Board of Directors

Leah Cowen, University of Toronto
Vice-President, Research and Innovation, and Strategic Initiatives
Co-Chair, SOSCIP Board of Directors

Professor Leah Cowen is the Canada Research Chair in Microbial Genomics & Infectious Disease, co-Director of the CIFAR Fungal Kingdom: Threats & Opportunities program, and former Chair of the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto. Until December 2021 she served as the University of Toronto’s first Associate Vice-President, Research. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of British Columbia, a PhD from the University of Toronto, and pursued postdoctoral studies at the Whitehead Institute. Her laboratory takes an interdisciplinary approach to understand what allows some microbes to exploit the host and cause disease, and to develop new strategies to treat life-threatening infectious disease.

Professor Cowen has an outstanding track record of excellence in research, scholarship, and education. She has been recognized with a myriad of awards, including a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award, Grand Challenges Canada Star in Global Health Award, Merck Irving S. Sigal Memorial Award, E.W.R. Steacie Award, and Canada Research Chair in Microbial Genomics & Infectious Disease (Tier I and Tier II). She has been elected as Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is advancing knowledge translation as co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Bright Angel Therapeutics, a company that leverages state-of-the-art technologies for development of novel antifungal therapeutics.

Lesley Rigg, Western University
Vice-President (Research)
Co-Chair, SOSCIP Board of Directors

Dr. Lesley Rigg is the Vice President for Research at Western University and an internationally recognized scholar with over 25 years of experience working in postsecondary education. She is a Geographer and Forest Ecologist, earning her degrees in Geography from York University, the University of Colorado, and her doctorate from the University of Melbourne in Australia. In 2019 she was inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. Before coming to Western University, she was the Dean of Science at the University of Calgary and prior to returning to Canada she was vice-president for research and innovation partnerships at Northern Illinois University (NIU). A running theme in her research, teaching, and administrative service has been a dedication to inclusivity. At NIU she won awards for both teaching and the promotion of women on campus. While in Calgary she was recognized as a SHEInnovator by SHEInnovates Alberta, the first Canadian chapter of the UN Women’s Global Innovation Coalition for Change.

Joe Sehl, IBM Canada
Innovation Leader, Innovation Team

An IBMer with 30+ years of experience working with clients to become more effective by making their processes and systems more intelligent, leveraging transformational technology, our partners and ecosystem. Joe has enjoyed multiple assignments in IBM across many disciplines — finance, sales, business management, leadership, financing — which has enabled him to bring together multidisciplinary teams focused on bringing valuable solutions to our clients. His latest assignment is leading IBM Canada’s engagement in the Canadian Supercluster strategy. His focus is to bring IBM innovation through a proven model working cooperatively and collaboratively with industry, government and academia.

Rafik Goubran, Carleton University
Vice-President, Research and International

Rafik Goubran was appointed Vice-President (Research and International) at Carleton University in March of 2017. Prior to this, he served as the dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Design at Carleton for almost a decade. Dr. Goubran is a Fellow of the IEEE and of the Canadian Academy of Engineering. He has held an impressive number of review panel appointments, board positions, and memberships with such institutions as the Global Engineering Deans Council, the Council of Ontario Deans of Engineering, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada, the Bruyère Research Institute, and the National Medical Devices Alliance. Dr. Goubran’s research expertise lies in the area of biomedical engineering, sensors, data analytics, and digital signal processing. He continues his research projects dealing with real-time patient monitoring and the design of smart homes for the independent living of seniors. As a researcher, he has enjoyed many notable industry partnerships and has supervised over 80 graduate students.

