Tamara Franz-Odendaal

Tamara Franz-Odendaal

Department of Biology
Mount Saint Vincent University

Chair title

Outgoing NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering (Atlantic)

Chair program

Chairs for Women in Science and Engineering Program


Chairholder since 2011


The major goals of the NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering (Atlantic) are to:

  • Encourage young girls to consider careers in STEM by providing opportunities for them to meet female mentors, and to participate in engaging hands-on STEM activities;
  • Increase professional development support and networking opportunities for women in STEM fields in order to increase the career progression and retention of women in STEM careers; and
  • Explore factors that hinder young women from pursuing STEM careers.

This Chair program aims to provide junior and senior high school girls in Atlantic Canada with access to female role models active in science and engineering fields through mentorship, one-day science events, and science summer camps. By focusing on fun and engaging hands-on science activities during Girls Get WISE in Science events, the chairholder hopes to ignite a passion for science, technology, engineering and the skilled trades. The chairholder established and will continue to host the biennial Atlantic ConnecTions Conference which provides an opportunity for women in Science, Engineering, Trades, and Technology (SETT) from Atlantic Canada to share their experiences of studying and working in male-dominated fields, to network with others, and to develop action plans with the goal of advancing the career progression and retention of women in SETT. The chairholder will also investigate unconscious bias amongst students in STEM programs.

Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal is a Professor of Biology at Mount Saint Vincent University. Dr. Franz-Odendaal holds a PhD from the University of Cape Town (South Africa) and completed her post-doctoral studies at Dalhousie University. She joined the Mount in 2006 as a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) University Faculty Award recipient (2006-2011) and has since launched an active productive research program in the field of comparative development of the vertebrate skeleton, with particular focus on the neural crest derived craniofacial skeleton. She currently holds an NSERC Discovery Grant to support this research.

Dr. Franz-Odendaal has received numerous awards over the last five years including receiving the Mount's Research Excellence Award for her outstanding contributions to the research community and research climate at the Mount and the Morphological Sciences Young Investigator Award from the American Association of Anatomists (2013). She serves on the Board of the Canadian Coalition of Women in Engineering Science Technology and Trades (CCWESTT) as well as numerous others at both the national and local level. She has participated in over 100 media interviews appearing on TV/radio and in print in the last five years.

Mount Saint Vincent University is a leader in flexible education, applied research, and a personalized approach to learning. Established in 1873 as the first institution in Canada to offer higher education to women, the Mount continues to honour its roots today through initiatives that contribute to the advancement of women. The Mount is committed to providing the best university experience for all members of its community and to developing thoughtful, engaged citizens who make a positive impact on their world.


  • Mount Saint Vincent University
  • Lockheed Martin Canada
  • Skills Canada Nova Scotia
  • Nova Scotia Community College
  • Techsploration Inc.

Contact information

Department of Biology
Mount Saint Vincent University



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