The WilsonToxLab regularly attends the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Society of Zoology and this year was no exception. Indeed, there were nine of us in attendance and lots to see from the WilsonToxLab in terms of presentations. Mike Galus, Eugene Choi, Casey Mueller, John Eme, Chris Thome, Charles Mitz and Joanna Wilson all presented recent research results from the lab. In addition, our collaborators at U Regina, Chris Somers and Richard Manzon, had students from our whitefish project presenting: Carly Graham, Becca Eberts, Dan Stefanovic and Katy Session all gave great whitefish talks. Go Team Whitefish! Since most of Team Whitefish was at the Montreal meeting, we stayed an extra day for a project meeting making this an extremely useful trip for our research program.
This year, the meeting was in Montreal and a bit unusual as CSZ partnered with two other Canadian societies (Ecology and Evolution and Limnological) for the first ever joint meeting. That added a whole new flair and the opportunity to see a much wider range of science. The plenary presentations were excellent and I really enjoyed the Fry Medal presentation to Dr. Glen van der Kraak from U Guelph. Glen is a great scientist and it was wonderful to see him talk at length about the intersections of his basic (fish endocrinology) and applied (endocrine disruption) research streams. It is a much deserved award.
There was a bit more politics at this meeting than usual and it came on two fronts: women in STEM and the role of science in public policy. CSZ had a panel of all male invited speakers and award winners and apparently there was some animated discussion on the society Facebook page about why there were no women. An invited speaker even started his talk by commenting on the lack of women giving plenary presentations and why he felt this was a problem. What was interesting was the discussion and response from CSZ. They have collected some data, recognized this is an issue, and formed a group to discuss how to fix the issue. Amongst members that were discussing this at the meeting with me, there was solid support for change. So I say good for CSZ for responding to the comments quickly, with an open mind and the motivation for change. We need young women in science fields to see that things are getting better.
The second interesting change was all the discussion about scientists engaging in public policy and advocacy for the role of science in society. I haven’t seen this at a conference before and it reflects the ongoing belief that our current government is anti-science. Interesting discussions all round this topic for sure.