#SWCCan2017 is over. But hold the date for our 47th Annual Conference

#SWCCan2018 April 12-14 in Vancouver BC

46th Annual Conference

September 13-16, 2017

Ottawa, Ontario



The Science Writers and Communicators of Canada annual conference takes place in Ottawa from September 13 to 16, 2017, hosted by Canada’s International Development Research Centre.  The theme of this year’s conference is The People behind the Story.

The SWCC 2017 conference will explore the important and changing roles of journalists, communicators, scientists, artists, and knowledge mobilizers and translators, and how we can work effectively together to promote scientific literacy and demonstrate the value of science.

The Science Writers and Communicators of Canada - formerly the Canadian Science Writers Association - has a renewed mandate to embrace all professionals with a passion for communicating science.  Come join us in Ottawa to learn more!  

About the Program

Our new program approach is designed to appeal to four participant streams: journalists, communicators, scientists, and knowledge mobilizers and translators (KMBs). There will be plenary sessions that are relevant to all participants and small group, hands-on workshops for each stream.

Sessions will explore:

  • local science
  • technological how-to’s (podcasting, video, twitter);
  • how journalists, communicators, scientists, and KMBs can and do work together; and,
  • emerging trends in social media, journalism and communications;

Sessions will be delivered in a variety of formats, including keynote speakers, panel presentations, workshops, and the ever-popular science speed-dating session, this year with IDRC research staff.     


 We're sold out and registration is closed. 

pdf of the program with additional logistical information for delegates

 is available here

Follow us @SWC_Can 


Note: All sessions take place at IDRC, 150 Kent Street, Ottawa

Program at a Glance

Day 4: Saturday, September 16 - Field Trips 9:00 a.m. - 4:45 p.m.

Day 1, Wednesday Sept 13

8th floor IDRC, 150 Kent St. Ottawa

8:00-8:45 registration and continental breakfast

8:45-9:00 welcome

9:00-10:30 am, 1.1 Navigating a changing media environment (Hopper Room)

Navigating a changing media environment

The media environment is changing rapidly. What can journalists and media outlets do to keep their heads above water — and what can PR specialists and communicators do to help? Learn more about how both worlds can work together effectively to promote scientific literacy and demonstrate the value of science.

Steven Morris has more than 25 years’ experience in the communications field. He worked as a freelance writer in Montreal before joining Radio-Canada as a radio reporter in Atlantic Canada, Montreal and Ottawa.  Steven then became a communications specialist for the Canadian International Development Agency, the Canadian Red Cross and Global Affairs Canada. He joined the International Development Research Centre in 2016. @IDRC_CRDI

Scott Hannant is passionate about the power of video to tell stories. Hannant Media Solution, his production and consulting company, specializes in video storytelling.  His clients include IDRC and Aga Khan Foundation Canada.He also teaches video journalism at Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication. Scott was executive producer and news director of CTV/CJOH in Ottawa for 16 years. He credits fair, balanced and compelling storytelling with making the station’s news programs number one in their time slots and earning them some of the highest per capita ratings in North America.

Elizabeth Payne is an award-winning journalist who writes about health, science and other issues for the Ottawa Citizen. She recently travelled to Guinea, West Africa to write about the impact of the Ebola vaccine VSV-EBOV — which was developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada — on countries devastated by the virus. She has also travelled to Northern Canada to write about mental health issues in First Nations communities. She has also focused on palliative care and Canada’s new assisted dying laws. @egpayne

Marie Lambert-Chan is the editor-in-chief of Québec Science, the award-winning and only scientific magazine aimed at the general public in Quebec and Canada. Following a bachelor's degree in communications (journalism) from the Université du Québec à Montréal, she worked as a freelance journalist before being hired as a writer/videographer by the Université de Montréal’s Forum magazine. After six years of covering researchers' latest breakthroughs at UdeM, she returned to freelance journalism in 2013. Since then, her articles have been published in La PresseLe DevoirUniversity AffairsELLE Québec and, of course, Québec Science. @MLambertChan

10:30–11 a.m. Break

11–12:30 p.m.   

1.2a Visualizing data: Storytelling in a sea of information (Hopper Room) 

1.2b Science communications 101 (Lester Pearson Boardroom)    

Visualizing data: Storytelling in a sea of information 

Effective science communication often involves presenting data in an accessible way. But with an ever-growing set of tools, techniques and approaches to storytelling at our disposal — from infographics to data mining to digital mapping — it can be difficult for science communicators to know the best way to present their data. In this panel, a data journalist, a creative director and a statistician will present their thoughts, tips and techniques for effective science communication in a data-heavy world.

David McKie (CBC); Artist/scientst Julia Krolik; Shirley MillsDouglas Keddy (UWO) to moderate.

David McKie is a journalist in CBC News’ parliamentary bureau who uses open-data websites and access-to-information laws to find stories. In 2008, he was part of a team that won the Michener Award for its coverage of Tasers. He is also the recipient of several Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) awards. David has co-authored five books, including The Data Journalist and Your Right To Privacy. David teaches journalism part-time at Carleton University and the University of King’s College. He produces Media magazine for the CAJ. @mckiedavid

Julia Krolik is a creative director, entrepreneur, scientist and award-winning artist. Her diverse background enables a rare cross-disciplinary empathy, and she continuously advocates for both art and science through several initiatives. Julia is the founder of Art the Science, a non-profit organization dedicated to facilitating artist residencies in scientific research laboratories to foster Canadian science-art culture and expand scientific knowledge communication to benefit the public. Through her consulting agency, Julia works with private and public organizations, helping them with outreach, data visualization and knowledge mobilization, often utilizing creative technology and skills-transfer workshops. @yuliakrolik

Shirley Mills has been a professor of mathematics and statistics since 1971. An expert in the analysis of complex, massive data sets, she has taught extensively on applied statistics and computing and given numerous invited lectures on these topics. In addition, she has supervised over 80 graduate students. Her teaching excellence has been recognized with numerous awards. She developed the first Canadian graduate university course in statistical data mining over 20 years ago and currently has several graduate students in predictive analytics.


