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Speaker Bio's

Keynote Speaker David G. Barber received the Bachelor’s degree (1981) and Master’s degree (1987) from the University of Manitoba, and the Ph.D. degree (1992) from the University of Waterloo, Ontario.  He was appointed to a faculty position at the University of Manitoba in 1993 and received a Canada Research Chair in Arctic System Science in 2002.  He is currently Associate Dean (Research), The Riddell Faculty of Environment, Earth and Resources. Dr. Barber has published over 240 articles in the peer reviewed literature pertaining to climate change, sea ice dynamic and thermodynamic processes, remote sensing of sea ice, physical-biological coupling in the Arctic marine system and impacts on society ( Dr. Barber is recognized internationally through scientific leadership in large network programs (including: NOW, CASES, ArcticNet, CFL, BaySys and CMO). He is an invited member of several Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) national committees and international committees.  He has supervised to completion: 6 honours theses; 26 MSc theses; 22 PhD dissertations and 23 postdoctoral fellows/Research Associates.  Twenty-five of his previous students have University positions and 30 work in research, consulting or government. He currently supervises 9 MSc students; 3 PhD students, and 18 Post Doctoral Fellows / Research Associates; leading one of the largest sea ice focused research groups in the world.  Dr Barber is a UM Distinguished Professor, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (Science Academy), and an Officer of the Order of Canada.
The Honorable Mayor Michael Spence, Town of Churchill

Michael Spence was born and raised in Churchill, Manitoba and is married with two children and two dogs. After graduating, he was employed with Federal Public Works Department and Churchill pre-fab housing plan. From 1976 to present Mayor Spence has developed three successful ongoing businesses, including ownership of a very successful local full service hotel.

Among Mayor Spence’s businesses achievements is Wat’chee Expeditions, a specialized eco-tourism company that provides guided activities into Wapusk National Park from his lodge in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area. Of particular interests to visitors are the denning polar bears that can be observed during the operating season, which extends from mid February through March. 

