Dr. Jessica Kolopenuk (Cree, Peguis First Nation) is an Assistant Professor and Alberta Health Services Research Chair in Indigenous Health in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta. Dr. Kolopenuk completed her Ph.D. in political science from the University of Victoria in 2020 and was an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Native Studies (UofA) from 2018 to 2022. With Dr. Kim TallBear, she co-founded SING Canada in 2018 and before that, the Indigenous Science, Technology, and Society Research and Training Program (Indigenous STS). Expanding Indigenous STS, Dr. Kolopenuk is currently building the Indigenous STS – Health Research Core from her satellite dry lab in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry. In 2018 she won the Canadian Science Policy Centre Youth Category Award of Excellence and in 2021 she was the recipient of the Governor General’s Gold Medal.
The promotion of Indigenous governance in science and technology fields requires the critical study of scientific knowledge production and its institutionalization. It also requires the training of Indigenous researchers and clinical practitioners. These are the spaces that Dr. Kolopenuk’s work moves in. She researches what genomics mean for indigeneity and, also, what Indigenous knowledges can mean for genome sciences. In particular, she analyzes the power dynamics involved in genomics research, ethics, and policy in Canada to consider how genomic knowledge of populations is affecting policy-based governance amidst a backdrop of colonialism in Canada. Crucially, she seeks to identify ways that Indigenous peoples might intervene and govern the scientific projects and policies affecting them.
Jessica has been involved with SING since 2013 when she participated in the SING US workshop at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She then served as a student-faculty liaison at the 2014 SING US workshop in Austin, Texas.