About Us

VISION (2011)

CAPS shall act as a broad national voice of Canadian postdocs. CAPS shall work toward clarifying the role of postdocs in Canada, advocate for equitable treatment of postdocs, and represent the interests of postdocs at Federal and Provincial levels.

MISSION (2011)

CAPS exists to represent Canadian postdocs by:
a. Acting as a Collective Voice
- Examples: act as a liaison between Canadian postdocs, institutional representatives, funding agencies, professional organizations, and the national and provincial governments; highlight the role and value of Canadian postdocs within the academic community within Canada and internationally.
b. Advocating on behalf of Postdocs
- Examples: express the views and needs of postdocs at international, national, regional and institutional levels; establish best practice polices for the postdoctoral training experience and encourage implementation of these policies by institutions nationwide.
c. Providing Resources for Professional Development
- Examples: enhance the postdoctoral experience by facilitating the transition into subsequent career phases; assist in the establishment of and provide support for institutional postdoctoral associations.

GOVERNANCE

CAPS Governance Documents

2017-2018 EXECUTIVE COUNCIL (Under Construction)

Joseph S. Sparling, PhD

Chair

Background: Dr. Joe Sparling is a postdoctoral scholar in the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary where he studies the accumulation of misfolded proteins in neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., Alzheimer’s). Prior to his postdoc, Dr. Sparling completed a BSc in Biology (McMaster University, Hamilton, ON), a BA in Psychology (Brock University, St. Catharines, ON), a Master’s in Behavioural Neuroscience (Queen’s University, Kingston, ON), and a PhD in Neuroscience (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC). During his PhD Dr. Sparling studied cellular therapies for spinal cord injury as a member of International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD). Although the focus of his work is now neurodegenerative disease rather than traumatic injury, he remains primarily interested in research related to the study and treatment of neuropathological conditions affecting the human central nervous system. Beyond his research, Dr. Sparling is also a prominent figure in the postdoctoral community at the institutional, provincial, and national levels, as he is the former (2016) President of the Postdoctoral Association of the University of Calgary (PDAC), an outspoken advocate for improved postdoctoral policies at the provincial level, and he served as the VC Finance and Chair of the National Advocacy Committee for CAPS/ACSP in the first half of 2016.

Agenda: As the Chair of CAPS/ACSP, Dr. Sparling hopes to build on the hard work and dedication of past members of the Executive Board to achieve meaningful and lasting improvements in postdoctoral policies at the federal, provincial, and institutional levels. He firmly believes that postdocs working in Canada deserve the protections commonly provided to employees, that minimum working condition standards for postdocs are essential, and that all postdocs should have access to similar benefits regardless of their nationality or funding source(s). Towards the implementation of such policies, Dr. Sparling plans to expand CAPS/ACSP’s advocacy initiatives in 2016-2017, particularly at the provincial and federal levels. In addition he hopes to increase postdoctoral engagement and involvement in CAPS/ACSP and establish affordable group health insurance for all postdocs not currently provided such coverage through their institutions or funding agencies. Dr. Sparling’s overarching goal is the enactment of uniform postdoctoral policies that guarantee fair and consistent working conditions, rights, and benefits for all postdocs working in Canada. With the dedication of our Executive Board, and the help of our members, he is confident that this is an objective that CAPS/ACSP is capable of achieving in the next few years.

Email: chair@caps-acsp.ca
LinkedIn: https://ca.linkedin.com/in/jsparling
Twitter: @Joe_S_Sparling

Mohamad Nadim Adi, PhD

Past Chair

Background: Dr. Mohamad Nadim Adi completed his doctoral studies in the field of virtual reality, having obtained his undergraduate degree and Master’s in architecture. Combining these two fields, he developed a passion to understand and test new buildings and building materials through the use of VR. Dr. Adi has studied how people respond to different types of built environments using various virtual platforms as a medium. He worked in several universities around the globe, in the fields of high rise wood buildings, hospital design, dementia friendly design, and interactive architecture. He joined the University of Alberta to apply his extensive knowledge of this area in the establishment of a virtual reality lab for multi-disciplinary research in construction. His research has several potential inter-disciplinary applications involving health, education, and ergonomics. He developed an interest in crypto currencies during his time as consultant in the University of Alberta which lead to him to establish one of the biggest mining farms in Edmonton. From there he went to found BitCash Inc. to provide customers with a convenient, safe and fast way to buy bitcoins.

Agenda: Having been elected previously as a student union delegate and CAPS Chair in 2015, he successfully led and established several initiatives that helped in enhancing his fellow students’ experience. He aims to utilize his experience to help his fellow postdocs listening to their concerns and enriching their experience. He also plans to make postdocs more visible in the university and highlight their vital role. He was involved in completing the 3rd national postdoctoral survey and in campaigning for a nationwide clear definition for the postdoc role in higher education.

Email: pastchair@caps-acsp.ca
Research gate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mohamad_Nadim_Adi
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-mohamad-nadim-adi-5179283
Twitter: @mnadeemadi

Anni Hamalainen, PhD

Vice-Chair Operations

Background: Anni Hamalainen gained her MSc from the University of Jyvaskyla, Finland in 2010, and moved on to acquire a PhD in Biology (Evolutionary Ecology) from the University of Gottingen, Germany, in 2015. Continuing her work on life history evolution in wild animals, she then went on to pursue post-doctoral training at the University of Alberta, Canada, in 2015-2017. She is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Montreal, working in a multi-institutional, collaborative epidemiology project to study the interactive effects of sensory and cognitive aging and social participation on healthy aging in humans, using data from the Canadian Longitudinal Study of Aging. Anni has previously participated in advocating for early career scientists e.g. by representing biology students on labor union committees, and most recently, serving as VP Communication on the Board of the Post-Doctoral Fellows Association of the University of Alberta.

Agenda: Canadian policy and recognition lag behind changes that have altered the average duration and importance of the post doc career phase. As a result, early career academics find themselves in the post doc limbo for extended periods of time, sometimes lacking basic benefits, and typically with minimal support to plan life in the long term (e.g. through job security, parental benefits, pension). As an increasing proportion of the country’s scientific output is simultaneously produced by post docs, this situation must change in order to ensure the well-being of individual post docs, and consequently, sustained Canadian research excellence. CAPS is working towards better recognition and appreciation of post docs as an integral part of the academic community, and as Vice-Chair Operations, Anni will support the smooth functioning of the CAPS Executive Board in conducting this advocacy work.

Email: operations@caps-acsp.ca

Emma Griffiths, PhD

Vice-Chair Communications

Background: Emma Griffiths is currently a postdoc at Simon Fraser University (Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Greater Vancouver, British Columbia), where she works
with different Canadian and international health and regulatory agencies to develop frameworks (ontologies) for sharing and integrating whole genome sequencing and contextual data (clinical, epidemiological, laboratory). This goal of her work is to better enable the implementation of genomics for improved tracking and control of infectious disease outbreaks. Dr. Griffiths completed her PhD in Bacterial Phylogeny (McMaster University, Hamilton, Ont), and combines this expertise with postdoctoral experience in antimicrobial resistance analyses, as well as chemical and fungal genetics (McMaster University, and the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC) in her current research in genomic epidemiology. Dr. Griffiths has a keen
interest in advocacy, and participates in different environmental and social equity efforts. As such, she co-founded and is past president of the Simon Fraser University Postdoc Association
(SFU PDA). During her terms as president, Dr. Griffiths helped to establish many new initiatives such as the annual SFU Postdoc Research Day, the Brown Bags Professional Development
Lunch Time Workshop Series, the Practice Job Talk Seminar Series, and the Postdoc Profile Writing Workshop.

Agenda: Communication is one of the most powerful tools for organization and advocacy, and CAPS/ACSP advocates and provides a voice for postdocs across Canada. CAPS/ACSP also
works to provide a variety of resources, while engaging different partners to strengthen the postdoc community. Currently, Dr. Griffiths is serving as the Vice-Chair Communications for
CAPS/ACSP where she hopes to improve communication between Canadian postdocs (at home and abroad) and educational and administrative stakeholders.

Email: ega12@sfu.ca
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/emma-griffiths-a0a3383/
Twitter: @griffiemma

Vice-Chair French Communications

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Vice-Chair Website Management

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Mohit Garg, PhD

Vice-Chair Finances

Background: Dr. Mohit Garg is a member of ASTM (voting), EGBC, IEEE, IIE and currently a Postdoctoral scholar in ‘Centre for Advanced Materials and Related Technology’ at the University of Victoria. In addition to that Mohit has more than 5 years experience in the field of composite materials, non-destructive testing, and data analysis. Mohit wears an ‘Iron Ring’, honoured after successfully completing the requirements of ‘Bachelors in Industrial Engineering with minor in Supply chain management’ program from University of Windsor, Ontario in June 2010. It is worthy to mention that Dr. Mohit received a ‘Certificate of Distinction’ from University of Waterloo (in 2004). Mohit has published work in several high-impact factor peer-reviewed journals and also provides his comments and feedback on composites related articles as a ‘Reviewer’. Additionally, he also been the editor of ‘Operations Research’ book published by McGraw Hill. Lastly, Mohit has served as a ‘non-tenure faculty’ at two prestigious institutes in India, Thapar University and PEC University of Technology.

