This blog post was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

9th May 2013 Ottawa, Canada

New Faces in the Science and Innovation Network

Now that we’ve finally said goodbye to the last of the winter snow in (most parts) of Canada and hello to warm summer weather, it’s time to welcome a few changes to the Science and Innovation Network (SIN).

First of all, a big congratulations to both Nicolina Farella (SIN Officer in Montreal) and to Nicole Arbour (SIN Team Lead in Ottawa) who both have a beautiful new addition to their families! Welcome to the world, little ones!


Mario Rivero-Huguet is our new SIN Officer in Montreal. He will be covering Science and Innovation in the geographical area of Quebec and the Atlantic provinces for Nicolina until March 2014. Welcome Mario!

Mario is responsible for SIN activities in Quebec and the Atlantic Provinces, where he seeks to establish, foster, or strengthen collaboration and partnerships in research science (health sciences, aerospace, clean technology, etc.) between the UK and Canada’s East. He works closely with UKTI – the UK Trade and Investment team – to support innovation and R&D.

Mario successfully completed a Ph.D. in Environmental Health Sciences from McGill University with particular emphasis on innovative technologies to remediate soils contaminated with carcinogenic compounds. Mario worked for Canada’s International Development Research Centre within the EcoHealth initiative of the Environment and Natural Resources Management program. In addition, he has also worked for the Commission of Environmental Cooperation in North America in projects related to the heightened vulnerability of certain communities to environmental pollutants.  And more recently, Mario was named Faculty lecturer at McGill University.

Besides his passion for sciences, Mario enjoys outdoors activities, eating French cuisine, and film.


Also, I (Alexandra) will be covering for Nicole until October 2013. I will therefore be taking on the Science Officer duties from Ottawa covering arctic science, innovation, marine energy, and scientific research and development within the geographical area of Eastern Ontario.

Although a newly minted Science and Innovation Officer, I worked with SIN previously as an intern while completing graduate studies at the University of Ottawa. I recently finished my Masters thesis where I used yeast (think beer and bread) as a model for how human cells work. It’s a bit like figuring out a go-cart before working on a Formula 1 race car 🙂 My research focused on the amazingly accurate mechanism that makes sure cells remain genetically the same when they divide. You can check out some of my earlier blogs about this field of science: ‘From Beer and Bread to Cancer Research: using brewers yeast to unlock the secrets of cancer genetics‘,  and ‘Dr. Jonathon Pines, Cancer Research UK Director of Research in Cell Division, visits the University of Ottawa‘. You can continue to follow my blogs here and follow me on Twitter – @AKweirich

In the past, I’ve worked with the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Medicine (STEM) division of the  firm Rutherford McKay & Associates, helping to put out their guide on science communication. My enthusiasm for science outreach found an outlet as a volunteer for Let’s Talk Science – I delivered hands-on science workshops to students at schools in Ottawa and in remote communities in Northern Ontario. I have also worked stints in industry and public health regulation.

Speaking of new faces in Science and Innovation,  I caught up with Prof Robin Grimes, the new Chief Scientific Adviser to the Foreign Commonwealth Office in London, to ask him what he thought about his new role and about working with Canada. Check out our videoblog here: