Québec's Science & Policy Issues



Fanny Dupuy – Director

Fanny is a 5th year Ph.D. student in the Biochemistry department at McGill University. Her work focuses on investigating the importance of metabolism in breast cancer metastasis. Fanny joined SPE in September 2012 as a Director and organized the panel on “The Ph.D. bubble: what is the reality behind the myth?”. Fanny has also been involved with various associations and organizing committees, notably the McGill Graduate Management Consulting Association (GMCA) where she is the Director of Professional Relations. Fanny will use her experience to help establish SPE as the premier forum to discuss Science and Policy Issues in Quebec. Fanny spends the rest of her free time traveling, dancing and practicing all kind of high-adrenaline activities.


AlexAlex Gavrila – Director

Alex has joined the SPE in November 2011 and has been a Director since January 2012. He was the SPE President for 2012-2013, has been responsible for overseeing the registration of all conference attendees and served as the SPE webmaster for two years, while also assisting with panel organization, fundraising, and event promotion among various other tasks. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Neuroscience at Concordia University, studying the role of the anterior agranular insular cortex in risk taking and reward. Alex is passionate about science and economic policy and spends his free time talking to policy-makers, developing his business and entrepreneurial skills on Coursera or in person via multiple new ventures, or engaging in a variety of sports ranging from tennis to organizing paintball outings.


Rebecca Reich – External Director

Rebecca Reich has been with Mitacs since 2010 and is currently Director of Business Development and Team Lead for Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Prior to Mitacs, she worked in Canada for Octasic Semiconductor and in USA and Europe for Analog Devices Inc.  With a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from McGill University and a Masters from MIT (including a minor in Arts-Music), Rebecca has done research in acoustics and signal processing, and has spent the more technical part of her career providing support for customers in building audio systems for electronics and telecommunications.




Chelsea Cavanagh

 Chelsea Cavanagh – Co-President

Chelsea is currently pursuing a PhD in the Integrated Program in Neuroscience at McGill University. Her work focuses on understanding the role of inflammation in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Chelsea joined SPE in the summer of 2014 and helped obtain funding for the 5th Annual Conference. She has also been involved in various outreach initiatives to increase public knowledge about neuroscience and mental health, including BrainReach and ‘Partners for Mental Health’. Outside the lab, Chelsea enjoys dancing and spending time with friends and family.




SwathiSwathi Meenakshi – Co-President

Swathi has earned a Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering from India and is currently completing her final semester of her Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering at McGill University. Her current research project entails designing an induction motor for use in electric or hybrid electric vehicles. Last year Swathi joined SPE as a volunteer because she was inspired to make science conversations inform formulation of policies that affect everyone. She continues to pursue this inspiration as co-president of SPE for the year of 2014-2015. Aside from being a multiyear member of SPE, Swathi has additionally worked at the McGill Office of Sustainability and had the opportunity to found a student club to advocate for free Tibet. She is currently volunteering at a native women’s shelter to conduct nutritional workshops. Furthermore, Swathi’s interests and hobbies include South Indian classical dance and learning and writing French.


Shawn McGuirk

 Shawn McGuirk – VP Finance

Shawn is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in the Biochemistry department at McGill University. His research is focused on determining the importance of metabolism in tumor growth and progression as well as in development of therapeutic resistance. He also develops open-source software tools to facilitate complex analyses, such as metabolic profiling. Shawn joined SPE in September 2013 and, in addition to his role as Treasurer, will be organizing a panel for the 5th annual Science and Policy Exchange (2014) to discuss the impact of patents and patent law on innovation. Shawn has been and remains involved with several associations and committees, including the Canadian non-profit organization Students Offering Support and the Biochemistry Graduate Students’ Society of McGill University (BGSS). He is currently President of the BGSS and is an executive officer of the McGuirk Consulting Group. Shawn spends his free time with friends and family, cooking gourmet meals, playing squash, and following hockey.



Christian Gualtieri – VP External

Christian is a first year M.Sc student in the department of Biochemistry at McGill University. After completing a B.Sc in Biochemistry from McGill he decided to stay in Montreal to pursue his graduate studies. The thrust of his research involves using a forward genetics mouse model approach to understanding the pathways of host resistance to infectious diseases, specifically blood-stage and cerebral malaria. Christian joined SPE in 2015 for he is passionate about bringing scientific issues to the eye of the public domain. In his belief all people should have a basic exposure to current science issues and develop a basic understanding of the need for evidence-based policy. Christian is the VP External for the 2015 year and will be playing a role in organizing the various panel events and looking to further reach out to the public with SPE’s mission. Currently Christian is the VP Communications for the Biochemistry Graduate Student Society (BGSS). In his spare time he enjoys music, sports, reading, cooking, and recently has developed a keen interest in business and entrepreneurship.



 Sandrine Couldwell – VP Member Relations

Sandrine is pursuing her second year as a MSc student in the Dental Sciences at McGIll University. Sandrine has earned a scholarship from the Canadian Health Institute of Research, which is generously funding her research focusing on the role of circulation skeletal mediators of energy metabolism. This is Sandrine’s first year as a member of SPE; she gained interest in the role of policy in the sciences after realizing the lack of knowledge involving the translation of science to the general public. She hopes that SPE can help bridge the gap between the basic sciences and society via focusing on the scientific impact through politics. Sandrine is an active member of multiple post graduate committees on campus and is eager to be involved in her first year as a SPE member. Sandrine’s favorite activities outside of academics involve alpine skiing, horseback riding, doing yoga as well as cooking.



Seqian Wang – VP Marketing

Seqian is completing his MSc in Neuroscience at McGill University, studying the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease and its cognitive impairment using functional brain imaging. Following a growing interest in policy, he became VP Marketing for Science & Policy after attending its 2013 symposium, and has worked on a panel on Canadian Innovation for last year’s forum. In an effort to understand commercialization and to bridge disciplines, Seqian has joined a neuro startup competition to produce a solution to MRI motion in clinical imaging. Outside of research, Seqian dedicates his free time to reading, swimming and learning.



Bin XIao

Bin Xiao – VP Technology

Bin is a 3rd year Ph.D. student in the Biochemistry department at McGill University, who joined SPE in November 2014 as VP Technology. By day, he spends his time studying the role of the Rheb1/mTORC1 signaling axis in Erbb2-driven tumor progression using mouse models of breast cancer. But by night, he spends his time studying the way of the sword (Kendo and Fencing). When he’s not found at the lab or at the dojo, Bin can be found running on the race tracks, snowboarding down the hills, Tangoing on the dance floor, or gaming at home


Daniel Obiri – VP Strategy


Nour Redding – VP Communications

Noura is currently completing her MSc in Family Medicine at McGill University. Her project explores the choices women make when choosing to receive either group or individual prenatal care. She is particularly interested in perspectives of immigrant women and the role culture plays in shaping women’s reflections and expectations of care. Noura has been involved with SPE since November 2013. In addition to her SPE responsibilities, Noura is a peer mentor at the Department of Family Medicine. She also organizes social events in her capacity as VP Internal for the Family Medicine Graduate Students Society (FMGSS). Besides research, Noura enjoys reading, photography and exploring the city with friends.


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