Women in Science Speaker Tour 2018-11-01T14:31:26+00:00

Women in Science Speaker Tour, in Partnership with WISEatlantic

WISE logo

Tour Coordinator:  Tamara Franz-Odendaal (MSVU), NSERC Chair Women in Science and Engineering–Atlantic Region (WISEatlantic)

The purpose of the Women in Science Speaker Tour is to showcase the research conducted by female faculty in Atlantic Canada. Female faculty represent only about 25-30% of all faculty in the physical and life sciences, mathematics, and computer sciences in Canada but are important role models for female students in science.

A different scientific discipline will be featured in each speaker tour. Two tours will be run per academic year, with each speaker visiting three or more Science Atlantic member institutions (in the case of higher travel costs, this may be reduced to two with prior approval of the Tour Coordinator). At least one of these talks will be a public talk.

Please submit suggested speakers to the Speaker Coordinator.


1. Each speaker will visit a minimum of three Science Atlantic member institutions (in the case of higher travel costs, this may be reduced to two with prior approval of the Tour Coordinator). It is the responsibility of the Tour Coordinator to ensure travel between institutions is arranged in the most efficient manner to minimize costs and the time commitment for the tour speaker.

2. A speaker’s schedule and travel budget must be approved by the Women in Science Tour Coordinator at least two months before beginning a tour. The speaker should keep a copy of communications from the Coordinator noting that the budget has been approved.

3. The schedule, title, abstract (including any images), and speaker’s photo should be provided to jasmine@scienceatlantic.ca as soon as the tour is approved so that the talks can be publicized.

4. A maximum of $800 is available for each tour, based on receipts submitted following the allowable expenses guidelines below [as per other Speaker Tours].

5. Financial support is provided by Science Atlantic and the NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering–Atlantic Region. The speaker is asked to acknowledge this support verbally and in their visual presentation. The logos can be obtained here:  Science Atlantic logo | WISEatlantic logo

6. Allowable expenses

a. Travel between institutions (including home institution)

i. Travel may be completed by air, rental car, or personal vehicle, as is most economical.

ii. Personal vehicle use will be reimbursed at $0.42/km. Gas for rental vehicles will be reimbursed based on submitted receipts.

b. Accommodations

i. Each host institution is responsible for covering all local expenses, including at least one night’s accommodation.

ii. Support from the Tour sponsors is limited to a second night’s accommodation when required.

c. Meals

i. Each host institution is responsible for covering all local expenses, including meals.

ii. Tour sponsors will reimburse meals required while the speaker is travelling between institutions. Maximum meal reimbursements provided by the Tour sponsors are as follows (receipts must be provided):

1. breakfast: $8

2. lunch: $12

3. dinner: $24

7. Reimbursement process

i. The reimbursement form should be completed and mailed with original receipts to the Science Atlantic office (download reimbursement form). Electronic copies may be emailed to lois.whitehead@scienceatlantic.ca.

Science Atlantic
c/o Dalhousie University Dept of Psychology & Neuroscience
1355 Oxford Street, PO Box 15000
Halifax, NS  B3H 4R2

ii. Science Atlantic will review the claim with the Tour Coordinator.

iii. Reimbursement may take up to 60 days.

2018-2019 Speaker Tour

Dr. Heather Reader
Dr. Heather ReaderMarine Chemistry, Memorial University


Nov. 2 (11:30 am), SMU
Nov.2 (6:30 pm), Dal (Public – Oceanography & Chemistry)
Nov. 5 (11:30 am), MtA (Chemistry & Environmental Sciences)

Research Talk: Fingerprinting dissolved organic matter: An approach to a better understanding of the chemical nature of reduced carbon in the ocean

Marine dissolved organic matter (DOM) is an enigmatic pool of reduced carbon is comparable in size to the pool of atmospheric CO2. DOM plays a variety of roles in the ocean, acting as substrate for microbial growth, altering the light environment of the marine system, and interacting with and changing the bioavailability of dissolved metals. It exists on a continuum of reactivity with fractions that are overturned within a matter of hours to days and other fractions that remain in the ocean for thousands of years, effectively acting as a sink for reduced carbon. The chemical nature of DOM is not well understood, as it consists of thousands of largely uncharacterized compounds. However, it is the chemical nature of DOM that drives its reactivity or lack thereof in the marine environment. I will present work from my investigations into the chemical nature of DOM using both advanced analytical methods and simple bulk measurements combined with chemometrics. The use of chemometrics can be thought of as of “chemical fingerprinting”. These “fingerprints” open up the “black box” of DOM and allows for a deeper understanding of its role in the oceans and in the global carbon cycle.

