LATEST NEWS

Training: Science Communication

Thank you to BIOS² Fellows Gracielle Higino and Katherine Hébert, we will be offering a series of two webinars on Science Communication!

The objective of this training is to share and discuss the concepts and tools that contribute to effective science communication. The training will be split into two sessions, which will cover the basic concepts of effective science communication and how social media tools can be used to boost the signal of your research and extend your research network. Each training will take the form of a presentation interspersed with several short activity modules, where participants will be invited to use the tools we will be discussing to kickstart their own science communication.

The training sessions will be held in English on June 1st and 2nd (1:00-2:30PM).

June 1: The basics of science communication

Objectives:

  • Discuss what science communication (or SciComm) can be, and its potential role in boosting the signal of your research
  • Make an overview of basic concepts and tools that you can use in any medium (blog posts, presentations, conversations, twitter, etc.) to do effective science communication

During this session, we will:

  • Discuss (in breakout groups) the potential pitfalls of science communication (notably, diversity and inclusivity problems), and how to overcome them.
  • Cover the basic concepts of science communication, including the Golden Circle method, the creation of personas, and storytelling techniques.
  • Have short activities where participants will be invited to try to use some of the techniques we will be covering, such as filling in their own Golden Circle and explaining a project or paper as a storyboard.

June 2: Social media as a science communication tool

Objectives:

  • Rethinking the way we write about science by exploring the world of blog posts
  • Clarify the mechanics of Twitter and how it can be used effectively for science communication

During this session, we will:

  • Discuss how to create a story structure using titles and the flow of ideas in blog posts, especially when we are used to writing scientific articles
  • Cover the basics of how Twitter works (retweets, threads, replies, hashtags, photo captions, etc.) and how to find helpful connections
  • Have short activities where participants will be invited to write their own Twitter biographies and to create a Twitter thread explaining a project of their choice.

To registre, please fill out this short form: https://bit.ly/bios2_TS_ScienceComm

Call for new BIOS² Fellows

Responses are due by June 14, 2020

This is the 2020 Call for new BIOS² Fellows. Fellows learn computational and quantitative skills from some of Canada’s best biodiversity scientists and apply skills to solve real-world problems through internships and working groups. BIOS² aims at widening opportunities and skill sets among students and postdoctoral fellows and increasing recruitment in Biodiversity science in the Canadian job market.

This Call is intended for graduate students. Students accepted into the BIOS² program will have access to all training activities and financial support, including scholarships and travel grants. More information can be found here: http://bios2.recherche.usherbrooke.ca/students/.

If you are currently a Fellow and you wish to renew your membership / fellowship as part of the same program of study, please complete the following application instead: https://bit.ly/bios2_Renewal_2020.

Apply now! https://bit.ly/bios2_Fellow_2020

Eligibility rules

Fellows need to be supervised or co-supervised by a BIOS² academic member from an associated institution : Université de Sherbrooke, Université de Montréal, Université Laval, UQAM, UQAR, Concordia University, University McGill, University of Alberta and University of British Columbia.

Researchers from any Canadian institution can apply to become a BIOS² academic member and thereby access training and funding for their students. To do so, they should send a motivation letter to the direction team (dominique.gravel@usherbrooke.ca & timothee.poisot@umontreal.ca) describing their interest in the program objectives, their commitment to the collaborative training experience, and how they could be involved in the training activities and administration. All members are expected to contribute to the development or maintenance of at least one training package. Researchers that do not work at one of the 9 associated institutions will need to invite one of the co-PIs to co-advise the Fellow. In all cases, we require that one of the co-PIs be a member of the Fellow’s advisory committee.

Applications to become academic members will be reviewed in parallel to the student’s application.

If you have any questions, please contact Kim, the program coordinator: kim.gauthier.schampaert@usherbrooke.ca.

Blog: A Journey with Data Trekkers

Story of an internship by Gracielle Higino, Gabriel Dansereau and Francis Banville

Back in 2019, which feels like decades ago, we started a humble project in the Poisot lab which we called Code Hour. The goal was to set weekly hours to practice Julia, since we were all learning to use it and we could greatly benefit from each other’s help and encouragement. The project went well (although we frequently ended up spending much more than one hour). It “spilled” out of our lab and found enthusiasm at IVADO, who already had plans to promote a challenge in which participants would make a commitment to code for 100 days. That’s when our internship was born.

When we want to form a new habit, it’s a good strategy to stick to it every day, even shortly. If we want to integrate an exercise routine to our everyday life, it might be more beneficial in the long run to establish a realistic and achievable goal from the very start. For example, instead of a 5 km of running every day, a 2 km can have a significantly bigger impact. While still challenging, it has a much greater chance of being realized. This is the idea behind the #100DaysOfCode challenge, that started in 2016 as a personal improvement project. The objective of this challenge is to code for at least an hour every day, for 100 days. The idea is to stop rationalizing too much and start doing. Every little progress counts, and the public commitment (by sharing your progress through GitHub, for example) encourages you to keep going.

