The Flower That Brings People Together

The Science Atlantic mission brings staff, board of directors and other members of the organization together towards a common goal: connecting science education and research. We learned in 2020 that plants are another way for people to connect at Science Atlantic. 

The Gulf of St. Lawrence Aster is a threatened plant found only in the provinces of Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick and on Quebec’s Magdalen Islands. The Aster has been receiving attention from scientists to understand the conservation biology of the habitat it is in to find how to preserve it before it ends up on the endangered plant list, just one step away. 

One of those scientists is Christian Lacroix, a Biology professor at the University of Prince Edward Island. His lab has been studying the biology of the Aster since 2000; recent efforts have focussed on growing seedlings in a greenhouse for transplant back into historic sites to attempt to re-establish natural populations. (For more on this project, read Christian’s interview with the CBC.) 

Christian recently completed a term as Chair of the Board of Directors for Science Atlantic. At our Annual Members Meeting in November 2020, we wanted to give Christian a meaningful gift to thank him for the work he did as Chair of SA. 

We were lucky that among our student staff we had a graphic designer, and the idea to create a custom illustration of the Gulf of St. Lawrence Aster (feature image above) was born. Taylor Conrad joined the SA team in July 2020 and she was the one to design this gift for Christian. 

That’s how Christian and Taylor came together. But their stories with Science Atlantic couldn’t be more different. 

A 30-year journey 

1991: The start of Christian’s journey with Science Atlantic. He started as a UPEI faculty mentor taking his first student to APICS (our former name) Biology Conferences, to an institutional representative and Treasurer while he was Dean, and eventually Chair of the Board of Directors. 

Curious about what his best memories are and the work he is most proud of, he says he remembers fondly the beginning of this journey and his students being recognized for their hard work. But Science Atlantic has come a long way since then, which is why Christian says it was an honour to serve as the organization’s chair. 

“It is personally rewarding to work with staff, to work with the whole region as opposed to only being an institutional representative and working only for your institution.” 

The most rewarding project for him has been the development of the strategic plan, Creating a Culture of Opportunity, that we are currently implementing. In his view, the organization has made great strides in the past few years in getting members and staff involved and executing major projects. He looks forward to continuing to be involved in the future of the organization and cheers us on all the things he knows we can accomplish.

Christian Lacroix

Since Christian has been with us for so long he knows what we are capable of. He has seen all the changes over the last 30 years and knows the value we bring to faculty and students. He encourages faculty to get involved with Science Atlantic not only for the conferences but to share information with colleagues covering anything from service to teaching online. It creates a community in Atlantic Canada that faculty gain from. 

For students, he believes participating in Science Atlantic should be part of their undergraduate degree. “Science Atlantic provides partnerships and opportunities students should be looking at for getting ready for their careers, looking beyond their region, their institutions. It should be an essential part of their undergraduate journey since that is SA’s mandate, to provide opportunities that will help them succeed. Especially since SA is unique. There is no other organization in Canada like this which puts us in a really nice position.”

Experiential learning – the gift that keeps on giving

2020: The start of Taylor’s journey with Science Atlantic. Over the past year, Taylor had the opportunity to work on everything design-related, but also on projects outside the scope of her current studies, such as developing internal processes for onboarding new employees and improving the membership renewal process. But her favourite project and the one she is most proud of is working on SA’s brand refresh. Taylor took the lead and gave us a new brand identity that is modern and represents our organization and the scientific community we have been a part of for almost 60 years. 

Since Taylor is a student and got the chance to work with us as part of her experiential learning, she says it has been a great experience and if the possibility arises, every student should take it.

“I would say that if you have the opportunity to take part in experiential learning you should definitely do so. It’s incredible the work experience you can acquire simply by being open and willing to take on projects that come up. It’s rather exciting being exposed to new professional experiences that you had not intended on gaining. An open mind and being flexible can open many doors if you’re keen enough!” 

Taylor started her journey to graphic design not with graphic design in mind. She graduated with a Bachelor of Public Relations from Mount Saint Vincent University in 2016. After working in the corporate world for a few years, Taylor, who has always been artistic, decided it was time to pursue her passion. She dipped her toe through an intro to graphic design class at NSCAD. From there it was an easy decision to enroll at NSCC in graphic design and she will graduate next month.

Taylor Conrad

When asked about her plans after graduation, she says, “I truly feel open to whatever kind of opportunity comes my way after I graduate. I am a big believer that you can never stop learning, so I could see myself working for a local agency, continuing to perfect my design techniques. I would love to later take these skills and work for myself one day. It is my long-term goal to take this learning and to establish my own business.” Wherever her journey takes her, we wish Taylor the best of luck and we will celebrate her accomplishments. 

This is but one example of people who have made connections through Science Atlantic. It embodies the overall goal and mission of the organization which continues to be relevant even after nearly 60 years: to advance post-secondary science education and research in Atlantic Canada.


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