Malcolm Campbell, University of Guelph
Vice-President, Research

Dr. Malcolm Campbell was appointed Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Vice-President (Research) at University of Guelph in June 2015. Dr. Campbell studied genetics, biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Guelph and University of British Columbia. Following post-doctoral work in Toulouse, France and Raleigh, North Carolina, Dr. Campbell held a tenured faculty position at the University of Oxford, combined with a tutorial fellowship at Oxford’s Brasenose College, for 8 years. Dr. Campbell was recruited by the University of Toronto in 2004 and was instrumental in the founding of the new Department of Cell and Systems Biology and serving as inaugural Associate Chair for Graduate Studies from 2006-2009. In 2009, Dr. Campbell was appointed Vice Principal of Research for University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC), where he oversaw a period of extensive growth and dramatic enhancement of the competitiveness and reputation of the research enterprise at the eastern U of T campus. Dr. Campbell has published over 60 peer-reviewed papers and has served on the editorial boards of Plant Biotechnology Journal, BBA Gene Regulatory Mechanisms, and BMC Genomics, and was a member of the Board of Directors for the Institute of Forest Biotechnology, and the advisory board for New Phytologist.

Ranil Sonnadara, McMaster University
Special Advisor to the Vice-President, Research

In his role as Special Advisor to the Vice-President, Research, Dr. Sonnadara oversees all digital research infrastructure McMaster. He also acts as McMaster’s primary advanced computing contact with external agencies such as Compute Canada and sits on the Board of Directors of SHARCNET and Compute Ontario. Dr. Sonnadara’s lab studies how people learn, perform, and assess complex skills in high stakes environments. Much of the lab’s recent work focuses on surgical trainees, but his team also study athletes and musicians, using a variety of behavioural, neurophysiological and modelling techniques to try to untangle the neural mechanisms which underpin learning new skills.

Les Jacobs, Ontario Tech University
Vice-President Research, Innovation

Les Jacobs is a leading international expert in applications of data science to research questions involving equality of opportunity, human rights policy, and access to justice; health and human rights in the Asia-Pacific (especially China and Japan); and applied social research methods for large projects involving data science. Dr. Jacobs’ administrative leadership includes serving as Chair of the Senate Academic Planning, Policy Research Committee at York University; the inaugural Director of the York Centre for Public Policy and Law; Executive Director and Senior Research Fellow of the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice; Academic Director of the Statistic Canada Research Data Centre; and Director of the Institute for Social Research. Dr. Jacobs received his PhD in Politics from Oxford University in the United Kingdom. He also earned his Master of Political Science and Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Political Science and Philosophy from Western University (London, Ontario).

Sylvain Charbonneau, University of Ottawa
Vice-President, Research

Sylvain Charbonneau took office as Vice-President, Research on January 29, 2018. Dr. Charbonneau received his B. Sc. And M.Sc. in Physics from the University of Ottawa and his Ph.D. degree in Photonics – Semiconductor Physics from Simon Fraser University, British Columbia in 1988. He joined the Institute for Microstructural Sciences of the National Research Council (NRC) in October 1988. For a period of 10 years, he was involved in a number of research activities within the institute and led such development programs as wavelength routing and switching for optical fiber communication systems and more exploratory research efforts in the field nano-photonics. He has published over 180 papers and has seventeen patents and licenses in the field of photonics, nanotechnology and ICT. In April 2013, Mr. Charbonneau took the position of Associate Vice-President, Research at the University of Ottawa.

Kent Novakowski, Queen’s University
Associate Vice-Principal Research / Professor of Civil Engineering

On August 1, 2018, Dr. Kent Novakowski joined the research portfolio as the Associate Vice-Principal Research.

Dr. Kent Novakowski, Professor and the Head of Civil Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, is an expert in hydrogeology and groundwater engineering. Before coming to Queen’s in 2000, Dr. Novakowski led the Groundwater Contamination Project at the National Water Research Institute in Burlington, and has since played an important role in the development of water.

With a focus on University’s research mission, Dr. Novakowski works with the faculties, faculty members and the broader research community to enhance capacity for research and innovation across a wide variety of disciplines.

