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Julie Leblanc (she/her)

Women in STEM Special Advisor
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
Julie Leblanc
Julie Leblanc
Location Born
Location Now
Education Pathway
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My work is to support girls and women to pursue and education and careers in STEM.

About me

I was born/grew up in: Limoges, Ontario

I now live in: Cumberland, Ontario

I completed my training/education at: I have a B.Sc. and a Ph.D. with specialization in Biochemistry, University of Ottawa, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

What I do at work

My job allows me to work on different projects and use different skill sets. I lead a team of wonderful colleagues.  Our goal is to encourage more girls and women to pursue an education and career in STEM. We work specifically on networking, coaching and mentoring, outreach and research. All of these actions have the objective of creating a supportive and encouraging STEM environment for girls and women in and outside our organization.

I also advise and support our President in advocating for girls and women in STEM. I conduct and participate in research, expert discussions, and outreach activities that strive for gender equity. I even have the opportunity to write speeches for our President.

I am also involved in research studying the health effects from ionizing radiation. This project evaluates the evidence of how the biological sex of an individual can have an impact on how human biology reacts to ionizing radiation. I use specialized software that uses artificial intelligence to help simplify certain tasks.

My work requires me to make decisions on a regular basis. We are all confronted with problems and challenges at times. My STEM background has prepared me to look for solutions to those challenges. I research the problem or challenge at hand, collaborate with colleagues and exercise critical thinking. I truly believe in collaboration – I think that this is why I have been involved in many initiatives that require just that. Having more and diverse people at the table enriches the discussions and allows creativity and progress to take hold.

My career path is

I wanted to be an archaeologist throughout high school. My first year of university was in classical studies. While I enjoyed my first year, it did not provide a big enough challenge to motivate me. I had always enjoyed the sciences and I had taken as many science courses in high school as I could. It was easy then to transfer to a science program. I went on to complete a bachelor of sciences with a specialization in Biochemistry and then to complete a PhD in the same field. Getting into radiobiology was a beautiful accident. I applied to the CNSC through their new grad program and was placed with a team of radiobiologists and radiation epidemiologists. Later, I also began supporting the Women in STEM initiative. This opened my eyes to the many challenges women face. I wanted to do something about it, which led me to my current position.

I am motivated by

Working for a great organization like the CNSC helps to motivate me. I have only been met with encouragement, support, and confidence. That said, other aspects are also important. I am personally very interested in how ionizing radiation effects human health. The research I conduct fulfills my natural curiosity in radiobiology. It also opens many opportunities for collaboration. I see my career as an expanded learning opportunity. When you continue to learn, it is easy to love your job. Gender equity is of course also important to me. As a woman in STEM myself, and mother of two young daughters, I am empowered to make a difference. Working closely with the CNSC President is also exciting and inspiring.

                       

How I affect people’s lives

By encouraging more girls and women to pursue an education in STEM, I help make STEM careers more diverse. This helps these careers be more reflective of our communities. Having a more diverse STEM community will help ensure a more fair and equitable future for all. I am part of an organization that places safety as its top priority. The scientific research I conduct seeks to continue to protect the health of Canadians.

Outside of work I

I am a beekeeper and I love to garden – I have a huge vegetable garden that keeps growing every year. To relax, I exercise – from yoga to running – good for the body and mind.

My advice to others

Keep all options open – take as many different subjects in school as you can. Look for various student internship opportunities – from an office job to ones in laboratories or on the field. Believe in yourself.

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Foreign Languages
  • History
  • Science
  • Music
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Enjoyed doing things on my own
  • Always wanted to be outside
  • Played on a sports team
  • Liked reading
  • Engaged in volunteer activities
  • Never wanted to be in the classroom
  • Felt great satisfaction in getting good grades
  • Wasn't sure what I wanted to do

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