President’s Report – Spring 2019

CSEE might have seemed to be hibernating since the last newsletter.  It was winter after all!  But the Council has been slowly chipping away at important projects to make the Society better at serving its members.

What’s new with NSERC?

In December, the Council has its annual meeting with NSERC representatives. The outlook is bright, with a promised 25% increase in NSERC funding between now and 2023. Last April, $70 million were injected into Discovery Grants, over 5 years.  Many of you saw your awards increased in the 2018 round and some of the new funding was earmarked for the first year of the Discovery Grant of Early Career Researchers. In the past few months, NSERC has engaged the research community as part of a quinquennial evaluation of its Discovery research program.  When NSERC comes knocking on your email door, please answer!  This is the most direct way to tell them what you think.  The beginning of 2019 saw another call for the Discovery Frontiers program, this one aimed at anti-microbial resistance in the environment.  This was the second call in a row with a focus relevant to CSEE members for this program.  Early career researchers were also the target of a new funding opportunity in the shape of the New Frontiers in Research program – to conduct high-risk, high-reward and interdisciplinary research.

In our meeting, we asked NSERC LOTS of questions, and they were forthcoming with answers to most of them.  Some stats on DG success rates: 69% and 47% of early career women and men, respectively, were successful in the 2018 DG competition, compared to 86% and 84% of established women and men researchers.  Established researchers not holding a grant continue to struggle to achieve success (26% success for men; data withheld for women because of sample size). The average grant of ECRs was $31k, while that of established researchers was $45k.  The success rates of applicants in the Ecology and Evolution evaluation group were in line with those of other evaluation groups.  There continues to be a distinct disadvantage for small universities, which achieved a DG success rate of 48% compared to medium (60%) and large (71%) universities.  Average grant sizes at small universities were also smaller ($31k vs $39k for large universities).

NSERC has a number of programs to support researchers who become new parents, and these apply not only to faculty but to graduate students and PDFs too.  If you’re expecting a happy event soon, look into the programs for primary caregivers, family and medical leave, and the paid maternity/parental leave for students and PDFs. The latter offers up to 6 months of paid leave to students and PDFs supported by NSERC grants. Relatively few researchers avail themselves of these programs. We don’t know if that’s a reflection of the low number of people who need them or lack of awareness.

We got interesting stats about the major NSERC awards. Over the last four years, 67% of Steacie award winners, 75% of Herzberg medal winners, and 75% of Polanyi award winners have been men. However, for these three awards, 76%, 89% and 88% of nominated researchers were also men.  The solution seems clear: we all need to nominate more women for awards.

In relation to gender and other equity issues, we pressed NSERC on the metrics of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI), which is now a consideration in the evaluation of Discovery and other grants.  This is clearly something that is important to NSERC. They are putting a lot of time and effort in developing training (e.g., about bias in peer review for peer reviewers) and tools to address the issue, but the criteria for researchers remain vague.  The best we can do right now is point you to their EDI guide for applicants (http://www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/_doc/EDI/Guide_for_Applicants_EN.pdf).

We had lots of other questions. What’s the relative productivity of Banting and Vanier fellowship holders vs standard PDF/PhD award holders? (No data.) Can PhD awards be increased to 4 years to better reflect how long PhDs take? (No, probably not.) Are there plans to increase the number of times a person can apply for NSERC PDF? (No) Are there plans to increase the value of PDF and other awards to account for inflation? (Mmmm, maybe.)  How much of a researcher’s DG is taken up by open access fees? (No data yet.) Can you do something about the CCV? (Sigh…)

Overall, it was a productive meeting.  We truly appreciated the openness of the NSERC reps we met.

