On March 10th, we held a virtual TSPN Talks with Dr. Julie Marentette, Senior Science Advisor at Fisheries and Oceans Canada. This talk focused on the interface between science and policy, and provided graduate students the opportunity to learn about the role of science advising.
Dr. Marentette began her talk by providing an overview of the interface between science and policy, which refers to how applied sciences can be used to support evidence-based decision making. She compared the similarities and differences between government and academic research, drawing from her experience as a PhD researcher at McMaster and then a post-doc with Environment Canada researching the developmental toxicology of fish. Both types of research involve publishing papers and securing funding. However, government research projects typically run on much larger scales timewise, and involve collaborating with decision makers.
Next, Dr. Marentette spoke of her work in regulation at Fisheries and Oceans Canada. In this role, her responsibilities include preparing briefs and memos, participating in stakeholder meetings, engaging with Indigenous communities, and conducting environmental risk assessments. As a regulator, she emphasized the importance of communicating technical information to non-experts, keeping in mind that policymakers are not necessarily interested in the same topics as academic scientists.
At the end of her talk, Dr. Marentette gave four pieces of advice for transitioning from academic research to science advising:
- Your role doesn’t always align with what people think of when they hear “science advisor”.
- You will gain a whole new view of the role of science in a large decision making organization.
- Embrace your role as a Jack of all Trades.
- The most important skills you will need are: communication, flexibility, and a willingness to learn.
TSPN would like to thank Dr. Marentette for giving her time to share her knowledge and experiences with the University of Toronto community and beyond. We would also like to thank University of Toronto’s Student Initiative Fund for generously sponsoring our event. Finally, we would also like to thank everyone who attended and participated in this event.
— The TSPN Team
The Toronto Science Policy Network (TSPN) aims to provide a platform for students (graduate and undergraduate), as well as post-doctoral researchers, to learn more about and engage in science policy. Sign up for our mailing list to stay in the loop about TSPN’s upcoming events. Read about our previous events here.