CBU students stand out at Science Communication Conference

Justine Trask and Melanie Campbell with their awards

Justine Trask (left) and Melanie Campbell (right) after being recognized for Science Communication awards.

The Science Atlantic Aquaculture & Fisheries and Biology Conference took place March 11- 13 at St. Francis Xavier University, where Cape Breton University students Justine Trask and Melanie Campbell were both recognized with Science Communication awards. Just one week prior to the conference, CBU student Emily Bennett also won a first place Science Communication award at the Science Atlantic Environment Conference.

Justine Trask, fourth year Bachelor of Science (Honours), Biology student, was chosen by CBU’s Biology department to present her research at the conference. “I was completely honoured to have been chosen by the department based on our most recent departmental presentation,” says Justine. She completed an oral presentation on the influence of chito-oligosaccharide supplementation in zebrafish (Danio rerio) diet based on her honours thesis project.

“I looked at the effects of chito-oligosaccharide supplementation in zebrafish diet. If chito-oligosaccharides are found to exhibit prebiotic activity, they could serve as a friendlier alternative to antibiotics in aquaculture practices,” says Justine.

While eager to attend the conference and present her own research, Justine was impacted by her peers’ research as well. “It was an inspiring weekend. I was able to see all of the interesting undergraduate-level research taking place at universities across the Atlantic provinces.” CBU also had a strong showing this year which included four oral presentations and three poster presentations.

Melanie Campbell was among CBU Biology students at the conference, and she also took home a communication award for her poster presentation on evaluating the efficacy of iron binding chelation polymers for the inhibition of biofilm growth. Melanie is a fourth year Bachelor of Science (Honours), Biology student. “I wanted to present at Science Atlantic because I thought it would be an exciting experience, and a way for me to showcase my thesis work to a broader audience,” says Melanie. “Plus, it was a great opportunity to practice presenting my research before my final thesis defense.”

Melanie was very surprised to receive the communication award, and said it was completely unexpected. “There was plenty of interesting research being presented, so I was thrilled to be recognized among my peers for this award,” says Melanie.

The prizes were awarded to the students who were best able to communicate a science topic to their peers. This year awards were given to both oral and poster presenters, and judging was determined based on peer voting.

Eighteen CBU Biology students attended the Science Atlantic Aquaculture & Fisheries, and Biology Conference. “Our students did us very proud and represented the Biology Department very well,” says Dr. Tim Rawlings, Associate Professor, Biology and Department Chair. “Not only were they exposed to some amazing research presentations, but they were also a great support for our presenters. I was also impressed to see some of our students asking questions during oral presentations and poster sessions.”

This year presenters and spectators were able to learn from keynote speaker Dr. Ken Lukowiak, Professor at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary. He was known to ask many challenging questions to the student presenters in the Biology section throughout the conference.

CBU’s very own professor was also honoured at the conference. It was announced at the banquet that Dr. Michael Tanchak, Professor, Biology and Department Vice-Chair has been awarded a five year service pin from Science Atlantic for his past years of service on the Biology Committee.

Katherine Jones, Associate Professor, Biology was the coordinator for all of CBU’s honours students, and Kellie White, Senior Laboratory Instructor, Biology handled all the conference based logistics and travel for the 18 CBU student attendees.

Learn more about Science Atlantic Aquaculture & Fisheries and Biology Conference 2017.