Made-in-Canada Athena Swan, aka ‘Dimensions’

Several CSEE members participate in NSERC consultations that have just wrapped up on a Canadian version of the Athena SWAN charter, which recognises good practices in UK higher education and research institutions towards the advancement of gender equality.  The Canadian charter has now been released (http://www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/NSERC-CRSNG/EDI-EDI/Dimensions_Dimensions_eng.asp) and it aims to address systemic barriers to the inclusion of not just women, but also Indigenous peoples, people with disability, visible minorities, and LGBTQ2+ persons.  The national program – known as Dimensions –  applies to all members of the research community in post-secondary institutions. While the UK version was initially limited only to STEM and broadened later, the Canadian version includes all fields of study.  Adhesion to the Charter is voluntary for institutions, which stand to gain bronze, silver or gold certification using a set of clear, standardized, self-assessment criteria. Fifteen small institutions received EDI capacity-building grants, but beyond that, unfortunately, there will be no new money for chair programs for women or for ECR women, and no consequences in terms of tricouncil funding for institutions that do not adhere to the Charter or fail to improve over time.  A Letter of Intent call to join the first cohort of institutions seeking a Dimensions award will open on 3 June 2019.

CIEE

I am glad to report that CSEE has signed a memorandum of agreement with the Canadian Institute for Ecology and Evolution, committing us to a funding contribution to our partner (or is it offspring?) organisation for the next 5 years.  This agreement formalises the financial relationship that we have had with CIEE since its inception, and will help to provide CIEE with some certainty of funding as it continues to grow.

New award for science engagement and policy

I am also delighted to announce the creation of a new CSEE award for science engagement and policy.  The award was suggested by CSEE member Aerin Jacobs, and CSEE Council loved the idea!  The award will recognise engagement with the public or decision-makers about science, activities that reflect two of the four objectives of the CSEE (“to raise public awareness about the importance of ecology and evolution to Canadian society” and “to facilitate communication between members of the Society and decision-makers in the public, private, and non-governmental sectors”).  We are working out the details but we envisage the award being given at our annual conference every other year, alternating with the President’s Award.  So watch this space, and put your thinking caps on to identify and nominate a worthy recipient of our newest award in 2020.

Looking forward to seeing you in Fredericton!

Isabelle Côté

President

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CSEE Elections 2019

Student/Postdoc Councilor (1 position)

Hannah Brazbrazeaueau

I am a first-year MSc student in the biology department at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, studying how competition for pollinators impacts the evolution of flowers. I completed my undergraduate studies at Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie in 2018 and presented my undergraduate research at the 2018 CSEE meeting in Guelph.

Attending a small, undergraduate-focused university and presenting undergraduate research at a CSEE meeting showed me how valuable an organization like CSEE can be to undergraduate students and early career researchers. If elected as graduate student councilor, I will seek to create initiatives within CSEE that will boost undergraduate student membership and engagement.  https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Hannah_Brazeau

Emilie Champagne

champagneI’m currently a postdoctoral researcher in ecology, specializing in plant-herbivore relationships, mostly in forest ecosystems. I finished my PhD relatively recently (2017) and I completed all my graduate degrees in my hometown, at Université Laval. However, I’ve had the chance to visit several Canadian provinces, mostly for CSEE meetings. I’ve always felt at home at CSEE meetings and that’s what I would like to bring as a post-doctoral councillor. A first big conference can be intimidating for a student, especially if you’re the only one of your lab going. I would like the CSEE to remain the welcoming place it already is for all students, and I’d like also to reduce potential barriers, for example those involving language or accessibility. The culture and systems of science are changing and we have done a lot as a society. I want to help us continue to improve.

Martin Leclerc

My name isleclerc Martin Leclerc and I am running for the CSEE council to be your Graduate Student/Post-doctoral representative! Why should you vote for me? That is a very good question! First, I would like to give back to this society. I enjoy attending and presenting in annual meetings and I now want to give my time year-round to this organization. Second, my work is at the intersection of ecology, evolution, and conservation which fits perfectly the CSEE mandate. I have done a MSc (Rimouski, Qc) looking at the impacts of human activities on woodland caribou calf survival. I further did a PhD (Sherbrooke, QC) where I worked on the ecological and evolutionary impacts of harvesting on the Scandinavian brown bear. I then migrated on the West Coast (Victoria, BC) where I now investigate how predator-prey dynamics could better inform harvest management. Vote for me and I’ll be happy to be your Graduate Student/Post-doctoral representative!

Kirsten Reid

reidI am a PhD candidate at Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland. My research is based at the other end of the continent in northern Yukon and Northwest Territories, where I am focused on understanding the role of cross-scale (latitudinal to local) biodiversity patterns and abiotic gradients as non-climatic drivers of tree range expansion. My main motivation for serving on CSEE council is to continue to promote diversity within the CSEE community as well as the larger Canadian scientific community. Through annual events such as SWEEET (or SWEEEET 2019), I think we can push to diversify and increase the equity of science in Canada. In addition, I see the society as an opportunity to provide important networking opportunities for early career scientists to make connections with researchers across the country, resulting in future collaborations or mentorship opportunities – something I would aim to promote within the society.

Sharon Wang

Sharon graduated with her BSc and MSc from the University of Guelph where she has remained while pursuing her PhD in Ecology. In addition to co-authoring academic articles and presenting at national and international conferences, Sharon has worked tirelessly towards the betterment of her community. Sharon was invaluable in organizing the CSEE 2018 Meeting in Guelph and took a leading role in organizing the Symposium for Women Entering Ecology & Evolution Today (SWEEET) for both 2018 and 2019. Not only is Sharon helping to support women in ecology and evolution today, but she is helping to usher in the next generation of female scientists through her role with the Society for Canadian Women in Science & Technology as an e-mentor for high-school students. For two consecutive years (2017, 2018) Sharon has helped to organize a Careers in Biology Day aimed at advancing the professional development of graduate students at the University of Guelph. Locally, she has served as the graduate representative on curriculum committees, organized numerous departmental events (often >150 attendees), and developed and executed activities designed to help foster a positive, collaborative culture within University of Guelph’s Department of Integrative Biology (many of which are now being piloted at the college level). Sharon hopes to continue to serve her community by scaling up the initiatives she piloted at home to the national level through a position on the CSEE Council.

Regular Councilor (2 positions)

Jasmine Janes

janesI am an evolutionary biologist with a passion for plants (but I can be swayed to work on other groups). I have worked in both Australia and Canada on a variety of genomics-based projects, including native orchids, mountain pine beetle and eucalypts. I am a recent faculty hire at Vancouver Island University, but I have been a CSEE member since I moved to Canada in 2012. Over the years I have enjoyed contributing to the society as a student presentation judge and mentor at graduate student events discussing the pro’s and con’s of moving abroad for positions. As a CSEE councillor I will work towards greater promotion and inclusion of, and opportunity for: 1) early career researchers, 2) undergraduate research, 3) members from smaller institutions, and 4) postdoctoral fellows.

Justine Karst

karstI am an Assistant Professor and NSERC Industrial Research Chair of Terrestrial Restoration Ecology at the University of Alberta. My research program is broad and can be framed under three main themes: 1) belowground ecology of boreal forests, 2) plant-fungal interactions, and 3) carbon flow through ecosystems. Linking plant-fungal interactions to ecosystem processes, and more recently macroecology, is a particularly novel component to my research program. As I have no experience as a society councilor, I bring to CSEE a deep well of enthusiasm.

Daniel Kraus

krausI have expertise in Canadian biodiversity, conservation and landscape ecology with over twenty-five years of professional and field experience. I am currently the Senior Conservation Biologist at the National Office at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and I’m also researching extinction risk, evolutionary distinctiveness and species at risk recovery in a part-time PhD program in the School of Environment, Resources, & Sustainability at the University of Waterloo. My current projects at NCC include an analysis of endemic species, and a landscape assessment of biodiversity, threats and conservation responses across southern Canada.

