TSPN Panel: Introduction to Science Advocacy

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Join us for a moderated panel and Q&A focusing on what science advocacy entails and how scientists at any career stage can get involved.

About this event

Engaging in advocacy allows for scientists to advance the issues they care about and catalyze systemic policy changes. There are varying levels by which scientists can engage in advocacy work, from writing occasional letters to Members of Parliament (MPs) to pursuing careers dedicated to science advocacy. The goal of this panel is to: (1) provide an introduction into what science advocacy is and (2) highlight how scientists at any career stage, including trainees, can get involved in science advocacy.

We are excited to be hosting Dr. Aaron Maxwell, Prof. Mark Lautens, and Ms. Farah Qaiser with moderation from science journalist Mr. Brian Owens. The panel will include a moderated discussion as well as live Q&A on Thursday January 20th from 5-7pm EST.

Everyone is welcome to attend — regardless of whether you are currently a student, working, or anywhere in between. No previous expertise required!

About Our Speakers:

Dr. Aaron Maxwell, Panelist

Aaron Maxwell is a data scientist and science communicator. He completed his doctoral degree in astrophysics at McMaster University, where he studied the formation of galaxies. He is currently a Mitacs Canadian Science Policy Fellow hosted at the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada in the Office of the Chief Data Officer. Previously, he was a data scientist at Paladin AI, where he used machine learning to assist in the training of aircraft pilots. Throughout his studies, Aaron developed an interest in knowledge translation and science policy, working as a senior executive responsible for graduate student health policy and delivering science outreach programs to historically-excluded groups in remote communities. Over the years, he has continued to work and volunteer for various organizations, including the Canadian Science Policy Conference, Canada Learning Code, the Council of Canadian Academies, and as a science presenter on the TVOntario show “Blynk & Aazoo”.

Prof. Mark Lautens, Panelist

Mark Lautens was born in Hamilton, attended the University of Guelph for undergraduate studies, and completed a PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Following postdoctoral research at Harvard University he joined the faculty of the Chemistry Department at the University of Toronto in 1987. He holds the rank of University Professor (top 2% of faculty at UofT) as well as an Endowed Chair and a Distinguished Chair. His research is focused on improving routes to the synthesis of pharmaceuticals though catalytic chemical reactions. He has mentored 200 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in his career. In the past few years he has written a number of Opinion pieces in the Globe and Mail and Toronto Star. He has also presided at nearly 100 Citizenship ceremonies (in-person and virtual). He has been recognized in various ways including as an Officer of the Order of Canada, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and Killam Research Fellow.

Ms. Farah Qaiser, Panelist

Farah Qaiser is the Director of Research and Policy at Evidence for Democracy – a non-partisan non-profit promoting the transparent use of evidence in government decision-making in Canada. In 2020, Farah completed a Master of Science at the University of Toronto’s Department of Molecular Genetics, where she carried out DNA sequencing to better understand neurological disorders. During her Master’s, Farah co-founded the Toronto Science Policy Network (TSPN). As TSPN’s President (2019-20), Farah led the team through the Vote Science campaign during the 2019 federal elections, and later, a Canada-wide COVID-19 Graduate Student survey. She has written about science for various media outlets and led Wikipedia Edit-A-Thons to create pages about under-represented scientists. Currently, Farah serves on the Canada Chief Science Advisor's inaugural Youth Council, and 500 Women Scientists' leadership team.

Mr. Brian Owens, Moderator

Brian is an experienced science journalist and editor who spent 8 years in London working as the online news editor for the journal Nature and as a reporter and news editor for the influential policy magazines Research Fortnight and Research Europe. Since 2012 he has been working as a freelance writer and editor for Nature, New Scientist, Science, and Hakai Magazine, among others. In 2019 he won a National Magazine Award for best news story for an article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, and in 2021 published his first book, Lyme Disease in Canada.

About the Toronto Science Policy Network:

The Toronto Science Policy Network is a student-run science policy group which provides a platform to learn more about and engage in science policy. Since July 2018, we have organized a variety of events (including workshops, public panels and talks) and advocacy efforts, engaging over 300 individuals to date. While we are a recognized campus group at the University of Toronto, we welcome members outside the university to join. Everyone is welcome, regardless of whether you study or actively work in the sciences, social sciences, or humanities.

Code of Conduct

TSPN is dedicated to providing a harassment-free event experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, religion (or lack thereof), or technology choices. We do not tolerate harassment of TSPN volunteers or event participants in any form. Sexual language and imagery are not appropriate for any TSPN activities, including meetings, talks, workshops, parties, events, Twitter, and other online media. Individuals violating these rules may be sanctioned or asked to leave the event at the discretion of the event organizers.

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Organizer Toronto Science Policy Network

Organizer of TSPN Panel: Introduction to Science Advocacy

The Toronto Science Policy Network aims to provide a platform for students (graduate and undergraduate) as well as Post Doctoral researchers at the University of Toronto to learn more about and engage in science policy.

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