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OCSA's Youth Council (CSA-YC)

Canada’s Chief Science Advisor, Dr. Mona Nemer, was thrilled to receive 1,115 applications for her inaugural 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.

Below are the selected Chief Science Advisor’s Youth Council (CSA-YC) Members.

The mandate of our 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

We are excited to work with bright young minds across the country and we hope to share with you their work soon.

Keeley Aird

Keeley Aird, 18, is the co-founder of STEM Kids Rock, a not-for-profit that empowers youth of all ages and abilities to engage their peers in STEM. She’s an accomplished science communicator, workshop facilitator, and mentor. Keeley is the recipient of the 2019 TD Community Leader Scholarship, graduate of the Ontario Science Centre Science School’s Semester 73, Ontario Science Centre Student Host, role model for the See It, Be it, STEM IT 2020 Calendar, video host for Girl Guides of Canada’s STEM series, proud member of the Toronto FC Special Olympics Unified Team and a Guinness World Record Title Holder for the World’s Largest Water Rocket. Keeley Aird is pursuing her Bachelor of Science degree at McMaster University and is in her first year of Chemical and Physical Sciences.

Justine Ammendolia

Justine Ammendolia is a marine biologist, plastic pollution researcher and science communicator based out of Toronto, 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 Artic 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. Since completing her MSc. in Marine Biology at Memorial University of Newfoundland in 2017, Justine 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. Through her research and communication, Justine aims to inspire others to care about protecting our aquatic environments to broad audiences.

Marie-Eve Boulanger

Marie-Eve is a PhD candidate in physics at the Institut Quantique of the Université de Sherbrooke. As a scientist, she is curious and seeks to understand and solve complex problems in solid state physics. Her research project, for which she is a recipient of the Alexander Graham Bell Fellowship, focuses on the fundamental study of the thermal and electrical transport properties of quantum materials.

In addition to her studies in experimental physics and her participation in international conferences, she’s involved in the promotion of science as a woman in physic advocates. As a co-organizer of the Women in Physics Canada 2018 conference, organizer of several international summer schools of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, volunteer at outreach science activities and workshop, she wants to make physics shine and make it accessible to all. Currently, she is in charge of the internal affairs of the Diversity Committee of the Physics Department of the Université de Sherbrooke, a group that promotes diversity in physics and science.

Her involvement has earned her several awards and distinctions, including a Mérite Estrien in the Youth category in 2019, the Inspiration Award from the Institut Quantique 2019 and the Prix Forces AVENIR 2019, in the Science and Technological Applications category.

Andréa Cartile

Andréa Cartile is a Mechanical Engineering PhD student at Concordia University, specializing in aerospace certification and compliance. Born and raised in Montréal, Andréa took an early interest in the sciences, and spent most of her adolescence engaged in work and volunteering in the animal health industry. Upon graduating from a bachelor’s degree in Biology, she decided to switch fields by pursuing a second undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering, and has been studying in the field ever since.

Her interest in science and policy has developed throughout her graduate school experience and involvement in the aerospace sector. Supervised by Dr. Catharine Marsden, Dr. Susan Liscouët-Hanke; and funded by NCADE and recipient of the Hydro-Québec Doctoral Scholarship, Andréa conducts industry-based research that has allowed her to gain experience in both industry and academia within the context of aircraft certification. She hopes to pursue a career that intersects research, industry, teaching, and promoting hands-on experiential learning.

Andréa enjoys reading, binge-watching TV, working with horses, and practicing martial arts.

Erin Crockett

Erin is researcher at McGill University, working towards his PhD in Natural Resource Sciences. He comes from an interdisciplinary background, merging perspectives from ecology, geography, and environmental sciences. Erin applies recent theoretical developments in these fields to research questions with direct application to human well-being. His current research focuses on three main questions: (1) how are ecological communities changing? (2) how might these changes impact human communities and human well-being? (3) how can we manage landscapes so that both people and nature can thrive? To address these questions, he has spent time conducting field work in Canada’s forests, using statistics and machine learning to analyze big data, and applying mathematical optimization techniques to conduct spatial planning assessments. Erin has worked in science education for several years, mentoring and inspiring the next generation of scientists and innovators. Erin looks forward to serving on the Chief Science Officer’s Youth Council, and bringing thoughtful scientific recommendations and youth perspectives to improve the future of science and technology in Canada.