I hope my experiences can serve CSEE is two ways: conservation and science literacy. I’d be very interested in supporting the Biodiversity & Conservation Committee, and in outreach that mobilizes the collective knowledge of the CSEE to foster a public that better understands ecology. I want Canadians to be fascinated by the natural world, and inspired to protect it.

In addition, I have significant committee experience including the Committee on Species at Risk in Ontario (currently Acting Chair), and was also a founding board member of the Ontario Invasive Plant Council.

Jalene LaMontagne

lamontagneI am an Associate Professor at DePaul University, in Chicago, IL, where my students and I work on a variety of topics including reproductive synchrony in boreal conifers, links between life-history and population dynamics, and urban ecology. I am also an Adjunct Scientist at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. I received my BSc and MSc from the University of Calgary, my PhD at the University of Alberta, and prior to my current position, I was a founding faculty member at the Asian University for Women in Bangladesh. While living in one of the most densely populated countries in the world I began thinking deeply about urban ecology questions. I am a regular reviewer for a variety of journals, and I have served as an ad-hoc and panel reviewer for international funding agencies including the National Science Foundation. I went to my first CSEE meeting in 2011 and I attend regularly with my students. I am continually impressed by the quality of science done by CSEE members and the supportive atmosphere of the society, and because the society reflects my interests and values I recently became a lifetime member. I would like to support the society as a CSEE Councillor, and I would bring a perspective of a member who is outside Canada. I have a long history of supporting and being involved in leadership of organizations I am a part of and I would like to enhance science communication endeavors and the international scope of CSEE, and grow and support our members both within and outside Canada.

Julia Mlynarek

mlynarekI’m an entomology research scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Harrow, Ontario. Much of my current work involves finding a balance between managing agricultural pests and keeping agro-ecosystems healthy. Even though my current work is applied, my academic background from McGill University (BSc, MSc), Carleton University (PhD) and University of New Brunswick (PDF) has spanned evolutionary ecology, systematics, natural history and insect biodiversity.

CSEE is a vibrant Society and I have enjoyed the positive CSEE vibe since the first meeting I attended in Banff (2011) as a graduate student. Being part of the Local Organizing Committee and Program Chair for this years’ Eco-Evo-Ento 2019 meeting in Fredericton made me realize how proactive the CSEE is in sharing knowledge, diversity, and inclusiveness. However, one of the gaps that is noticeable is the lack of non-academics on the council. As a government scientist, I could fill that gap and help the CSEE grow by encouraging participation of non-academics because we all know that researchers work towards similar goals: increase ecological and evolutionary knowledge.

Arne Mooers

mooersMy name is Arne Mooers, and I would like to serve on the CSEE (which I pronounce as “see-see”) Council.  I am currently a professor of biodiversity at Simon Fraser University here on the West Coast, where I have been on faculty since 2001 (!)  I am from the Maritimes, and did my evolutionary ecology training in Quebec (BSc., McGill), England (DPhil., Oxford) and BC and The Netherlands (PDFs).  My current research concerns how evolutionary biology can inform conservation approaches and strategy, with a focus on how and why we might consider some species as more worthy of conservation concern than others. I currently sit on COSEWIC and also contribute to provincial attempts to enact species at risk legislation.  I was elected to Council once before, in 2009, when I served as the second-ever Chair of CSEE’s Biodiversity and Conservation committee. Then, I was interested in systematic conservation planning, having CSEE contribute to Federal initiatives like reporting out on the CBD, and on the (still hot) topic of barriers to incorporating science in federal policy.  One less-successful initiative was to have CSEE push NSERC faster and further towards true open science.  I would take up these initiatives again in a new term.