Douglas Keddy has been Western University’s research communications manager since 2004. He helps coordinate communications, storytelling and marketing activities that position the university’s research activities locally, nationally and internationally. Increasingly, he finds himself supporting initiatives within the research development and research services portfolios, in addition to traditional communications efforts. Over the past decade, Douglas has also led a series of capacity-building initiatives around the world on Western’s behalf, including several communications-related volunteer roles in Asia and Africa.

Science communications 101

Journalists, government communicators and researchers all face pressures to make science interesting, accessible and relevant. This session will serve as an introduction to science communications. We will talk about science literacy and explore what makes good science versus junk science. We will also look at strategies for communicating complex scientific concepts and findings, and address challenges in communicating about topics such as climate change, where belief systems can interfere with the interpretation of evidence. In an age of “fake news” and belief-as-fact, communicating science to a global audience is more important than ever.   

Leah Jurkovic is the director of communications and stakeholder engagement at Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan), the national association of public colleges, institutes, CEGEPs and polytechnics. Leah leads the team responsible for positioning CICan’s members as global leaders. Previously, Leah worked for a number of organizations, including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) as the associate scientific director of the Institute of Health Services and Policy Research, and as senior advisor of knowledge translation.@LeahJurkovic

12:30–1:30 p.m.  Lunch

1:30–3 p.m.   1.3 IDRC World Café (Hopper and Lester Pearson Rooms)

IDRC World Café (Speed-dating)

The World Café is a fun and interactive environment where IDRC experts will share insights on an array of topics such as digital privacy, neurosciences, safe and inclusive cities, reproductive health, innovations in sustainable agriculture for a more food-secure future, adaptations to climate change and the fight against chronic illnesses and non-communicable diseases. Don’t miss the online quiz and prizes while learning how IDRC-funded research promotes growth, reduces poverty and drives large-scale positive change. @IDRC_CRDI

Chaitali Sinha, IDRC Senior Program Officer, Maternal and Child Health program

Chaitali will discuss how an IDRC-supported research project is leveraging mobile technology to increase pregnant women’s access to health care in Burkina Faso.

Cam Do, IDRC Program Leader, Governance and Justice program

Cam will talk about research that is strengthening respect for the rights of people living in informal settlements in Kenya.

Mylène Bordeleau, IDRC Program Management Officer, Employment and Growth program

Mylène will discuss IDRC-supported research that is improving our understanding of the export constraints faced by small-scale producers from the least developed countries.

Marie-France Boucher, IDRC Program Management Officer, Think Tank Initiative

Marie-France will highlight how a think tank in Pakistan is producing much needed evidence on mercury-added products and their health impacts on the population.

Laura Husak, IDRC Program Management Officer, Agriculture and Food Security

Laura will reveal how research in Cambodia helps families significantly increase their nutritional intake, while also raising their income. 

Wendy Manchur, IDRC Program Officer, Agriculture and Food Security

Wendy will explain how insects (yes, insects!) can become the next source of sustainable animal feed in Kenya and Uganda.

Zee Leung, IDRC Senior Program Officer, Food, Environment and Health program

Zee will share findings of a project that examines how national governments in the Caribbean are fighting back against the devastating impact of non-communicable diseases in the region.

David O’Brien, IDRC Senior Program Specialist, Foundations for Innovation program

David will highlight findings from a research project in Morocco that developed an innovation solution to containing contaminants from abandoned mine sites.

3–3:30 p.m.    Break

3:30–5 p.m.    

1.4a The Naylor Report and science communications: What’s at stake for Canadians? (Hopper Room)

1.4b Videos: Moving pictures tell compelling stories (Lester Pearson Boardroom)    

The Naylor report & science communications --
What’s at stake for Canadians

The research community has embraced the recommendations of Canada’s Fundamental Science Review(the Naylor Report), and is encouraging their adoption by the federal government. But is the report getting the attention it deserves outside of research circles? Martha Crago, Fundamental Science Review panel member; Ivan Semeniuk, The Globe and Mail science reporter; and Jeremy Kerr, University of Ottawa professor and co-author of Restoring Canada’s competitiveness in fundamental research: The view from the bench, will discuss the challenges and opportunities of translating the Naylor Report for various audiences — and how science communicators can tell this important story.


Helen Murphy has led the communications team at Universities Canada since 2010. In 2014, she oversaw the rebranding of the organization, after 50 years as the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. Her work is focused on advancing the mission of Canada’s universities through communications initiatives, including liaising with and providing support for Universities Canada’s network of directors of communications at universities across Canada.


