Dr. Adrian Chan has been named a Fellow of the Canadian Medical and Biological Engineering Society (CMBES).

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

I acknowledge and pay respect to the Algonquin Anishinaabe People, on whose traditional and unceded territory I live and work.


My parents are Chinese and immigrated to Canada, where I was born. My father was an engineer, and my mother was the primary family caregiver. I grew up in Waterloo, Ontario, with three older brothers and two sisters, one older and one younger. All of my siblings have a medical degree or PhD (or both). I am an engineer like my father. I have a BASc in Computer Engineering from the University of Waterloo, an MASc in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Toronto, conducting my research at the University of Toronto’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering, and a PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of New Brunswick, conducting my research at the University of New Brunswick’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering. I am currently a Professor in the Department of Systems and Computer Engineering at Carleton University, where I’ve been since 2003. I am a cisgender man. My wife Brigitte is also an electrical engineer, and together we have four children. Though my French is fairly basic, our children have been raised in French and, like Brigitte, are bilingual. Across many social identities, I would consider myself mostly privileged. Indeed, I believe I have been quite fortunate in my life, which has helped lead me to various achievements in my personal and professional life.

My commitment to EDI isn’t derived from personal lived experiences. It arises from a belief that everyone deserves respect, dignity, access to opportunities to thrive. While there are many socioeconomic benefits associated with EDI, I keep in mind that fundamentally this is a human rights issue. As I typically do not identify as being part of an equity-denied community, my EDI contributions ensues from my pursuit of allyship and a shared goal of an accessible and inclusive society. My life mission is to help others reach their fullest potential so that they may positively contribute to society, and EDI is an important part of this mission.

What does EDI mean to me?

My understanding of EDI has been influenced by Belonging: A Conversation about Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion by Krys. Diversity is defined in terms of representation. Inclusion is when people are valued, including their thoughts, opinions, and perspectives. Equity is the recognition and redistribution of power. Belonging is at the intersection of diversity, inclusion, and equity. What I particularly like about this article is the discussion about what occurs when one of these three pieces is missing. Absent from this article is accessibility. For me accessibility is a foundation upon which EDI is built upon. How is diversity, inclusion, or equity even possible without accessibility? I would add another circle, encompassing the Venn diagram in this article, to represent accessibility.

How do I try to engage?

Often people from equity-denied communities, who experience discrimination, sexism, racism, ableism, etc., are also unfairly burdened with the task of resisting and combating, and building toward an accessible and inclusive society. I try to take the opportunities my privileges provide me to contribute. In my pursuit of allyship, I also try to be led by community. I keep a growth mindset, commited to continually learning. I know that I will make mistakes, and I endeavour to take responsibility for my errors and to do better. Finally, I try to express my support with actions, not only words.

My knowledge, understanding, and actions continue to evolve. If you have something to share with me, please feel free to contact me