Agenda: Dr. Garg’s goal as CAPS Vice Financial Chair is to maintain a healthy and balanced financial budget through the year. CAPS servers a vital role and as a helping hand in addressing issues and concerns of both local and international Postdoc fellows here in Canada. It is also the goal of this association to carefully utilize the funds and resources available for the betterment of the community, as a whole. Mohit is also interested in helping his postdoc fellows in Canada to make them aware of possible financial assistance available to support themselves, boost their rights, and avail special facilities for them with the support from the local bodies or the government.

Email: finance@caps-acsp.ca
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mgarg28
Research Gate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Dr_Mohit_Garg
Twitter: @mgarg28
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/mohitgg

Vice-Chair Membership

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Mohamed Elgendi, PhD

Vice-Chair External

Background: Dr. Mohamed Elgendi is a senior IEEE member and currently a Mining for Miracles Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. In addition to his 10+ years of experience in the field of data analysis, he received training on Big Data Analysis and Leadership in Education from MIT. Elgendi's experience in the area of data analysis and visualization includes his work in Global Health with the PRE-EMPT Initiative (funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), and at the Institute for Media Innovation at Nanyang Technological University (Singapore). Elgendi specializes in bridging the areas of engineering, computer science, psychology, neuroscience and medicine for knowledge translation.

Agenda: Dr. Elgendi immensely understands that for the growing number of postdocs, there are fewer and fewer opportunities and employment options in academia. A main focus will be to explore the joint planning of fairs and conferences for all postdocs in Canadian Universities with sister and partner organizations. Moreover, he will work to establish work network opportunities with industries through his current diverse network in engineering, medicine, computer science, and digital health. Collaboration with other post-doc associations across Canada will also be pursued to raise awareness of common issues Canadian post-docs face, in addition to establishing strong bonds with industry leaders. Exploring the planning of national social events for broad outreach will also be on the agenda with the aim of involving post-docs in events and opportunities.

Email: external@caps-acsp.ca
Website: www.elgendi.net
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/moe.elgendi
Twitter: @MoeElgendi
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elgendi/

Helen Roberts, PhD

Vice-Chair International

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Vice-Chair Career Development

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Maartje Wouters, PhD

Vice-Chair Data Management

Background: Dr. Wouters received her MSc training in biomedical sciences from the Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands. Getting some experience abroad, she performed parts of the MSc training at the University of Antwerp in Belgium and Queen’s University in Kingston, ON. Subsequently, she moved on to Ph.D. training in tumor immunology at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. Currently, she researches the role the tumor microenvironment plays in the immune response towards cancer as a postdoctoral researcher at the BC Cancer Agency in Victoria, BC.

Agenda: As CAPS is growing as an organization; we want to make sure that CAPS represents all postdocs in Canada. As the VC surveys and data management, Dr. Wouters has as a primary goal to inform the organization about the postdoc population that is reached by current approaches, increase the number of memberships in all postdoc target populations, and find ways to extend the reach in order to improve the impact of CAPS. Furthermore, Dr. Wouters will analyze surveys conducted by CAPS to evaluate current conditions at which postdocs in Canada operate, and to obtain opinions and ideas of the postdoc population about pressing matters.

Email: survey@caps-acsp.ca

Monica Sesma-Vazquez, PhD

Advisor

Background: Dr. Monica Sesma-Vazquez was born in Mexico City. She pursued studies (Bachelor, Master and Ph D) in Psychology, and has several specializations as an individual, couple, and family therapist. She was a professor in three Universities in Mexico City (Universidad de Londres, Universidad de las Americas, and Alliant International University), teaching Narrative, Brief, Solution Focused, Reflecting Teams, and Collaborative Therapies, as well as Qualitative Research Methods, in graduate programs. She worked several years at the Eating Disorders Clinic at Hospital Medica Sur in Mexico City as an individual and family therapist. Dr. Sesma-Vazquez’s research primarily focuses on examining families’ and professionals’ discourses, conversations, and interactions around food, weight, and appearance; she also investigates the implementation of family therapy treatments for people with eating concerns in Canada. She studies Western DSM diagnostic culture and how discourses on mental health and medicalization impact individuals and families. Her research focuses on how people perform mental illness understandings in social interactions, and how these performances shape their relationships and experiences. She is the Spanish Translator Editor for the International Journal of Collaborative Practices, a Taos Institute council member and associate, and President of the Postdoctoral Association of the University of Calgary (PDAC).