Martha Crago began her five-year mandate as McGill University’s vice-principal (research and innovation) on July 1, 2017. Previously, she served as vice-president, research and professor in human communication disorders at Dalhousie University, vice-president of international and governmental relations at the Université de Montréal, and as the dean of graduate and postdoctoral studies and associate provost (academic programs), both at McGill University. Dr. Crago is the chair of the U15 Research Committee. In 2016, she was selected by the Government of Canada’s Minister of Science to be a member of an advisory panel on the funding of fundamental research (the Naylor Report).

Ivan Semeniuk reports on science for The Globe and Mail. Ivan has spent his entire career engaged in the public communication of science, beginning with the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto, before becoming a full-time producer and on-air contributor to the daily science magazine show @discovery.ca. Ivan turned to print journalism in 2005 as the US bureau chief for New Scientist magazine, then as chief of correspondents for Nature in 2010. He has been with The Globe and Mail since 2013. @IvanSemeniuk

Jeremy Kerr is a professor of biology and holds the University Research Chair in macroecology and conservation at the University of Ottawa. He focuses on how environmental changes affect species and ecosystems and how to improve prospects for conservation, particularly for bumblebees and butterflies. His discoveries have led to various awards for research excellence. Dr. Kerr is also president of the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution. He is extremely active at the science-policy interface, proposing and developing national science and conservation policy and legislation in Canada, such as the new chief scientific advisor position and approaches for rapidly expanding Canada’s network of protected areas. @JeTKerr

Videos: Moving Pictures Tell Compelling Stories

In 2017, a video studio can fit in your briefcase and an iPad can shoot, edit and transmit your story. Scott Hannant explores the many ways video can be used to tell simple stories on social media or to share a “show and tell” of your latest project.

Scott Hannant is passionate about the power of video to tell stories. Hannant Media Solutions, his production and consulting company, specializes in video storytelling. His clients include IDRC and Aga Khan Foundation Canada. He also teaches video journalism at Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication. Scott was executive producer and news director of CTV/CJOH in Ottawa for 16 years. He credits fair, balanced, and compelling storytelling with making the station’s news programs number one in their time slots and earning them amongst the highest per capita ratings in North America.

6–9 p.m.    Evening social activity: Dine around the National Capital Region

Day 2, Thursday September 14

8–8:30am    Continental breakfast

8:30–10 a.m.    

2.1 Shattered Mirror: News, Democracy and Trust in the Digital Age (Hopper Room)   

Shattered mirror 

This session discusses a report that investigates the major shifts and disruptors in news and journalism — the broken business model, the under-development of digital-only news providers and the consolidation of digital distribution revenues by Google and Facebook. Join Christopher Dornan, associate professor at Carleton University, for a presentation that explores the report’s findings and a discussion of the recommendations that aim to ensure that the news media and journalists continue in their role as watchdogs over our elected representatives and public institutions. The full report is available online at shatteredmirror.ca. 

Christopher Dornan is an associate professor at the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University, where he served for nine years as director, and for six years as associate dean of the Faculty of Public Affairs and director of the Arthur Kroeger College of Public Affairs. He is chair of the board of The Reader’s Digest Magazines (Canada). He has worked as a reporter for the Edmonton Journal, an editor and editorial writer for the Ottawa Citizen and a columnist for The Globe and Mail and CBC national radio. He was a principal writer and editor for both volumes of the 2012 government-mandated Aerospace Review (the Emerson Report), the Canadian Space Agency’s 2014 Space Policy Framework and the Public Policy Forum’s 2016 report on the state of the Canadian news media, Shattered Mirror: News, Democracy and Trust in the Digital Age. @CTDornan

10–10:30 a.m.    Break

10:30 a.m.–12 p.m.   

2.2a The team behind Bridgehead (Hopper Room) 

2.2b Journalism in the age of open data (Lester Pearson Boardroom)    

The team behind Bridgehead 

The Bridgehead coffee chain is known to many in Ottawa as a local company that features healthy, organic, fair-trade coffee and snacks. The team that helped this coffee chain improve the taste of its products extend beyond the baristas and bakers that produce great coffee and sandwiches. This panel tell their Bridgehead story as a case study that examines the different roles that work together to help us realize scientific advancements, from scientists to communicators to the people that link academia to the private sector. 

Moderator: Valerie Pereboom

Valerie Pereboom is Executive Assistant to the Dean in the Faculty of Science at Carleton University. Originally from Edmonton, she received a B.A. degree in English and French from Calvin College in Michigan.  She and her family relocated to Ottawa from Boston in 1989, where she worked in various library and administrative positions at Harvard University and Radcliffe College.  Since joining Carleton’s staff, she has held positions in the Department of Political Science, the Faculty of Public Affairs Office of the Dean, the Office of the Provost and Vice-President (Academic).  She brings to her current position experience in communications from her previous work as a staff writer on Radcliffe College’s Second Century magazine, and as Systems and Communications Coordinator in the Faculty of Public Affairs. Her current responsibilities as Executive Assistant to the Dean include providing strategic communications advice to the Dean of the Faculty of Science.

