A native of St-Timothée, Québec, Dr. Fortier is a graduate of McGill, where she received a BSc (1972) and a PhD in Crystallography (1976). While at McGill, she was awarded both an Entrance Scholarship and the R.P.D. Graham Scholarship for an exceptional student in Geological Sciences.
Dr. Fortier has served most recently as President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). In her role, Dr. Fortier brought renewed focus on excellence to the agency. She increased its capacity to support discovery research and Canada's ability to attract and retain the best students and professors, promote business-academic relationships and foster innovation. She also forged stronger relationships with other national and international granting agencies and organizations to increase the number, scope and impact of joint initiatives available to researchers.
Through her work at NSERC, Dr. Fortier has participated in numerous conferences, task groups and workshops, at both the national and international level, and has made invited presentations on science, technology and innovation, women in science and engineering, and the recruitment of the next generations of scientists and engineers.
Before her appointment as President of NSERC in January 2006, Dr. Fortier held the posts of Vice-Principal (Research) from 1995 to 2000 and Vice-Principal (Academic) from 2000 to 2005 at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, where she was also a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and in the School of Computing.
Dr. Fortier is a crystallographer by training, specializing in the development of mathematical and artificial intelligence methodologies for protein structure determination. She has also made contributions to the development of novel techniques in crystallographic data mining to gain new insights from the large structural databases.
She was a member of the Protein Engineering Network of Centres of Excellence (PENCE), the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Systems (IRIS) and Communications and Information Technology Ontario (CITO). She has authored or co-authored over 80 scientific publications and had made numerous invited scientific presentations.
She has received the Clara Benson Award for distinguished contributions to chemistry by a woman (1997), the Entrepreneurship Award from Communications and Information Technology Ontario (1997), the Queen's University Distinguished Service Award (2005), an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia (June 2006) and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012). She is also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and an officer of France’s National Order of Merit.
Dr. Fortier served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Ontario Centres of Excellence Inc., the Board of Governors of the Royal Military College of Canada and the federal government's Council of Science and Technology Advisors (CSTA). She is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Strategic Committee of Investissements d’Excellence Bordeaux, Steering Committee of the Networks of Centres of Excellence and the Ontario Task Force on Competitiveness, Productivity and Economic Progress.
She is fluent in English and French.