Landon Getz

Landon grew up in Medicine Hat, Alberta and moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia to pursue undergraduate and graduate training at Dalhousie University. Landon began doctoral studies in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology with Dr. Nikhil Thomas in 2017. His doctoral thesis is exploring a group of ocean bacteria called Vibrio and their interactions with both agriculturally important animals and humans. Landon’s work is aimed at better understanding these organism’s biology to better predict how their interactions with us and our economy might be altered under climate change. Beyond his studies, Landon is an active member of the LGBTQ+ community having founded Queer Atlantic Canadian Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (QAtCanSTEM), a community building initiative designed to bring together queer scientists from across Atlantic Canada and increase their visibility in STEM. It is Landon’s belief that science does not exist outside of people, and as scientists we have a duty to make science as diverse and inclusive as possible.

As both a Vanier Scholar and Killam Laureate, Landon has broad interests in science and its responsible use in society, having authored a number of articles focused on dual-use research, and the ethics of genome editing in nature and in humans.

Sara Guzman

Sara Guzman currently works at the intersection of drug policy research and applied chemistry as a Drug Checking Technician. Sara provides front-line drug checking services to people who use drugs on the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. As a Vancouver Island University (VIU) graduate, who majored in biology and minored in chemistry, Sara is also developing low-cost, microwave-assisted esterification experiments. These experiments can be used to teach fundamental chemistry techniques in areas that may not have access to full chemistry labs. Sara's capstone undergraduate chemistry project involved the synthesis and characterization of crown and aza-crown ethers. Additionally, her graduating research project in biology titled “Evaluation of lactase potential of selected yogurts,” won her the Outstanding Biology 491 Independent Research Award. She has recently presented at the Conference on Postsecondary Learning and Teaching on her involvement in Peer-to-peer Supported Learning at VIU, where she coordinated teaching sessions of introductory chemistry and biology classes. Outside of her studies and career, Sara enjoys painting, hot yoga, and scuba diving. Sara is originally from Bogota, Colombia but currently lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. In the future, Sara will pursue graduate studies in toxicology.

Amelia Hunter

Amelia Hunter is originally from Timmins, Ontario. She moved to Ottawa to pursue studies in Biotechnology at Algonquin College. She hopes to continue to pursue her studies in Science.

She hopes to contribute to building programs and efforts centered on encouraging Indigenous students from the Hudson and James Bay to pursue STEM education.

Natasha Jakac-Sinclair

Coming from the beautiful Sea to Sky of Vancouver, Natasha Jakac-Sinclair has two interdisciplinary degrees that bridge the gap between health sciences and the policy landscape. She holds an Honors BSc in Biology from McMaster University and an MSc in International Health Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Sciences in the UK. Natasha has developed a strong sense of business acumen with an ability to communicate the technical details of scientific evidence as implementable solutions throughout various roles within the life science sector. These include roles as a myDNA technician, a health economics and outcomes research intern, and more recently as a market access and drug reimbursement specialist. Natasha was also President of the General Assembly at the WIMUN conference at the UN in New York.

Natasha is proficient in four languages and has travelled to 45 countries. She enjoys playing volleyball, cooking up a mean schnitzel, and hiking. Natasha believes one of the most pressing issues in sciences today is the way government manages the introduction of new and innovative therapeutics and retains R&D value. She is excited to be a member of CSA-YC to make healthcare triple A status: affordable, available, and accessible.

Chelsie Johnson

Chelsie Johnson 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. During her undergraduate degree she was a research assistant at The Hospital for Sick Children, and a student researcher paired with the Canadian Centre for Refugee and Immigrant Health Care. She also served on the Youth Engagement Advisory Committee for her hometown of Ajax, Ontario. Chelsie moved to Vancouver, British Columbia where she completed her Master of Public Health at the University of British Columbia, focusing in community engagement, epidemiology, and communicable diseases. During this time, she worked on harm reduction projects, as well as pandemic influenza plans. She also worked with a WHO collaborating centre for global health research initiatives, looking at how the mental health of health care workers impacts patient outcomes. 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. Chelsie is currently a Master of Disaster and Emergency Management candidate at York University where she focuses on public health disasters, and building resilient communities. Her current research looks at building resiliency in healthcare centres that serve marginalized populations.

Max King

Max King, from Edmonton, Alberta, is an engineer currently working on the next generation of space exploration with MDA in Toronto. Max completed his undergraduate degree in Materials Engineering from the University of Alberta, and is a candidate for a Master’s in Applied Science from the University of Toronto in Aerospace Engineering (2020). With time spent abroad working with the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), and here in Canada working on satellites and Canadarm2, he has been a part of Canada’s role in the science and space community internationally.

Throughout his studies and early career, Max has worked to bring science to everyone. With volunteer work at observatories, classroom workshops, and public lectures, Max has instilled a passion for science, as well as the exciting vision he has for Canada’s role in the scientific world. The world is becoming increasingly connected, and the impact of science and society on one another is becoming increasingly influential. Max hopes to capture the voice of youth and to engage all Canadians in the excitement of modern science, especially Canada’s emerging role in the exploration of outer space.

