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A strong role for science in policy-making was an explicit promise of the new Canadian government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Now, to ensure government makes good on that promise, Canadian scientists are stepping up to  hold the Trudeau government’s feet to the fire. Biologist Wendy Palen and the organization Evidence for Democracy (E4D) are two of the players taking on that role. The story will drill into Palen's role as a mentor and role model for young scientists and colleagues in Canada as well as in the United States where federal scientists are today facing similar restrictions as Canadian scientists experienced years before.


Part 1 - Evolution of a Politically Engaged Scientist

Wendy Palen combines being a passionate biologist with fighting for evidence in policy making. Her decision to engage in the policy sphere was motivated in part by a recent political situation  -- when scientists were muzzled by government.


Part 2 - Taking Science to Policymakers: Politicians are People Too

Wendy Palen is a scientist plugged into Canadian environmental policy at local and national levels. She’s also a mentor to young scientists who want their science to reach beyond the ivory tower and have a voice at a much broader level.


Part 3 - Countercurrents

As an academic with a passion for seeing science and evidence as a foundation for policy-making, Wendy Palen often has to push against institutional inertia. Involvement in the policy sphere at provincial and federal levels requires a combination of strategic collaboration, scientific integrity, savvy communication skills, and dogged determination, all of which she is determined to pass along to the next generation of young scientists.

Photo: Pascal Limothe-Kipnes

Photo: Lesley Evans Ogden

Lesley Evans Ogden

The journalist


Lesley Evans Ogden is a freelance science journalist based near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. She reports mainly on ecology, conservation biology, quirky animal behaviour and environmental health, but also explores the intersection of science, human rights, policy, and the challenges of freelancing. She leapt from scientist to science journalist after an MSc, PhD, and postdoctoral research in bird ecology. Lesley later completed Science Communications and Investigative Journalism programmes at the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada, and continues to avidly pursue professional development opportunities. Her clients include Natural History, BioScience, BBC, New Scientist, Scientific American, Mosaic, Storyboard, Science, Nature, CBC, Undark, Science News and others.

Wendy Palen

The scientist


Wendy Palen is a freshwater ecologist at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia. She is Chair of the Board of Directors for Evidence for Democracy (E4D). This non-profit organisation is non-partisan, focusing on evidence-based decision-making without supporting any one political party. Palen is also Assistant Director of the Liber Ero Fellowship Program, a post-doctoral fellowship that supports early-career scientists in tackling Canadian conservation problems, A key goal of the program is training scholars to more effectively communicate their research applications beyond the ivory tower - to the wider world.

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