|September 15, 2010
CSM President Newsletter - September 2010
Dear CSM member, chers membre du SCM,
This is the first in what will be periodic newsletters to the membership from the CSM/SCM, communicating news as and when it develops. If you have any suggestions regarding communications or any other aspect of your Society please do not hesitate to email me [email@example.com] or any other member of your Executive or Council [email addresses available on our website, http://www.csm-scm.org/english/about_exec_exec.asp].
The 2010Annual Conference
The June 14-17 2010 Annual Conference held at McMaster University was a great success. There were over 450 registered attendees, and feedback was uniformly positive. On behalf of the CSM Executive and all the membership I thank Marie Elliot, Turlough Finan and the Local Organizing Committee for their outstanding work. One of the advantages of organizing the CSM Conference is that the host University gets to showcase itself to the national microbiology community. Everyone left this meeting truly impressed with the calibre of microbiology at McMaster. And based on the energy, the enthusiasm, and the quality of the presentations and posters given by the many graduate students in attendance, it’s clear that the future of microbiology in Canada is very bright indeed.
Louise Nelson gave a moving tribute to Roger Knowles who passed away this year. Roger was a well known and much beloved researcher, teacher and mentor at Macdonald College (Campus) of McGill University, and an important member of the CSM community. Roger’s wife Ruth and son Michael were in attendance, and were very thankful for this tribute.
Professor Ford Doolittle gave a thought-provoking keynote lecture putting forth the argument that the ‘tree of life’ as currently conceived is the product of an overly simplistic understanding of evolution, and does not adequately describe the complexicity of phylogenetic relationships of life currently on earth. The conference program was eclectic and stimulating with five symposia concerning varied ‘hot’ topics in microbiology: ‘Bacterial Cell Surfaces’; ‘Exploiting the Bug’; ‘Host-Pathogen Interactions’; ‘Signalling in Cells and Communities’; and ‘Human Microbiome and Environmental Metagenomics’. Thanks to the LOC and the Section Chairs for putting together a great program, and the speakers for giving such excellent presentations.
A bit of a departure this year from previous conferences was a workshop on Metagenomics that provided practical information on the use of some tools for metagenomics experiments, and bioinformatics tools for metagenomic analysis. The workshop was well attended, the presentations were very informative, and generated lots of questions from the audience. This was an excellent initiative led by Josh Neufeld and Chris Yost, and is a model we can work from in future conferences.
The awards lectures are a highlight of every conference. This year’s winners Lindsay Eltis [Norgen Biotek Award], Chris Sibley [Cangene Award], and Steven Hallam [Fisher Scientific Award] each gave an excellent overview of their research, and unambiguously demonstrated why they are so deserving of these important awards.
The CSM puts a major emphasis on providing graduate students with the opportunity to present their work in a rigorous scholarly setting. To that end, the society encourages all students to take advantage of this important opportunity for networking and professional development. A number of students are selected each Conference for the oral and the poster presentation competitions. The quality of presentations this year was outstanding, and the judges were challenged deciding on award winners. Below is the list of 2010 participants and award winners. Congratulations to all.
Melissa Ayers, McMaster U, ASM Student Symposium Award ($350)
Laetitia Bonifait, Laval U, QC
Laura Greenfield, U of Guelph, ON CSM Student Symposium Award ($250)
Henry Haiser, McMaster U, Hamilton Cedarlane Student Award ($500)
Hindra, McMaster U
Alexander Hynes, Memorial U, NFLD CCM Student Symposium Award ($500)
Shawn Clark, Ryerson U, ON
Sarah Goomeshi Nobary, U of AB,
Niraj Kumar, Queens U, Kingston
John Schellenberg, U of MB ISME 8 Student Symposium Award ($500)
Michelle Wille, Memorial U, NFLD
Andrea Bartram, University of Waterloo CSM Poster Award ($250)
Tushar Shakya, McMaster University CCM Poster Award ($500)
Peter Spanogiannopoulos, McMaster U ISME 8 Poster Award ($500)
Janet Lin, Queen’s University ASM Poster Award ($350)
An information session and update on NSERC was given by Sylvia Williams, a program officer for Evaluation Group 1501 (Genes, Cells, and Molecules). The presentation was attended by approximately 25 people. The presentation detailed the changes that have occurred within the last two years including how NSERC grants are evaluated and ranked, the distribution of funds to each of the funding bins, as well as an overview of how the conference model functions for the review of applications to the Discovery Grant Program. Statistics were presented and the outcomes of the 2009/10 were presented. Questions that were addressed included how the overlap between CIHR funds and NSERC funds is being handled, why the Chemistry group evaluation bins had higher values. Concerns were raised as to how research programs can be established if funding levels were fluid (catastrophic loss of fund situation). The basic information (slide presentation) can be accessed directly on the NSERC website. [Thanks to Ivan Oresnik for providing this report]
As always, we thank the Sponsors and Commercial exhibitors for their invaluable financial support of the annual conference.
