Providing good science advice to deputies, ministers and Cabinet comes not from a single official or office, but from a network of science advisors within governmental departments and agencies who are formally engaged at critical steps in a process. As a result, in 2018 the Office of the Chief Science Advisor announced it would seek to establish a network of departmental science advisors (DSA).
The DSA Network is chaired by the Chief Science Advisor and typically meets on a monthly basis to:
- Collaborate or champion multi-departmental initiatives identified by the DSA Network;
- Act as peer reviewers for initiatives;
- Promote the use of science-based evidence to inform policy development, practice and evaluation;
- Share best practices to support each other’s respective mandates;
- Act as a conduit for information and advice from the scientific and research communities to administration and government, individually or through the coordination of expert panels or bilaterals;
- Promote a co-ordinated approach to science advice to the government; and
- Collectively stay abreast of activities and advice streams across government.
With diverse areas of expertise to share and draw from, members are building a robust advisory function that will encourage collaboration across multiple sectors as the network continues to grow in the coming months and years.
Departmental Science Advisors Network Biographies
- David Hik, Chief Scientist and Executive Director – Programs, Polar Knowledge Canada (POLAR)
- Shawn Marshall, Departmental Science Advisor, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC)
- Joel Martin, Chief Science Officer and Chief Digital Research Officer, National Research Council Canada (NRC)
- John Moores, Science Advisor to the President, Canadian Space Agency (CSA)
- Dr. Sriram Narasimhan, Departmental Science Advisor, Transport Canada
- Marc Saner, Departmental Science Advisor, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)
- Paul Snelgrove, Departmental Science Advisor, Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO)
- Cara Tannenbaum, Departmental Science Advisor, Health Canada (HC)
- Sarah Viehbeck, Chief Science Officer, Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
Chief Scientist and Executive Director – Programs
Polar Knowledge Canada (POLAR)
- B.Sc., Biology, Queen’s University (1986)
- M.Sc., Botany, University of Toronto (1988)
- Ph.D., Zoology, University of British Columbia (1994)
- Postdoctoral Fellow, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Canberra
- Appointed as Chief Scientist and Executive Director (Programs) at Polar Knowledge Canada in 2021.
- Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Simon Fraser University.
- Ecologist with a specialization in species interactions and the responses of cold environments to disturbance and climate change.
- Responsible for leading the implementation and delivery of POLAR’s Science and Technology and Knowledge Mobilization programs, and their co-development with Indigenous partners and rights-holders across northern Canada.
- Provide strategic direction that promotes government-wide cooperation and coordination of Arctic and polar research while aligning with and supporting Government of Canada priorities.
- Served previously as Executive Director of the Canadian International Polar Year Secretariat, President of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) and member of Board of the Directors of Polar Knowledge Canada and the Arctic Institute of Community-based Research.
Departmental Science Advisor
Environment and Climate Change Canada
- B.A.Sc., Engineering Science from the University of Toronto (1991)
- Ph.D., Geophysics and Astronomy, the University of British Columbia (1996)
- Appointed as the Departmental Science Advisor in 2019.
- Professor in the Department of Geography and a Canada Research Chair in Climate Change at the University of Calgary.
- Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) Earth System Evolution Program, 2001-2015
- Cryosphere scientist with a specialization in glaciology, using a combination of modeling and field research to study glacier and ice sheet dynamics and cryosphere-climate processes in western and Arctic Canada, Iceland, and Greenland.
- He has been involved as a Board member with the Arctic Institute of North America and through national and international science activities, including current service on the Science Leadership Council of the international Mountain Research Initiative, as the Vice Chair of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Global Cryosphere Watch Program, and as the Canadian representative and current Chair of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) Cryosphere Working Group
Chief Science Officer and Chief Digital Research Officer
National Research Council Canada (NRC)
- B.A., Cognitive Psychology, University of Manitoba (1984)
- M.A., Cognitive Psychology, University of Manitoba (1986)
- M.Sc., Computer Science, Ga Institute of Technology (1987)
- Ph.D., Computer Science, Ga Institute of Technology (1992)
- Appointed as Chief Science Officer in 2022 and Chief Digital Research Officer (CDRO) at the National Research Council in 2021.
- Is a Computer Scientist specializing in artificial intelligence and the processing of natural languages for decision making, text analytics, health monitoring, and multilingual processing.
- As CDRO, he is now responsible for leading the digital science transformation for the NRC, particularly in the use of recent algorithms to accelerate discovery and design.
- Created NRC’s targeted research program in AI for Design which develops and provides AI technologies and capabilities to accelerate discovery, R&D, and innovation processes. With university collaborators, the program advances algorithms, methods and datasets to assist engineers, researchers and scientists.
- Led multiple large-scale technology transfer projects to industry and other government departments.
Science Advisor to the President
Canadian Space Agency
- Bachelor's degree in engineering science (aerospace) from the University of Toronto
- PhD in planetary science from the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory
- Dr. John Moores was appointed as Science Advisor to the President of the Canadian Space Agency in 2022.
- Dr. Moores is the York Research Chair in Space Exploration at York University.
- He also currently serves as the Director of the Technologies for Exo-Planetary Science NSERC CREATE Program, which provides unique training opportunities for graduate students.
- He previously served as the Associate Dean of Research & Graduate Studies for the Lassonde School of Engineering at York University.
- He is a member of the Royal Society of Canada's College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists as well as a Participating Scientist on NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, popularly known as the Curiosity rover.
- After training on the Mars Exploration Rovers (Spirit and Opportunity) in 2004, he contributed to the 2005 Huygens mission to Saturn's moon Titan and the 2008 Phoenix mission to the Martian Arctic. Dr. Moores' scholarly work has been published in leading journals, including Science and Nature, and he is an author on over 70 peer-reviewed articles.
