Forum 2024 Speakers

Forum 2024 Speakers & Panelists

Dr. Jude Kong, Canadian Research Chair in Community-Oriented Artificial Intelligence and Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Disease

Dr. Jude Kong is a Canadian Research Chair in Community-Oriented Artificial Intelligence and Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Disease. He is also a professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health; Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation (budgetary cross-appointed) and Mathematics Department (cross-appointed), University of Toronto, where he serves as the director of the  Artificial Intelligence  and Mathematical Modeling lab (AIMM lab)( Additionally, he is the Director of the Africa-Canada Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data Innovation Consortium (ACADIC) ( and the Global South Artificial Intelligence for Pandemic and Epidemic Preparedness and Response Network (AI4PEP) ( He is also the Regional Node Liaison to the steering committee of the Canadian Black Scientists Network (

Dr. Kong obtained his Ph.D. in Mathematics with a certificate in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Alberta, his MSc in Mathematical Modelling  ( from the University of Hamburg, Germany, and the University of L'Aquila, Italy. His B.Sc. in Mathematics (major) and Computer Science (minor) was acquired at the University of Buea, Cameroon, and his B.Ed.  in Mathematics was earned at University of Yaounde I, Cameroon. He did a 2-years of postdoc at Princeton University. Dr. Kong is an expert in AI, data science, mathematical modelling, and mathematics education. His principal research program focuses on developing and deploying innovative artificial intelligence, mathematical and data science methodologies and technologies for decisionmakers in communities, public health, government and industry in order to provide important insights into local and global-scale socio-ecological challenges. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Kong led a team of 52+ researchers across nine African countries, using AI to help contain and manage the virus. In 2022, he founded the AI4PEP network, overseeing 160+ researchers from 16 countries. The network focuses on leveraging Southern-led responsible AI solutions to enhance public health systems for better prevention, preparedness, and response to disease outbreaks. Dr. Kong’s many research contributions and exceptional leadership have earned him several prestigious awards and recognitions. These include the York University (YU)  Research Leader Award in 2020; recognition as one of Canada’s Innovation Research Leaders in 2021; recognition as a Black Hero of Operational Research by the Operational Research Society in 2021; recognition as a YU Community Change Maker in 2022; recognition from YU Magazine for enumerating positive change by inspiring Black students to aspire in 2022; nomination for the 2022 Postdoc Supervisor of the Year Award; 2022 Faculty of Science, YU  Early Career Researcher Award; YU 2023 Research Leader Award and the 2023 YU President’s Emerging Research Leadership Award. He is an Editor for Data & Policy Journal; Royal Society Science; Scientific Reports, and Big Data and Information Analytics.

Dr. Doris Leung, Canadian Animal Health Surveillance System (CAHSS) Division Director, a division of Animal Health Canada

Doris Leung has been a part of the Canadian Animal Health Surveillance System (CAHSS) since 2020. She received her DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) from the Ontario Veterinary College and MPH (Master of Public Health) from the University of British Columbia. Doris is excited to utilize her knowledge in health communication, veterinary epidemiology, and disease surveillance to create knowledge translation pieces to engage with CAHSS members, foster collaboration, and to promote evidence-based decision making to advance animal health and surveillance in Canada. She currently resides in Vancouver, BC.


Erica Charlton, Emergency Management Division Director, a division of Animal Health Canada

Erica holds a Bachelor of Science, Biology from the University of Guelph and spent the first portion of her career in pharmaceutical and nutraceutical manufacturing in various quality assurance roles. In 2006, Erica became the Technical Director for the Canadian Poultry & Egg Processors Council (CPEPC), where she was responsible for technical files namely in areas of food safety, animal welfare and animal health. She was the members’ liaison point of contact with CFIA and Health Canada on technical matters and represented the interests of CPEPC on multiple domestic joint industry/government initiatives and also internationally. With 17 years of experience in the poultry industry, Erica brings knowledge and experience gained through multiple outbreaks of Avian Influenza. Erica is based in Brockville, Ontario where she shares her home with a dog and two cats.


Dr. Egan Brockhoff; Veterinary Counselor, Canadian Pork Council

Dr. Egan Brockhoff is an experienced swine veterinarian, policy advisor and university lecturer. Currently he serves as the Veterinary Counselor for the Canadian Pork Council. Throughout his career, his work in swine veterinary medicine has afforded him the opportunity to consult extensively within the pork value chains throughout Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Americas. In 2020 he was the recipient of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association's Merck Veterinary Award for Food Animal Veterinarian of the Year. In September of 2021 he was honoured to have received the Allen D. Leman Science in Practice Award.

Cindy Trask; Vice President, African Swine Fever Planning and Preparedness, Maple Leaf Foods

Cindy Trask is the Vice President of Blueprint Execution and Enterprise Risk Management at Maple Leaf Foods. A company veteran of 19 years, she has held a variety of leadership positions within manufacturing and commercial functions. Currently, she is accountable for the planning and execution of strategic initiatives and championing business simplification processes. She has direct responsibility for ensuring the organization has clear crisis response strategies, enabling rapid response and minimizing business disruption. Cindy is a member of the ASF Executive Management Board and engages with Canadian Government and Industry groups in multiple forums to advance overall readiness, risk awareness and mitigation in the event ASF ever hits Canada. Outside of the office, Cindy enjoys spending time with her family and is an avid golfer who enjoys the mental challenge of the game, the friendly competition amongst friends and the beauty of being outdoors.


