science societies have played in Europe and the US for many years, where bringing policy makers and scientists together are specific goals of societies and are often part of regular scientific meetings (e.g. meet your representative sessions, how to lobby Congress, etc.). This intentional approach – to bring scientists together with policy makers – is perhaps best exemplified by the Science meets Parliament initiative in Australia which just celebrated 20 years of facilitated dialogue for the purpose of building shared understandings and stronger relationships within the scientific and policy community.

Imogen R. Coe President, Canadian Society of Molecular BiosciencesDr. Imogen R. Coe is a professor of Chemistry and Biology and former founding dean, in the Faculty of Science at Ryerson University in Toronto. She is also an affiliate scientist at St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, where her research group studies drug transporters. Dr. Coe became the President of the Canadian Society of Molecular Biosciences in July 2020 and has been a long-time advocate in support of policy change towards inclusive excellence in research in Canada.

Stephen B. Heard President, Canadian Society for Ecology and EvolutionStephen B. Heard is President of the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution. He’s an evolutionary ecologist at the University of New Brunswick (Fredericton), where his research involves interactions between insects and their host plants – including forest pest insects. He blogs at, and is the author of The Scientist’s Guide to Writing and Charles Darwin’s Barnacle and David Bowie’s Spider: How Scientific Names Celebrate Adventurers, Heroes, and Even a Few Scoundrels.

Charles Bourque President, Canadian Association for NeuroscienceCharles Bourque is a professor in the Department of Neurology & Neurosurgery at McGill University and a Senior Investigator in the Brain Repair and Integrative Neuroscience Program of the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre. He is currently President of the Canadian Association for Neuroscience. Trained in Biology, Physiology and Biophysics, Bourque is interested in how the brain regulates circadian rhythms and the body’s state of hydration

Hilary Lappin-Scott President, Federation of European Microbiology Societies (FEMS)Professor Hilary Lappin-Scott is the elected President of the Federation of European Microbiology Societies (FEMS), 2019-2022. FEMS is an association that covers more than 50 learned societies and a total of over 30,000 members from across Europe. Professor Lappin-Scott is part of the USA National Academies Committee on Women in Science Engineering and Medicine. She is an Honorary Distinguished Professor of Microbiology at Cardiff University, UK and was awarded an OBE in 2018 in recognition of her services to Microbiology and the advancement of women in STEM subjects.

Shohini Ghose Past President , Canadian Association of PhysicistsShohini Ghose is a Professor of physics and computer science at Wilfrid Laurier University and President of the Canadian Association of Physicists (2019-2020). She examines how the laws of quantum physics can be harnessed to transform computing and communication and for novel tasks such as teleportation. Shohini is working to create an inclusive science community in Canada as the founding Director of the Laurier Centre for Women in Science and the NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering (Ontario). She is a TED Senior Fellow, a member of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, and author of the book Clues to the Cosmos.

Susan Amara President, American Association for the Advancement of ScienceSusan G. Amara, Ph.D., is the Scientific Director of the National Institute of Mental Health intramural research program at NIHM. Work in her laboratory has focused on the structure, function, and cellular physiology of neurotransmitter transporters, including the biogenic amine transporters, major targets for psychostimulant drugs and antidepressants. Dr. Amara has received the Burroughs Wellcome Hitchings Award in drug discovery, the Society for Neuroscience Young Investigator Award, the ASPET John Jacob Abel Award, a McKnight Neuroscience Investigator Award, a MERIT Award from NIDA, a NARSAD Distinguished Investigator Award, the Julius Axelrod Award from ASPET and the Julius Axelrod Prize from Society for Neuroscience. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (2004), a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (2007), and a past-President of the Society for Neuroscience (2011). She currently serves as President-Elect of AAAS (2020).