In March 2020, the Office of the Chief Science Advisor announced the inaugural Chief Science Advisor’s Youth Council. There is great enthusiasm among Canada’s youth population towards science and an eagerness to contribute to shaping the country’s science landscape.
The mandate of the Youth Council includes:
- Providing accurate and balanced views to the Chief Science Advisor (CSA) from the perspective of youth
- Bringing to the attention of the CSA and the Office of the CSA questions and issues related to the various groups that council members represent
- Identifying and informing the CSA on key issues and challenges facing the Canadian science community
- Advising on and taking part in outreach activities of the Office of the Chief Science Advisor
- The CSA-YC has released Our Vision for Science: Perspectives from the Chief Science Advisor of Canada’s Youth Council. Read the Report
Below are the Chief Science Advisor’s Youth Council Members
Noor Al Kaabi
Noor Al Kaabi is a researcher, science communicator and avid storyteller. She is currently completing a Master of Medical Science at the University of Toronto in the field of respiratory health.
Outside of the hospital, Noor is an Executive Producer and Show Host on Raw Talk Podcast and can be found interviewing people about their unique life experiences and expertise within various areas of medicine from refugee health to medical assistance in dying. Working with a diverse group of graduate students, their team has produced episodes with over 85,000 downloads with local and global reach.
She contributes her extensive experience in public speaking and person-centered storytelling to hosting events like the 3 Minute Thesis Competition. Throughout her studies, she has collaborated with various cultural communities to increase education on organ donation. Across various platforms, Noor has worked towards amplifying public engagement on timely health topics. Through the Chief Science Advisor’s Youth Council, Noor hopes to advocate for building trust between the scientific community and the public.
Nathaniel Bechard is an 18-year-old Pure and Applied Science student at Vanier College with a passion for engineering. He has been involved in many personal projects over the years, which gave him experience in the fields of Mechanical and Electrical engineering. For 2.5 years, he was a member of PolyVent, where he designed, tested, and built open-source ventilators. The PolyVent ventilator will soon be used as an educational platform in universities. In his free time, Nathaniel likes to design and build various machines, such as pipe-crawling robots, engines, aircraft, and CNC machines. These projects have helped him develop his skills in engineering and problem-solving. He also enjoys going canoe camping in the Canadian wilderness, where he can feel like he’s a part of nature.
Chloé Currie holds a Scottish Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Edinburgh and a Master of International Public Policy degree from the Balsillie School of International Affairs at Wilfrid Laurier University, where she specialized in human security and environmental policy, and dedicated majority of her projects to exploring the ethics and politics around using artificial intelligence (AI) in these areas.
During her studies, Chloé volunteered as the Director of Content for Encode Justice Canada, a student-led AI ethics non-profit. Through this position, she researched the ethical implications of using artificial intelligence in multiple areas, including healthcare. She works as a public affairs coordinator at Santis Health, which combines her interests of government and health. She is incorporates her interest in AI in healthcare.
Louis-Alexandre Fournier is a cancer biologist pursuing his PhD in Interdisciplinary Oncology at the University of British Columbia. Louis is originally from Quebec City, and obtained his BSc. in Microbiology and Immunology at McGill University in 2017. During his undergraduate studies, Louis became interested in how cells protect their DNA, which led him to pursue his graduate studies under the supervision of Dr. Peter Stirling at UBC. His research uses CRISPR to uncover vulnerabilities of cancer cells to inform on new treatments. In addition to his research work, Louis-Alexandre has been extensively involved in student-led organizations and non-profits, and is an accomplished science communicator. His work has earned him multiple awards and distinctions, including the CIHR Master’s and Doctoral scholarships as well as the UBC Four Year Doctoral Fellowship.
Kevin Kasa is a graduate researcher (MASc) at the University of Guelph and Vector Institute, where he is working on developing uncertainty measures for artificial intelligence (AI) systems to ensure their safe deployment in safety-critical applications. He previously graduated with a B.Eng. in Aerospace Engineering from the Toronto Metropolitan University, where he contributed to research projects on robotics, satellite systems, and remote sensing. He also has experience developing AI systems for biomedical engineering at the Sunnybrook Research Institute, and Geo-intelligence at MDA.
In addition to fundamental scientific research, Kevin is also passionate about translating research efforts to real-world applications, and deep-tech entrepreneurship.
During his undergraduate, he co-founded and led a student-run startup developing high-payload & autonomous vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft. As a member of the Chief Science Advisor’s Youth Council, Kevin hopes to continue advocating for greater research and entrepreneurship opportunities for young Canadians across the country, as well as address pertinent questions on the rapidly growing impact of artificial intelligence.
