All posts by kieran hudson

The Associate Dean for Postdocs comments on the Fundamental Science Review

Canada’s Fundamental Science Review has been released, and it’s a crucial time for Canadian Research.

We asked Dr. Rachel Fernandez, Associate Dean for the Postdoctoral Fellows Office and Student Professional Development over at the UBC PDFO, why the Review is important for UBC’s postdocs. Here’s what she had to say:

Canada’s Fundamental Science Review, or ‘The Naylor Report’ as it has come to be known, outlines a comprehensive plan for the government to support Canada’s research ecosystem, including providing a much-needed boost to investigator-led research and to the training of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. If implemented, the increased investment -spread over 4 years – would amount to an additional 0.4% of the national annual budget. This investment will make a difference. It will ensure that newly-minted and seasoned researchers will have their work, deemed to be outstanding by experts, funded instead of being buried because of insufficient funds. It will allow for more diversity in the research ecosystem – both in the type of research being done and the people doing the research.  It will increase our research capacity and provide more opportunities for nurturing innovation. Indeed, implementing the plan outlined in the Naylor Report would be an excellent investment in Canada’s future.

We also asked what action we should be taking:

It is important that we convey to our Members of Parliament, and the public, the value of not just our research but also the significance of the training that we have received and provide. It is also important to express our gratitude for the support that we currently receive. Consider using social media and/or writing to your Member of Parliament, the Hon. Kirsty Duncan (Science Minister who commissioned this report), the Hon. Bill Morneau (Finance Minister), the Hon. Jane Philpott (Health Minister), the Hon. Navdeep Bains (Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister) and, of course, our Prime Minister. Tell them a personal story and why you would like them to #SupportTheReport as the #NextGenCanScience.

You can show your support for Canadian research and the Review by coming to the UBC PDA’s letter-writing party, co-organised with Future of Research Vancouver, on Tuesday, August 29.

We hope to see you there!

Fundamental Science Review – Letter-writing party

Photos of the event

DATE: Tuesday, 29th August 2017
TIME: 4pm – 7pm
VENUE: Room 1510, Life Sciences Centre, UBC Vancouver

Registration for this event is now closed.

You can still write a letter to show your support – find tips here.

The Fundamental Science Review has been released, and it’s a highly important time for Canadian scientists. Our representatives need to know the Report has the backing of the research community so that they can push for its adoption.

With Canadian MPs soon to return to Ottawa after the summer break, now is the perfect time to engage with them and show our support. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a citizen or even resident of Canada – living and working in BC means your views are important.

The UBC PDA is co-hosting a letter-writing party with Future of Research Vancouver to help you to contact your representative and ask them to Support the Report. Come along and we’ll assist with drafting your letter, finding the postal address for your MP, and even give you a stamp and envelope!

Drop in any time between 4pm and 7pm on Tuesday 29th August in room 1510 in the Life Sciences Centre. Please register if you plan to come, and don’t forget to bring your laptops!

We’ll have drinks and snacks to keep your energy up – including pizza and beer!

Organised in cooperation with:

The Canadian Fundamental Science Review

The Fundamental Science Review, often referred to as the Naylor Report, was commissioned by the Federal Government to review Canada’s research, including basic and applied research in all disciplines carried out outside of government institutions. It summarises the current state of Canadian research, and makes wide-ranging recommendations for improvements going forward.

The executive summary provides a useful overview of the contents of the full Report, containing both a written account and a list of the major recommendations. Here are some of the key points:

Administration: The Review calls for greater cohesion, coordination, and accountability for Canada’s main funding bodies, namely the Tri-Council Agencies (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC) and the CFI, through the formation of an overseeing National Advisory Council on Research and Innovation (NACRI), to replace the current STIC (Science, Technology and Innovation Council).
Funding: A substantial increase in federal research funding (30% higher than the current budget) is recommended, along with a rebalancing towards independent, investigator-led research (as opposed to targeted, priority-driven research). Adjustment of the distribution of funds is also suggested, with more emphasis on high-risk and multidisciplinary research, and a focus on areas that are currently considered underfunded including the social sciences, humanities, and mathematics. Greater and more consistent support for infrastructure and central facilities is also advised.
Personnel: Some of the common concerns for Canadian postdocs are recognised, including the confusing and inconsistent array of funding arrangements and values and the limited prospects for early career researchers. The importance of prioritising equity and diversity in recruitment and funding is also highlighted.

What does it mean for postdocs?

It is possible that some funding opportunities would be reduced in future years: a careful review of ‘matching’ arrangements, e.g., those offered by Mitacs, is recommended. It can also be argued that the Report does not go far enough to allow Canada to be truly counted amongst the world leaders in research.

However, the adoption of the entirety of the Report’s recommendations by the Federal Government would be of almost universal benefit to Canadian postdocs compared to the current situation, both for new recruits and for those who hope to continue their careers in Canada. As well as the obvious benefits of increased research funding, better consistency and clarity in the roles of the funding bodies and coordinated work towards defined objectives would make these funds easier to secure.

