Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

StFX students present research at Canadian Exotoxicity Workshop

October 21st, 2019
L-r, Megan Fraser and Ella Maltby

For StFX students Ella Maltby and Megan Fraser, the opportunity to present their research at the 46th Canadian Ecotoxicity Workshop in Quebec City from Oct. 6-9, 2019 was a terrific learning opportunity, a chance to gain experience, learn about other avenues of research and career opportunities and network with experts. 

And it all came about thanks to their research work and their supervisors, StFX faculty Dr. Jim Williams and Dr. Russell Wyeth who alerted the two to the opportunity and encouraged them to submit abstracts to present at the annual meeting, which shares information on topics of regional, national and international importance related to contaminants in ecosystems, both aquatic and terrestrial. Participants include students, academics, government scientists and regulators, environmental consultants and industry representatives. 

Ms. Maltby, a master’s biology student from Antigonish, NS co-supervised by Dr. Williams and Dr. Wyeth, gave both a poster and an oral presentation, reflecting the two parts of her thesis work. The poster presentation, “Assessment of contaminants in the American lobster, Homarus americanus: a baseline survey for Boat Harbour remediation,” focused on the contaminant survey she conducted on lobster tissue from around coastal areas of the Northumberland Strait, a baseline survey for Boat Harbour remediation. 

Her oral presentation, “Effects of cadmium on the escape response, foraging, and shelter-use behaviours of juvenile American lobster, Homarus americanus,” focused on the behaviour experiment she is conducting with juvenile lobster exposed to cadmium, a heavy metal that may be found in polluted or contaminated waters. 

Ms. Fraser, of New Glasgow, NS, a fourth year aquatic resources student taking an advanced major in biology and supervised by Dr. Williams, gave an oral presentation on her work projecting forward to Boat Harbour, Pictou County, NS, a body of water that has been receiving effluent from a nearby mill for over 50 years, and how the ecosystem will be able to return to its pre-industrial condition, including understanding what types of marine grasses and small organisms might be able to live in the pre-industrial sediments of Boat Harbour once remediation of the site is complete. 

She’s been conducting research on the topic with Dr. Williams for the past two summers, including this past year as an Irving Research Mentorship Award recipient. She says their goal is to prepare an official report for Nova Scotia Lands and eventually to publish the research in a journal. 

Ms. Maltby says attending the workshop and networking with experts in the field, who provided advice and direction. was very useful. 

“Being very early in my career, it was really great to get that exposure and make those connections,” Ms. Fraser agreed. 

“I’m so grateful to both my supervisors for the support they give and the encouragement they provide. They really care about your future,” Ms. Maltby says. 

Adds Ms. Fraser: “It’s nice to have someone so encouraging. It kind of pushes you to get out of your comfort zone.”

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