A Brief History of Science Atlantic

In 1962, Dr. Walter Trost, Dean of Graduate Studies at Dalhousie University, hosted a meeting of graduate deans and deans of science in the region, and the Atlantic Provinces Inter-University Committee on the Sciences (APICS) was born.  Its goal was to strengthen research and technology in the Maritimes by providing a link between scientists in the universities and the government lab sector and by fostering communication and cooperation among science students in the region’s universities.

From 1962 until 1982, the administrative office of APICS changed locations (and personnel) each time a new chairperson was elected. That practice ended in 1982 when a permanent office for APICS was established at Memorial University under the Chairmanship of Dr. Peter Heald, then Dean of Science. The office remained there until 1999, when it moved to Dalhousie University.

Today, Science Atlantic has expanded to include 18 Atlantic Canadian universities, colleges, and research organizations.  The organization’s main focus is the coordination of undergraduate academic conferences in nine disciplines, recognizing excellence in research and science communication through an awards program, and supporting and enhancing science teaching and research in the region.

In September 2011, APICS changed its name to Science Atlantic (Science Atlantique), giving the organization a fresh start heading into its second half century.

50th Anniversary

On April 27, 2012, current and former members and students from across Atlantic Canada and beyond gathered at the Discovery Centre in Halifax to celebrate 50 years of advancing science education and research through APICS (Atlantic Provinces Council on the Sciences), now Science Atlantic. See highlights, travel scholarship recipients, and more.

APICS Articles in the MUN Gazette

View historical articles about APICS that were downloaded from the Memorial University library website. The MUN Gazette is an internal newsletter at Memorial University, now a mini newspaper, that reports on MUN activities. The originals were scanned and placed on the MUN Library web.

History 1962-1987

A scan of the book, History of the Atlantic Provinces Council on the Sciences (APICS): The First Twenty Five Years, 1962-1987, by Frederick J. Simpson can be downloaded here (21MB .pdf file).

Summary of Council Activities, 1987-1999

Summarized from APICS Council Minutes

  • Agreement for Northern Telecom Award signed; this becomes the model for such awards across Canada
  • Biology Committee suggests university co-op work terms
  • Fundy Environment Studies Committee disbands due to shift of focus away from Bay of Fundy
  • Two new committees are suggested:  Technology Transfer and Aquaculture
  • Adhoc committee on library underfunding is formed
  • APICS moves from the MUN campus
  • Natural Resources Committee publishes “Compendium of Environmental Theses”
  • Northern Telecom Award modified
  • NRC-IMD (Institute for Marine Dynamics) joins APICS
  • Environment Canada reinstates its membership
  • Natural Resources Committee becomes Natural Resources and Environment Committee; Aquaculture is created as a sub-committee
  • APICS, with funding from ACOA, begins work on a database of scientists in each represented discipline; ACOA will use this to direct small businesses to the appropriate scientist as needed
  • Plans for involvement in Regional Science Fairs are clarified: a total of 208 medals to be awarded, with certificates to be presented by a Council member whenever possible
  • Mathematics & Statistics Committee prepares “10 equations that changed the world” video
  • Math, Science and Engineering Education Committee (“Education Committee”) undertakes to organize lecture series directed at a larger, more general audience than usual
  • Audiovisual catalogue sales successful
  • Co-ordinator becomes Executive Director
  • APICS discusses whether to be neutral in sensitive issues like animal testing; Animal Care Committee to give a balanced view
  • Report, “Standing Up to the Future: The Maritimes in the 1990’s” is prepared for Council, providing an overview of major issues facing the Maritimes
  • Animal Care Committee is approved $3000 to prepare a resource package on the use of animals in research, testing and teaching
  • Education Committee is approved $2000 for a colloquium on scientific literacy
  • Directory of scientists for ACOA is completed
  • Aquaculture becomes its own committee but must continue to share funds for three years with Natural Resources and Environment, at which time their activities will be assessed
  • APICS loses three members: TUNS, Research and Productivity Council, and Environment Canada; Council members to talk to their presidents about the benefits of APICS to justify member fees
  • Financial difficulties: if outside funding is not secured, APICS projects a $13,000 deficit for the year
  • Atlantic Science Lecture series, funded by APICS, organized by Education Committee
  • New members: NBCC (St. Andrews, NB), DFO (St. John’s, NL), Holland College School of Technology (PEI)
  • Fees kept at previous year’s levels
  • Aquaculture triples attendance at second conference
  • Mathematics & Statistics Committee completes video “Ten Equations that changed the world”
  • Natural Resources and Environment Committee chair steps down due to apathy and lack of focus; committee disbanded
  • Funding received from Science Culture Canada (SCC), but less than requested
  • Book, “History of the Atlantic Provinces Council on the Sciences (APICS): The First Twenty Five Years, 1962-1987,” by Frederick J. Simpson, completed
  • Turnover of several university presidents; Council members are to talk to their respective presidents about the benefits of APICS membership
  • APICS office gets email
  • APICS writes letter to CRTC endorsing application for licensing for a new television channel, the Discovery Channel
  • SCC denies further funding,  resulting in cancellation of the Atlantic Science Lecture Series as well as other cutbacks
  • “History of APICS” to be printed
  • Education Committee’s Student Conference on Scientific Awareness approved for funding by SCC ($5000), but cancelled due to low registration
  • Email directory of all physics faculty at APICS member institutions prepared
  • Physics Committee becomes Physics & Astronomy Committee
  • Representative from APICS attends first ACZISC (Atlantic Coastal Zone Information Steering Committee) meeting
  • NSERC plans to revoke undergraduate student awards in large universities
  • Geology Committee becomes Earth Science Committee
  • Secretarial position cut due to increasing financial problems

Internet database project undertaken

  • APICS gets a web site
  • APICS creates “Distinguished Service” award
  • APICS decides to accept industrial members
  • Education Committee presents first undergraduate science communication award
  • “Past Chair” position added to Council’s Executive Committee
  • Proposal to replace “Atlantic Science” newsletter with three publications for separate audiences:  external (university and government researchers), internal (Council and committee members) and high school science teachers
  • First Sepracor Award presented by Chemistry Committee at student conference
  • Handbook for committee members to be revised
  • “APICS News” (online newsletter) is born
  • APICS helps to promote science and technology by listing all activities carried out by APICS member organizations related to science and technology
  • APICS website begins to be translated into French
  • Awards program for science communication in three categories (scientist, teacher, professional communicator) approved
  • Co-ordinator/Executive Director of 12 years, Joan Atkinson, resigns
  • Office moves to Dalhousie University