Mayor Spence was elected as Councillor in 1989 and served on Churchill Economic Advisory Committee and also served as the chairman of the Churchill Regional Health Centre Board. In 1992, Mayor Spence was re-elected and installed as Deputy Mayor. Mr. Spence was elected Mayor in 1995 and has served consecutively in that capacity since. Mayor Spence is very active in the promotion of Churchill, tourism, and preservation of Northern Culture and Heritage. So much so, that in the past he has served on the Travel Manitoba Board. Mayor Spence has also been a member of the Manitoba Hydro Board since 2002 and has serves on the Advisory Council to the Order of Manitoba.
Moderator Bob Cox is publisher of the Winnipeg Free Press. In that role he oversees two daily newspapers and eight community newspapers in Manitoba, as well as related digital outlets, printing operations and distribution services. He has a 34-year history in journalism in Canada, including time as the national editor of the Globe and Mail, as a Parliamentary correspondent for the Canadian Press in Ottawa and as city editor of the Edmonton Journal. He began his career at the Free Press as a crime and courts reporter in the 1980s, left the city for 19 years and returned in 2005 as editor of the newspaper. He was appointed publisher two years later.
Dr. Fikret Berkes (BSc, PhD, FRSC) is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba. Dr. Berkes is at the forefront globally in developing and applying a wide range of interrelated concepts and approaches that have become essential to current thinking about community-based management and community adaptations: social-ecological resilience, commons and co-management, and traditional ecological knowledge. He has authored some 250 peer-reviewed journal papers and chapters. His books include: Governing the Coastal Commons (with D. Armitage and A. Charles); Coasts for People; Sacred Ecology, and Navigating Social–Ecological Systems (with J. Colding and C. Folke). He has participated in Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the UNDP Equator Initiative, and the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Dr. Berkes is the recipient of the Sustainability Science Award of the Ecological Society of America (2014), the Elinor Ostrom Award for Senior Scholar of the International Association for the Study of Commons (2015), and the International Conservation Union IUCN-CEESP Inaugural Award for Meritorious Research (2016).
Dr. Andrea Charron holds a PhD from the Royal Military College of Canada (Department of War Studies). She obtained a Masters in International Relations from Webster University, Leiden, The Netherlands, a Master’s of Public Administration from Dalhousie University and a Bachelor of Science (Honours) from Queen’s University. Her research and teaching areas include NORAD, the Arctic, foreign and defence policy and sanctions. She serves on the DND’s Defence Advisory Board and has published in numerous peer-reviewed journals.  She is Assistant Professor in Political Studies and Director of the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at the University of Manitoba.
Dr. Brooke Milne is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology (Faculty of Arts), and an Associate Professor in the Center for Earth Observation Science (Clayton Riddell Faculty of Earth, Environment, and Resources). She is an archaeological anthropologist, and has conducted extensive fieldwork in the Canadian Arctic for the last 20 years focusing on the rich culture history of this region’s earliest inhabitants. Dr. Milne received her BA (Hons Anthropology) from the University of Waterloo, MA (Anthropology) from Trent University, and PhD (Anthropology) from McMaster University. She was a SSHRC Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Western Ontario prior to joining the University of Manitoba in 2006.  Dr. Milne’s research programs focusing on the earliest human occupations of Nunavut have been continuously funded by SSHRC since 1999. In 2010, she received support from CFI and the Manitoba Research Innovation Fund to establish her interdisciplinary lab, ArcTec, which draws together research expertise from the archaeological, geological, and geophysical sciences. Dr. Milne and her co-investigators explore questions relating to human life as it is preserved in the Arctic archaeological record over the last 4000-years. More recently they have applied a multi-methods approach to investigate how frozen archaeological deposits in the Arctic are being affected by the impacts of climate change. Moreover, with the reduction of sea ice across the Arctic, previously inaccessible sites are becoming more readily accessible by the general public thus underscoring the need to create enduring records of these sites so as to minimize information loss should they be disturbed by human actions in the future.
Dr. Ronald Stewart is a professor of atmospheric science in the Department of Environment and Geography at the University of Manitoba. Previously, he was a professor at McGill University (Industrial Research Chair in Severe Weather), a senior scientist with Environment Canada and an adjunct professor at York University.  Dr. Stewart obtained his undergraduate degree in physics at the University of Manitoba and his doctorate in physics at the University of Toronto.  Professor Stewart's research focuses on extreme weather, precipitation and regional climate.  Current research includes winter precipitation formation and its occurrence as well as recent and future droughts, heat waves and flooding over Canada.  He has been a member of the Scientific Steering Committee for the World Climate Research Programme’s GEWEX (Global Energy and Water Exchanges) study, he has led Canada’s involvement in IUGG (International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics), and he has served as President of the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society and he recently received the Patterson Medal for distinguished service to meteorology from the Meteorological Service of Canada.
Dr. Feiyue Wang is Professor of Environmental Chemistry and Biogeochemistry at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada. He holds a Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Arctic Environmental Chemistry. Dr. Wang's research interests include molecular-level interactions of contaminants across environmental interfaces, and global-scale interplay between chemical contamination and climate change. His recent research has focused on mercury biogeochemistry in the Arctic marine ecosystems, and on environmental chemistry of the rapidly changing Arctic sea ice environment. Dr. Wang directs the Ultra-Clean Trace Elements Laboratory (UCTEL) for the study of mercury and trace elements in the environment. He is Chief Scientist of the Sea-ice Environmental Research Facility (SERF), the first experimental sea ice facility in Canada, and the Oil-in-Sea-Ice Mesocosm (OSIM) of the soon-to-be-operational Churchill Marine Observatory (CMO). Dr. Wang is Past Chair of the Environment Division of the Chemical Institute of Canada. He is also a member of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Project Coordination Group for the Global Mercury Assessment. Dr. Wang has authored and co-authored more than 100 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals and books. As of July 2017, his h-index is 34 with a total citation of more than 3500 times (Scopus). Since 2000, he has trained eight postdoctoral fellows, nine Ph.D. students, 15 Masters students, and many senior undergraduate students. Dr. Wang has also been actively involved in collaborative research and training, local capacity building and outreach in the Canadian Arctic, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Peru. Dr. Wang received his B.Sc. from Wuhan University (China) in 1990 and Ph.D. from Peking University (China) in 1995. From 1996 to 1998 he was a postdoctoral research fellow at Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) – Eau (now INRS-ETE), Quebec City, Canada. From 1998-2000 he worked as a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Industrial Research Fellow with EVS Environment Consultants (now Golder Associates). Dr. Wang joined the University of Manitoba in 2000 as an Assistant Professor and has been a Full Professor since 2009.
Moderator Paul Samyn, Editor of the Winnipeg Free Press: Paul Samyn has been part of the Free Press newsroom for a quarter century, working his way up after starting as a rookie reporter in 1988. And if you count the time he spent delivering the newspaper as a boy growing up in St. James, his connection to the Free Press goes back even further. As a reporter, Paul wrote for every section of the paper, covered elections, wars overseas and the funerals of a royal princess and a prime minister.

