Dr. Stephanie MacQuarrie to Serve Term as Atlantic Chair for Inclusion in Science and Engineering

Dr. Stephanie MacQuarrie will build on her commitment as a champion for equity, diversity and inclusion in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as she begins a two-year term as one of three Atlantic Chairs for Inclusion in Science and Engineering (A-CISE). This new award, established by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), has a mandate to help change the face of STEM in the Atlantic region.

Since joining CBU in 2009, Dr. MacQuarrie has advocated for inclusion in STEM, with a particularly successful focus on promoting women and girls in such fields. Whether hosting science events, offering professional development for science teachers and guidance councillors or developing summer science camps, she brings knowledge and experience as Chair of Island WISE, a program focusing on women and girls in science. Dr. MacQuarrie is also recognized for her work as the Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion on the Board of Directors for the Chemistry Society of Canada, where she chairs a committee that has been integral in developing policy around EDI in Canadian Chemistry and bringing childcare to the national conferences.

“I’m thrilled to work with this incredible team, building on the work of previous CWSE Atlantic Chair and starting new initiatives to promote EDI in STEM in the Atlantic provinces,” says Dr. MacQuarrie.

Together with Dr. Kevin Hewitt from Dalhousie University and Dr. Svetlana Barkanova from Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, Dr. MacQuarrie will join the team tasked with creating programs that aim to support women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, racialized groups and members of the 2SLGBTQI+ community, with a particular focus on First Nations and Francophone communities, African Nova Scotians and remote and rural communities.

“Our team will rely on our networks, collaborators and experts across the region to build this program,” says Dr. MacQuarrie. “I’m excited for the outcomes as we work to inform policy, foster positive change and gain the benefits that diversity brings to STEM.”

The Chairs will focus on recruitment and retention in STEM fields, building on successful local programs by extending them regionally and nationally. This includes programs currently offered by NSERC’s Chairs for Women in Science and Engineering in Atlantic Canada. In addition, Dr. Barkanova’s Physics in the Rural Classroom program, and Dr. Hewitt’s STEM curricula developed for the Imhotep’s Legacy Academy will also be adopted.

Four new regional initiatives will also be introduced, including:

  • An A-CISE scholar employment program which aims to addresses the critical grade nine/ten year when students make the decision to enter STEM;
  • A Science program led by Cape Breton University’s Unama’ki College;
  • A speaker series that will bring important voices to institutions across Atlantic Canada; and
  • A large-scale engagement program that will build on the occasion of the April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse to engage student imaginations.

The team will also lead four policy and systemic change initiatives to address critical issues in STEM, including:

  • Creating STEM education recommendations to guide departments of education;
  • Outreach to Deans of science and engineering to address issues in tenure and promotion processes;
  • Examining science fair structure and inclusivity in partnership Youth Science Canada;
  • Building a promising practice database development with graduate students.

As an immediate next step, the team will recruit a new managing director for the initiative to be based at Dalhousie University, along with part time program directors at Cape Breton University and Memorial University. A-CISE funding will also support postdoctoral fellows who will work with the co-chairs to ensure their scientific research can continue to progress.

Congratulations to Dr. Stephanie MacQuarrie and colleagues for receiving this honour!