Building a strong community of women in science, advancing interdisciplinary lab and field research

Dr. Deborah MacLatchy was a founding visionary of the CRI and is currently a Science Director. She is the provost & VP academic at Wilfrid Laurier University and has been newly named as the next president and vice-chancellor. She is also a founder of the Laurier Women in Science Centre.

Dr. Deborah MacLatchy was a founding visionary of the CRI and is currently a Science Director. She is the provost & VP academic at Wilfrid Laurier University and has been newly named as the next president and vice-chancellor. She is also a founder of the Laurier Women in Science Centre.

International Women’s Day is an opportunity for the Canadian Rivers Institute (CRI) to highlight the critical contributions of one of the institute’s founding members, a leader in her research field, and a strong advocate for women in science: Dr. Deborah MacLatchy.

Dr. MacLatchy was a member of the original founding visionaries who created the CRI in 2001. Today she leads a research laboratory in analytical ecotoxicology and comparative endocrinology at Wilfrid Laurier University (Laurier), is currently the provost & VP academic, and has been newly named as the next president and vice-chancellor. She is also a founder of the Laurier Women in Science Centre, which aims to “build a strong community for women in science through research, communication and action.”

 
MacLatchy has developed a niche research program focusing on both laboratory and fieldwork. By using both field observations and lab exposure studies, she is able to link effects in native fish species from the molecular level through to organism and population level effects.

MacLatchy has developed a niche research program focusing on both laboratory and fieldwork. By using both field observations and lab exposure studies, she is able to link effects in native fish species from the molecular level through to organism and population level effects.

Her own career first developed as a professor and then dean of Science, Applied Science and Engineering at the University of New Brunswick (UNB).  Over the years, her work has continued to focus her CRI science using both laboratory and fieldwork.

By using both field observations and lab exposure studies, she is able to link effects in native fish species from the molecular level through to organism and population level effects.  “I am primarily interested in the source, mechanisms of action and effects of anthropogenic chemicals known as ’endocrine disruptors‘ on fish native to Canadian ecosystems, including those ecosystems under additional pressures such as climate change,” says MacLatchy.

Her expertise in this niche area of research began through a focus on understanding the reproductive effects of pulp and paper mill effluent on the mummichog or Atlantic killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus) in the Saint John River in New Brunswick. This multi-year, government-industry-academic partnership facilitated through the CRI, was the recipient of the 2005 NSERC Synergy Award for Innovation and has contributed to enhancements in the federal Environmental Effects Monitoring program for pulp and paper mills.

 
Dr. Heidi Swanson, a CRI alumna and current associate professor at the University of Waterloo, with a Northern Pike captured at Sanguez Lake, Northwest Territories. Photo credit: Bruce Townsend

Dr. Heidi Swanson, a CRI alumna and current associate professor at the University of Waterloo, with a Northern Pike captured at Sanguez Lake, Northwest Territories. Photo credit: Bruce Townsend

Her current research focus is on the Canadian Arctic, investigating the potential impact of extractive industries and climate change on native fish species such as shiners (Notropis spp.), walleye (Sander vitreus) and lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformes).  This work is done in partnership with local communities and First Nations. MacLatchy notes the crucial importance of linking her work using scientific approaches to traditional knowledge of partnering communities to understand how to best assess the health of these vulnerable aquatic ecosystems.

“Native fish species are bioindicator species that can provide crucial warning signs regarding the health of a whole system,” says MacLatchy. “Baseline fish health is one way to understand how climate change is manifesting itself and impacting important river systems.  In the Northwest Territories we have been working in both the Kakisa area of the Dehcho region and the Fort Smith area of the South Slave region.”

Dr. MacLatchy’s research reinforces CRI’s core aims to develop research that: is applicable to communities, governments and industries; addresses the immediacy of critical water issues and expands laboratory- and field-based research and education opportunities for graduate students and professionals. It is one of the many examples of CRI leadership in applied aquatic science, which is attracting students and next generation scientists who are seeking to research with experts in their fields, and to work directly on environmental challenges.

Dr, MacLatchy is now collaborating with the next generation of women scientists, including Dr. Heidi Swanson, an assistant professor and university research chair at the University of Waterloo (UW). Dr. Swanson is a CRI alumna (2010) of Dr. Karen Kidd (UNB) and current CRI associate of Dr. Simon Courtenay (UW).  She was a recipient of L'Oreal Canada-UNESCO 'Women in Science Research Excellence Fellowship' in 2010-2011 and attributes part of her early-career successes to being a part of the CRI.

