PROGRAM

General Information

In addition to registering for the conference, you can pre-register for workshops and field trips, the opening reception, the student/postdoc mixer, trivia night, and the closing banquet. Most of these events are free but registration is required so we can stick within venue capacities as well as anticipate numbers and plan accordingly; the closing banquet is the exception, which is $40 for students and $70 for faculty. If an event has reached its capacity, please join the waitlist since folks’ plans may change and more space may open up, or if we switch to a larger venue. There will likely be more events and mixers scheduled May 27-29 that will not require pre-registration (e.g., yoga, a group run) and will be posted at the registration desk. Lunches are not provided with registration but note that all meeting activities are in close proximity to a diversity of cafes, restaurants, and a few grocery stores. Several of the events do include food (see below); as such, please identify your dietary preferences, allergies, and any accessibility needs on the registration form. All catered events will include vegan options.

The first day of the conference (Sunday, 26 May) is devoted to field trips, workshops, and the opening reception. Workshops will be held at the Nest (UBC’s conference centre) where most meeting activities will take place. The scientific program will take place Monday, May 27 to Wednesday, May 29.

 

Workshops

There are six workshops on the following topics: 

 

  • Making maps in R: applications for ecology and evolution (organized by Wesley Greentree): Spatial approaches to ecology and evolution are important to tackling major issues, like assessing the spatial scales of human impacts. While ecologists often lack GIS training, the open-source R programming language is a key tool used by many. R offers useful tools to work with spatial data. Coding in R can be difficult to learn, so there is a need to develop capacity among ecologists and evolutionary biologists to use R for spatial data. In this workshop, participants will learn how to use R to produce publication-quality maps and analyze spatial data. Participants will be equipped with the skills to produce study area maps, as well as visualize spatial data like abundance surveys and animal movements. Further, this workshop will introduce spatial data manipulation (e.g., projections, spatial joins, grid-based analyses) and how to access and load publicly available spatial data in R (e.g., base maps, satellite imagery, topography layers, community science data). The workshop will be accessible to participants with little R programming experience (through an introduction to R and ggplot). Advanced coders will also benefit by learning about new tools (e.g., animated and interactive maps). Time: 3 hours.

 

  • Blending art and science: enhancing data visualization by applying principles of fine art (organized by CIEE, led by Kate Sheridan, David Hunt, and Sandra Emry): This workshop will introduce participants to principles of fine art related to composition, balance, hierarchy, and visual weight using line, color, and opacity. No prior knowledge of art theory will be expected. Through a series of hands-on exercises, participants will learn the basics of the above principles, and how to relate them to data visualization. Emphasis will be placed on techniques for subtly drawing attention to key elements of a plot, removing distracting visual clutter, and producing an aesthetically pleasing figure which clearly and accurately tells the story of the data. We will also give an introduction on how to implement these principles in actual figures by utilizing R and ggplot. Familiarity with ggplot is helpful but not required, and other statistics packages and visualization software can be used by participants if they wish. The workshop will begin with a short introduction, followed by three rounds of group exercises teaching the principles through participatory work. All participants in a group will have the opportunity to contribute to the exercise. The workshop will move on to applying these principles to ggplot-based figures. Participants will then have 30 minutes to create preliminary figures of their own utilizing the principles previously discussed, either individually or in groups. The workshop will then conclude with an opportunity for the participants to present their versions of the figure if they wish, followed by a presentation of the coordinators’ own version, and a wrap up discussion. Time: 2 hours.

 

  • Getting off the ground: How to start and sustain scientific collaborations (organized by CIEE, led by Sandra Emry, Diane Srivastava, and David Hunt): Collaboration among scientists can lead to creative and innovative solutions to key problems and breakthroughs in research. Furthermore, collaborations such as working groups can have considerable benefits to individual participants, including an increase in research impact, greater access to future funding, and exposure to new skills and knowledge. The ability to collaborate is highly valued by both academic and non-academic employers, and so evidence of collaborative skills is particularly important for early career researchers. Yet beginning to build, and sustain, a network of collaborators as a graduate student, postdoctoral researcher or new faculty member can seem daunting. In this session, we will discuss techniques that will allow early career researchers to build a lasting, productive, and fulfilling network of collaborators in their field. Time: 2 hours.

