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Executive Team

*Designated Public Office Holders for the purposes of the This link will take you to another Web site Lobbying Act

Dr. Digvir S. Jayas
Interim President

Dr. Digvir S. Jayas (Ph.D. University of Saskatchewan; M.Sc. University of Manitoba; B.Tech. G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology in Pantnagar, India), is the Interim President of NSERC, on a part-time basis (November 8, 2018 to November 7, 2019, or until such a time as a new President is appointed, whichever occurs first). He is also Vice-President (Research and International) and a Distinguished Professor at the University of Manitoba. Prior to this, he held the position of Vice-President (Research), Associate Vice-President (Research), Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, Department Head of Biosystems Engineering, and Interim Director of the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals.

Dr. Jayas has been a member of the NSERC Council for more than four years and has served on a number of its committees including the Executive Committee, the Committee on Research Partnerships, and the Special Committee of Council on the NSERC 2020 Strategic Plan. He has chaired several Research Network site visits, a Strategic Projects Selection Panel and the Research Networks Selection Committee.

Dr. Jayas has received awards in recognition of his research and professional contributions, including a Canada Research Chair in Stored-Grain Ecosystems, 2017 Sukup Global Food Security Award from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, as well as the NSERC Brockhouse Canada Prize in 2008. He was inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2009.

Dr. Jayas serves on the boards of many organizations including: TRIUMF, ArcticNet, Composite Innovation Centre, Engineers Canada, Glyconet, Oceans Research in Canada Alliance and has served as President of Agriculture Institute of Canada, Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Manitoba, Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology, Canadian Society for Bioengineering, Engineers Canada, and Manitoba Institute of Agrologists. He is currently serving as Chair of the TRIUMF Board.

Dr. Jayas has authored or co-authored over 900 technical articles in scientific journals, conference proceedings and books dealing with issues of storing, drying, handling and quality monitoring of grains. He is a Registered Professional Engineer and a Registered Professional Agrologist.

As Interim President, Dr. Jayas is a member of NSERC's Council and Executive Committee, and is an ex-officio member of the program standing committees (the Committee on Discovery Research and the Committee on Research Partnerships). He is also a member of NSERC's Independent Audit Committee.

Kevin Fitzgibbons
Executive Director, Corporate Planning and Policy Division

Kevin Fitzgibbons joined NSERC in October 2013. 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 25 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 Masters of Political Science from Université de Montréal.

Dr. Marc Fortin
Chief Operating Officer and Vice-President, Research Partnerships, NSERC

Marc Fortin is Chief Operating Officer and Vice-President of Research Partnerships at the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). Dr Fortin is responsible for several programs designed to stimulate research partnerships, innovation and the training of the generation of research and innovation leaders.

Dr. Fortin has led the development of policies, strategies and programs designed to support research partnerships across organizations and disciplines to generate benefits for Canada and Canadians. He has worked extensively at the national and international levels to leverage research to generate impact for the policy, industry, regulatory or decision-maker communities. He has provided advice to Governments in topics at the interface of science, policy and society.

He has led the development of research support programs focused on impact for Canada that have changed the relationships between partners in the innovation space.

Prior to joining NSERC, Dr. Fortin held senior positions leading research organizations in academia and government. He has led science and technology branches as Assistant Deputy Minister at the Department of National Defence and at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada for the last 13 years. He was Associate Professor at McGill University where he held leadership positions (Department Chair and Associate Dean – Research) for the previous 16 years.

Dr Fortin was trained as a molecular geneticist, with a B.Sc. and a M.Sc. from Université Laval and a PhD in Plant Molecular Biology from McGill University. He did post-doctoral work in molecular genetics at the University of California and the University of Chicago.

Dr. Danika Goosney
Vice-President, Research Grants and Scholarships Directorate

Dr. Danika Goosney joined NSERC in February 2019 as Vice-President, Research Grants and Scholarships Directorate.