Dan Rubinstein is a senior writer in Carleton’s Department of University Communications. A multiple National Magazine Award winner, he is a former editor at Canadian GeographicAlberta VentureAlberta Views and several other magazines. As a freelance writer he contributes to publications such as The WalrusenRoute and WestJet Magazine. His non-fiction book Born To Walk: The Transformative Properties of a Pedestrian Act was published by ECW Press in 2015. These days, his journalistic and personal interest in walking has been replaced by an obsession with stand-up paddle boarding — the focus of his next book. borntowalk.org @dan_rube

Jeff Smith is an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and the Institute of Biochemistry at Carleton University. He received his BSc from Trent University in 2000 and earned his PhD at York University in 2005. After three years at the Ottawa Institute of Systems Biology at the University of Ottawa, he joined Carleton University in 2008, and is currently the Director of the Carleton Mass Spectrometry Centre. His research focuses on the use of mass spectrometry to investigate the biomolecular mechanisms of cellular life; however, he also uses the technology to study public safety, food and beverage chemistry and the safety of consumer and industrial products. @profjeffsmith  

Jeffrey Smirle is the manager of facilities, partnerships, and innovation in the Faculty of Science at Carleton University. After receiving his PhD in cell biology from McGill University in 2013, he moved to Ottawa for a postdoctoral fellowship. For the last three years, Jeffrey has been spearheading business development and innovation efforts in the Faculty of Science at Carleton. He is the lead on the Faculty’s Front Door Initiative, a gateway to drive community engagement and industry collaborations, and he has recently been tasked with augmenting entrepreneurial activities on campus as chair of the Carleton Innovation Transfer Office. @j_smirle

Journalism in the Age of Open Data

Open data can enrich sources for journalists and give the stories they tell new perspectives. Journalism, in turn, filters open data to discover new angles to topics and tell richer stories. This session will explore the role of open data in journalism — with a focus on data sets available within the Government of Canada — and the key issues journalists need to be made aware of when delving into the open data space. Participants will discuss the opportunities and challenges of using open data for science writing.


Yohanna Loucheur is a senior policy analyst at Global Affairs Canada. Since joining the Canadian federal government in 1997, she has worked on files such as the knowledge-based economy and society, innovative financing for development, aid effectiveness policies, fiduciary risk management and public financial management. She has been involved in open data work, with prime responsibility for coordinating Global Affairs Canada’s activities related to aid transparency and the International Aid Transparency Initiative since 2008. Yohanna holds a BA and MA in political science (international relations) from the Université du Québec à Montréal, as well as an MSc in social research methods from the London School of Economics and Political Science. @YohannaLoucheur 


Jenna Slotin is senior director, policy and strategy for the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data. Prior to this, she was director, sustainable development policy at the UN Foundation. She has over 12 years of experience at the UN and working on UN policy issues related to sustainable development and peacebuilding, with a focus on analyzing the political dynamics around the 2030 Agenda, financing for development, sustainable development data and the UN’s peacebuilding architecture. Jenna has project management and leadership experience from time spent working at UNDP in Kosovo and as chief operating officer of Building Markets, a social enterprise that promotes private-sector development in fragile and post-conflict countries. Jenna holds a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University, with a concentration in international security policy, and a BA in peace and conflict studies from the University of Toronto. @jslotin 

Jordan Zed is a lawyer by training and current member of the Ontario Bar. He is also the director of open government at the Treasury Board Secretariat in the Government of Canada. Immediately prior, he served as chief of staff to the Deputy Minister at Environment and Climate Change Canada during Canada’s signing and ratification of the Paris climate change agreement. @TBS_Canada 

Angela Odour Lungati, Director of Community Engagement, Ushahidi 

12–1 p.m.    Lunch

1–2:30 p.m.    

2.3a  Sex, science communication and trust (Hopper Room)  

2.3b Fostering a strong science culture (Lester Pearson Boardroom)  

Sex, science communication and trust   

There is a decline in public trust in government, industry and experts, and increasing public interest in being involved in decision-making processes. Yet the current information context means that the public can find evidence to support virtually any conclusion. The “echo chamber” effect of social media exacerbates tendencies for individuals to believe their evidence is as trustworthy as the evidence of experts. When it comes to regulation, scientific evidence — including that provided by industry — underpins regulatory decisions. Communication of these decisions thus involves the double challenge of overcoming low levels of public trust in government, expertise and industry, and the fundamental challenge of communicating science. This panel will explore the challenge science communicators face in overcoming low levels of public trust in government, expertise and industry by drawing from their experiences in communicating complex and sometimes controversial science on nuclear safety and communicating science in literary and storytelling forms.


Monica Gattinger is director of the University of Ottawa’s Institute for Science, Society and Policy, and chair of the Institute’s Collaboratory on Energy Research and Policy. Currently, Dr. Gattinger is spearheading Positive Energy, a three-year initiative that uses the convening power of the university to bring together industry, government, Indigenous groups, environmental NGOs and the academy to identify how to achieve social acceptance and support for energy development in Canada. She is also researching and writing a history of the Canada Council for the Arts in the lead-up to its 60th anniversary. Dr. Gattinger is an associate professor at the University of Ottawa’s School of Political Studies. She holds a PhD in public policy from Carleton University. @MonicaGattinger


Jacob Berkowitz is the writer-in-virtual-residence at the Institute for Science, Society and Policy, University of Ottawa. He’s a freelance science journalist, playwright and author, including the books The Stardust Revolution and Jurassic Poop. He’s also the founder of the science writing boutique Quantum Writing, with clients across North America. www.jacobberkowitz.com www.quantumwriting.com @BerkowitzWrites

Jason Cameron is the vice-president and chief communications officer at the Regulatory Affairs Branch of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). He has dedicated the past two decades of his career to nuclear issues, regulatory policy and international relations. Jason joined the Atomic Energy Control Board of Canada (the CNSC’s predecessor) in 1998 as a safeguards officer. Over the next 15 years, he assumed progressively senior roles including chief of staff, secretary to the management committee, head of evaluation and director general of strategic planning. Prior to that, he was a visiting information officer with the World Nuclear Association (then known as the Uranium Institute), based in London, England. @JasonKCameron

As the vice president, external relations, Vanessa Nelson oversees the strategic management of communications, marketing, fund development and stakeholder relations for Let’s Talk Science. Vanessa has more than 20 years of experience in communications, including eight years as the president and owner of Word4Word Communications, a firm providing senior-level strategic communications planning and advice to a number of federal departments and national museums. Vanessa has also held senior communications roles with Industry Canada (now Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada) and Natural Resources Canada. @LetsTalkScience 

Fostering a strong science culture

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) campaigns to build interest in science, like Science Odyssey and Science Literacy Week, would not be possible without the commitment of our partners. This panel will explore how science outreach organizations from across the country are working together with NSERC to foster a stronger science culture. Panellists will discuss how their science outreach work is increasing interest in science among youth, families and others, in communities big and small.


Nyree St-Denis collaborates with NSERC’s Communications, Corporate and International Affairs and Communications Division as public affairs manager. As Manager of Public Affairs at Canada’s largest funder of science and engineering research, Nyree motivates and rally a dedicated team of strategic advisors, web developers, translators and others to showcase the important social and economic impacts of science and engineering research. Whether it be through NSERC’s website, corporate Intranet site, through media relations or events, Nyree works to shine the spotlight on the important work NSERC does among researchers, students, the general public, the media, key decision makers and other important stakeholders. She is a graduate of the University of Ottawa where she obtained an Honours Degree in Communications (Cum Laude) and continues to serve as a mentor to the next generation of communications professionals on campus. @NSERC_CRSNG


Jesse Hildebrand is the founder of Science Literacy Week, a nationwide celebration of science run through NSERC that had 500 events in 60 cities in 2016.  He helps create partnerships between science groups coast to coast, and works to highlight the role libraries can play in sharing science with communities.  

Judy Paron is the Acting Team Leader for the Innovative Collaborations and Science Promotion team at the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. She is responsible for a number of partnerships and initiatives focused on fostering a science and engineering culture including NSERC’s PromoScience program.

Tracy Ross is Director of Network Membership with Actua, overseeing all services and support to Actua's network members, including training, funding, recognition, communication, and day to day support. A lifelong association professional in the field of youth and public engagement in STEM, Tracy's career began with a BSc in Environmental Chemistry from Queen’s University and an MA in the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology from the University of Toronto. Tracy lives in Toronto with her family.

2:30–3 p.m.    Break

3–4:30 p.m.    

2.4a From the Death of Evidence to the March for Science: An evolution of science organizing in Canada (Hopper Room)    

2.4b Introduction to podcasting (Lester Pearson Boardroom)    

From the Death of Evidence to the March for Science, an evolution of science organizing in Canada

In July 2012, thousands of scientists gathered on Parliament Hill to mark the “Death of Evidence.” The unusual site of lab-coated scientists marching in the street with a coffin and grim reaper grabbed attention all over Canada and internationally. The event was the first of its kind in Canada and set in motion a new wave of organizing for science and evidence. Almost five years later, in April 2017, scientists gathered on Parliament Hill again. This time, the event was part of the global “March for Science” organized in response to anti-science policies coming from the White House. Through these two events, Katie Gibbs and Kathleen Walsh from Evidence for Democracy will explore how science advocacy and organizing has changed over the past five years. 

Katie Gibbs is a scientist, organizer and advocate for science and evidence-based policies. While completing her PhD in biology at the University of Ottawa, she was one of the lead organizers of the “Death of Evidence” rally, one of the largest science rallies in Canadian history. Katie is a co-founder and executive director of Evidence for Democracy, a national, non-partisan not-for-profit organization that promotes science integrity and the transparent use of evidence in government decision making. Katie has been quoted and published in numerous media outlets. @katiegibbs

Kathleen Walsh is the director of policy for Evidence for Democracy. She has devoted her time and career to a number of non-profit organizations, including the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the Rideau Institute, Nobel Women’s Initiative, Equal Voice and Famous 5 Ottawa. Kathleen has a bachelor’s degree of public affairs and policy management from Carleton University’s Arthur Kroeger College of Public Affairs, and a master’s degree in development studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science, where she specialized in gender and international development. @kat_a_walsh

Introduction to podcasting

With shows such as Serial and Canadaland, podcasting has been reborn and is becoming a regular part of the media people consume. With the ability to make and edit audio available to almost anyone with a computer or mobile device, there’s little to stand in the way of scientists or those who cover them from creating a podcast. Writer, broadcaster and podcaster Bob LeDrew will walk you through the steps of creating and distributing a podcast by touching on tools, marketing and developing content that engages.

Bob LeDrew has been playing with words for a long time. As a journalist, then as a communicator, he’s told stories and helped individuals and organizations achieve their goals. Currently a consultant, Bob has also worked on staff at post-secondary institutions, not-for-profits, and at public relations agencies. He started Canada’s first PR blog in 2003, and has done personal and client podcasts for approximately 10 years. Bob also hosts a weekly radio show on CKCU-FM in Ottawa. @bobledrew

6–9 p.m.    Evening social activity: The Loft Board Game Lounge

Day 3 Friday, September 15    

8–8:30am    Continental breakfast

8:30–10 a.m.    3.1 Local approaches to citizen science (Hopper Room)

Local approaches to Citizen Science

Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Benjamin Franklin were all citizen scientists who funded their own amateur scientific pursuits. Although the practice went out of fashion with the dominance of university research and government laboratories, it has been gaining traction again since the 1990s. Now citizen science, also called “crowd-sourced” or “civic” science, is making a slow and steady comeback — with journals and research dedicated to the practice of citizen science to boot. Join Luc Lalande, Andrew Pelling and Jeremy Kerr for a panel discussion about three approaches to citizen science in Ottawa.