Audrey Laventure

Audrey Laventure is a postdoctoral fellow and NSERC fellow in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Calgary. Her research career has led to the publication of 22 scientific papers and 55 presentations at national and international conferences. Her expertise lies at the intersection of physical and materials chemistry. She completed her Ph.D. as an NSERC Vanier Scholar at the Université de Montréal, where she was awarded the Governor General's Gold Medal, as well as the Best Thesis Award from the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. She was awarded the André Beauchamp Award for her excellence in teaching, throughout her academic career she has demonstrated a keen interest in new teaching and learning methods. Committed, Audrey is regularly involved in the promotion of science and mentoring activities. She is also the first Innovation Postdoctoral Fellow in the Faculty of Science at the University of Calgary - an award highlighting her involvement in the world of technology transfer, both at the doctoral level (Technopreneur program at the Poly-UdeM Entrepreneurship Centre) and at the postdoctoral level (Energy Innovator program at Innovate Calgary).

Chedi Mbaga

Chedi Mbaga is an Applebanks Loran Scholar at the University of New Brunswick, where he is pursuing a BSc in Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering. Beyond his studies in the orientation of objects in space, Chedi is passionate about inclusive innovation and social finance, particularly how both can be leveraged for increased development in underinvested communities. These interests are informed by his past work with Calgary Economic Development – a not-for-profit corporation, where he co-authored a report on the untapped potential of the data analytics space in Calgary. And with LEAP | Pecaut Centre for Social Impact – a non-profit organization, where he supported the identification and scaling of breakthrough social ventures.

Over the years, Chedi has actively sought opportunities to serve his community. Most recently, he has served as the Chair of the UNB Engineering Endowment Fund and the Outreach Director of the UNB International Swim program, a group that offers free survival swim lessons to refugee and immigrant families. Through the Chief Science Advisor’s Youth Council, Chedi hopes to contribute Science Advice recommendations by exploring the link between policy and equality of opportunity and outcomes in STEM fields. The eldest of five, Chedi is 20 years old and from Toronto, Ontario.

Taylor Morriseau

Taylor Morriseau is a PhD Candidate and CIHR Vanier Scholar at the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba. As a member of the Diabetes Research Envisioned and Accomplished in Manitoba (DREAM) theme, she investigates gene-environment interactions underlying early-onset type 2 diabetes among Indigenous youth. As incidences in Manitoba parallel rising food insecurity, she has a particular interest in traditional Indigenous foods for mitigating diabetes onset.

Taylor is proud to represent her own community, Peguis First Nation in her commitment to Indigenous health, political advocacy, and mentorship to uplift the next generation. Outside the lab, she was selected for the Daughters of the Vote National Leadership Forum, offered an address to the Parliamentary Health Research Caucus, and recently testified to the Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples at Indigenize the Senate. Across all forums, she advocates for investments in health research, improved water security in First Nations communities, and access to culturally-safe traditional foods.

In 2019, she was recognized by WXN as Canada's Most Powerful Women Top 100 and by Corporate Knights Top 30 under 30 Sustainability Leaders. She continues to utilize this platform to engage on Indigenous rights at the local, national, and international levels.

Sophie Poirier

Sophie Poirier is a French Canadian from Montreal. She is fluent in French, English and Spanish. Since she was young, she has been involved in various sports and extracurricular activities. She was president of her high school Student Council and is currently the editor of her CEGEP’s student newspaper. Her involvement in her school has earned her the Lieutenant Governor's medal. She is currently studying at the college level health sciences at Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf. Sophie is a student who is passionate about the ethical and legal aspects of science as well as new discoveries in chemistry and biology. For the past two summers, she has worked in the kidney transplant laboratory at the CRCHUM in Montreal. In terms of political work, she became involved in politics during her participation in the Forum for Young Canadians, a week-long cross-Canada internship in Ottawa that allowed her to discover the inner workings of Canadian politics. In her spare time, Sophie is a member of a soccer team and enjoys skiing in the winter. With her appointment to the Chief Science Advisor’s Youth Council, she hopes to promote the importance of women in science and to encourage them to continue their involvement in this sector.

Farah Qaiser

Farah Qaiser is a scientist, science communicator and science advocate. Farah is currently a graduate student at the University of Toronto’s Department of Molecular Genetics, where she uses DNA sequencing to better understand complex neurological disorders, including epilepsy and Autism Spectrum Disorder. When not in the lab, Farah is involved in various science outreach, policy and communication initiatives in an effort to build an engaging and inclusive science culture here in Canada. She has shared her science journey with diverse audiences, including venues such as Story Collider, the Ontario Science Centre, and the Royal Canadian Institute for Science. Of note, Farah writes stories about science and scientists for various media outlets, has led Wikipedia Edit-A-Thons to address the encyclopedia’s gender biases, and is one of the co-founders of the Toronto Science Policy Network (a student science policy group based at the University of Toronto).

