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How are women leading research, and what barriers do they face?

According to the UN, less than 30% of the world’s researchers are women. Why does this matter, and how can we bridge the gap?

In celebration of International Women’s Day, CIFAR brings together a dynamic panel of brilliant interdisciplinary women who have dissected the politics of race and identity, made groundbreaking discoveries in the microbiome and pioneered responsible AI.

Join us as we delve into the important contributions these incredible women are making in their fields, but also uncover the challenges and roadblocks that still exist for women in research, and the work being done to overcome them.

Moderated by Chonnettia Jones, with opening and closing remarks from CIFAR’s Head of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Ekua Quansah, this virtual event features Grace Adeniyi-Ogunyankin, Fellow in CIFAR’s Humanity’s Urban Future program, Jessica Metcalf, CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar in the Humans & the Microbiome program, and Doina Precup, Canada CIFAR AI Chair at Mila and Fellow of CIFAR’s Learning in Machines & Brains program.

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CIFAR Talks is a free, public event series that convenes the brightest minds from across disciplines and borders to unpack the biggest challenges facing science and humanity.


Chonnettia Jones is a Director on CIFAR’s Board and the President and Executive Director of Addgene, a non-profit biorepository in the life sciences sector that advances research and innovation by distributing high-quality biological research materials and information to scientists worldwide. She has more than 20 years of experience enabling world-class research and innovation in the U.S., United Kingdom, Europe and Canada.



Ekua Quansah is the Head of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at CIFAR. Ekua is a lawyer and consultant with more than 10 years of experience in the strategic development and implementation of equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives in a range of organizational landscapes.




Grace Adeniyi-Ogunyankin is a Fellow in CIFAR’s Humanity’s Urban Future program and an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography & Planning and the Department of Gender Studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada. Her research explores how the African urban future is portrayed in popular culture and imagined by urban dwellers, politicians and policy makers. She serves as a member of CIFAR’s Research EDI Ambassador’s Community (REDIAC) to support the advancement of EDI in CIFAR’s research community.


Jessica Metcalf was appointed a CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar in the Humans & the Microbiome program in 2018. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at Colorado State University where she brings together the fields of evolutionary biology, ancient DNA and microbiome science to study the interactions between microbes and animals during life and after death. She is also a founding member of the organization, 500 Women Scientists, that seeks to build an inclusive scientific community and train the next generation of female research leaders.


Doina Precup is a Canada CIFAR AI Chair at Mila and a Fellow of the Learning in Machines & Brains program at CIFAR. She is also an Associate Professor of Computer Science at McGill University and the Research Team Lead at DeepMind. She is one of the co-founders of the CIFAR-OSMO AI4Good Lab, a seven-week AI training program for undergraduate and graduate students who identify as women.