Luc Lalande is an educator, mentor, innovation consultant and social entrepreneur with extensive experience in academic-industry-government sectors. He specializes in programs that build innovation capacity for rural and urban communities. He has served as a volunteer and advisor on numerous not-for-profit boards engaged in fields as diverse as addiction recovery for youth, regional economic development, women’s empowerment, new media arts and education. He is also an active advocate for the growth of the maker movement, makerspaces and maker education locally and globally. @LucLalande

Andrew Pelling is an award-winning scientist, professor, entrepreneur, TED Senior Fellow and TED Speaker, and has built a career on unapologetic curiosity. He is a Canada Research Chair at the University of Ottawa, where his research lab brings together scientists, engineers and artists to explore speculative living technologies of the future with low-cost materials and methods. Dr. Pelling is the co-founder and CSO of Spiderwort, a company dedicated to developing plant-based biomaterials for repairing and regenerating the human body. He also co-founded pHacktory, a street-level research lab that amplifies community ideas through a potent mixture of craft, serendipity and curiosity. He serves in a variety of advisory roles, including chief scientist at the Creative Destruction Labs (Canada), advisory board member for the Max Planck Institute’s Artist-in-Residence Program (Germany), and as an editorial board member at three peer-reviewed scientific journals (UK). @pellinglab    

Jeremy Kerr is a professor of biology and holds the University Research Chair in Macroecology and Conservation at the University of Ottawa. He focuses on how environmental changes affect species and ecosystems and on how to improve prospects for conservation, particularly for bumblebees and butterflies. His discoveries have led to various awards for research excellence. Dr. Kerr is also president of the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution. He is extremely active at the science-policy interface, proposing and developing national science and conservation policy and legislation in Canada, such as the new chief scientific advisor position and approaches for rapidly expanding Canada’s network of protected areas. @JeTKerr

10–10:30 a.m.    Break

10:30 a.m.–12 p.m.    

3.2a Dragons’ Den: Story pitching (Hopper Room)  
3.2b So what? Translating knowledge into action (Lester Pearson Boardroom)  

Dragons Den: Story pitching

Bring a story pitch to this session and you’ll have a unique opportunity to receive feedback from a panel of experienced editors. This session will give attendees an opportunity to pitch their ideas to editors and producers from a variety of publications, and get instant feedback on ways to hone and improve the idea – and if they are lucky, maybe even get a commission. It will be useful for students, journalists, science communicators and scientists who want advice on how best to get their stories picked up by the media.

Brian Owens is a freelance writer and editor based in New Brunswick. A former news editor at the journal Nature in London, UK, he now writes for a variety of Canadian and international publications including Nature, Science, New Scientist and Hakai Magazine. @BL_Owens

Harry Wilson is the senior editor at Canadian Geographic and Canadian Geographic Travel magazines. A former Calgary Herald journalist, he's also worked in the United Kingdom as a magazine and travel guidebook editor. @MrWilsonH

Colin Schultz is the news editor of Hakai Magazine. Before joining Hakai, Colin wrote for Smithsonian Magazine's Smart News, and was a contributing writer and editor for the American Geophysical Union's newspaper Eos. His freelance writing has appeared online or in print for Popular Science, Discover, New Scientist, Scientific American and others. @_ColinS_.

Catherine Meyers is the deputy editor for Inside Science, a science news website produced by the American Institute of Physics and written for the general public. She has a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Harvey Mudd College and a graduate certificate in science writing from UC Santa Cruz. She has written for the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, the Monterey Herald, and ScienceNOW, the online science news arm of AAAS. Before beginning her writing career, Catherine worked as a software/firmware tester and tech support analyst for a manufacturer of data radios and served a two-year stint in the US Peace Corps in Ukraine. @InsideScience 

Emma Stoye is a senior science correspondent at Chemistry World magazine, where she writes, commissions and edits news articles, runs the reviews section and hosts the Chemistry World Book Club podcast. Her work has also been featured in Scientific American and on the BBC radio show, The Naked Scientists. She is a board member of the Association of British Science Writers, and has a degree in biological sciences from the University of Oxford. @emmastoye 

So what? Translating knowledge into action

Never in human history have we hunted for and gathered so much data, information and knowledge, that is useful but not necessarily used. For research to make a difference, pushing the information out through passive dissemination is not sufficient anymore. What are the most effective ways to share and communicate research results? What is the role of a Knowledge Translation officer and what are the skills required? Join Delphine Larrousse and Kate Wetherow to learn about the field of Knowledge Mobilization, understand why it is important, and learn some tools and practices from two knowledge practitioners in the international development sector. 

Delphine Larrousse is a senior program officer at Canada’s International Development Research Centre. She oversees research-for-development projects in rural development, agriculture, food security and nutrition in Latin America and Africa. She also leads the communication and knowledge management strategy of the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund, a joint program of IDRC and Global Affairs Canada. Before joining IDRC in 2009, Delphine worked with UNESCO, UNICEF as well as with NGOs in developing countries in the area of communication for development. @dlarrousse.