 

“My research program is more visible than it otherwise would be, and I have been granted several opportunities that are unique for someone at my career stage,” she says.  “The CRI is a network with a wide group of aquatic ecologists who continue to function as invaluable mentors and collaborators.”

Dr. Swanson is currently collaborating with Dr. MacLatchy to determine mercury transfer in food chains in order to identify the health of the fish for human consumption.  “Dr. Swanson’s contribution is important in order to understand and track contaminants in food webs and commercially significant fish species in northern communities. Fish as a source of food are critical economically and culturally for Indigenous communities that place high value on the health of the whole ecosystem,” says MacLatchy.

Dr. MacLatchy is one of CRI's 23 Science Directors who have now trained more than 475 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows through their interdisciplinary research programs.  “Students are perhaps initially attracted to the fieldwork and applied components of the research and then develop a broader range of laboratory, analytical, critical thinking, and communication skills,” she says.  “The growth in students as scientists over the course of a graduate degree or postdoctoral experience is always exciting to see.”

 

2017 Science Atlantic Environment Conference

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UNB's Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Management invites you to the 2017 Science Atlantic: Environment (SAE) conference, which will consist of undergraduate and graduate-level research presentations (both oral and poster).  Prizes will be given for 1st and 2nd place in each category.

MARCH 3-5, 2017 at UNB-Fredericton

Tentative schedule:
Friday March 3rd – meet and greet and pick up registration packages 6-9pm.
Saturday March 4th – presentations all day, banquet in the evening
Sunday March 5th – morning presentations, finish just before lunchtime

We welcome and encourage abstract submissions from a broad range of environmental science fields (natural resources, forestry, biology, geology, engineering, chemistry, and beyond).  

Early bird registration ends Feb 3rd, and abstract deadline will be Feb 10th.  Registrations will be accepted after that for non-presenters.

Use this link to access the registration and payment forms.  Please send far and wide within your academic and research networks.

For any and all questions, please contact
Michelle Gray, 2017 SAE Conference Chair
mgray1@unb.ca
506-451-6866

 
Canadian Rivers Insitute is a proud sponsor of    Science Alantic: Environment Conference 2017

Canadian Rivers Insitute is a proud sponsor of
Science Alantic: Environment Conference 2017

EcoLac-GRIL fall workshops and annual seminar

The NSERC-CREATE- ÉcoLac program invites undergraduate students to participate to the ÉcoLac-GRIL fall workshops and to the ÉcoLac annual seminar. 

As an ÉcoLac trainee, every selected candidate will receive a scholarship to cover the travel expenses and registration fees for the ÉcoLac annual Seminar (February 23, 2017 at UQAM) and, if they are still registered in an undergraduate program in fall 2017, to the ÉcoLac-GRIL fall workshops 2017.

To apply, the student must be registered in one of the eight universities collaboratingto the ÉcoLac program: UQTR, McGill University, Concordia University, Université de Montréal, UQAM, UQAC, Laurentian University, and University of Nouveau-Brunswick. Students must have a particular interest for research, in addition to an excellent academic record.

Interested candidates should submit their application by providing the following documents before February 3rd, 2017:

  • The CREATE program registration form, available at www.ecoLac.ca, under the « Submit an application » section. Follow the indications carefully.

  • The following information in electronic format to marie-andree.fallu@uqtr.ca:

  1. full CV (including university education and work experience in academia, research and others);

  2. a copy of the most recent transcript from its university;

  3. the name of a researcher that can be contacted for references.
     

NSERC's CREATE training program in lake and fluvial ecology (ÉcoLac) is dedicated to the training of highly qualified young professionals. Trainees acquire strong skills in the field of aquatic ecology and are offered opportunities to develop a multidisciplinary vision, to enhance leadership and communication skills, and to understand their upcoming role in society.

This program was created to meet a growing demand for highly qualified personnel in lake and river ecology who will be able to respond to the challenges Canadians will face regarding aquatic environments over the next decades. These professionals must be able to transition rapidly from the role of student or trainee to a productive professional within the Canadian workforce.

The Canadian Rivers Institute is a proud partner in the The NSERC-CREATE- ÉcoLac program.