Dr. Jessica Kolopenuk
Dr. Jessica KolopenukAssistant Professor at the Faculty of Native Studies, University of Alberta

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About Jessica Kolopenuk

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 Canada 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.

Select Publications

Kolopenuk, J. 2020. “Provoking Bad Biocitizenship.” The Hastings Center Report, Special report For “All of Us”? On the Weight of Genomic Knowledge.

Kolopenuk, J. 2020. “Miskâsowin: Indigenous Science, Technology, and Society.” Genealogy, 4(1).

Kolopenuk, J. 2018. ““Pop-Up” Metis and the Rise of Canada’s Post-Indigenous Formation.” American Anthropologist, 120(2).

Current Projects:

“Toward a Renewed Approach to Bioethics in Genetic Anthropology: Principles, Policies, and Protocols” (PI). Funded by The National Geographic Society Early Career Grant.

“The Ethics of Studying Indigenous North American Ancient DNA: Moving from Theories to Practices” (Co-PI with Drs. Chip Colwell; Laura Wyrich, Deborah Bolnick, Jessi Bardill, Ripan Malhi, and George Nicholas). Funded by the National Science Foundation.

“Bodies of Power, Nations of Strength: Elite Athlete Development in Three First Nations Hockey Programs” (Co-PI with Dr. Jordan Koch). Funded by SSHRC/Tri-Council New Frontiers in Research Fund.

“The Summer internship for INdigenous peoples in Genomics Canada” (Co-PI with Dr. Kim TallBear, UofA). Funded by Genome Canada.

“Community-driven Helicobacter pylori genomics investigation of the disproportionate H. pylori-associated disease burden among northern Indigenous Canadians” (Co-investigator with Dr. Karen Goodman as PI). Funded by the CIHR.