Main conferences

The Governor General of Canada, Her Excellency the Right Honorable Julie Payette

Before becoming Governor General, Julie Payette was an astronaut, engineer, scientific broadcaster and corporate director.

From 1992 to 2013, Ms. Payette worked as an astronaut and flew two missions in space. She also served many years as CAPCOM (Capsule Communicator) at NASA’s Mission Control Center in Houston, Texas, and was Chief Astronaut for the Canadian Space Agency.

She is well respected for her work in developing policies to promote science and technology. From 2011 to 2013, she worked as a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., and was appointed scientific authority for Quebec in the United States. Between July 2013 and October 2016, she served as Chief Operating Officer of the Montréal Science Centre.

Her Excellency Aminata Touré, President of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council of Senegal, former Prime Minister of Senegal

Dr. Touré served as the Prime Minister of Senegal from September 2013 until July 2014. She was also Justice Minister from 2012 to 2013 where she focused on anti-corruption campaigns. She is currently a special envoy of President Macky Sall for Internal and External Affairs. Since 2014, she led several Presidential election observation missions including in Mauritius, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia and Kenya, where she co-led the first round of the election observation mission on behalf of the Carter Center with then-US Secretary of State, John Kerry. Dr. Aminata Touré will be a Harvard Kennedy School Fisher Family Fellow with the Future of Diplomacy Project in the academic year 2018-2019.

His Excellency Cheick Modibo Diarra, Chair of the Africa Legal Network and former Prime Minister of Mali

Dr Diarra is a Malian astrophysicist, businessman, and politician. He was the Prime Minister of Mali from April to December 2012 and the chairman of Microsoft Africa from 2006 until 2011. He is a goodwill ambassador for UNESCO and also served as the CEO of the African Virtual University, based in Kenya, in 2002 – 2003.

In 1984, Dr Diarra joined the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California (a division of NASA). There he participated in various missions: Magellan to Venus, Ulysses to the Sun’s poles, Galileo to Jupiter and the Mars Observer and Mars Pathfinder. He later headed NASA’s Mars Outreach Program.

Naomi Oreskes, Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University

Areas of Research: History of Environmental Sciences, Science Policy, Philosophy of Science, Science and Religion, STS, Technology and Society, Women and Gender StudiesNaomi Oreskes is Professor of the History of Science and Affiliated Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University. A world-renowned geologist, historian and public speaker, she is a leading voice on the role of science in society and the reality of anthropogenic climate change.

Oreskes is author or co-author of 7 books, and over 150 articles, essays and opinion pieces, including Merchants of Doubt (Bloomsbury, 2010), The Collapse of Western Civilization (Columbia University Press, 2014), Discerning Experts (University Chicago Press, 2019), Why Trust Science? (Princeton University Press, 2019), and Science on a Mission: American Oceanography from the Cold War to Climate Change, (University of Chicago Press, forthcoming). Merchants of Doubt, co-authored with Erik Conway, was the subject of a documentary film of the same name produced by participant Media and distributed by SONY Pictures Classics, and has been translated into nine languages. A new edition of Merchants of Doubt, with an introduction by Al Gore, will be published in 2020.

Daya Reddy, President of the International Science Council

Daya Reddy holds the South African Research Chair in Computational Mechanics at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Following undergraduate studies in civil engineering at the University of Cape Town and a Ph.D. degree at Cambridge University in the UK, he spent a year as a postdoctoral researcher at University College London, then returned to the University of Cape Town, where he held a joint position in civil engineering and applied mathematics. He was appointed professor of applied mathematics in 1989. From 1999, he served a seven-year term as dean of the faculty of science.

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, inaugural Chief Scientist of the World Health Organization

Dr Soumya Swaminathan was most recently WHO’s Deputy Director-General for Programmes. A paediatrician from India and a globally recognized researcher on tuberculosis and HIV, she brings with her 30 years of experience in clinical care and research and has worked throughout her career to translate research into impactful programmes. Dr Swaminathan was Secretary to the Government of India for Health Research and Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research from 2015 to 2017. In that position, she focused on bringing science and evidence into health policy making, building research capacity in Indian medical schools and forging south-south partnerships in health sciences. From 2009 to 2011, she also served as Coordinator of the UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases in Geneva.

Sir Patrick Vallance, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of the United Kingdom

Sir Patrick Vallance FRS FMedSci FRCP is Government Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA) and Head of the Government Science and Engineering (GSE) profession. His personal research was in the area of diseases of blood vessels and endothelial biology.

Patrick was President, R&D at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) from 2012 until 2017. Prior to this, he was Senior Vice President, Medicines Discovery and Development. He joined the company in May 2006 as Head of Drug Discovery. He was a member of the GSK Board and the Corporate Executive Team. During his period as head of R&D over 14 new medicines were approved for use worldwide, for diseases ranging from cancer to asthma and HIV.

Prior to joining GSK, he was a clinical academic, Professor of Medicine and led the Division of Medicine at UCL. He has over 20 years’ experience of basic and clinical research, and was a consultant physician in the NHS. His research spanned from work on medicinal chemistry and structural biology, through to cellular work, studies in humans and use of large electronic health record databases.

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