Colleen Barnes; past Vice President Policy and Programs, Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Colleen Barnes is a regulatory expert with 33 years of service in the federal public service, most of which was spent working in fields related to food safety, plant and animal health, and financial institutions in Canada. Colleen retired from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as the  Vice President (ADM) of Policy and Programs in 2021. Most notably, Colleen spearheaded the development of the Safe Food for Canadians Act and regulations as well as the establishment of the African Swine Fever Executive Management Board. In doing so, Colleen worked closely and effectively with stakeholders including industry and consumer groups. Colleen also has experience as a Vice President of Human Resources and Chief Audit Executive at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Today Colleen is a part-time regulatory consultant with Period 3 Food and Drug Experts Inc.

Dr. Tina Widowski; professor of Animal Biosciences at the University of Guelph

Tina M. Widowski, PhD (University of Illinois-UC) is Professor of Animal Biosciences at the University of Guelph, Canada. She has spent over 35 years investigating how housing and management practices affect the behaviour, health and welfare of farm animals, with an emphasis on pigs and poultry. Over her career, research topics have ranged from more fundamental ethology, including studying motivation for nesting and dustbathing and effects of early life experience on behavioural and physical development to identifying humane methods and best practices for transporting pigs to slaughter and euthanizing compromised animals on farms. From 2007 to 2020, she was Director of the Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare (CCSAW) at Guelph. Widowski has supervised/co-supervised) over 80 graduate students and published hundreds of papers and book chapters. She serves(d) on a number of committees that develop guidelines for the care of farm animals including National Farm Animal Care Council (Canada) Scientific Committees for Pigs, for Turkeys, Broilers and Breeders and for Laying Hens (Chair), and the Code of Practice Development Committee for Laying Hens and Pullets. She also serves on the United Egg Producers Scientists Committee on Animal Welfare in the USA. These scientific advisory positions with industry provide opportunities for Widowski to directly transfer research results to industry practice and to identify the most relevant and pressing research needs of the industry.

Jackie Wepruk, National Farm Animal Care Council Division Director, a division of Animal Health Canada

Jackie Wepruk has been the General Manager of the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) since its inception in 2005. In this capacity she facilitates a partnership on NFACC between governments, farmed animal industries, the veterinary community, the humane movement, food companies, and other allied groups. She assists NFACC’s partners in achieving practical solutions to farm animal welfare concerns that address the interests of farmers, domestic and export markets, governments and the Canadian public. Jackie obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Winnipeg, and a Master of Environmental Design from the University of Calgary.

Dr. Katherine Koralesky; Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Animal Welfare Program at the University of British Columbia

Dr. Koralesky is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Animal Welfare Program at the University of British Columbia. Before coming to UBC, she worked as an agricultural extension agent in the Peace Corps and in the community service sector. She uses diverse research methodologies to understand the human dimensions of animal welfare on farms and in companion animal settings. Her research explores the role of policy in animal care practices, on-farm interventions to improve animal health and welfare, links between animal and human welfare, and views on biotechnology in animal agriculture. Dr. Koralesky's broad aim is to improve animal welfare through relationship building and collaboration with people who care for or about animals.

Dr. Caroline Ritter; Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Prince Edward Island

Dr. Ritter, DVM, PhD, currently holds a position as an Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Prince Edward Island. Her work focuses on understanding the decision-making and behaviour of diverse stakeholder groups that affect animal health and welfare including farmers, equestrians, and members of the public. Furthermore, she has expertise in veterinarian mental well-being and the dynamics of veterinarian-client interactions. Dr. Ritter’s overarching goal is to contribute to the sustainability of animal industry sectors through novel research methodologies and knowledge mobilization.

Dr. Briana Hagen; Chief Executive Officer and Lead Scientist for the Canadian Centre for Agricultural Wellbeing

Dr. Briana Hagen is the Chief Executive Officer and Lead Scientist for the Canadian Centre for Agricultural Wellbeing. After completing her Master’s of Science in Community Health and Epidemiology, Dr. Hagen completed a PhD in the department of Population Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph. Using both survey and qualitative data, she examined how farmers and their farms are impacted by mental health outcomes, with a focus on perceived stress and the barriers and facilitators of help-seeking for farmers. Dr. Hagen is passionate about collaborative research approaches and building strong partnerships with the agriculture community to co-design research projects and mental health programming. After completing her PhD in July 2020, she completed a two-year Mitacs Elevate Post-Doctoral Fellowship to continue her investigations around farmer mental health in Canada and expand access to ‘In the Know’: mental health literacy training for Canadian agriculture, which she co-developed. Dr. Hagen has won several awards for this work, including the 2020 Brigid Rivoire Award for Champions of Agricultural Mental Health, the 2021 Research Achievement Award from the International Society of Agricultural Safety and Health, and the 2022 University of Guelph Innovation of the Year award for the development of ’In the Know’.

Josiahs Cook; Senior Science Policy Advisor, Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Josiahs Cook is the Senior Indigenous Science Policy Advisor in the Indigenous Science Office (ISO) at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Josiahs has various experiences working for the Government of Canada between the CFIA and Indigenous Services Canada including: Risk Analytics, Risk Intelligence, Operations, Policy, Indigenous Procurement, and Emergency Management/Response. Prior to working for the Government of Canada, Josiahs worked as the National Education Resource Consultant for (largest Indigenous wholesale distributor of validated Indigenous educational resources worldwide), where he held the responsibility of engaging with Indigenous communities across Canada for over 10 years. Josiahs specializes on the intersectionality, communication, and relationship between distinct Indigenous worldviews and Government of Canada policy and programs. Josiahs is Oneida from Six Nations (Haudenosaunee) currently living on the traditional territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabeg (Rockland, ON), he’s an adopted generational residential school survivor, and a proud father to his three year old son Maverick and stepsons Jacob and Mikael.