Agenda: Monica served as the Vice Chair Communications for CAPS/ACSP from 2014 to 2017 and played a key role in the development and implementation of our new website. She became an Advisor to the CAPS/ACSP in July 2017.

Online Profile (UCalgary): http://werklund.ucalgary.ca/educ_info/profiles/monica-sesma-vazquez
Twitter: @monicasesma
LinkedIn: https://ca.linkedin.com/pub/monica-sesma-vazquez-ph-d/7/758/ba8

Silvia Vilches, PhD

Advisor

Background: Silvia Vilches is a Mitacs Elevate postdoctoral fellowship at the Centre for Health Leadership and Research in the School of Leadership Studies at Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC. She is studying in capacity development and leadership in the health system with the Canadian College of Health Leaders and Fenwick Leadership Explorations. Her academic studies centre on social planning issues, and have evolved from an interest in the contribution community makes to well-being (psychology) to studies in policy and practice and the difference early childhood education makes in communities, to mental health community partnerships planning (urban planning) at UBC. These studies have involved her in community research and capacity development partnerships with First Nations, explorations of GLBTTQ equity and inclusion in the academic setting, and investigation of the impacts of welfare policy reform. She has worked in the nonprofit sector on community social issues, and she has more than 22 years of experience on non-profit boards. In these various capacities she has worked on organizational development and change theory, fundraising, incorporation, and with agency and board volunteers.

Chris Corkery, PhD

Advisor

Background: Chris completed an MSc in Polymer Chemistry at the University of Manitoba in 2006 and then earned a PhD on Optical Materials at the Australian National University in 2010. He spent two years as a postdoc at the University of Western Ontario, working on water-repelling coatings. The three years folliwing were as a CREATE postdoctoral fellowship in Neuroengineering at McGill University, where he designed surfaces for brain-machine interfaces. Currently, he is the Chief Project Engineer at Sensoreal Inc. and a part-time Workshop Facilitator at McGill University. Sensoreal (www.sensoreal.com) is a small company specializing in point-of-care health testing. They design capillary microfluidic devices that rapidly and economically make health measurements within 20 minutes, allowing for prompt assessment and treatment. Chris has been involved with postdoctoral fellows in Canada from 2010, holding various positions, chronologically: VC external of the Postdoc Association at Western (PAW, 2010-2011), Chair of the Canadian Association of Postdoctoral Scholars (CAPS, 2011-2012), the Past-Chair of CAPS (2012-2013), and the Chair of the Association of Postdoctoral Fellows at McGill (APF, 2012-2016). Chris has served as an executive member of CAPS from 2010 to present, and represented CAPS at several national and international conferences and meetings.

Agenda: Both as the Chair of CAPS and in his other postdoctoral representation positions, Chris' main agenda has been to increase the reputation of postdoctoral positions in Canada. More attractive postdoctoral appointments will result in higher quality postdocs and improve the level of research coming out of Canada. Successes have been many, with the largest achievement being the completion of the first third-party national survey of postdoctoral scholars and a resulting white paper. This survey data has been used and reported widely by the tri-councils, scholarly journals, media, Mitacs, universities, and national and international postdoctoral associations. He was pleased to be involved in the 2016 Canadian National Postdoctoral Survey as well, and was a co-author on the official report from that survey released Nov 21st, 2016.

Peter Clark, PhD

At-Large Member

Background: Dr Peter Clark is a CREATE ChemNET Postdoctoral Fellow at Simon Fraser University researching the development of chemical probes and drug-targeting technologies under the supervision of Professor Robert Young. Originally from New Zealand, he completed both a Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences, majoring in Molecular Pharmacology and Medicinal Chemistry, and Master of Science, in Chemistry, at Victoria University of Wellington. A recipient of the prestigious Woolf Fisher Scholarship, Peter completed his Doctorate of Philosophy in Organic Chemistry at the University of Oxford in 2015 before commencing his fellowship. As part of his fellowship program, he has also completed an internship as a Research Associate at the biotechnology company Mesentech Inc. Outside of the academic arena, Dr Clark has served as both the Vice-President (External Communications) and Acting President for the Simon Fraser University Postdoctoral Association, and is both an organiser and lead author of the Future of Research Vancouver 2017 workshop.