The 2011 Annual Conference
Andrew Lang and colleagues at Memorial University will be hosting the society’s 61st annual Conference to be held June 20-23/2011 in St. John’s Newfoundland. The LOC is currently developing an exciting program, updates to follow. Canada’s most Easterly province has a storied history, and is characterized by its unique natural beauty. [http://www.newfoundlandlabrador.com/]. Book the dates in your calendars now, and plan on bringing the family for what promises to be a memorable and fulfilling experience.
Other Society news
“Off with the old, on with the new”. There are a number of personnel transitions in your Society Executive and Council.
Michael Hynes leaves the executive after completing a stint as past president [and previously President, 1st Vice-President and 2nd Vice-President]. His encyclopaedic knowledge of all things CSM will be sorely missed, but fortunately we have his email address in New Zealand where he will be undertaking a well-earned sabbatical. Thanks Michael for your dedicated service to the society. Trevor Charles starts his term as Past-president after a year with a steady hand at the tiller; during which we notably undertook a major revamping of the society’s website and logo. Trevor, we look forward to your continued contributions as the ‘sage’ of the executive. Finally, Ivan Oresnik gets promoted to 1st vice-president, and we are extremely pleased to welcome Nancy Martin onto the executive as second Vice-President. Thankfully, Jessica Boyd continues her role as Secretary-Treasurer, Jonathan Van Hamme as Meetings Secretary and Shannon Brooks as Graduate Student Representative. The operations of the Society remain in the very capable hands of Wafaa Antonious who continues to run our Secretariat.
The leadership of the three CSM Sections is evolving. Lyle Whyte is replaced as the Chair of Applied and Environmental Microbiology by Chris Yost, with Peter Dunfield coming on board as Vice-Chair. France Daigle is replaced as chair of Infection and Immunity by Brian Coombes, with Samantha Gruenheid coming on as Vice-Chair. Brian Driscoll is replaced as Chair of Molecular Genetics and Cellular Microbiology by Martin Chénier, with Deb Court coming on as Vice-Chair. We thank Lyle, France and Brian for their service, and thank Peter, Samantha and Deb for their forthcoming contributions.
The Education and Careers Committee remains in the capable hands of Josh Neufeld and Kari Dunfield. Peter Loewen takes the Chair of the Norgen Biotek/CSM Award Committee from Charles Dozois (merci Charles) and Russ Hynes continues at the helm of the Meetings, Conferences, and Workshops Committee. Susan Jensen joins the CSM award Committee.
Charles Dozois, Peter Krell, Eric Carstens, and Awatar Sekhon continue to represent us with the International Union of Microbiological Sciences; and Peter is in addition the Canadian ‘Ambassador’ for the ASM. Della Johnson represents us with the ATCC and Julia Foght with the Biological and Chemical Defense Committee of DND.
Earlier this year the CSM provided the student association [Regroupement des Étudiants gradués en Microbiologie et Immunologie du Campus] of the Department of Microbiologie and Immunology at the Université de Montréal $500 in support of a ‘microbiology student day’. Funds were used for supplies and for a ‘CSM prize’ for best poster. By all accounts the day was a great success. Thanks to Sebastien Sabbagh [president of REMIC; France Daigle supervisor] for organizing this excellent initiative to showcase microbiology and encourage excellence in student communication. If your university would like to host an event for students in microbiology please let the CSM know.
Minutes of the 2010 Annual General Meeting can be found on the CSM/SCM website: http://www.csm-scm.org/english/about_minutes.asp
When we consider the challenges facing Canada in the years ahead, it is evident that microbiology has a crucial role to play in ensuring the continued well being and prosperity of our citizens. The health of our seniors and our children, production of abundant and healthy food, sustainability of our fisheries and forests, and development of the ‘bioeconomy’ are a few examples of where discoveries and innovations in microbiology have had, and will continue to have, a profound impact. Communicating this somewhat complex reality to the public, who generally suffer from a woeful lack of scientific literacy, is a challenge. The popular media has put the fear of ‘superbugs’ into the taxpayer, but they’ll also have concerns about the integrity of scientists after the overblown debate over ‘climategate’. Leaders and policy makers decide what investments are made in science research and education in an environment of mounting fiscal pressure. They are faced with multiple funding priorities, generally reflecting those of their constituencies. An editorial in Nature [“In the Public Eye”; May 27/2010] points out that “It is a truism to say that science and society are intertwined. But no relationship should be taken for granted. …scientists (need) to show the world that their work is valuable.” Do you see a role for the CSM in articulating and communicating to the public and to leaders the importance of our science? Is this a concern for you, should this be a priority for the CSM? If so, how do we best go about this? Please send us any thoughts and suggestions you may have regarding the development and implementation of a public outreach strategy.
The society is always in need of new blood in its leadership. If you are looking for opportunities to support the Canadian microbiology community, and mentor the next generation of microbial scientists and educators the CSM needs you. Whether you are a student, early in your career, or well established, we need your innovative ideas and your energy. Please consider getting involved in the CSM if you have not already done so, you will find the experience a rewarding one.
I encourage you to check the CSM website periodically. We will strive to update it regularly with information and features that will be of interest.
As August comes to a glorious (in this part of the country anyway) close, our thoughts turn from the relaxation of summer vacation back to our busy lives of researching, teaching and learning. It’s an exciting time of the year. Bon courage!