Steven Liss, Toronto Metropolitan University
Vice-President, Research and Innovation

Prior to joining Toronto Metropolitan University, Prof. Liss served as Vice-Principal (Research) at Queen’s University since 2001. Prior to this he was the Associate Vice-President of Research at the University of Guelph and also served as Interim Vice-President. He holds an undergraduate degree in microbiology and immunology from Western University, and a Masters and Ph.D. in applied microbiology from the University of Saskatchewan. Professor Liss has served, and continues to serve, on a variety of management boards and boards of directors, and has extensive experience in peer review processes and panels (provincial, national and international) including serving as Chair of the Peer Review Panel for the Ministry of Research and Innovation, Ontario Research Fund Research Excellence Panel (Environmental and Emerging Technologies) during the first two years of the program. His own research area encompasses environmental biotechnology and engineering, and applied microbiology.

Ben Rogers, Seneca College
Dean, Applied Research, Innovation & Entrepreneurship

As Dean, Applied Research, Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Ben is responsible for all aspects of applied research, innovation and entrepreneurship at Seneca, including strategy development and implementation. This includes building strategic relationships and partnerships within and external to Seneca that are aligned with Seneca strategic and academic priorities. He provides leadership to the Applied Research Team, and supports Seneca faculty and their partners as they develop applied research projects, identify funding sources, and prepare funding applications. Ben also ensures that our industrial collaborations are delivered to the mutual benefit and satisfaction of Seneca and its partners. Ben is an industry-academic partnerships professional with over 12 years of progressive experience in strategic planning, assessing and supporting new partnership opportunities. He has a B.Sc. (Hons.), Science and Business and a Masters of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET), both from the University of Waterloo. He is also a member of the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM), and the Licensing Executive Society (LES).

Charmaine Dean, University of Waterloo
Vice-President, Research

Charmaine Dean is Vice-President, Research at the University of Waterloo and Professor in the Department of Statistical and Actuarial Sciences at Western University. Her research interest lies in the development of methodology for disease mapping, longitudinal studies, the design of clinical trials, and spatio-temporal analyses. Much of this work has been motivated by direct applications to important practical problems in biostatistics and ecology. Her current main research applications are in survival after coronary artery bypass surgery, mapping disease and mortality rates, forest ecology, fire management, smoke exposure estimation from satellite imagery, and modeling of temporary and intermittent stream flow for flood analysis and predictions.

Jonathan Newman, Wilfrid Laurier University
Vice-President, Research

Jonathan Newman joins Wilfrid Laurier University as Vice-President, Research effective August 1, 2019. Dr. Newman will lead the Office of Research Services, providing vision, strategy and support for Laurier’s overall research endeavours. Dr. Newman has served as the dean of the College of Biological Science at the University of Guelph since 2015, where he developed the faculty’s first strategic plan. Dr. Newman began his tenure at the University of Guelph in 2004, where he held several administrative roles including the chair of the Department of Environmental Biology and the founding director of the School of Environmental Science. Prior to the University of Guelph, Dr. Newman served as a faculty member in the Zoology Department at the University of Oxford and a fellow of St. Peter’s College, as well as a faculty member in the Department of Zoology at Southern Illinois University. Dr. Newman holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and a doctorate in Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour from State University of New York at Albany. He also holds a graduate diploma in learning and teaching in higher education from the University of Oxford.