The graduate of the University of Winnipeg and Red River College helped lead the Free Press’s political coverage for a decade as its Ottawa bureau chief before being named city editor in 2007. Paul was appointed to the Editor’s office in the summer of 2012.
Dr. Jackie Dawson is the Canada Research Chair in Environment, Society, and Policy and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography, Environment, and Geomatics at the University of Ottawa. She is an Applied Scientist working on the human and policy dimensions of environmental change in ocean and coastal regions. She is considered a national and international expert in Arctic marine transportation, Indigenous community development, and oceans governance. She has served on two Canadian Council of Academies’ Expert Panels focused on the risks and social and economic values of marine shipping in Canada. She was recently elected as a member of the prestigious College of the Royal Society of Canada and the Global Young Academy and is also a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society. She currently co-chairs the Societal and Economic Research Applications working group for the World Meteorological Organization’s Polar Prediction Project. Dr. Dawson’s research has real world relevance and has been previously used to inform federal, territorial, and local level policy related to Arctic shipping governance; has been used as a basis for recommendations appearing in an Auditor General of Canada report on Arctic navigation; and has appeared in several Arctic Council science reports.
Dr. Martin Fortier completed a Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography at Université Laval (UL) and a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Manitoba. From 1999 to 2002, he led the scientific coordination of two large international Arctic research networks involving over 120 leading experts from Canada and 10 foreign countries. In 2002, he was heavily involved in the modification of the CCGS Amundsen into a state-of-the-art research icebreaker and has since served as chief scientist on many expeditions onboard the vessel. Dr. Fortier was the founding Executive Director of the ArcticNet Network of Centres of Excellence (NCE) from 2003 until 2016 when he took over the position of Executive Director of Sentinel North and assistant to the vice-rector research and innovation at UL. Funded through the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, the $98M (2016-2023) Sentinel North program brings together over 130 UL researchers with their national and international partners to support a wide range of research and training initiatives to develop innovative new technology and improve our understanding of the northern environment and its impact on human beings and their health. In 2012, he also led the development of the $3 million CAD Arctic Inspiration Prize together with the Prize’s founders. Dr. Fortier currently serves on numerous national and international boards and advisory committees, including that of the Norwegian Arctic Frontiers Conference, Amundsen Science, ArcticNet, Sentinel North, POLAR, the Arctic Inspiration Prize and the Governor General’s Polar Medal.
Dr. Adolf K.Y. Ng is Professor of Transportation and Supply Chain Management and the Director of the Transport Institute at the Asper School of Business of the University of Manitoba (Canada). He got DPhil from the University of Oxford (UK) and excels in the research of transportation geography, climate change adaptation planning, organizational change, global supply chains, and maritime education. He receives numerous prestigious accolades, for instance, Fulbright Scholar Program (US), Endeavour Research Fellowship (Australia), and Rh Award for Outstanding Contributions to Scholarship and Research (Canada). With such expertise, he offers strategic advice to major intergovernmental organizations, for instance, United Nations and the European Commission, and serves as an adjudication committee member of grant program for the Social Science and Humanities Research Council for Canada (SSHRC). He is an Associate Editor of Maritime Policy & Management, Co-Editor of Journal of Transport Literature, and an editorial board member of several reputable international scholarly journals.
Dr. Lot Shafai, B.Sc. from University of Tehran in 1963 and M.Sc. and Ph.D., from University of Toronto, in 1966 and 1969. In November 1969, he joined the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Manitoba as a Lecturer, Assistant Professor 1970, Associate Professor 1973, Professor 1979, Distinguished professor 2002,  and Distinguished professor Emeritus 2016. His assistance to industry was instrumental in establishing an Industrial Research Chair in Applied Electromagnetics at the University of Manitoba in 1989, which he held until July 1994.