Danika was formerly the Associate Vice-President, Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat, at the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. In this role, she managed the This link will take you to another Web site Canada Research Chairs Program, the This link will take you to another Web site Canada Excellence Research Chairs Program, the This link will take you to another Web site Canada First Research Excellence Fund, the This link will take you to another Web site Canada 150 Research Chairs Program and the This link will take you to another Web site Research Support Fund. She most recently oversaw the implementation of the This link will take you to another Web site New Frontiers in Research Fund.

Danika obtained her Bachelor of Science (honours) from St. Francis Xavier University and her PhD in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and the Biotechnology Laboratory (now the Michael Smith Labs) at the University of British Columbia, for which she was awarded the Governor General’s Gold Medal. She conducted her postdoctoral training as a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Immunology at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California.

Following her postdoctoral research, Danika worked as a research scientist at two Vancouver-based biotechnology companies. In 2006, she moved to Ottawa and joined CIHR, where she held key director general positions within the Research, Knowledge Translation and Ethics Portfolio. In 2015, she was named one of Canada’s emerging leaders as a member of the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference.

Alfred LeBlanc
Vice-President, Communications, Corporate and International Affairs Directorate

Alfred LeBlanc took on the role of Vice-President of the Communications, Corporate and International Affairs Directorate in January 2016.

Before joining NSERC, Alfred served as Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet, Federal-Provincial-Territorial Relations at the Privy Council Office (PCO). Prior to his position at PCO, he played a crucial role within the Department of Finance as the Director of the Federal Provincial Relations Division. He also spent two years as the Director General of Strategic Policy at Industry Canada (now known as Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada).

Alfred also served as the Deputy Editorial Page Editor of The Financial Post and then editor of the Institute for Research on Public Policy’s Policy Options.

He grew up in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and completed his undergraduate degree in political science at St. Francis Xavier University. He holds a Master’s degree in economics from Queen’s University as well as a graduate degree in politics and economics from Oxford University, which he attended on a Rhodes Scholarship.

He is married to Jean Scott. Together, they have two daughters – Sophie and Leah.

Patricia Sauvé-McCuan
Chief Financial Officer and Vice-President
Common Administrative Services Directorate (CASD)

Patricia Sauvé-McCuan joined NSERC in March 2016 as the Chief Financial Officer and Vice-President of the Common Administrative Services Directorate (CASD). She works to support both NSERC and SSHRC in the delivery of human resources, finance and awards administration, and information and innovation solutions. As the lead CASD executive, Patricia supports the accountabilities of the presidents by ensuring CASD’s effectiveness as a strategic partner, business enabler and service provider. 

Prior to joining NSERC and SSHRC, Patricia was the Assistant Comptroller General with the Financial Management Transformation Sector of the Government of Canada where she was appointed to lead the Financial Management Transformation Project on behalf of the Office of the Comptroller General of Canada. In other previous appointments, she was responsible for the future direction of Financial Management and Grants and Contributions in the Chief Information Officer Branch at the Treasury Board Secretariat, and was the Chief Information Officer at the Department of National Defence.   

Patricia holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Queen’s University and a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from the University of Ottawa.

Brigit Viens
Acting Associate Vice-President
Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE)

Brigit Viens has over 15 years of experience working with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, in addition to several years with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Heritage Canada. Brigit brings a wealth of experience and expertise in the design and delivery of a variety of research, innovation and training programs. She joined the Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) in 2012 as a Senior Program Manager and was appointed Deputy Director in 2018. Playing a key leadership role in delivering major national peer reviewed competitions, Brigit is responsible for a suite of NCE programs and initiatives.

On a more personal note, Brigit is a member of the Board of Directors of La Maison des Collines, a palliative care home for terminally ill patients. She is also trained as a certified courier for the Bruce Denniston Bone Marrow Society where she donates her time at travelling internationally to pick-up donated stem cells or bone marrow for patients at the Ottawa Hospital.

Brigit holds a Master’s degree in Public and International Affairs from the University of Ottawa and a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Montreal.