So we came up with this Data.trek challenge along with AEBINUM, mixing ecology, bio-informatics and machine learning (ML), in which participants would work on a project for 100 days. We thought that we, as ecologists, could both greatly benefit from and contribute to this kind of challenge. First, we deal with code every day, but we often don’t take time to just explore and learn new things – code related – in a systematic way. We know how to code for our data, our projects, but sometimes we can’t apply this knowledge in a different context. Second, ML techniques are widely applied in our research: Gabriel uses random forests models to predict species distribution based on eBird data, Francis will use neural networks to model species interactions across space, and Gracielle spent hours wrangling open biodiversity data sets. And, finally, we are used to dealing with other people’s data . Because we are constantly dealing with difficult data sets, we grew data-cleaning-and-visualization muscles that usually take a lot more years to build.

The Data.trek started on March 5th with a full day of workshops, demonstrations and talks, covering a broad range of topics from an introduction to programming, to machine learning in Julia, Python and R and its applications in environmental and biological sciences. We, as members of the Poisot lab, were especially involved in the introduction to programming and everything related to Julia and R. We spent a couple of hours every week in February to start building the lessons. One week before the event, we did a two-day sprint to finish everything and practice our demonstrations.

Building the lessons was a big plot twist! We thought it would be much simpler because we master the subjects, but it is completely different to be in the learner’s shoes all the time. We had to think on good examples, breaks, challenges, exercises, and a handful of plans B (in case everything goes wrong, or if the participants are more advanced than we thought, or if there are too many people, or if there are to little…). A whole rack of details we never thought about! Building the lessons really made us split our knowledge in little bunches and reconnect them all over again. In the end, we had a much more solid logic path to what we already knew.

We are now a few days into the 100 days journey, and we will support participants all the way through! Even if every school in Quebec is closed, even if everyone might get sick with the new deadly disease, and even if we cannot take a beer with the participants anymore, we will fight for our Data.trek and stay available to help them complete their projects and answer all their questions online. We will also conduct and share online workshops on different topics throughout the journey.

This internship really brings together what we love to do every day, which is code and share what we know, while learning a lot too. If you want to be up to date with what Data.trekkers are up to, you can follow the #datatrek, or subscribe to @poisotlab, @_AEBINUM_and @IVADO_Qc on Twitter.

Call: Open projects for non-NSE students

We are currently receiving proposals for projects in Non-Natural Sciences and Engineering domains that align with BIOS² program’s objectives.

The BIOS² training program provides a framework to foster collaborative, multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral research. It focuses on training the next generation of highly qualified people in quantitative ecology as well as future actors and decision makers in the biodiversity science sector. The main objectives of the program are to widen opportunities and skill sets among students and increase their recruitment in Biodiversity science in the Canadian job market. 

We invite researches to submit proposal for projects (M.Sc and Ph.D.) in social sciences, politics, economics or education that will promote decision-making based on the most advanced techniques to assess biodiversity changes. The aim of this call is to fund projects, not students. Once the project is awarded, students are selected by the academic member(s) leading the project. 

Proposals will be evaluated according to the following criteria: 

  • Scientific relevance of the project
  • Correspondence of the research with the program research themes
  • Training opportunities in computational and numerical methods applied to biodiversity science
  • Potential for training in a professional environment
  • Potential for collaborative research beyond academia
  • Implication of the member in the research and program

Value and resources:

  • For M.Sc. projects: A scholarship of a value of $7500/year for up to 2 years for salary plus $2000/year to support training (internships, communication, and travel).
  • For PhD. projects: A scholarship of a value of $10,000/year for up to 3 years for salary plus $2000/year to support training (internships, communication, and travel).

The funding will be administered by a BIOS² co-PI. Members that are not part of the 9 associated institutions must co-supervise fellows with a member from one of them, in accordance with NSERC’s rules.

Selected students will become BIOS² Fellows. Fellows will have access to all training activities and financial support. Fellows are expected to participate in the various activities and contribute to the collaborative environment of the program.

Application :

  • The application is conducted by a BIOS² academic member. If you have a research project to propose but are not yet an academic member, please contact us: info.bios2@usherbrooke.ca
  • The form for application is available online: https://bit.ly/bios2_Non-NSE
  • Deadline for application: Until positions are filled
  • Notification of decision: within 6 weeks after receiving the proposal
  • Students will be selected by the academic member once the project is awarded. The project should start within 6 months after application.

