Training the New Leaders in Science Policy
In 2015, I had an idea which I thought would make a positive difference to Canadians and wanted to act on it, but I wasn’t sure how my idea would be perceived and whether it was plausible. Receiving the 2016 Canadian Science Policy Award of Excellence (under 35 category) really opened the door for my policy idea to flourish. The win meant that my policy proposal now had credibility and was backed by Canada’s science community. This gave me the assurance and confidence I needed to start a national organization, Adverse Drug Reaction Canada (ADR Canada) (www.adrcanada.org) and my winning proposal became the foundation of the organization, which advocates for genetic testing to identify gene variants that causes ADRs, the creation of a national database to monitor and record ADRs, and the creation of an electronic medical record system. The Canadian Science Policy Award of Excellence is one of the primary reasons ADR Canada exists and it is the reason that one day, lives will be saved.
"There really is something unique about the Canadian Science Policy Conference's ability to deliver such a valuable experience to each of our volunteers. Ultimately, I think it's because CSPC cares a lot about making sure volunteers get an opportunity to learn, develop, work on interesting projects, and do it all within the constraints of their existing professional and academic responsibilities. As Chair of the CSPC Outreach Committee, it's been a great privilege to see how the experience helps our volunteers create new knowledge, relationships, career opportunities, and personal growth – and to experience those growth opportunities myself."
There is a different kind of energy at the Canadian Science Policy Center (CSPC) conference: ideas flow, connections made, interdisciplinary collaboration – electric! I learned about the CSPC 2017 Science Policy Competition through the Canadian Association of Postdoctoral Scholars, and was intrigued by the prospect of creating a Pan-Canadian policy. My main interest is improving mental health outcomes for all members in our community, with specific focus on early identification and intervention. As such, this was an excellent opportunity to share a framework to streamline need, availability of appropriate services, and access. I entered this competition as a way to do my part; to bring mental health to the
forefront. I did not expect to be awarded runner-up for this policy, not because of the content but, because of the nature of the topic. Much time is spent talking about the importance of mental health; however, few resources are allocated toward actual change. As a pragmatist and advocate, this is frustrating. The CSPC has provided an outlet for actual change and I feel honored to be a part of it.
“As a first time volunteer, I was blown away by the high quality and scale of the CSPC. It is a unique platform for the scientific leaders in Canada to engage with important policymakers such as the chief science advisor and ministers. It was rewarding for the volunteers to see our work pay off at the conference - volunteers had the opportunity to meet and network with their panelists and interviewees. We were also exposed to diverse areas of science policy. This experience provided insights to careers in science policy and the intersections between science, society, and policy. Attending the CSPC heightened my realization of how important it is for scientists and policymakers to have increased contact so that the decision-making of governments is evidence-based. The CSPC is one event where this can happen, but there should be more official venues for scientists to liaise with politicians and the media.
Attending the CSPC also exposed me to how little scientists know about policy for science. The traditional view of science policy by scientists is of using science to inform policy-making. However, it is clear that systems for research and knowledge need to be informed by evidence as well. Surprisingly, many research institutes and funding agencies do not necessarily use data to design and implement policies for scientific productivity, integrity, and equity. The CSPC helps to generate awareness and much needed dialogue about policy for science. This has a great impact on the careers of thousands of scientists in the country.
I will definitely be back to volunteer for the next CSPC!”
“Having volunteered for CSPC for a couple of years now, I can attest to the fact that in Canada, right now, this is the only unique platform available to young scientists - especially those who are considering careers beyond academia in general, and science policy in particular. With so many networking opportunities and a plethora of science policy related topics, I found this conference to be an eye opener in navigating my career outside research. I truly recommend this conference to anyone interested in understanding the Canadian Science Policy landscape. You will not be disappointed!”
“My experience as a CSPC 2017 volunteer was incredible. I think that the success of this conference can be boiled down to one sentiment; inclusion. I was immediately accepted and felt like part of the team.
The effects of this philosophy are also reflected in the attitudes of the delegates and the atmosphere of the conference. This is why I think this conference, and community are thriving and why its aptitude to tackle meaningful problems will continue to improve.
I learned a great deal at CSPC and I am currently thinking about ways that I can improve science literacy in my community. I meet amazing people and grew my professional network. In particular, meeting and working alongside bright and kind volunteers and organizers was a highlight.
I hope to continue to contribute to this amazing community.”
“CSPC 2017 provided me with an opportunity to engage in discussions with experts working on the interconnectivity of research science and science policy. I was impressed with the number of organizations who function to bring these communities closer together. Personally, the event was inspiring as both a scientist and as a citizen, because there was an emphasis on understanding how science and policy can serve to address serious global challenges. I look forward to helping the conference grow and I will continue to support the importance of science towards forming public policy.”
It was a fantastic experience - I'm so happy to have had the opportunity to volunteer at CSPC2017. As a scientist it was exciting to meet everyone from all sectors and I realized quickly that we have a strong support system right here in Canada within the scientific community. Members who have been in the field and have diverse academic and industrial expertise made us new members feel welcome, valued, and included in conversations. It was icing on the cake being in the same space as our new Governor General, Minister of Science, and Chief Scientist - hearing their objectives in ensuring more equity diversity and inclusivity is maintained at every level. And lastly a true pleasure meeting and interacting with fellow volunteers, new friends. Can't wait to attend it next year!
I had an amazing time at the 9th annual Canadian Science Policy Conference (#CSPC2017) this week in Ottawa. Between reconnecting with friends and meeting new colleagues, CSPC provided a welcoming and diverse group of professionals from a variety of academic backgrounds with the goal of advancing science, innovation, and collaboration. I enjoyed attending sessions on topics such as science culture, science diplomacy, the scientific paper of the future, and of course, science communication.
In his message from the president, Mehrdad Hariri stated: "An innovative, efficient, and dynamic community requires systematic channels of communication and collaboration to reach our goal for effective production and use of scientific knowledge for policies for the well-being of all Canadians." Personally, I am very excited to be studying the organization of this community and the network of science communication in Canada and couldn't be more thankful to the Canadian Science Policy Conference organizers, volunteers, and participants for facilitating this research.
See everyone next year!
“As someone not established in the science community CSPC really opened my eyes to a lot of possibilities and interests that I had abandoned long ago.
Professionally, participating as a volunteer at CSPC 2017 gave me experience in helping to run a conference significantly larger than any I have worked on before. It also gave me the confidence to sit with guests and confidently interview them either with prepared questions or on the fly.”