insight & evidence



Born in Halifax and educated in physics (BSc, MSc, Dalhousie University) and operations research (PhD, Stanford), Dr. Nicholson has served in numerous posts in government, business, science and higher education in a career stretching over 50 years.

He began as a professor of computer science at the University of Minnesota (1969-73), then came back to Canada to join the Public Service, where his career included positions as head of policy in the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada, a member of the Nova Scotia Legislature, the Clifford Clark Visiting Economist in Finance Canada and Special Advisor to the Secretary-General at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris.  

Peter Nicholson’s business career included senior executive positions with Scotiabank in Toronto and BCE Inc. in Montreal. He retired in 2010 as the inaugural president of the Council of Canadian Academies, an organization created to support expert panels that assess the science relevant to issues of public importance.

He was an original member of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s National Advisory Board on Science and Technology, the Founding Chair of the Board of the Field’s Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences and the Founding Chair of the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

Peter Nicholson has been awarded five honourary degrees and is a member of the Order of Canada and the Order of Nova Scotia.  He divides his time between his hometown of Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, and the dance halls of Austin, Texas. 

Fun Fact: Elon Musk credits Peter in his biography as giving him his first job.

Download Peter’s CV

insight & evidence