Dr. Sriram Narasimhan
Departmental Science Advisor
- Bachelor's, Civil Engineering, Osmania University, Hyderabad (1993)
- Master's, Riverine and Coastal Engineering, Asian Institute of Technology (1996)
- Master's, Structural Engineering, Louisiana State University (2000)
- Doctorate, Civil/Structural Engineering, Rice University (2005)
- Appointed as the Departmental Science Advisor in February 2023.
- Professor of civil and environmental engineering and mechanical and aerospace engineering at the Samueli School of Engineering, University of California Los Angeles, and holds an adjunct professorship at the University of Waterloo.
- Leading expert on sensors and robotics for infrastructure inspections and mapping, structural dynamics, system identification, structural control and adaptive structures, vibration and acoustic signal processing, machine learning for infrastructure condition assessment, and condition-based maintenance.
- Active in various international technical committees and is currently the Chief Editor for the ASCE Journal of Bridge Engineering. He serves as a reviewer for several international scientific journals, funding agencies, and is a registered professional engineer in the province of Ontario in Canada. He is a Fellow of ASCE.
Departmental Science Advisor
Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)
- M.Sc (equiv), Biology, University of Basel, Switzerland (1986)
- PhD, Ecology, University of Basel, Switzerland (1991)
- M.A., Philosophy (Ethics), Carleton University (1999)
- Appointed as the Departmental Science Advisor (2022). Reports directly to the Deputy Minister and provides independent scientific advice to NRCan’s senior management.
- Professor and Chair, Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics, University of Ottawa.
- Inaugural Director, Institute for Science, Society and Policy (ISSP; 2010-2015), University of Ottawa.
- Executive Director and Director of Research (2008-2010), Regulatory Governance Initiative (RGI), School of Public Policy and Administration, Carleton University.
- Executive Vice-President and Director of Assessments, Council of Canadian Academies (CCA, 2006-2007), Ottawa.
- Director, Institute On Governance (IOG, 2003-2006), Ottawa.
- Managing Director, Ethics and Policy Issues Centre (EPIC, 1999-2002), Carleton University.
Departmental Science Advisor
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
- B.Sc. Hon. (Biology), Memorial University of Newfoundland (1984)
- M.Sc. (Oceanography), McGill University (1987)
- Ph.D. (Biological Oceanography), Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (MIT/WHOI) (1993)
- Appointed as the Departmental Science Advisor (2020).
- Professor of Ocean Sciences and Biology at Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada.
- Since 2008, has led the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Canadian Healthy Oceans Network, which works on all 3 of Canada’s oceans to develop new tools and approaches to support sustainable oceans.
- Since 2017, Associate Scientific Director of The Ocean Frontier Institute, which brings together researchers in Atlantic Canada and beyond to support research on safe and sustainable oceans.
- Biological oceanographer working in coastal and deep-sea marine community ecology and conservation, ecosystem functioning and connectivity of fish and seafloor invertebrates, biodiversity patterns and drivers.
Departmental Science Advisor
- M.D., McGill University (1994), specialization in internal medicine (1997) & geriatrics (2000)
- M.Sc. Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McGill University (2002)
- Appointed as the Departmental Science Advisor (2019) and reports directly to the Deputy Minister.
- Professor in the Faculties of Medicine and Pharmacy at the Université de Montréal.
- Provides independent scientific advice to Health Canada senior management on complex priority files.
- Champions a new Framework for Science and Research Excellence across the department.
- Launched Health Canada’s first Science and Research Integration Network.
- Since 2015 Dr. Tannenbaum is also the Scientific Director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute on Gender and Health. In this capacity, at the request of Health Canada, Dr. Tannenbaum is overseeing a number of collaborative projects aimed at strengthening the integration of sex and gender into key policy and program initiatives.
- Dr. Tannenbaum is a member of Health Products and Food Branch's (HPFB) Scientific Advisory Committee on Health Products for Women (SAC-HPW).
- Dr. Tannenbaum is the recipient of several awards including the Canadian Science Policy Trailblazer Award, the Purvis Memorial Award from the Society of Chemical Industry, the William B. Abrams Award from the American Society of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, and the May Cohen Gender Equity Award from the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada.
- Dr. Tannenbaum is a Member of the Order of Canada (2021).
Chief Science Officer
Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
- Hons B.A., Community Health Sciences, Brock University
- Certificate from the International School on Research Impact Assessment
- M.Sc., Health Studies and Gerontology, University of Waterloo
- Ph.D., Health Studies and Gerontology, University of Waterloo
- Appointed as the Chief Science Officer (2022) and reports directly to the President of PHAC.
- In this role, Dr. Viehbeck is responsible for providing strategic leadership to oversee and support science excellence, science-policy integration and science promotion, as well as re-energizing the scientific vision and capacity toward “Strengthening the Voice of Science” across the Agency.
- Prior to this, she was the Associate Vice-President Research - Evidence Integration at CIHR. In this role, Dr. Viehbeck was responsible for all science-related strategy and policy development. There, she led the design of a comprehensive suite of programs and initiatives to support CIHR’s mandate, with a priority focus on equity, diversity and inclusion as well as growing and maintaining a strong and sustainable Canadian health research workforce. She also played a key leadership role in the Agency’s COVID-19 response.
- Dr. Viehbeck is a former adjunct faculty member at University of Waterloo’s School of Public Health and Health Systems and the University of Ottawa’s Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences and former Board member of the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health.
- She has been recognized for her contributions by the Senior Women Academic Administrators of Canada, the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit, the Canadian Public Health Association, and through a CIHR President’s Award of Excellence.