Sarah is a PhD Student studying Biochemistry at the University of Ottawa. Her research investigates the use of yeast as a model organism to answer important questions about human disease and cancers. Outside of the lab, Sarah has been active in the science communication and science policy fields. For the last 5 years, she has been a volunteer and staff at the Canadian Science Policy Centre (CSPC) on their Editorial Committee, and has published the last 3 editions of the CSPC Magazine. Sarah is also the founder of the Ottawa Science Policy Network, a student-run club at the University of Ottawa. Sarah has recently become the Executive Director of Support Our Science, a grassroot organization advocating for increased funding for graduate students and postdocs in Canada.
Julia Messina-Pacheco is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Pathology at McGill University. Her research focuses on pancreatic cancer, the third-leading cause of cancer deaths in Canada. She is particularly interested in identifying cellular and molecular signaling events that lead to impaired regeneration and malignant transformation of pancreatic cells. Julia was awarded a Fonds de recherche de Québec – Santé doctoral scholarship for her research.
Beyond her studies, Julia holds leadership position in several graduate student-led committees where she advocates for effective scientific communication, increased funding for graduate and postdoctoral researchers, and sustainability in biomedical research. She firmly believes that sharing scientific knowledge beyond academic circles is crucial to promoting evidence-based policymaking. To this end, she serves as VP Editor at the Science & Policy Exchange (SPE), a non-profit organization led by early career researchers that seeks to bridge the gap between science, policy, and society.
As a member of the CSA-YC, Julia is eager to amplify the voices of young researchers and raise concerns that impact the next generation of scientists and innovators.
Kaela is a PhD student at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario studying genetic causes of rare neuromuscular disease. She is using stem cells to generate patient models so she can better understand what causes the disease and how to treat it. Kaela began working in research over 7 years ago, and has gained extensive experience across four labs, including a brief placement in Taiwan.
Kaela is enthusiastic about the idea of usable science and believes that science must be translated from labs to the public and political spheres. In pursuit of this, she has been involved in several science communication and science policy organizations, including co-founding the Ottawa Science Policy Network where she is currently the VP of Communications. As a graduate student she is passionate about both science for policy and policy for science movements, and how social issues can inform and be informed by science.
Nishi Patel is a Ph.D. candidate in virology at the University of Calgary and an incoming medical student at the University of Alberta. She is a two-time recipient of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research scholarships. Her research interests are in investigating the interactions between the immune system and the hepatitis B virus. Nishi aims to apply her research findings to develop a cure for hepatitis B infection. For over three years, she mentored the next generation of scientists, including those from minority groups. Nishi is regularly involved in science promotion as she hosts local and provincial science days and conferences. In addition to being a scientist, Nishi is also a patient advocate. She works directly with Alberta-based non-profit organizations, advocates, healthcare workers, and volunteers to empower patients and promote self-advocacy. Nishi also strives to increase awareness and resources toward meeting the non-medical needs of Albertans. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, kayaking, and hiking.
Teodora Riglea is a Ph.D. candidate at the École de santé publique de l'Université de Montréal in public health option epidemiology, and a research coordinator at the Centre de recherche du Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal since 2018. She is also a student and staff member of CELPHIE (Coalition for Early Life course studies supporting Public Health Intervention and Evaluation) which aims to develop, nurture, and expand Canadian expertise in studies of young people through novel analytic approaches and knowledge sharing. Her research focuses on the role of sedentary behaviours on mental health. She is interested in causal inference methods from observational data and longitudinal studies. She has published several peer-reviewed publications and represented her research team during their contribution to the recently released recommendations for screen time in youth in Québec.
Harsh, a Software Engineering Student at the University of Calgary, has grown up in Calgary, nurturing a fervent passion for the intersection of technology and policy. He has worked at LinkedIn, Dropbox & Demonware, where he focused on large-scale distributed systems and microservices architecture. He has past experience working as an Engineering Project Manager for the Canadian Space Agency where he was a part of the CanadaArm3 project.
While at the University of Calgary, he was a part of the Competitive Programming Club during which they were able to create a for-credit course to help fellow engineering students develop their programming skills. As a member of the Chief Science Advisor's Youth Council, Harsh envisions a future where Canada's youth are at the vanguard of technical innovation, empowered by well-crafted policies that foster growth and development.
Kartik is currently a MSc student in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia (UBC). His research is focused on applying quantitative research methods to study access to prescription medicines in Canada and global health workforce challenges. Alongside his academic work, he advances the use of evidence in decision-making with the McMaster Health Forum and is a Research Fellow with the Effective Institutions Project.
Prior to joining UBC, Kartik obtained a Bachelor of Arts and Science from McMaster University. He has also worked with the Office of the Presidency in South Africa and at a think tank in Argentina.
As member of the Chief Science Advisor’s Youth Council, Kartik hopes to explore how science can effectively inform decision-making about society’s most pressing challenges.