Treasurer (1 position)

Yolanda Morbey

morbeyI am seeking re-election as CSEE Treasurer. During my first term of three years, I have been managing the books for CSEE and serving on the CSEE Executive and Council. My responsibilities as Treasurer include developing the budget, managing funds, tracking expenditures and revenues, compiling annual financial statements, ensuring compliance with the Canada Revenue Agency, and other issues related to our finances. As part of the CSEE Executive and Council, I also contribute to higher-level discussions regarding our activities and policies to help promote and develop ecological and evolutionary research in Canada. I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology at Western University. I teach ecology and quantitative methods, and my research is in the area of behavioural ecology – the study of evolutionary explanations for individual variation in behaviour and life history. While I have broad taxonomic interests, current research in my lab focuses on migratory movement strategies in songbirds. I believe my research and experience make me ideally suited to continue in my role as CSEE Treasurer for another term.

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CSEE response to US executive order on immigration

Friday, February 3, 2017

CSEE response to US executive order on immigration

[[PDF]]

The Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution (CSEE) expresses its deep concern over the recent Presidential Executive Order that prevents citizens from seven predominantly Muslim nations from travelling through or to the United States.

Scientific progress depends on the open exchange of ideas and transfer of knowledge through international research collaboration, field work, conferences, and workshops. The ban imperils these activities for many researchers, including those working in or working with colleagues in Canada, whether they are students, professors, or practicing scientists in industry, government, and non-governmental sectors.

CSEE embraces principles of diversity and tolerance that are vital to the success of Canadian science and society, but intolerance can create real threats. Recent events reconfirm the truth of Nobel Laureate Lester B. Pearson’s words, “Misunderstanding… arising from ignorance breeds fear, and fear remains the greatest enemy of peace.”

We support calls from organizations, like the Royal Society of Canada and Ecological Society of America, that this travel ban should be ended. CSEE suggests that our members work with their home institutions and in their communities to accommodate those who have been, or will be, displaced by this order.

Sincerely,

Jeremy Kerr, President

Isabelle Côté, Vice President

Miriam Richards, Secretary

Yolanda Morbey, Treasurer

Melanie Jean, Graduate Councillor

Alison Derry, Councillor

Julie Lee-Yaw, PDF Councillor

Chris Eckert, Councillor

Jill Johnstone, Councillor

Andrew Simons, Councillor

Mark Vellend, Councillor

Jeannette Whitton, Councillor

Jeffrey Hutchings, Past President

Judy Myers, Past President

Spencer Barrett, Past President

Doug Morris, Past President

 

About CSEE: The Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution (CSEE) is a non-partisan group of practicing ecologists and evolutionary biologists at all career stages throughout Canada.

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Science review panel must tackle barriers to funding, encourage diversity

Policy commentary in “The Hill Times”, the newspaper for Parliamentarians
There is more work to do to reverse a decade of erosion of scholarship and grant support for Canadian researchers and progress toward achieving diversity in academic institutions is unacceptably slow. The fundamental scienc review panel has an opportunity to provide strong advice around improving this situation.
Posted by Jeremy Kerr, current CSEE President
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Monarch Butterflies: Symbol or symptom?

Policy advice in “The Hill Times”, the newspaper for Parliamentarians
The decline of monarch butterflies represents more than just a fading symbol of international cooperation, it is a symptom of broader challenges confronting biological diversity. Evidence-based decisions will be critical to recovering this and other species at risk.
Posted by CSEE president Jeremy Kerr
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Minutes of 2012-2014 Council meetings now available

You can view the final minutes of past Council meetings here.  Minutes are now posted after approval at the subsequent meeting. Note that minutes are recorded in the language in which business was conducted (English), but upon request, a French translation can be provided.

 

The agenda for the December 2014 meeting in Ottawa is available here.  Minutes of the meeting will be posted after approval in May 2015.

 

Note that reports referred to in these minutes have not been appended.

Minutes of the May 2014 Council meeting, Montreal.

Minutes of the December 2013 Council meeting, Ottawa.

Minutes of the May 2013 Council meeting, Kelowna.

 

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