Kate Wetherow is a knowledge management specialist with a background in project management and LEAN process improvement. Kate has a unique blend of skills from over 15 years’ experience in the not-for-profit sector. With special expertise in organizational learning, she works to strengthen integration among departments, improve workflow efficiency and use collaborative tools to facilitate seamless information exchange. Kate has worked at the Canadian Co-operative Association for the past eight years in international co-operative development. @KateWetherow    

12–1 p.m.    Lunch and Annual General Meeting

1–2:30 p.m.    3.3 The future of work (Hopper Room)

The future of work

Digitization, automation and the Internet touch all aspects of modern life. Among them is employment, which has served as a key organizing principle for society since the industrial revolution. As computerization fundamentally changes labour relations and the very nature of work, there is increased concern about its ultimate impact on global welfare. Will automation aggravate unemployment and increase labour market polarization? What jobs will be made obsolete and which are likely to emerge? This panel brings global experts together to address these and other questions posed by the rise of work automation and the digitization of labour.

Sunil Johal is policy director at the Mowat Centre, School of Public Policy and Governance, at the University of Toronto. He leads the Centre’s research activities, manages the research team and teaches a variety of executive education courses. He has a broad range of public policy expertise across economic, social, intergovernmental and regulatory fields. He is frequently invited to speak about technology and policy issues at conferences and in a variety of media outlets. @JohalSunil    

Henry Siu is an associate professor of economics at the University of British Columbia and a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He focuses on macroeconomics and labour economics, automation and the decline of middle-class jobs, recessions and jobless recoveries and youth unemployment. He was the first recipient of the Bank of Canada Governor’s Award, and has served as a visitor, scholar or consultant with the Federal Reserve Banks of Chicago, Minneapolis, and St. Louis, the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Bank of Canada.


Alison Crawford is an award-winning senior reporter in CBC's parliamentary bureau, where she covers the RCMP, legal affairs, public safety, the federal Liberals and the Supreme Court of Canada. Over the last two decades, she has lived and worked in Fredericton, Calgary and Winnipeg before returning to her hometown of Ottawa to cover national politics. Since then, Alison has pursued stories and covered events in more than 20 countries. Alison's investigative reports and feature writing have been recognized with awards from the Canadian Association of Journalists, the New York Festivals, the Association of Electronic Journalists and the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. @alisoncrawford5

2:30–3 p.m.    Break

3–4:30 p.m.    

3.4a Enhancing Science Policy with Academic Expertise (Hopper Room)    

3.4b Photos: A key ingredient to tell a compelling story (Lester Pearson Boardroom)    

   Enhancing Science Policy with Academic Expertise

Evidence-based decision making is a hot topic in this country, abroad, and in the Twitterverse. Let’s look at a local case study on the topic. The University of Ottawa’s Institute for Science, Society and Policy and Mitacs — a national, not-for-profit organization — have developed a new program, the Canadian Science Policy Fellowship, which aims to enhance science in policy and support evidence-based decision making within government. This session will use a recently completed project with Defense Research and Development Canada as a case study and discuss the program’s impact on Canadian policy and how researchers from the academy can play a role in enhancing evidence-based science policy and science. 

Gail Bowkett is the director, innovation policy at Mitacs. With over 20 years’ experience in the field of higher education and international development, Gail provides leadership on policy research and analysis in support of Mitacs priorities and programming. Gail holds a Master of International Business Administration degree from the Schulich School of Business at York University, and an Honours Bachelor degree in Russian language and literature from Carleton University.

Kimberly Girling, a Mitacs science policy fellow, is completing her PhD in Neuroscience at the University of British Columbia. Her research focused on developing novel preventative therapeutics for Huntington’s disease. During her PhD work, Kimberly developed a strong passion for health and science policy, leading to her joining the Neglected Global Diseases Initiative’s board, working on a three-year project for the Status of Women Canada on Women in Bio, and initiating a cross-Canada project on drug policy with the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition. @kimberlygirling

Joelle Thorpe, a Mitacs science policy fellow, completed an MSc in Biology, focused on the neuroendocrinology of paternal behaviour at Queen’s University. She then earned her PhD, focused on the influence of stress on estrogen and early pregnancy failure, at the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour at McMaster University. After graduating, Joelle returned to Queen’s University as a Clinical Research Associate in the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine. She also co-founded Queen’s University’s first Employee Resource Group, which won the annual Employment Equity Award in 2015. @JoelleThorpe

Photos: A key ingredient to tell a compelling story

A great photo can significantly increase the impact of your story. In this session, professional photographer Colin Rowe shares tips and tricks on how to get that great photo regardless of where you are and what camera you have. He will touch on lighting, managing permissions, post-production tools and techniques, organizing your photos and what he considers to be a key ingredient — how to make a social connection with your subject.

Colin Rowe has worked as a photographer in Ottawa for the last two decades. He has shot for numerous magazines, such as Time, Canadian Geographic, Maclean’s, and L’Actualité, as well as for government and private clients. These assignments have taken him across North America, the Arctic, Europe, Asia and Africa. Being a science aficionado, Colin has a special place in his career for photographing researchers, in research settings and in studio, for publications such as Ottawa Magazine and for the University of Ottawa. @Archimedia1

4:30 p.m.–4:45 p.m.    Closing Remarks (Hopper Room)

 Program: Social Events 2017

Dine around the National Capital Region

Social event, Wednesday Sept 13, 6:00pm - 9:00pm

Your conference organizers have scoped out a handful of unique dining experiences on the other side of the river in Quebec and made reservations for eight people at each. Sign up for the one that most appeals to you and enjoy a delightful dinner alongside seven other conference delegates.





