Conference Season, Snow Days, and Environmental Research at Acadia

Biofeedback, the Student Research and Innovation Conference, and Science Atlantic

by Kristie, David

In late winter and early spring, the thoughts of 4th year Honours students turn to ... thesis writing and conferences!

Attending conferences provides students with an opportunity to add an important experience to their CV, polish their presentation skills, learn about other research on campus, and for those attending off campus conferences, the opportunity to check out other labs and potential supervisors for graduate work.

Biofeedback 2017 - The 24th Annual Undergraduate Biology Research Conference - Feb 22 and 24.

For Biology Honours students at Acadia, one of the highlights of their year (aside from finally handing in their thesis) is the presentation of their research to the department and the university community at Biofeedback, Acadia’s Biology Undergraduate Research Conference.  Biofeedback is normally held in the KC Irving Environmental Science Centre Auditorium, usually on the Wed and Thursday in the week preceding spring break.  

This year however was far from normal. Biofeedback week got off to a rough start with classes being cancelled and the university closed on both Monday and Tuesday because of a howling blizzard. Nevertheless, the conference got underway on Wednesday with only a minor glitch, i.e. no printed programs. Unfortunately, Thursday produced yet another storm, this time a nor'easter that dumped "only" 30 cm of snow, but managed to shut down the university for the third day in one week! Some quick re-organizing by Dr Dave Shutler, the Biology Honours Coordinator, allowed the conference to re-convene on Friday, but because of scheduling issues, the conference finished up in the more constricting confines of the Biology Department seminar room. 

Overall there were 26 Biology and 2 Environmental Science students presenting their Honours research this year. While it is not required as part of their degree, Environmental Science students working with a professor in Biology can choose to present at Biofeedback if they wish. Despite the interference of mother nature, the student presentations at Biofeedback were remarkable, with several conference attendees marvelling that both the quality of research and the quality of presentations seem to get better every year.


Several of the presentations were by students whose research was conducted at least partly in the KC Irving Environmental Science Centre. These projects included:

Reintroduction of Seed Bank Derived Geum Peckii (Eastern Mountain Avens) on Long Island, Digby County, Nova Scotia by Sarah Fancy (ENVS and Arthur Irving Scholar);

Analysis of Mercury Content of Lichens in Nova Scotia: Potential Use as Passive Air Samplers by Cardy Hallett Saunders (Biol);

Examining Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi in Spartina patens and Spartina alternaflora in the Minas Basin, Nova Scotia by Tyler d'Entremont (Biol and Arthur Irving Scholar);

Mixed Mating and Its Ecological Impact on an Endangered Plant by Emily Evans (Biol).

A partial list of other environmentally-related research presented this year includes work on harbour porpoise movements, parasitic mites on honey bees, nest selection by tree swallows, benefits of colonial living in storm-petrels, selectivity of a commercial alewife fishery on the Gaspereau River, the effects of BPA on development of a marine worm, and seal hunting by polar bears versus humans. Abstracts of all the conference presentations can be found here and are well worth investigating by students looking for possible supervisors and research projects in Environmental Science or Biology.


Science Atlantic - Aquaculture, Fisheries and Biology Conference - Mar 10 -12

All Biology Honours students are required to present their research at Biofeedback. Some students, particularly those interested in pursuing some type of post-graduate degree,  can also obtain valuable experience by volunteering to present at the Science Atlantic Aquaculture, Fisheries and Biology Conference, which is usually held in early March.

Dr Russell Easy, Acadia's Biology Rep at Science Atlantic, took a contingent of ten students to the conference which was held at St FX in Antigonish this year. Three students gave oral presentations, while seven presented their research using a scientific poster format. Special thanks to all of these students for taking the time to represent Acadia so well, at this particularly busy time of year. Congratulations are also in order for Emily Evans, who presented her work on Mixed Mating and Its Ecological Impact on an Endangered Plant. Emily came home from the conference with two awards, one for Second Place in the competition for Best Oral Presentation, and the Botany Award, presented by the Canadian Botanical Association for the best presentation in a botanically-related topic. Emily's research was conducted in Dr Rodger Evan's lab, but we are pleased to note that she also made significant use of the Acadia Seedbank and other facilities in the KC Irving Environmental Science Centre.


The 4th Annual Student Research and Innovation Conference - March 3 and 4.  

The Irving Centre was also pleased to host the Student Research and Innovation Conference this year. This conference which is organized by Acadia Graduate Students brought together a variety of guest speakers, panel discussions, oral presentations by undergraduate and graduate students from across campus, and for the first time, a poster session in the Garden Room of the KC Irving Centre (program here). A tip of the hat to all those who worked hard to make this conference such a success. In particular, the poster session was a great way for students, staff, faculty, and visitors to get some insight into the interesting and diverse research that is going on across campus.


We are also pleased to note that Cardy Saunders, who works in the Irving Centre with Dr Nelson O'Driscoll and Dr Allison Walker, won an award for best presentation in the Natural Sciences from the Blomidon Naturalists Society, for his Honours thesis work on the Mercury Content of Lichens in Nova Scotia.


Two other presentations also involved environmentally-related work conducted in the KC Irving Centre. These were:

Investigation of effluent water quality and determination of ideal treatment option by Jacob Barton (BASc), a student in Dr Jennie Rand's CARE water quality lab and, 

Identification and evaluation of local, potential biocontrol fungi active against Fusarium basal rot of onions in the Annapolis Valley by Adele Bunbury-Blanchette (MSc Biol) a student in Dr Allison Walker's mycology lab.





Go back