Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
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Executive Team

Janet Walden
Chief Operating Officer

Janet Walden was appointed Chief Operating Officer of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) effective March 4, 2013.

Janet began her career working as an environmental chemist in the forestry industry, focussing on environmental improvement. Following five years in industry, she joined NSERC in 1982.

Janet has more than 30 years of experience in increasingly senior positions in NSERC, including seven years as Director of the Networks of Centres of Excellence during the formative period when it was building its new national partnership model and, most recently, 16 years as Vice-President of NSERC’s Research Partnerships Programs (RPP).

As Vice-President of RPP, Janet made key contributions to NSERC’s reputation as a recognized leader in two crucial activities: building public/private research and training partnerships to increase Canada’s capacity for innovation, and supporting the transfer of research results and technology to end users. She is credited with having created and implemented a spectrum of national policies and partnership programs that have been highly successful in stimulating research collaboration and commercialization and maximizing the benefits for researchers, students and companies.

Thanks to Janet’s leadership, NSERC also developed and launched its first programs to support applied research and training in colleges, as well as its highly successful Strategy for Partnerships and Innovation and its partnership-focused regional offices. As a result, NSERC’s partnership initiatives have grown to a value exceeding $300 million per year. They now involve more than 3,500 university and college researchers working with more than 2,500 companies.

In 2010, Janet received the ACCT Canada Maple Leaf Award for her vision and leadership in Canadian technology transfer and industry engagement at the industry/academic research interface.

Pierre Charest
Vice-President, Research Grants and Scholarships Directorate

Pierre Charest joined NSERC in August 2011 and currently serves as Vice-President, Research Grants and Scholarships Directorate. He previously held the position of Associate Vice-President of Corporate Planning and Policy at NSERC.

Prior to his time at NSERC, Pierre worked at Health Canada, where he was Director General of the Science Policy Directorate. Pierre also held the positions of Associate Vice-President of the Science Branch of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Director General of Health Canada’s Biologics and Genetic Therapies Directorate and Office of Biotechnology and Science.

Pierre started his career in the public service in 1989 as a research scientist at the Canadian Forest Service of Natural Resources Canada, where he occupied a number of positions with increasing responsibility. He also had appointments as adjunct professor at the University of Victoria and as honorary research associate at the University of New Brunswick.

Before joining NSERC, Pierre served as chair and member of several peer review committees for NSERC, the Canadian Institute of Health Research, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and Genome Canada. He has had a productive research career as author or co-author of 77 scientific publications and presenter of 80 scientific communications and over 25 invited lectures.

Pierre holds a B.Sc.A. and an M.Sc. in Agronomy from Université Laval, graduate certificates in Health System Leadership and Executive Coaching from Royal Roads University, and a Ph. D. in Molecular Biology from Carleton University.

Blair Dickerson
Vice-President, External Relations and Communications Directorate

Blair Dickerson joined NSERC in 2008, as Vice-President, External Relations and Communications. She has nurtured an interest in high-performing teams and is putting her passion into action at NSERC, where she is building a strong External Relations and Communications Directorate to reach out to new audiences.

Before joining NSERC, Blair worked with the Solicitor General of Canada, Transport Canada, Department of National Defence, Multiculturalism and Citizenship, and Western Economic Diversification. Focussing on assignments in a highly regulated environment, she worked at Natural Resources Canada in the areas of mining, forestry and energy. In the private sector, Blair worked in the pharmaceutical sector at GlaxoSmithKline, and with the alcohol beverage industry.

Blair is a strategic advisor and communications professional with over 20 years of experience in the field. She specializes in developing high-yield public-private sector partnerships to promote shared goals.

Blair has a BA in Political Science from Carleton University and an MBA from Queen’s University.

Kevin Fitzgibbons
Associate Vice President, Corporate Planning and Policy

Kevin Fitzgibbons joined NSERC in October 2013 as the Associate Vice-President, Corporate Planning and Policy. He works to support NSERC’s role in federal science, technology and innovation policy, to drive strategic and integrated planning, and to oversee corporate planning and policy management throughout the organization.

Kevin has over 20 years of experience in the public sector and was previously the Director of Innovation Science and Technology at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development where he oversaw international science, technology and innovation cooperation projects and investments. He has also worked as the Executive Director of the Office of the National Science Advisor, and as a strategic planning and policy advisor with the National Research Council Canada (NRC).

For his significant efforts and contributions in the public service Kevin was awarded the Queen’s Jubilee Medal for Public Service in 2002. In addition, while he was with the National Research Council, he was awarded the NRC Corporate Services Award for Excellence in 2002, 1999, and 1997, as well as the NRC Excellence Award for Administration in 2000.

Kevin has a BA in Modern Languages (French, Spanish) from Trent University and a Masters of Political Science from Université de Montréal.

André Isabelle
Associate Vice-President, Networks of Centres of Excellence

As Associate Vice-President of the Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE), André Isabelle leads the NCE’s efforts to mobilize Canada’s best research, development and entrepreneurial talent to address specific issues. Networks and centres funded through NCE programs focus a critical mass of research resources on social and economic challenges, commercialize and apply research breakthroughs, increase private-sector R&D, and train the next generation of talented people. André brings to his role extensive national and international experience with partnerships, industry, academia and the federal granting agencies. Trained as a biologist, he worked with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) for more than 25 years, most recently as Director of the Energy, Environment and Resources Division within NSERC’s Research Partnerships Programs Directorate. As a senior manager, he has helped lead collaborative initiatives involving multiple agencies and government departments, often integrating the social sciences, health, and natural sciences and engineering. André was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013 for his work to foster academic-industry partnerships in the resource sector.

Alfred Tsang
Interim Chief Financial Officer and Vice-President, Common Administrative Services Directorate

In February 2014, Alfred Tsang joined NSERC and SSHRC for a six-month period until the agencies complete the formal competition for an indeterminate position. As Chief Financial Officer and Vice-President in the Common Administrative Services Directorate shared by these two organizations, he provides leadership in resource and business management that is tailored to the needs of each agency. As a member of their respective executive committees, he advises the Presidents and Senior Management of the agencies on strategic planning.

Alfred is an experienced executive with more than 30 years of experience in the public service. He has served as Chief Financial Officer at Health Canada as well as Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. He has also worked in a number of other departments, including Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada, Industry Canada, Treasury Board Canada Secretariat and Public Works and Government Services Canada.

In addition to being a Certified Management Accountant, he has a Bachelor of Commerce degree and a MA in Public Administration from Carleton University.

Bert van den Berg
Acting Vice-President, Research Partnerships Programs Directorate

As Acting Vice-President of NSERC’s Research Partnership Programs, Bert van den Berg is responsible for a range of programs designed to stimulate increased public/private collaboration and technology transfer and to maximize the benefits that university and college research provides to Canada.

Bert has been Director of the Colleges, Commercialization, and Portfolio Planning Division in the Research Partnerships Programs Directorate at NSERC since 2008. In addition to leading the delivery and growth of the College and Community Innovation Program, he spearheaded the development of NSERC’s Strategy for Partnerships and Innovation. He has been at NSERC since 2002 and has a broad range of experience in program delivery, particularly focused on partnerships.

Bert has more than a decade as a research group leader at National Research Canada in Integrated Manufacturing, and worked in a variety of roles in a small technology firm over six years. Supported by an MBA focused on innovation, he has the necessary background knowledge of the R&D landscape in Canada to be able to support research and innovation efforts in academia through NSERC’s funding programs.

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