Tina McDivitt (Chair)Spindle Strategy
Julia BaumUniversity of Victoria
Elizabeth ClareYork University
Melania CristescuMcGill University
Andrew GonzalezMcGill University
David HikPolar Knowledge Canada
Tamer ÖzsuUniversity of Waterloo
President & Founder
Tina is the Founder and President of Spindle. She has led the execution of over 50 consulting engagements, developing strategies for maximizing the value, effectiveness, and downstream impact of academic, educational, commercial, and advocacy programs powered by cutting-edge science. She has extensive experience in strategic planning, impact assessment, opportunity evaluation, and capital sourcing. She has worked with senior university leaders, industry executives, and government decision-makers on a wide range of strategy development projects. For approximately five years before she founded Spindle, Tina served as the Director of Strategic Planning and Communications for Ontario Genomics. She worked closely with senior government officials to develop strategic plans and implementation road maps aimed at bolstering Ontario’s innovation and commercialization capacity. Before her work at Ontario Genomics, Tina was a consultant with Shift Health, a boutique management consulting firm focused on the health sphere. Tina received her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Waterloo and holds a Ph.D. in molecular mechanisms of infectious disease from the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto.
President’s Chair & Professor of Biology
University of Victoria
Julia Baum is a Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Victoria in Canada. She received her BSc from McGill University and her MSc and PhD from Dalhousie University, all in Biology. Julia subsequently held a David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowship at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, followed by a Schmidt Ocean Institute postdoctoral fellowship at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) in Santa Barbara. Julia is a leader in marine ecology and conservation biology and is best known for her research documenting precipitous recent declines in shark populations stemming from overfishing. She has conducted field research in eleven countries, including the Republic of Kiribati, where her current coral reef field program is located. Julia’s research at UVic focuses on understanding how anthropogenic disturbances, from exploitation to climate change, impact marine populations and the broader consequences of these changes for marine community structure and function, including the ecosystem services upon which our society relies. Her research directly relates to ocean resource management, conservation, and policy. She was awarded a Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation in 2017, an EWR Steacie Fellowship in 2018, and the UVic President’s Chair Award in 2021.
Assistant Professor in Molecular Ecology
Dr. Elizabeth Clare is an Assistant Professor of Molecular Ecology at York University in Canada. Elizabeth completed her PhD in Ontario and a postdoctoral fellowship at Bristol University. She held a faculty position at Queen Mary University of London from 2013-2021 before returning to Canada to join York University. Her research group specializes in applying metabarcoding and environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis of biodiversity and ecological interactions, emphasizing the response of ecological communities to fragmented habitats. Her research group has developed various new field research techniques, including metabarcoding to analyze diet and eDNA to track terrestrial vertebrates through leech blood meals and dung beetles’ gut contents. Most recently, Elizabeth’s research group has demonstrated that it is possible to collect vertebrate DNA from air samples – a technique that has promising implications for global biodiversity monitoring.
Associate Professor & Canada Research Chair in Ecological Genomics
Melania Cristescu is a biologist and ecologist. She is an associate professor and Canada Research Chair in Ecological Genomics at McGill University and the Co-Editor of Genome. Cristescu earned her BSc Honors in Biology at Ovidius University of Constanța in 1996. After spending a year in Rochester, New York studying English, she moved to Canada, where she obtained a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology at the University of Guelph in 2004, under the direction of Paul Hebert. After working as an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow at Indiana University, she became an associate professor at the University of Windsor, where she worked in the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research. Cristescu’s area of research is ecological genetics and genomics, and her primary research organism is the microcrustacean Daphnia. Her other research areas include the nature and scale of recombination and mutation rate variation across genomes, the genetics of aquatic invasions, and speciation in ancient lakes.
Professor & Liber Ero Chair in Conservation Biology
Andrew Gonzalez is Liber Ero Chair in Conservation Biology, co-Chair (elect) for GEOBO, and Founding Director of the Quebec Centre for Biodiversity Science. Gonzalez obtained a BSc in Zoology (Hons.) in 1994 at the University of Nottingham, where he did undergraduate research on pollinator behaviour in honey bees, and the effects of habitat fragmentation and corridors on species diversity. Gonzalez obtained a PhD in ecology (1998) at Silwood Park (Imperial College) where he worked with John Lawton on the causes and consequences of extinction. He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship with Michel Loreau at the University of Paris VI, where he extended metacommunity theory to the field of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. He then spent four years as an assistant professor at the University of Paris VI, before moving to McGill University as an Associate Professor in 2003. Major research interests include biodiversity loss as a form of global change, species’ persistence in fluctuating and changing environments, evolutionary rescue and its consequences for diversity, and links between biodiversity change, sustainability, and human wellbeing. Gonzalez has spoken at the World Economic Forum in Davos on the sixth mass extinction and resilient ecosystems for urban sustainability. He is co-lead of the Adapting Urban Environments for the Future theme of McGill’s Sustainability Systems Initiative. In 2018, he started a spin-off company called Eco2Urb.
Chief Scientist & Executive Director – Programs
Polar Knowledge Canada
In September 2021, Dr. David Hik moved to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, as the new Chief Scientist and Executive Director of Programs at Polar Knowledge Canada. He is also a Professor of Ecology at Simon Fraser University (previously the University of Alberta and the University of Toronto). Over the past 38 years, his research has focused on the dynamics of cold-region environments, interactions between plants and herbivores, impacts of rapid climate change, and the determinants of social-ecological resilience. David has worked in Yukon, NWT, Hudson Bay, Iceland, Svalbard, Australia, and western Canada and Costa Rica mountains. He served as Executive Director of the Canadian International Polar Year (IPY) Secretariat, President of the International Arctic Science Committee, and advisor to many Arctic research organizations and programs. He is a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and recipient of the RCGS Bergmann Medal and Polar Medal (Canada).
M. Tamer Özsu
Cheriton School of Computer Science, University of Waterloo
Dr. M. Tamer Özsu is a University Professor at the Cheriton School of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo, where he holds a Cheriton Faculty Fellowship. He has previously served as the Director of the Cheriton School and Associate Dean (Research) of the Faculty of Mathematics. His research is broadly in data science, focusing on data engineering. His research follows two threads: large-scale data distribution and management of non-traditional data (i.e., non-relational data). Currently, his research focus is on graph data and RDF data. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, American Association for the Advancement of Science, ACM, and IEEE, an elected member of the Academy of Science of Turkey, and a member of Sigma Xi. He is the recipient of the IEEE Innovation in Societal Infrastructure Award (2022), CS-Can/Info-Can Lifetime Achievement Award (2018), ACM SIGMOD Test-of-Time Award (2015), the ACM SIGMOD Contributions Award (2006), and The Ohio State University College of Engineering Distinguished Alumnus Award (2008).