Chez Fatima


Les Vilains Garcons


Bistro Gainsbourg


Chez Le Thai


For those who would like to continue the evening after dinner, we
will meet for drinks at Aux quatre jeudis cafe:bar

Aux quatre jeudis cafe:bar


The Loft Board Game Lounge 

Social event, Thursday Sept 14

After the formal conference program concludes on Thursday, walk over to the Loft Board Game Lounge. Unwind with a pint of cold beer and learn a new board game.



Tour, Saturday, Sept 16 - 

9:00 a.m. Parliament Hill

10:30 a.m.   Bridgehead Coffee Roastery 

11:45 a.m. Lunch

1:45 p.m.     Canadian Space Services Ltd.

3:00 p.m.   Diefenbunker        

4:45 p.m.  Drop-offs

Tour of Parliament

Discover the history, functions and art of Canada’s Parliament with a guided tour of Centre Block. This iconic building is home to the Senate, House of Commons and Library of Parliament.

Canadian Space Services Ltd. (CSS)

This former Top Secret NATO satellite communications (SATCOM) facility provided encrypted communications between all NATO countries until 1999 and its 68-ft. diameter metal space frame radar dome makes for a unique group experience! Now housing the headquarters for the Canadian Space Services Ltd., tours of this 10,000 sq. ft. building include climbing up to the top and inside the heart of the 50-ft. diameter SATCOM antenna that the dome houses. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to take a 60-minute peak inside one of Canada’s most fiercely guarded past secrets and the Cold War era technology that it protected.


The Diefenbunker is a four-story, 100,000 square foot underground bunker, built between 1959 and 1961. During the Cold War it was intended to house 535 Canadian government officials and military officers in the event of a nuclear war. It served as Canadian Forces Station Carp until 1994. For years it protected us from 75 feet underground and we knew virtually nothing about it. Today, it operates as a not-for-profit, charitable museum and boasts award winning tours and programs. Explore rooms built to run Canada’s emergency government: the Prime Minister’s suite with its single bed, the War Cabinet Room, a period operating room, the CBC Radio studio, and the Emergency Government Situation Centre. 

Bridgehead Coffee Roastery

Participants will tour Bridgehead's Roastery where they will learn about the agricultural and supply chain challenges involved in sourcing high quality organic coffee from small producers throughout Latin America and Africa. Samples of various types of coffees will be offered and questions are encouraged as Bridgehead's coffee buyers guide participants through all of the details that must line up for a great coffee to find its way 'from seed to cup'.


Our Sponsors


SWCC 2017 Conference Organizing Committee

Christel Binnie joined Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) as Director of Corporate Communications in 2015. Before joining IDRC, she was Deputy Director at Global Affairs Canada in the Science, Technology, and Innovation Division as well as for numerous portfolios in public affairs. Her experience in communications and marketing spans the government, international business, academia, and research sectors and includes a term as Director of Research Communications at the University of Ottawa. Christel holds an MA in communication and a BCom (Honours) in international management and marketing, both from the University of Ottawa, as well as diplomas in business administration and translation from Germany. @ChristelBinnie    

Rhonda Moore is a policy lead with the Public Policy Forum - a non-profit, non partisan think tank - in Ottawa. Rhonda joined the PPF in May 2015, bringing with her more than 10 years of experience in science and research communications, and research and policy analysis from the University of Ottawa, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and Universities Canada. Rhonda holds a masters in science, technology and innovation studies (with distinction) from the University of Edinburgh and a bachelor degree in public relations from Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax.  Find her @R_mmoore tweeting about science policy and single malt, Scottish whisky.    

Sabrina Doyle Director of the Science Writers and Communicators of Canada has spent the past three years working and writing as Canadian Geographic’s digital editor, after joining the magazine in 2013 as social media editor. She recently left her post to pursue science videography in the Rocky Mountains. She’s also written and/or photographed for the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal and the Canadian Medical Association Journal, among others. She’s an alumni of the Bachelor of Journalism program at Carleton University and a graduate of the science communication program at Laurentian University. @sab_jad

Tim Lougheed President of the Science Writers and Communicators of Canada, has been a freelance science writer since 1991. His work has appeared in a wide range of publications and among his latest leading activities is editing the magazine Canadian Chemical News. Now based near Kingston, Ontario, he is a graduate of the School of Journalism at the University of Western Ontario, when they were both called that.    

Janice Benthin Executive Director of the Science Writers and Communicators of Canada has a diverse background in scriptwriting, media production and non-profit management. Her experience includes training director for the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation in Iqaluit, executive director for the International Centre of Films for Children and Young People and director of operations for the Grande Prairie Educational Cable Consortium. She’s been a humour columnist for three weekly newspapers, a radio commentator, a playwright and the researcher, writer and producer for many award-winning documentary programs. She’s made documentaries for NFB, CBC, PBS, APTN, SCN, ARD, BBC, and ABC. She’s an alumnus of the Banff Centre Science Communications program and has also completed the master program in comic scriptwriting at Humber College.