Pahul Singh began his undergraduate studies in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan in 2022. He is passionate about science and has already published a peer-reviewed paper on the role of ATPase in lung inflammation based on his high school research. He has received an NSERC-Undergraduate Student Research Award (2023) to work at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization. Pahul’s community work is dedicated to supporting food security for kids and families by volunteering with Brown Bagging for Calgary Kids and the local Sikh Gurudwara to raise funds for food banks. He is an avid Rubik’s cube solver with many top positions in Canadian national competitions and is among the top 100 globally in 6x6x6 cube. As a top debater at provincial levels, he has represented his province at Canadian Nationals four times. Pahul also enjoys playing video games with friends, playing tabla and taking his dog Boomrang on walks.
Matthew Taylor is a Master of Environment and Sustainability student at the University of Saskatchewan, where he also completed his Bachelor of Science in Engineering, majoring in chemical engineering. He thought he was going to end up in the oil and gas industry; however, after learning more about water insecurity in Indigenous communities in Canada, Matthew switched his areas of interest to water and the environment. Matthew splits his time between academia and practising as an engineer-in-training for Ensero Solutions, where he works to resolve water treatment and environmental issues.
Matthew’s research focuses on decision-making processes for drinking water treatment infrastructure in Indigenous communities in Canada. The current processes are one-size-fits-all and fail to address cultural and geographical contexts. Matthew is looking to the social sciences to see processes based on engineering and science such as these can be made more equitable and inclusive, particularly for Indigenous Peoples.
Anh-Khoi Trinh is a policy analyst at the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. He obtained his PhD in theoretical physics from McGill University, where he specialized in the study of conformal field theory and quantum gravity. Throughout his graduate studies, Anh-Khoi was driven to make science and research more equitable, diverse, inclusive, and accessible by encouraging the next generation to pursue careers in science, by improving physics course curricula, and by advocating for better policies in support of next-generation researchers. He now channels his experience as an Action Canada alumnus, a Mitacs Canadian Science Policy Fellow, and a former president and current board member of the Science & Policy Exchange to support the science policy community. His work has fueled his passion for supporting researchers and for strengthening the foundations of Canada's science, research, and innovation sectors.
Joshua is a recent PhD graduate from the University of Toronto where he studied the electrochemical conversion of CO2 into value-added chemicals and fuels in Professor Ted Sargent’s research group. Prior to his PhD, he completed a BASc in Nanotechnology Engineering from the University of Waterloo. His undergraduate internships and graduate school research trips have taken him across Canada and around the world to China, the US, and France. He now lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia and works as a Senior Techno-Economic Analyst at Twelve where he pursues the decarbonization of chemicals and aviation fuel.
Coming from a highly interdisciplinary research field – one that combines electrochemistry, engineering, materials science, and climate science – Joshua is practiced in communicating science to a variety of audiences and enjoys acting as a bridge between domains of knowledge. He is an advocate for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) principles in research spaces and hopes to contribute his expertise in emerging technologies for the fight against climate change.
CSA Youth Council Mentors
Justine Ammendolia (she/her) is a PhD student at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. Her research focuses on identifying plastic pollution sources, pathways and sinks in Eastern Canada. While completing her undergraduate at the University of Guelph in Zoology in 2014, she was awarded the National Geographic Young Explorer Grant to research Arctic seabirds in Eastern Greenland in an off-grid field location for 6 weeks. During this time, she fostered a deep passion for protecting the corners of our planet and their unique ecosystems, particularly those in our Northern environments. Justine completed her MSc in Marine Biology at Memorial University of Newfoundland and in 2017 helped develop the Placentia Bay Ocean Debris Survey, a research team focused on monitoring plastic pollution on the coastlines of Newfoundland. Using a combination of citizen science methods and working with locals, her work aimed to better understand the presence and movement of plastics in coastal waters. Justine is also passionate about sharing her knowledge and experiences in STEM with younger audiences and has keynoted a number of international youth leadership events and written science articles for students. Justine participated as a Youth Council Member for the Chief Science Advisor of Canada from 2020-23 and is currently a Mentor for the incoming Youth Council. She is an NSERC, Killam, Royal Canadian Geographic Society and Nova Scotia Graduate Scholar.
Born in Montréal, Mr. Dufour was educated at Concordia University, McGill University, Université de Montréal in the history of science and science policy and has had practical science & technology (S&T) policy experience for over three decades. Mr. Dufour is a Senior Fellow with the Institute for Science, Society and Policy, University of Ottawa.
