Early Career Researchers Drive Tomorrow’s Innovations

Dr. Mona Nemer
Chief Science Advisor
Government of Canada

Investing in early career researchers is vital to Canada’s well-being. They are the next generation of scientists and skilled professionals in varied sectors whose innovations will be key to both propelling our country economically and elevating our capacity to be leaders in tackling global challenges.

Training fundamental scientists fosters research and discoveries that not only advance scientific knowledge, but catalyze technologies that benefit Canadians in countless ways, such as through the development of artificial intelligence or clean energies. Empowering early career researchers to realize their potential is a long-term investment in the Canadian economy and society more broadly. Take for example Donna Strickland from the University of Waterloo, who recently won the Nobel prize in physics for her doctoral work on chirped pulse amplification for lasers alongside her supervisor, Gérard Mourou. Today, this work is used in applications like corrective eye surgery, and her Nobel achievement is a source of great national pride. We need to support the future Donna Stricklands of this country.

Early career researchers also have key roles to play in policy discussions surrounding challenges that transcend borders. Issues such as climate change and clean water are problems that no one nation can tackle in isolation. Countries need to act collaboratively and consider creative strategies. Early career researchers bring diverse and fresh perspectives to the table. Moreover, they are the generation that has to contend with the consequences of the myriad global challenges we face today; it is important that we support international opportunities and research collaboration that will equip them to do so.

I am encouraged by Budget 2018’s commitment to early career researchers but it is also incumbent on all of us in the science and research community to be attuned to their needs, and to ensure that we have the programs and infrastructure in place to attract and retain the best talent from Canada and abroad. Engaging early career researchers at the forefront of discovery, innovation, and diplomacy will help drive Canada’s continued scientific excellence and leadership on the international stage.