K.W. Michael Siu, University of Windsor
Vice-President, Research and Innovation

K. W. Michael Siu, PhD, FCIC, FRSC, was appointed Vice-President, Research and Innovation of the University of Windsor in December 2012. Dr. Siu received his BSc from the University of Hong Kong, and MSc in Chemistry from the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom. He received his PhD in Chemistry from Dalhousie University in 1981. Dr. Siu then accepted a position as Research Associate with the Division of Chemistry at the National Research Council of Canada. Over the following 16 years, Dr. Siu held positions with the NRC as Research Officer, Institute for Environmental Research and Technology (formerly Institute for Environmental Chemistry) and Senior Research Officer, Institute for National Measurement Standards. In 1998, Dr. Siu relocated to York University as Professor of Chemistry and NSERC/SCIEX (now AB SCIEX) Senior Industrial Research Chair in Analytical Mass Spectrometry. He was the Founding Director of the Centre for Research in Mass Spectrometry. Dr. Siu was named Distinguished Research Professor in 2007; in July of 2005, he accepted the first of two, three-year appointments as the Associate Vice-President Research, Science and Technology at York University. Dr. Siu is recognized globally as a leader in the fundamentals as well as applications in the field of mass spectrometry. Over the years, Dr. Siu has received a number of prestigious awards and accolades in recognition of his professional, academic and societal contributions, including in the last 10 years, the Gerhard Herzberg Award (2004, Canadian Society for Analytical Sciences and Spectroscopy), F.P. Lossing Award (2005, Canadian Society for Mass Spectrometry), Maxxam Award (2006, Canadian Society for Chemistry), New Pioneers Award in Science and Technology (2007, Skills for Change), and Chinese Canadian Legend Award (2012, Asian Business Network Association). Dr. Siu was elected a Fellow of the Chemical Institute of Canada (1996) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (2009).

Amir Asif, York University
Vice-President, Research and Innovation

Professor Amir Asif had previously served as the Dean of the Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science (GCS) at Concordia University since 2014. He is well known to members of the York community, having also served as the founding Chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) from 2006 to 2014. As Chair, he transformed EECS into a comprehensive department offering programs in computer engineering, software engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, digital media and computer security, which was selected as one of the two founding departments for the new Lassonde School of Engineering at York University. Currently, he is also serving as the Chair of the Research Committee of the Engineering Deans Canada, the national council of Deans of Engineering and Applied Science in Canada.

Dr. Mehdi Sheikhzadeh, Lambton College
Vice President, Research & Innovation

Dr. Mehdi Sheikhzadeh is Vice President, Research & Innovation at Lambton College. He has more than 18 years of academic, research and industrial experience. Dr. Sheikhzadeh obtained his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Western University in London. As a researcher, his area of research includes process systems, advanced process control and real-time optimization. As a research executive, he has been involved in strategic partnership development, project management and research operations management. Dr. Sheikhzadeh is the Board Member for NanoOntario, Canadian Process Control Association, Lambton Manufacturing Innovation Centre and Bio-industrial Process Research Centre.

Tessa Sproule​, Vubble
CEO & Co-Founder​
SME Representative, SOSCIP Board of Directors

Tessa Sproule is a digital innovator, visionary leader and change agent with an intense clarity of vision for the future and proven intuition for identifying opportunities in the unrelenting advance of disruptive technologies in the media space. For nearly two decades, she worked with the CBC at the front lines as the media landscape changed, leading legacy media’s response through the dramatically shifting storytelling space. Now she takes a place at the front of the shift as the co-founder VUBBLE, a digital content discovery service that merges human curation with artificial intelligence in the on-demand short-form video space.​

David Markwell​, Loblaw Companies Limited
Senior Vice President, Information Technology​
Industry Associate Member

David, who started at Loblaw in 2007, has lead the company’s IT transformation since 2018, establishing and realizing its mission to be the best retail technology organization in Canada. This has been achieved by delivering high-value, business-strategy enabling solutions to its customers through a team of skilled and motivated professionals

Gary Bogdani​, Unilever Canada​
Head, Collective Intelligence​
Industry Associate Member

Gary is a Business Intelligence and Advanced Analytics senior leader with more than 20 years of experience in the data and analytics space. Through strategic and thought leadership he has helped create a strong vision for a transformation through analytics agenda for Unilever Canada, developing a multi-year roadmap on developing a multi-year roadmap to further advance the use of AI in everyday business. He founded and currently leads the data science program for the organization, as well as leads large-scale collaboration ecosystems with a proven track record in delivering intelligent capabilities in forecasting, trade & investment, pricing, and consumer behavior. Gary strongly supports research and innovation and investing in developing AI/Advanced Analytics talent, firmly believing in the evolving role of technology in the workplace and its importance in digital transformation.

