Pictured (left to right): SFU President Andrew Petter, associate professor Lesley Shannon, Eve Langelier of the Université de Sherbrooke, Mario Pinto, NSERC president.

Lesley Shannon named NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering

May 22, 2015

Simon Fraser University engineering science associate professor Lesley Shannon is one of two new Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Chairs for Women in Science and Engineering. NSERC President Mario Pinto, formerly SFU’s VP Research, made the announcement at the start of a national conference for women in science and technology, Creating Connections, at SFU May 22-23.

The goal of the chairs, which now total five across the country, is to increase the presence of women and establish role models for young women in these fields. Each chair will receive $475,000 in NSERC funding over five years with matching funds from the universities and industry partners.

The SFU chair is established in partnership with Vancouver-based software company Simba Technologies Inc, which is providing $175,000 in funding to SFU. The company will also assist with offering tours for girls and young women so they can learn more about computing and engineering career opportunities. In addition, this fall, for the first time, funds from a new scholarship established by Simba CEO and president Amyn Rajan, a faculty almunus, will be awarded to the top female student entering SFU’s School of Computing Science. 

“Support from Simba, SFU, and NSERC enables my team to collaborate and develop strategies to raise women’s participation in science and engineering as students and professionals," says Shannon.

"We will work to encourage girls to pursue STEM education and strive to increase post-secondary science and engineering enrollment for women. Our goal is to promote aspirational female role models within science and engineering fields, and identify and help eliminate barriers for women who want to pursue careers and leadership roles in these fields.”

Shannon’s primary area of research is non-traditional computing system design, and her focus is improving computer performance, both speed and power, for a variety of applications.

She received the 2014 Teaching Award of Excellence from the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia (APEGBC) and since arriving at SFU in 2006 has been actively engaged in promoting science, engineering and technology careers for women.

Shannon is the faculty advisor to SFU WEST (Women in Engineering, Science and Technology), a virtual gathering place that has been designed to support SFU’s female students, staff and faculty in these fields.

A second research chair is being established in Quebec and will be held by Dr. Eve Langelier of the Université de Sherbrooke.


  • Female students make up 54 per cent of SFU’s undergraduate enrolment and 58 per cent of graduate students. However, only 15 per cent of undergraduates and 23 per cent of graduate students enrolled in the Faculty of Applied Sciences in 2013-14 were women.
  • Canada’s Information and Communications Technology Council reports that three-quarters of all technology positions across the country are held by men.
  • Exemplifying how industry and universities can work together, Simba Technologies has also established scholarships and project awards to recruit and retain females in the field of computing science in the Faculty of Applied Sciences at SFU.