In 1986, he established the symposium on Antenna Technology and Applied Electromagnetics, ANTEM, at the University of Manitoba, which has grown to be the premier Canadian conference in Antenna technology and related topics

He has been the recipient of numerous awards. In 1978, his contribution to the design of the first miniaturized satellite terminal for the Hermes satellite was selected as the Meritorious Industrial Design. In 1984, he received the Professional Engineers Merit Award and in 1985, "The Thinker" Award from Canadian Patents and Development Corporation. From the University of Manitoba, he received the "Research Awards" in 1983, 1987, and 1989, the Outreach Award in 1987 and the Sigma Xi Senior Scientist Award in 1989. In 1990 he received the Maxwell Premium Award from IEE (London) and in 1993 and 1994 the Distinguished Achievement Awards from Corporate Higher Education Forum. In 1998 he received the Winnipeg RH Institute Foundation Medal for Excellence in Research. In 1999 and 2000 he received the University of Manitoba Research Award. He is a life Fellow of IEEE and a life Fellow of The Royal Society of Canada. He was a recipient of the IEEE Third Millenium Medal in 2000 and in 2002 was elected a Fellow of The Canadian Academy of Engineering and Distinguished Professor at The University of Manitoba.  In 2003 he received an IEEE Canada “Reginald A. Fessenden Medal” for “Outstanding Contributions to Telecommunications and Satellite Communications”, and a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Synergy Award for “Development of Advanced Satellite and Wireless Antennas”. He held a Canada Research Chair 2001-2016 in Applied Electromagnetics and was the International Chair of Commission B of the International Union of Radio Science (URSI) for 2005-2008.  In 2009 he was elected a Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada, and was the recipient of IEEE Chen-To-Tai Distinguished Educator Award. In 2011 he received the Killam Prize in Engineering from The Canada Council, for his “outstanding Canadian career achievements in engineering, and his research on antennas”. In 2013 he received The “John Kraus antenna Award” from IEEE Antennas and Propagation Society “For contributions to the design and understanding of small high efficiency feeds and terminals, wideband planar antennas, low loss conductors, and virtual array antennas”. In 2014 he was the recipient of Edward E. Altschuler Best paper Prize from IEEE APS Magazine, and in 2016 the best paper award from IEEE ANTEM. In 2017, International Union of Radio Science, URSI, awarded him the Booker Gold Medal “For outstanding contributions to antenna miniaturization by electromagnetics and numerical techniques, small satellite terminals, planar antennas, invention of virtual reflectors, low loss engineered conductors and dielectric film components and antennas”
Dr. Gary Stern is currently a Professor at the University of Manitoba, Centre for Earth Observation Science. Prior to this he was a senior Research Scientist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. For the past 24 years Dr. Stern’s research has involved the study of environmental pathways of contaminants including their delivery, transport, and elimination from Arctic marine and freshwater aquatic ecosystems. His current research is focused on the development of oil detection and remediation technologies, impacts and fate of oil spills in Arctic marine environments. He leads several large multidisciplinary Arctic projects including the recently funded $10.7M Genome Canada project entitled “Microbial Genomics for Oil Spill Preparedness In Canada’s Arctic Marine Environment” (Co-led by Dr. Casey Hubert, U Calgary). Dr. Stern is the Director of the new state-of-the-art contaminant and petroleomic facility in CEOS (PETRL; Petroleum EnvironmenTal Research Laboratory). He has authored over 200 manuscripts in peer reviewed scientific literature, was recently awarded the Governor General of Canada’s Polar Medal and is a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society