By Alexandra Muhametsafina, MSc Candidate, Laurier University and CARS Student Representative

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I recently attended the Aquatic Toxicity Workshop at the Ottawa Convention Centre from September 28th to October 1st.

The Aquatic Toxicity Workshop is an intimate conference, which makes it really easy to network. Many of the attendees are ‘ATW regulars’. Although this was my first time attending, I will definitely be there again next year! I attended as a Graduate Advisor to the ATW Board, so of course, I was responsible for a lot of organizing and covering the registration desk, which was fun.

On Sunday, I attended a short course on recent changes to environmental legislation. Linda Maddison (Environment Canada) talked about changes to the ‪Pollution Prevention Provisions of the ‪Fisheries Act, Anne Phelps (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) talked about other changes to the Fisheries Act and Jason Boisvert (Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency) talked about changes to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012. The course was a great way to summarize changes to federal legislation that I may have missed, although I was already somewhat familiar with the changes to the Fisheries Act because of my research on fish.

In the evening, I participated in a ‘speed mentoring’ event, which was great! I got lots of valuable advice from academics and industry, government and consulting sector representatives. The setting was very relaxed and casual, so it was very easy to engage in conversation and meet new mentors and mentees! On Monday, I presented my poster titled, ‘Seasonal variation in the sensitivity of larval sea lampreys to the chemical 3-trifluoromethyl-4-nitrophenol (TFM), used to control invasive sea lamprey in the Great Lakes’ and got lots of useful feedback and advice on my results. On Tuesday night, there was a banquet in the Trillium Ballroom, which included a great dinner, live band and lots of dancing!

The Playle Award winners were announced (Richard Playle was a former biology professor at WLU) and Andrew Alexandre (UFV) and Shari Cater Dahmer (UWaterloo) took home the awards for best B.Sc and M.Sc theses in toxicology, respectively; they gave talks on their research on Wednesday before lunch. In general, there were many interesting talks and the Monday and Tuesday poster sessions were great! I got to network with some professors and students, among many others. It was especially great meeting everyone on the ATW Board of Directors.

Finally, because the ATW is expanding its ‘scope’ to topics of toxicology that are not exclusively aquatic, we have changed our name to the ‘Canadian Ecotoxicity Workshop’. It should be great to see other research being presented, although we will remain committed to representing aquatic issues. My first ATW experience was great and I can see why we have ‘regulars’ – I’m excited to attend the ATW in Saskatchewan on October 4 to 7, 2015 and I hope to see you there!

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Alex is also the Graduate Student Advisor to Board of Directors, Canadian Ecotoxicity Workshop

(Formerly Aquatic Toxicity Workshop)

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