The selection is based on the above criteria and applications must respect the program rules for diversity and equity.

Training : Indigenous awareness and Collaborative research

BIOS² is offering a series of two webinars on Indigenous awareness and Collaborative research within indigenous context.

Indigenous awareness

Tuesday 21th April 2020, 13h30 – 15h00 EDT

Objectives:

  • Improve our understanding of the past and its impacts on our relations with Indigenous Peoples
  • Develop our knowledge and capacities to work against racism

During the webinar, we are going to: 

  • Make an overview of important historic events and their actual impacts on our relations with Indigenous Peoples (Indian Act, assimilation policies, boarding schools, etc.). 
  • Develop a better understanding of appropriate indigenous terminology.
  • Make an overview of important court cases and how they affect our work in indigenous territories. 
  • With reconciliation in mind, develop our awareness of persistent stereotypes, and discuss strategies to improve our relations with indigenous communities. 

Collaborative research within indigenous context

Thursday 23th April 2020, 13h30 – 15h30

Objectives:

  • Reflect on our research practices and how we can improve meaningful engagement with indigenous communities
  • Develop a better understanding of communities’ expectations towards researchers

During the webinar, we are going to: 

  • Discuss the necessity to involve communities and their knowledge within environmental research and management in Canada
  • Develop a better understanding of what meaningful engagement and incorporation of Indigenous Knowledge into research means at the community level : how to?
  • Discuss and debate about various methodologies to bridge indigenous and scientific knowledge.

Trainer:

The training will be given by Catherine-Alexandra Gagnon. Catherine has a deep interest in collaborative work with indigenous communities. She is particularly fascinated by the different potential avenues to bridge indigenous and scientific knowledge. She has a PhD in Environmental Sciences and a Master’s degree in Wildlife Management from the Université du Québec à Rimouski, a bacchelor’s degree in Wildlife Biology from McGill University and a Certificate in Indigenous Studies from the Université de Montréal. During her studies, she worked in collaboration with Inuit, Inuvialuit and Gwich’in Elders and hunters from Nunavut, the Yukon and Northwest Territories.

Registration: 

Online, open to all, registration required: bit.ly/BIOS2-TS-IndigenousContext

Places are limited

Call: BIOS² Funding Program for PhD project in partnership

The BIOS² Research Funding Program in partnership supports PhD projects proposed by non-academic partner. The overall theme of the call is “improving biodiversity assessments with new computing technologies”. 

Biodiversity science progressed in the last fifteen years due to remarkable technical advances in computing power and data availability. Biodiversity monitoring programs, along with research projects and citizen science generate massive amounts of information that can be used to predict future impacts of human actions on biodiversity. Other fields of life sciences, such as genomics, medicine, and neuroscience, have met the ‘big data’ challenge by developing computational infrastructure, data pipelines and analytical frameworks, while ecology is comparatively lagging behind. This requires a specific approach to raising  computational literacy among the future generation of ecologists. 

The objectives of the training program in Computational Biodiversity Science and Services (BIOS²) are to 1) train future environmental problem solvers to monitor, analyze, predict, and act on biodiversity change issues using cutting edge technologies and analytical approaches, 2) train HQP to lead data-driven collaborative, multidisciplinary and cross-sectorial research in biodiversity science and 3) improve recruitment of biodiversity science specialists in Canadian organizations.

The objective of this call is to support a PhD project proposed by a non-academic partner to BIOS² in order to improve their capacity in biodiversity assessments. The organization could be private, governmental or non-profit based. The organization will be involved in the development and realization of the project and his expected to host the student for part of his studies. The contact person must be a biodiversity specialist but is not required to be a researcher. A strong emphasis is given to problems that are of strategic importance to partners and with concrete applications of research outputs.

Value and resources:

A scholarship of a value of $20,000/year for up 3 years for salary plus $2000/year to support training (internships, communication, and travel). The funding will be administered by a BIOS² co-PI.

Selected students will become BIOS² Fellows. Fellows will have access to all training activities and financial support. They are expected to participate in the various activities and contribute to the collaborative environment of the program.

Proposals will be evaluated according to the following criteria: 

  1. Scientific relevance of the project
  2. Impact for partners 
  3. Implication of the partner in the research 
  4. Use of computational tools 
  5. Potential for training in a professional environment
  6. Resources for research

Application :

  • The objective of this call is to fund projects, not students. 
  • The application is conducted by a non-academic partner, under the supervision of a BIOS² co-PI.
  • Deadline for application: Until position is filled
  • Notification of decision: Within 6 weeks after receiving complete application
  • Students will be selected by the co-PI and partner once the project is awarded. The project should start within 6 months after application. 

The selection is based on the above criteria and applications must respect the program rules for diversity and equity.

PDF Version here