Agenda: Peter’s agenda is to identify deficiencies in how the world does operate, and strategize ways towards how it should operate. Through a lack of awareness, a lack of remediation, and/or self-interests, many current systems are detrimental to the groups they are meant to assist: Dr Clark seeks out such situations, and enjoys both analysing the issues and strategizing a range of solutions to address these. Postdoctoral fellows in Canada are just such a group. Peter recently prepared a report exposing the issues they face, and identified a range of action items to try and amend these; he is currently pursuing these items towards a positive change for some of the affected postdoctoral fellows.

Email: peter.clark.dphil@gmail.com
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/peter-g-k-clark-4b152a44/

Michael Kyweriga, PhD

At-Large Member

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Jessica Walsh, PhD

At-Large Member

Background: I am an interdisciplinary conservation ecologist. I study how we can protect biodiversity, prevent species extinctions and manage our natural resources sustainably. I do this by finding effective conservation management and policy solutions to mitigate current threats facing natural ecosystems. I currently hold the Tom Buell Salmon Conservation Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at Simon Fraser University, where I'm looking at how to apply ecosystem-based management to Pacific salmon fisheries. During my PhD at the University of Cambridge, UK, I studied how to bridge the gap between conservation science and practice using principles of evidence-based management.

Agenda: As VP External Communications for the Simon Fraser University Post-Doctoral Association, I am the communication link between CAPS and our local university activities and campaigns. I aim to develop a stronger post-doc community at SFU, while ensuring that our short time spent as post-docs in Canada is enjoyable and welcoming. At a national level, I aim to help organise campaigns that improve post-doc rights, recognition and benefits.

Email: jessica_walsh@sfu.ca
Website: https://jessicawalsh1.wordpress.com/research/
Twitter: @jessicawalsh1
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessicaclairewalsh/

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PAST EXECUTIVE COUNCILS

2016-2017

Chair: Joseph S. Sparling, PhD
Past Chair: Mohamad Nadim Adi, PhD
Co-Vice-Chair Communications: Monica Sesma-Vazquez, PhD
Co-Vice-Chair Communications: Emma Griffiths, PhD
Vice-Chair External: Nafisa Jadavji, PhD
Vice-Chair Operations: Caitlin Forsey, PhD
Vice-Chair Finances: Mohit Garg, PhD (2017); Pengwei Wang, PhD (2016)
Vice-Chair International: Lauren Drogos, PhD
Advisor: Chris Corkery, PhD
Advisor: Silvia Vilches, PhD
At-Large Member: Michael Kyweriga, PhD
At-Large Member: Peter Clark, PhD
At-Large Member: Grace Iyirhiaro, PhD
At-Large Member: Stefanie Vogt, PhD

2015-2016

Chair: Mohamad Nadim Adi, PhD
Past-Chair: Raj Kannan, PhD
Vice-Chair Operations: Jiro Inoue, PhD
Vice-Chair Finances: Joe Sparling, PhD
Vice-Chair Communications: Monica Sesma-Vazquez, PhD
Vice-Chair External: Nafisa M. Jadavji, PhD
AGM Co-Chair and CAPS/ACSP Advisor: Silvia Vilches, PhD

2014-2015

Chair: Raj Kannan, PhD
Past Chair: Silvia Vilches, PhD
Vice-Chair Operations: Mohamad Nadim Adi, PhD
Vice-Chair Finances: Abdi Ghaffari, PhD
Vice-Chair Communications: Wei Wei, PhD (2014); Monica Sesma-Vazquez, PhD (2014-2015)
Vice-Chair External: Hein Min Tun, PhD

2013-2014

Chair: Silvia Vilches, PhD
Vice-Chair Operations: Chinyere (Chi chi) Nwafor-Okoli, PhD
Vice-Chair Finances: Abdi Ghaffari, PhD
Vice-Chair Communications: Kalin Penev, PhD
Vice-Chair External: Supriya Syal, PhD
Vice-Chair International: David Kent, PhD