Download poster (.pdf)

Public Talk: A river at the North Pole: Finding the transpolar drift

The Arctic Ocean is a relatively enclosed ocean, which receives 11% of the global ocean’s riverine input. Arctic rivers supply large amounts of carbon to shelf seas and elevated dissolved organic matter (DOM) concentrations persist across much of the ocean. The riverine water remains distinct in the surface of the central Arctic Ocean, moving across the sea in in a slow current called the Transpolar Drift. Coloured DOM (CDOM) is high in the Arctic rivers and offers the opportunity to use DOM measurements to trace riverine freshwater contributions in the Arctic Ocean. This has the potential to be beneficial to existing methods for tracing freshwater in the ocean using oxygen isotopes, as CDOM is specific to the riverine fraction. Over 600 samples of DOM optical properties were taken during the 2015 TRANSARC II expedition to the central Arctic Ocean. The samples were taken from three basins of the Arctic Ocean (Nansen, Makarov, and Amundsen), and cross the Transpolar Drift at three different latitudes. This large dataset demonstrates how CDOM can be used to isolate freshwater distribution from Siberian rivers, opening the possibility to use CDOM a tracer in large-scale oceanic studies.

Dal: Download poster (.pdf) 
SMU: Download poster (.pdf)


Heather Reader is a marine chemist who is broadly interested in the biogeochemical dynamics of marine dissolved organic matter (DOM). Marine DOM is an active and complex pool of carbon in the world’s oceans and her research aims to decipher its role in the global carbon cycle using analytical chemistry. She received her Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry from the University of Calgary, and her PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Georgia (USA). For a number of years Heather worked in Sweden and Denmark, investigating different aspects of DOM cycling and characterisation. Now an assistant professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, she continues her work in characterizing and understanding the cycling of DOM and how it affects marine environments from coastal regions to the open ocean.  Heather is also passionate about science education and science communication, and she looks for better ways to communicate her love of science to students of all ages.

Dr. Nola Etkin
Dr. Nola EtkinChemistry, University of Prince Edward Island


Oct. 24 (11:30-12:20), MUN Grenfell Campus (Plastics)
Oct. 24 (3:30-4:20), MUN Grenfell Campus (Making Science Inclusive)

There’s STILL a great future in plastics

“There’s a great future in plastics.” The famous line from the classic movie “The Graduate” was certainly prophetic – over 50 years later plastics are everywhere. Polymers, which include plastics, are huge molecules made up of many little molecules. The new plastics developed by polymer chemists have properties and uses never before dreamed of – biocompatible plastics used in medical devices, biodegradable plastics, engineering plastics with remarkable strength
and resistance to heat and degradation. This talk will highlight the fascinating history and stories behind the development of polymer chemistry, leading up to recent advances in metal-containing polymers developed at UPEI.

Download poster (.pdf)

Making Science Inclusive: What are we doing to build a more equitable and welcoming learning and working environment?

We are taught that Science is supposed to be an objective field – in theory one that should not differentiate based on irrelevant characteristics. But the experience of students and faculty members is not objective. In recent years, we in Canada have seen many examples of inequities and intolerance, from the heartbreaking
accounts in the Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to the increased levels of Islamophobia and the challenges faced by folks of diverse gender identities. In order to make our institutions fully inclusive is it important that we listen and pay attention to the insights and experiences of scientists from these diverse identities. In this session Nola will share highlights from two recent symposia on Equity and Diversity in Chemistry, including her own story as a woman and as an out lesbian trying to navigate her way through graduate studies into an academic career.

Download poster (.pdf)


Nola Etkin is a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Prince Edward Island, where she has taught Organic Chemistry and conducted research in Organometallic Chemistry and Catalysis since 1997. Nola’s involvement in Equity work began as a PhD student at the University of Alberta where she was involved in the local Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) group and co-chaired the campus LGBTQ group. She currently serves on the UPEI Joint Equity Committee, the Canadian Society for Chemistry’s Working Group on Inclusion, Diversity and Equity, and the Canadian Institute of Chemistry’s Education Division Executive. In 2016 Nola edited the book “Making Chemistry Inclusive: Proceedings of the CSC Symposium on Equity and Diversity in Chemistry”.