Over the course of the past 35 years, Mr. Dufour has served as a senior adviser in science policy with several Canadian federal science ministers, agencies and organizations. He has served as a senior program specialist with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and interim Executive Director at the former Office of the National Science Advisor to the Canadian Government; advising on international S&T policies. Mr. Dufour was a member of the Science and Policy Exchange board, and was a member of the Gold Medal winning Canadian International Polar Year National Committee. Mr. Dufour is a member of the Executive Committee of Canadian Women in Science and Engineering, and is a senior editor for the FACETS science journal He has also served as an investment committee member for Grand Challenges Canada on global health for several years. He is a mentor to the Youth Council advising the Chief Science Advisor to the Government of Canada.
Mr. Dufour lectures regularly on science policy at national and international forums and has authored numerous articles on international S&T relations and Canadian innovation, science diplomacy and knowledge policy. He is the series co-editor of the Cartermill Guides to World Science and is the author of the Canada chapter for the UNESCO 2010, 2015 and 2021 Science Reports. More recently he has co-edited books on the history of the Science Council of Canada, as well as the speeches of Nobel Laureate Gerhard Herzberg on the value of science in society and culture.
Mr. Dufour was the first recipient of the Canadian Science Policy Centre (CSPC) award for Exceptional Contribution to Science Policy in 2019.
Dr. Landon J. Getz (He/Him, PhD) is a Gay/Queer man and a molecular bacteriologist specializing in Vibrio genetics. He is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto in the department of Biochemistry. Dr. Getz's research focuses on Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a foodborne human pathogen, and their cognate bacterial viruses, called bacteriophages. With his work, Dr. Getz hopes to develop phage therapy as a viable alternative to antibiotic resistant V. parahaemolyticus infections, in both humans and agriculturally important organisms. Dr. Getz is a CIHR Fellow and the Emerging Pandemic Infectious Disease Consortium's (EPIC) inaugural GSK Convergence Fellow. Dr. Getz is also an strong advocate for 2SLGBTQIA+ communities inside and outside Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), and has worked to enhance justice and belonging of this community by founding both Queer Atlantic Canadian STEM, and more recently, Pride in Microbiology. Landon is an alumnus of the inaugural Youth Council of the Chief Science Advisor of Canada, with a keen interest in developing science policy that encourages a more ethical and more inclusive path forward for Canadian science.
Chelsie Johnson is from Ajax, Ontario and she received her honours Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto, where she completed a double major in Psychology, and Health Studies, and a minor in Biology. She earned her Master of Public Health at the University of British Columbia (focusing on community engagement, epidemiology, and communicable diseases), and her Master of Disaster and Emergency Management from York University (focusing on public health disasters and building resilient communities). She also has certificates in Infection Prevention and Control, and Strategic Foresight. Chelsie has worked on various projects and initiatives including harm reduction projects, and testing & designing pandemic influenza plans. While in Vancouver, she co-developed a ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ workshop that is geared at introducing youth into the field of public health and outbreak investigation, which has been presented at events like the Gairdner Global Health Symposium. During the pandemic she has held multiple roles, including working in public health as a health emergency specialist, and serving as a researcher/science communicator with a grassroot public health group who aims to educate the public and counter misinformation. She is passionate about community-based approaches to health and emergency management; some of her current research projects include building resiliency in healthcare centres that provides care to underserved populations, and designing & hosting unique emergency management training opportunities. Most recently, Chelsie was appointed to serve as an Executive on the Board of Director for TAIBU Community Health Centre, a centre serving culturally affirming care to Black communities.
Dr. Rilling is a medical physicist and optical scientist by training, with a passion for science policy and diplomacy. She is now Executive Director of Optonique, a nonprofit dedicated to growing Québec’s and Canada’s photonics community and leveraging the enabling capabilities of light-based technologies. She acts at the interface between industry, academia and government, being involved in innovation, trade, workforce as well as diplomatic initiatives and policy development at the provincial and federal levels.
Madison holds a Joint Honours in Math and Physics (McGill University, 2014), Master’s in Medical Physics (ULaval, 2016) and a PhD in Physics (ULaval, 2020), after which she worked as a clinical medical physicist in radiation oncology. Parallel to her academic training, she was a student advisor to Québec’s Chief Scientist, acting as a strong advocate at the science and policy interface for the next generation of scientists. From 2016-2019, she was the sole student to sit on the Board of Directors of the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies, the province’s funding agency for natural sciences and engineering. From 2020-2023, she was a member of the Chief Science Advisor’s inaugural Youth Council. As an Optica Pivoting Fellow and GESDA alumni member, Madison pursues her commitment to advancing science beyond the bench. She namely contributes her expertise and experience as board member of Science & Policy Exchange and member of SPIE (The international society for optics and photonics)’s Engineering, Science & Technology Policy Committee. Over the years, Madison has dedicated herself to several initiatives for young girls and women in STEM as well as science outreach projects within her community.