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Welcome from the Chair, September 2012

It’s September again; time for the routine to get re-established. Time for those time-worn words, “back to school.” Welcome back!

Audience at the 50th anniversary celebrations, April 27, 2012, Discovery Centre, Halifax (credit: Rick Mehta)

Those of us employed in university education have the benefit of two new years each year – the calendar new year in January, and the “academic year” which generally is seen to begin with the start of classes in September. I hope your summer has been productive and enjoyable, with enough opportunity to unwind and refresh.

Let me share with you some of the highlights of the summer for Science Atlantic. Our summer began with a blast at the climax of our 50th anniversary celebrations at the Discovery Centre in Halifax at the end of April. Packed into the theatre were representatives from the universities across the Atlantic region, past participants and friends of APICS and Science Atlantic, and recipients of the celebratory awards. (See pictures here.)

50th Anniversary Travel Scholarship winner Alyssa Jaeschke presenting at the 15th Symposium on the Latest Trends in Organic Synthesis, August 2012 (credit: Ian Pottie)

Our newly established Hall of Fame acknowledges regional science champions. While it was a joy to acknowledge those from the ranks of the professoriate, for me the highlight was the recognition of those inducted into the Students Hall of Fame, and the addresses given by two of these former students, who used APICS as a launch pad for successful careers in science. Josée Boudreau (BSc Chimie, UdeM, 2006) and Jon Sharkey (BSc Computer Science, SMU, 2004) gave engaging talks that displayed their passion for science and discovery and how much fun they are having following their passions.

They were but examples of what APICS/Science Atlantic has been doing for five decades – providing a quality opportunity for students to display their science, interact with each other, and develop quality presentation techniques.

We were also privileged this summer to support three aspiring young scientists with 50th anniversary travel scholarships to attend academic conferences. Please read about each of their experiences presenting at a national or international conference: Christopher van Bommel (St FX), James Jabalee (MSVU), and Alyssa Jaeschke (MSVU).

Outstanding Contributing Member Award, April 27, 2012: L-R: Lois Whitehead, Rob Raeside, and Art Sedgwick (credit: Rick Mehta)

On a sad note, Art Sedgwick, a 32-year member of the Computer Science Committee, passed away unexpectedly this past July. Art received his Outstanding Contributing Member award at the 50th Anniversary and the annual Computer Science conference lecture was named in his honour upon his retirement. He will be sorely missed.

With the return to school, the roster for this year’s academic conferences is now well established, and most hosting student groups are now well advanced in arranging the details – yet another skill fostered through Science Atlantic! Please mark your calendars with the dates for the 2012-13 student conferences. Our first two conferences are the Math, Stats, and Computer Science Conference October 12-13 at Mount Allison and the AUGC (Atlantic Universities Geology Conference) October 18-20 at Dalhousie. Registration for each will open soon.

Behind the scenes, Science Atlantic has been busy preparing Conference-in-a-Box, a superb tool to aid conference organizers and to ensure all the right data get captured for the record. I must acknowledge the effort put in by our summer staffer, Greg Zwaagstra – without him the project wouldn’t have happened. Conference organizers should be pleased with the result.

So now it’s on with the show. Let me wish you lectures as hot as this summer, new research as exciting as Mars Curiosity, and meetings as well run (and maybe as infrequent as) the London Olympics!

Rob Raeside
Chair, Science Atlantic