 

  • Equity and power hierarchies in ecology and evolution - from individual and within-lab dynamics to structural legacies within academia (organized by SWEEET): This year’s SWEEET workshop will involve open discussions with expert panelists on issues related to power structures across levels of hierarchy in ecology and evolution. These include supervisor-trainee relationships, collaborative networks and broader structures within academia and beyond, and in community-researcher interactions. Particularly relevant for researchers in ecology and evolution are power dynamics associated with data collection, usage, and information autonomy/sovereignty. Notably, the consequences of these structures can be confounded by legacy effects associated with colonialism and historical practices in how collaborative networks are built as well as how data are collected and used, especially when incorporating indigenous rights and knowledge systems and in long-term networks. These legacy effects and systemic structures may make it especially hard for ECRs to be catalysts for change in these contexts, and we will explore these issues from a variety of viewpoints. Coffee and light snacks will be provided. More information will become available about this workshop closer to the date via our website (https://sweeetecoevo.weebly.com/) and on X (@SWEEET_ecoevo). Time: half day.
  • Who is Reviewer #2 Anyways? Demystifying Peer Review for Early Career Researchers (organized by Canadian Science Publishing): Peer review is a critical component of the modern process of sharing scientific findings, yet today’s graduate students and early career researchers are rarely given formal training in how to perform peer review. This lack of training means researchers may go on to give low-quality or unhelpful reviews, or are not as effective in addressing review comments they receive as authors. This can slow down the publication process for individual authors, but more importantly, can delay advancements in research and development that benefit society more broadly. Understanding the peer-review process also helps young researchers to be better at writing their science. In this workshop led by Dr. Fanie Pelletier, professor and co-Editor-in-Chief of the multidisciplinary open access journal FACETS, participants will be guided through the peer review process and become equipped with the skills to perform constructive, effective peer review themselves. Students and early career researchers will learn how they can gain peer review experience, from performing and getting credit for co-reviewing with a more established researcher, to setting themselves up to be discovered by editors as future reviewers. Time: 1.5 hours.

 

  • Turning sound into discovery: using wildlife audio recorders as a valuable research tool (Wildlife Acoustics expert Alexandra Donargo): Sound analysis is increasingly becoming a valuable tool for biologists, environmental scientists and managers to survey and monitor wildlife populations. It is currently used to aid in resource management, habitat health assessment, regulatory compliance goals, animal behavior studies and even documenting the effects of climate change. Recording sound with a bioacoustic recorder is a reliable way to meet these project objectives. Bioacoustics is a non-invasive, cost-effective and an unbiased method for studying animal presence. Biologists all over the world have made the Song Meter platform the standard for bioacoustics recording with over 100,000 recorders deployed over 100 countries. This hands-on workshop will teach participants the features and set up of the Song Meter Mini and Song Meter Micro recorders to monitor for birds, frogs, and other wildlife. Several case studies will also be presented and discussed. Time permitting, we will also review the free and paid versions of our Kaleidoscope software for efficient analysis of acoustic data. Time: 1.5 hours (potentially two time slots available).

 

Social Events

 

  • Opening reception: CSEE will commence with opening remarks in the Life Sciences Institute, a building that is itself a testament to the marvels of life, captivating the fusion of science and art. This is a great chance to reconnect with old friends or make new ones. The festivities will include opening remarks from our conference organizers and supporters, with local food from the meeting organizers’ favorite bakery (Breka ❤️), a cash drink bar, and music. 

 

  • Trivia night: Consider yourself a natural history buff? Join us for Natural History Trivia Night and compete for the gold! This lively event will take on the style of pub trivia, with teams putting their knowledge to the test. Topics might span from renowned scientists and biogeography to bird calls and peculiar animal behaviors. Bring your curiosity and team spirit for an engaging evening of fun and friendly competition!