Bruce Wallace​, Nuclear Innovation Institute (NII)
President & CEO
Industry Associate Member

Bruce Wallace is president and CEO of the Nuclear Innovation Institute (NII), an independent, not-for-profit organization committed to accelerating the pace of innovation in the nuclear industry. He comes to nuclear issues with a background in media and public policy. Bruce was a foreign correspondent and editor for over three decades, living and reporting from across Europe, Asia and North America with a focus on reporting from conflict zones. He also wrote broadly on politics and business, sports, entertainment and the environment, primarily for Maclean’s magazine and the Los Angeles Times. 

After leaving journalism, Bruce worked as Chief Creative Officer for NGen, Canada’s Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster and, before that, was Special Advisor to the Deputy Minister for Economic Development and Growth, Research, Innovation and Science at Queen’s Park. He currently lives in Southampton, Ontario.

Dr. Peter Wawrow, St. Clair College
Director of Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Dr. Peter Wawrow currently holds the position of Director of Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at St. Clair College. He is responsible for successfully establishing and managing a research program at the College, by engaging local industry to work with College researchers and students through publicly funded research projects. These grants have allowed a closer engagement between the College, industry, and the community, resulting in elevated student learning experiences and improving the economic development and innovation of local industry and organizations. Prior to this role, Dr. Wawrow developed and launched a new Biomedical Engineering Technology program at St. Clair College, after which he became the program coordinator and professor of the program. He has worked in various manufacturing environments, particularly automotive, by applying ergonomics principles to the plant floor and product design. Dr. Wawrow received his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Wayne State University.

Maryse Harvey, Downsview Aerospace Innovation and Research (DAIR)
Executive Director

Named Executive Director in April 2021, Maryse is responsible for developing and executing DAIR’s strategy, ensuring its good governance, and aligning all activities with the organization’s vision, mission and values. Day to day, Maryse oversees DAIR’s administration and service delivery, and is responsible for the organization’s financial viability, advocacy and stakeholder relations.

As a senior executive with more than 25 years of experience in government decision-making, advocacy, public affairs and not-for-profit management, Maryse previously served four federal ministers, including her role as Aerospace Advisor to the Minister of Industry. Among her other previous roles, Maryse served as Senior Vice-President of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC). In both roles, she was instrumental in fostering the development of policies supporting the Canadian aerospace industry. She also occupied the position of Director of Government Relations at the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC).

Maryse’s commitment to aerospace and to the promotion of leading-edge Canadian innovation is deeply rooted in her love of Canada. She believes Canada’s aerospace prowess embodies the excellence that Canadians are capable of achieving when working together and daring to be ambitious.

Michelle Chrétien, Conestoga College

Associate Vice President, Research & Innovation

Dr. Michelle Chrétien is currently the Associate Vice President, Research & Innovation at Conestoga College. Previously, she was the inaugural Director of the Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Design Technologies at Sheridan College. Prior to joining the public sector in 2018, Michelle spent 12 years at the Xerox Research Centre of Canada in various roles including Global Program Manager (Electronic Materials), Senior R&D Manager (Materials Science), and Program Manager (Strategic Partnerships). Michelle is passionate about the commercialization of innovation and helping companies to innovate, solve problems, and achieve their business and technology goals. Michelle received her BSc in Chemistry from Dalhousie University and PhD in Physical Chemistry from the University of Ottawa. Her extensive experience leading applied research in 3D printing, automation, robotics, simulation, and printed electronics has resulted in new capabilities and infrastructure to support innovations in advanced manufacturing and beyond.

Michelle has published 23 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals and been granted 90 US patents on novel materials and manufacturing technologies. Michelle serves on the Board of Directors of the NSERC Green Printed Electronics Network and the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging. She is also President of the IntelliFLEX Innovation Alliance and an appointed member of the Mitacs Research Council. Michelle is a past Board Member for the Altitude Accelerator and still serves as an advisor and mentor for various incubators and entrepreneurship hubs.

**SOSCIP’s Board of Directors as of March 10, 2022