Worldwide, scientists are being asked to become better communicators. Wildlife research presents a unique opportunity for science communication in northern communities. Between 2007 and 2011, Environment Canada and Carleton University partnered with the Nunavut Arctic College and other agencies to provide a learning opportunity that integrated marine bird research in the territory with local traditional knowledge and the training of students. Over the course of the project, both the researchers and the educators refined the program through lessons learned including the mismatch between researcher programs and education program timing; the need for dedicated funding and time for development of the program; and, the need for adequate space and infrastructure support. This program is just one way in which northern research can integrate the needs of the local community and involve northern residents. This is an important step in enhancing long term capacity in the north. More on this unique partnership program and further developments can be found by visiting Jennifer Provencher's website. Jenn is a PhD student co-supervised with Grant Gilchrist at NWRC.
The Health, Science, Technology and Policy graduate program at Carleton hosted its first evening public lecture this year, just yesterday (Sept 19th). Dr. Felicia Wu, the John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Michigan State University, delivered a very exciting and interesting lecture entitled: “Improving food safety: what we can learn from public health and control of infectious diseases.” The purpose of Dr. Wu’s visit to Ottawa was twofold. She was also part of a very successful Joint Special Meeting of The Toxicology Forum & Regulatory Governance Initiative, entitled: “Mycotoxins – unavoidable natural contaminants in staple crops: Public health and international trade.”
Nowadays, citations rates are far from simple. When I was gearing up in my research career, there were many fewer journals in one’s field. The graduate students and PDFs all aspired to get published in those journals that were high impact journals. Then it became clear that even papers in lower-impact journals could themselves have high, often very high, citation rates. It was really about the quality of the research. You heard ‘lab legends’ of bad papers being cited frequently as how ‘not’ to do something; but these papers just tend to be forgotten. When one points out obvious flaws of inference, logic and/or design in a study, there is really no need to revisit it, else one is accused of building straw men. We also have heard that citations are not everything; and indeed, they aren’t. Citation rates can be discipline specific and subject to bandwagons. But, they are still a useful metric.
Jennifer Provencher, a PhD student, co-supervised by myself and Grant Gilchrist (NWRC), went to a workshop that was sponsored by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) which is a working group of the Arctic Council. The workshop was in Saint Petersburg Russia from April 22-24. The meeting was themed “Action Adaptations for a Changing Arctic (AACA-C)”. The meeting’s purpose was to bring together climate model scientists, natural scientists, especially those with a marine focus, and others stakeholders (Governments, oil and gas producers etc.) to discuss the feasibility of strategies to maintain valued areas under projected climate change scenarios. The workshop focussed on three pilot regions (Barents Sea, Davis Strait-Baffin Bay, and the Beaufort-Chukchi-Bering Sea). All climate models predict moderate changes over the next 30 years regardless of scenarios and actions taken today, but show that strategies taken today on limiting carbon emissions over the next 80 years might greatly change how the planet will look. The report from the meeting goes back to the Arctic Council at its May ministerial meeting for final approval for the project to go ahead.
For the past three months and for the next three months, the Forbes’ Lab is hosting two researchers from CNRS Montpellier France. Dr. Karen McCoy is a molecular ecologist and evolutionary biologist who specializes in local host adaptation of seabird ticks and its influence on Lymes bacteria transmission. Dr. Thierry Boulinier is interested in maternal transfer of antibodies to seabird chicks and is also studying disease outbreaks in colonies of polar seabirds, most notably albatrosses. The Forbes’ lab also hosted a seminar in late January by Dr. Alex Cordoba-Aguilar, Departamento de Ecologĺa Evolutiva, Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. His talk was entitled “On the functional ecology of wing pigmentation: a case study in insects”.
Some time ago, a group of colleagues and myself were hosted at University of Toronto’s Koffler Scientific Reserve to discuss, among other things, the future of Canadian Field Stations (mostly University-based field
A sketch of an unidentified damselfly with larval water mites engorging on its wings. The picture was drawn by one of my former students, Kathyrn Norman, and was sketched from a photograph taken in
In the same year Konrad Lorenz, Niko Tinbergen and Carl Von Frisch jointly won the Nobel Prize in medicine for their pioneering work in animal behavior, the Israeli behaviorist, Amotz Zahavi, hypothesized that some birds aggregate in roosts to share information on locations of profitable food sources. Lorenz shared the Nobel prize, in part, for his work on imprinting: a phenomenon where hatchling birds immediately accept as parents the first object they see upon hatching (often Lorenz himself). In comparison, Zahavi’s ideas about the function of bird roosts, if correct, meant that some birds have much greater mental abilities.
Avian Cholera is the most important infectious disease affecting wild North American waterfowl. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada has just awarded Carleton University Professor Mark Forbes and a team of researchers more than half a million dollars over the next three yearsto study this bacterial disease in Arctic Breeding waterfowl.
Professor & student