 

  • Student/Postdoc mixer: Calling all students and postdocs! Elevate your network at our exclusive mixer hosted at Koerner's Pub, UBC’s graduate student pub. The pub boasts pool tables and a spacious outdoor patio nestled in a forest next to the ocean. Join us for an evening of fun and free food, a diverse selection of local beers, and enticing mixed and non-alcoholic drinks. You definitely won’t want to miss out on the surprise activity we have in store for you. This event is an opportunity to connect, unwind, and create lasting memories!

 

  • Closing Banquet/Jamboree: Cap off your CSEE conference experience jamboree style at our closing ceremonies banquet, set amidst the enchanting UBC Botanical Gardens. Enjoy exclusive access to the entire garden as it transforms into a celebratory festival with tents, string lights, carnival games, an art auction, and live music. Your ticket includes a meal from at least one of several food trucks, including ice cream from our favorite local parlor; drinks will be available for purchase from a beer truck (Main Street Brewery). Note: the Botanical Garden is a 24 min walk from the Nest Conference Centre. If you require mobility assistance, please do indicate so on the registration form and we will be in touch with options. Please wear footwear suitable for an outdoor event on a grassy lawn, especially if participating in lawn games.

 

  • Mixers/unplanned hangouts: Aside from the pre-planned social events, we have also booked The Gallery, a rooftop pub with an outdoor patio on the top floor of the conference centre, to be used exclusively by CSEE and is available for attendees to drop in.

 

Field Trips

 

  • Tidepooling in Stanley Park (organized by Chris Harley): Rocky intertidal shorelines in the Pacific Northwest have inspired ecologists for decades. By good fortune, there is an excellent low tide on Sunday, May 26th, just as the conference is kicking off. Join UBC marine ecologists in Vancouver's Stanley Park as we explore the plants and animals that live on the shore between the tidemarks. We will see sea stars, including the original keystone species, along with a host of other marine invertebrates, seaweeds, and even fish. Trip participants will have opportunities to learn about issues affecting coastal marine ecosystems including climate change and extreme weather, pathogen outbreaks, invasive species, and more, but we are also excited to just get outside and be inspired by the colorful diversity of local marine life. Indigenous content (traditional harvest techniques, current First Nation priorities for the intertidal zone) will be included. Time: 1.5 hours of tidepooling + plan for 30 mins self-arranged travel each way by public transit.

 

  • BioBlitz: What is a BioBlitz? “Blitz” means “a sudden, energetic, and converted effort”. A “BioBlitz” gathers groups together to conduct surveys of all biodiversity found in a given location, to help establish good baselines so changes in biodiversity can be monitored over time. This BioBlitz will focus on all animals found at a corner of campus that will feel like you’re nowhere near a large city centre, led by a group of arthropod experts. Learn critical id and survey skills, and marvell at the diversity of critters that call the West Coast of Vancouver home. The group leaders plan to have the data from the BioBlitz survey analyzed in time to present their findings in a talk towards the end of the meeting. Time: TBD.

 

  • Birding & botanizing from Pacific Spirit Park to the beach: Join us first for a leisurely stroll through UBC’s impressive regional forest, home to giant Doug Fir, Sitka Spruce, Cedar, and Hemlock that creak as they sway in the wind, serving as perches for bald eagles, barred owls, woodpeckers, and other characters. For the second half of this activity, if you’re up for it, get a serious leg workout by descending the staircase that takes you from the forest to the beach to check out seabirds, and if we’re lucky, seals, otters, or even orca. Time: 1.5 hours.

 

  • Research open house (organized by Biodiversity Research Centre community): Ever wonder how museum specimens are prepared and mounted? Ever wonder how AI can be used to expedite data collection? Ever wished you could see the famous stickleback ponds? Ever wonder if raccoons can solve puzzles? These are just a few of many questions and desires that can be answered. UBC’s Biodiversity Research Centre and affiliated groups are opening their doors for ~15 min “micro-experiences” that can be popped into throughout the day to teach you something new, and maybe even give you a chance to try your hand at a new technique. Time: ~15 mins per experience, experiences scattered throughout the day.

 

*Schedule will be updated as details are finalized but is provided to give a general idea of the meeting's structure. Please check back for updates!