Madison Rilling

By day, Madison is an early-career medical physicist working in radiation oncology at the Centre régional intégré de cancérologie, a new cancer treatment centre located in Lévis, Québec. By night, she is finishing her PhD in Physics at Université Laval. Her research, midway between the lab and the clinic, combines an expertise in optical engineering and medical physics to develop new clinical tools for measuring radiation doses delivered during cancer treatments. Parallel to her academic training, Madison has been involved in the worlds of science administration and science policy. From 2016 to 2019, she was a student advisor to Québec’s Chief Scientist, which enabled her to be a strong advocate for the next generation of scientists. During this time, she was also 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 science and engineering. Over the years, she has dedicated herself to several initiatives for young girls and women in STEM as well as science outreach projects within her community. With her passion and experience, Madison is enthusiastic to provide council to the CSA by collaborating with and learning from a dynamic and diverse team of young Canadians.

Ali Sbayte

A driven professional, with a degree with distinction in Electrical Engineering focused on Power and Renewable Energy, he likes the sweet spot between engineering, policies and business development. He aims to be part of the world’s transition to sustainability.

As an individual who enjoys technology and loves to discover, he completed a work-term in Japan and gained technical expertise in the field of autonomous driving development. As an avid team player with strong leadership skills in project development and management as well as in technical expertise, he is working on a project at a startup developing a 100% fully electric urban truck.

With a solid commitment to growing his community, Ali has volunteered in multiple facets. Today, he is an active member of the Regional Committee of Montreal of the Order of Engineers of Quebec where he serves on the board with a mandate to design an annual regional business plan and organize and animate activities for the tasks of Fostering the profession, Professional development and Informative engineering meetings. Moreover, he takes initiative at Énergie Solaire Québec as a renewable energy promoter and educator to the general public.

Today, he has the opportunity to sit on Canada’s Chief Science Advisor’s Youth Council and will commit to best serve and advise the council on key challenges facing the public and the Canadian science community.

Molly Meng Hua Sung

Molly Sung completed her BSc in Chemistry from the University of British Columbia in 2014. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Toronto where her work focusses on streamlining the design of materials used in the conversion of carbon dioxide (CO2) to methanol as a renewable fuel.

In 2018, she co-founded the Toronto Science Policy Network (TSPN), a student group that provides a platform for the University of Toronto community to learn about science policy. She founded an initiative through the Chemical Institute of Canada to engage political candidates about science policy and has penned various articles calling for stronger civic engagement from the science community and increased support for fundamental research. She is an advocate for evidence-informed policies and has experience writing science platforms and providing science advice to political campaigns.

Arthur Van Havre

Arthur graduated from McGill University in 2017 with a Joint Honours degree in Philosophy and Political Science. He is now as an artificial intelligence (AI) consultant at IVADO Labs where he works alongside world-class computer science professors, data scientists, and engineers to develop machine learning (ML) and operations research (OR) solutions for enterprise clients across Canada and the world. Prior to joining IVADO Labs, Arthur was part of Trindent consulting, a Toronto-based operations consultancy specialized in the energy, financial services, and healthcare sectors.

During his studies at McGill, Arthur focused his research on commercial theory and was a fellow of the Research Group on Constitutional Studies. He was involved with the Philosophy Student Association and McMUN. Following graduation, he became a member of the early admission MBA program of the IESE Business School in Barcelona, Spain.

Arthur is passionate about innovation, design, and education. As part of the CSA youth council, he hopes to promote scientific research and industry-driven value creation within projects aiming at social progress.

CSA Youth Council Mentors

Rackeb Tesfaye

Rackeb Tesfaye is a Science Communication Lecturer and a PhD Candidate in Neuroscience at McGill University. In 2017, she founded Broad Science, an initiative dedicated to making science inclusive, engaging, and intersectional through podcasting. Rackeb can be found talking about new scientific discoveries and the impact of science in society as a columnist for CBC Radio in Montreal. She is also a vocal advocate for access to science communication training and increasing diverse representation and equitable practices in STEM. She is the co-founder of ComSciCon Canada and #BlackInNeuro. Rackeb acts as a mentor for Canada’s Chief Scientist’s Youth Council and serves on the committee for various science communication organizations, including Falling Walls Engage and the SciComm Training Network.

Paul Dufour

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.

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 is a member of the Science and Policy Exchange board, and was a member of the Gold Medal winning Canadian International Polar Year National Committee. 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 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 2010and 2015 Science Reports. He has authored the Canada chapter for UNESCO’s forthcoming 2020 science report. 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 CSPC award for Exceptional Contribution to Science Policy in 2019.

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