The recognition in the report of the problems facing postdocs and early career researchers is a good start. Issues such as the lack of enforced retirement for academics are raised, which will hopefully lead to improvements to the difficult career prospects that concern many of us.

What you can do

The response of researchers to the report has been centring around #SupportTheReport. It is crucial that Canadian researchers convince the federal government that implementing the recommendations of the Naylor Report will benefit both the research community and Canadian society in general.

The most important action you can take to Support the Report is to contact your Member of Parliament.  The UBC PDA, in cooperation with Future of Research Vancouver, hosted a letter-writing party on Tuesday, August 29 at 4:00 p.m, in Room 1510 in the Life Sciences Centre. You can still write a letter to show your support – find tips here.

Read what the UBC PDFO Associate Dean had to say about the Review.

For ideas about how you else you can Support the Report, check out the campaigns linked below.

Further resources

The report:
Full report
Executive summary

UBC VP Research Office –highlighting UBC’s involvement in and engagement with the review. Includes a link to the town hall held recently at UBC
Canadian Association of Postdoctoral Scholars summary
Universities Canada – endorsement and links to further opinions and reactions

Summer of Science – very useful guide for engaging with your representatives about the Naylor Report
Evidence for Democracy – guidance for writing to your representative
Students 4 The Report – a student-led campaign supporting the Report
Next Generation of Canadian Science – A Twitter campaign led by the Canadian Society for Molecular Bioscience

Another exciting 3-Minute Postdoc Slam!

The 2017 UBC PDA 3-Minute Postdoc Slam (3MPS) was a great success, with more presenters and a bigger audience than ever before. More than 60 postdocs, students, and faculty came along to hear 10 postdocs from across UBC compete to present their research to a general audience in the most engaging way, in just 3 minutes.

3MPS 2017-8.jpg

Thanks to another year of generous support from the UBC Life Sciences Institute (LSI), the event took place in LSC3 in the LSI. Alongside the 10 talks, judged by 3 faculty members from different academic institutions, there was an engaging and extremely useful feature presentation on science communication by Dr. Jenn Gardy, and a short talk on opportunities from Mitacs.

Following a brief introduction to the UBC PDA and an explanation of the rules from Kieran, the PDA President, the competition got under way. Competitors were allowed just 3 minutes to present their research projects using a single slide, with no animations, transitions, or moving media. A variety of approaches were taken, from slides with multiple detailed figures to just single images. The full list of the presenters and presentation titles is given at the end of this post.

After the first five presenters, Amin Aziznia from Mitacs gave his own 3-minute presentation explaining the funding and training opportunities available to postdocs at UBC. Following a coffee break to allow for some energetic discussions, the final five presenters gave their talks. Dr. Gardy, from UBC’s School of Population and Public Health, concluded the event with her presentation, entitled ‘A very, very short course in science communication’. Dr. Gardy is a science communicator extraordinaire, who has given many public lectures, presented several television programmes, and has thousands of followers on social media, and her talk contained tips useful for everyone from new graduate students to experienced faculty.

Dr. Gardy also judged the 3-minute presentations, along with Dr. Mahda Jahromi, from the British Columbia Institute of Technology, and Prof. Dr. Roland Herzog, who is currently visiting UBC from Technische Universität Chemnitz. All the presentations were extremely high quality, with 3rd to 7th places in the scoring separated by less than 1 point. The judges also made comments and suggestions that were passed to each presenter after the competition.

The winners were announced at a fully catered reception, generously supported by the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute, where networking and many more discussions took place.

The UBC PDA Executive Team would like to congratulate the three winners, thank all the participants for making this an excellent event, and thank the three judges and the audience for supporting us. We hope everyone enjoyed themselves, and look forward to seeing you at future UBC PDA events!

The 2017 UBC PDA Executive Team

The winners:
1st Place ($100) – Will Burt

2nd Place ($75) – Beniamin Zahiri

3rd Place ($50) – Christine Anderl

The presenters:
Amanda Haage, Department of Cellular & Physiological Sciences
‘Talin Autoinhibition Regulates Cell Behavior & Migration’
Amir Sharafian, Department of Mechanical Engineering
‘Methane Planet’
Fiona Choi, Department of Psychiatry
‘Mass Trauma and Mental Health’
Willis Monroe, Department of Asian Studies
‘Quantifying the History of Religion’
Rahul Sachdeva, International Collaboration of Repair Discoveries
‘Combined Regenerative and Rehabilitative Strategy for Cardiovascular Recovery after Spinal Cord Injury’
Beniamin Zahiri, Department of Mechanical Engineering
‘Smart Stimuli Responsive Surfaces – A Multifunctional Material’
Mohamed Elgendi, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
‘Help Me Help My Body: Visualization of Biosignals’
Christine Anderl, Department of Psychology
‘It’s the hormones talking…’
Will Burt, Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences
‘Why is the ocean……green?!’
Navid Khosravi-Hashemi, School of Kinesiology
‘Galvanic vestibular stimulation as a pain management method’

Event supported by:

Catered reception supported by: