Dr. Simona Verga: physicist, teammate, athlete and mother

From Defence Research and Development Canada

March 6, 2015

Since its inception in 2006, Dr. Simona Verga has been part of the hard working team at Defence Research and Development Canada. For seven years, she has worked as an Operations Research Analyst, providing decision support to internal and external clients through advice and guidance. Recently, she has taken on a new role as the Psycho-social Portfolio Manager and is working with researchers and practitioners to help shape the way forward for this portfolio.

Dr. Verga has largely focused her efforts in the areas of community resilience and risk assessment. She worked closely with DRDC’s Risk Assessment team to support an inter-departmental All-Hazards Risk Assessment initiative led by Public Safety Canada. She received a DRDC Award of Excellence for this work in 2012.

Dr. Verga’s work was also praised and acknowledged at the international “Cornwallis XVII Conference: Analysis of Trafficking and Transnational Threats” held in April 2012. Her paper, entitled “A Holistic, Cross-Government All Hazards Risk Assessment”, tied for 1st place, which she was very proud of, since the conference was attended by a number of Senior Operational Research Analysts from Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.

One of Dr. Verga’s favourite things about her job is teamwork. Working closely with her colleagues, she worked on a number of high profile projects, including the Firearm Capability Evaluation for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police , which she considers one of her greatest achievements at DRDC. With her colleagues, she applied network analysis methods to map existing policy and legislation in the areas of emergency management, national security, and crime prevention, in order to situate a new National Resilience Strategy for Canada.

Additionally, in 2010, she joined the larger DRDC team that provided scientific support during the Winter Games in Vancouver and contributed to the development of the Critical Infrastructure Asset Ordination Model in support of the Integrated Security Unit planning.

A Love for Physics

"I remained open and my ambitions grew. I wanted to do more."

Dr. Simona Verga

Born and raised in eastern Romania, Dr. Verga travelled to Bucharest for university. At the University of Bucharest, she completed not only her Undergrad, but her Masters in physics, studying how photons scatter on loosely bound electrons. When she moved to Romania’s capital to study, she initially thought she was going to return to her home town as a high school physics teacher. She explains, "I remained open and my ambitions grew. I wanted to do more."

After finding a potential advisor in Canada and becoming interested in studying High Temperature Superconductors, Dr. Verga moved to Edmonton, attended the University of Alberta and completed her Ph.D. in physics. While working towards her doctoral degree, she was still hoping to become a professor, but with a young family, finding an academic position for both parents in the same city proved to be difficult, especially since they were both physicists. After receiving her degree, she got a job with DRDC as an Operations Research Analyst – and she never looked back!

Outside of work, Dr. Verga is an avid runner and a proud mom of two, who says with a smile, “My other greatest accomplishment is finding the right balance between work and time with my children. I’d say I’ve done a pretty good job so far.”

Dr. Simona Verga holding the Canadian flag at Canada Army Run 2013.

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