Anumita Jain, Maydianne Andrade, and Lana YacoubUWindsor students Anumita Jain and Lana Yacoub flank University of Toronto ecology professor Maydianne Andrade at the 2022 Canadian Science Policy Conference.

Conference gives students insight into science policy

Two undergraduate science students got to network with the leaders in science policy at the 2022 Canadian Science Policy Conference in Ottawa, Nov. 16 to 18.

Anumita Jain and Lana Yacoub, both third-year students in the behaviour, cognition, and neuroscience program, attended the conference.

“I hope to share some of the opportunities we learned about with science students and find ways to translate our knowledge to students,” says Jain. “This could be through workshops, seminars, social media, self-paced modules, or through our upcoming policython.”

Jain and Yacoub are members of STEMxPolicy, a student-led organization within the USci Network in the Faculty of Science. The team draws its membership from science, engineering, and nursing. Over the past 1.5 years, it has built several student-faculty partnerships and sparked thoughtful dialogue about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics policy among students in STEM fields.

“Our mission is to empower STEM students to become leaders in policymaking,” says Jain, founder and president of the group. “We want STEM students to understand the importance of policymaking, how it impacts them, and how they can be involved in the process at any level.”

Yacoub added that she is in the early stages of drafting education modules through STEMxPolicy.

“So far, the aim is to have short 15-minute lessons that outline the basics of how science and policy intersect,” she says. “We also will teach some of the important introductory policy skills that are essential for young scientists to know such as how to write a policy brief.

Yacoub says attending the conference was a powerful experience.

“Networking and being exposed to so many different perspectives from individuals who were well established in their scientific fields and were able to use that to enact impactful changes in policy,” says Yacoub.

“Part of the difficulty of being in science is that although research is meaningful and has the potential to improve our society, it’s also adding to a large body of knowledge that does not always get put into action, and it was refreshing to see people who are working to accomplish the translation piece.”

Jain says she was inspired attending the conference and was reminded of how many areas there are within STEM and the need for effective communication and collaboration to enact change.

“It was eye-opening to see the diversity of paths within science policy and learn about the various organizations doing work in this field,” says Jain.

“It was gratifying to share the work of STEMxPolicy and lay the groundwork for new partnerships with external organizations.”

The annual conference is hosted by the Canada Science Policy Centre and is a multi-sectoral, multi-disciplinary forum on science, technology, and innovation policy issues in Canada. This year’s theme was “Navigating Uncertainty; Targeting Sustainability.”
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