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ESC Blog Classifieds: Greenhouse Entomologist (Beneficial Insects)

Great Lakes Greenhouses (Leamington, ON) is seeking a full-time entomologist to aid in the development and implementation of rearing protocols for the production of beneficial insects used in the greenhouse industry. Knowledge and experience with experimental design, statistical analysis, beneficial insect propagation and maintenance, and the ability to perform independent research are all necessary to succeed in this position.

Great Lakes Greenhouses has been a family owned and operated hydroponic vegetable grower in Leamington, Ontario since 1983. Our original 2-1/2 acre greenhouse operation has evolved into an environmentally friendly 90 acre state of the art facility that propagates, grows, packages and ships more Long English seedless cucumbers on a year round basis than any other greenhouse operation in North America. Due to our commodity share hold in the market and our Primus Certified Food Safety designation for both our greenhouse and packing operations, our cucumbers have reached most major retailers’ shelves across the USA and Canada. 

See full job ad for more details, and send resumes to James Tetreault (james@greatlakesg.com) to apply.

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Don’t read this article

I will admit that the headline was thoroughly and completely “click bait”. That’s because I was worried that “The new ESC Science Policy Committee and its mandate” would have you move along to the next article. And I hope that giving you the goods now on what this article is about doesn’t cause that right… now.

For those of you who are still with me, and I hope that is a majority of our members, I am aware that policy is not generally considered an exciting topic. But in this era of climate change, environmental degradation, increasing population pressure on our agricultural and silvicultural output, emergent and spreading vector-borne diseases, research funding challenges, and rapidly shifting politics in Canada and many of our largest trading partners, we as entomologists cannot merely sit back and let policy happen. We need to engage with policy makers to encourage careful decision making with the long view in mind.

Our diverse Society membership has an equally diverse set of skills and perspectives to offer to Canadians and the rest of the world. But engagement can only happen if we are willing to put fingers on the pulse of various issues, and to collaboratively marshal responses to issues as they begin to emerge. In other words, we can only be effective if we are able to anticipate in time and react with collective care and wisdom.

Over the past many years, the ESC has maintained a Science Policy and Education Committee. That committee has been effective in many areas including over the past several years:

  • expressing concern to the federal government about travel restrictions on federal scientists wishing to attend ESC meetings,
  • encouraging the continued support of the Experimental Lakes Area,
  • responding to NSERC consultations, and
  • drafting the ESC Policy Statement on Biodiversity Access and Benefit Sharing which was later adopted by our Society.

However, because the combination of both public education and public policy was a substantial and growing mandate, the ESC Executive Council Committee decided in 2015 to split the committee into two, each part taking care of one of the two former aspects.

In October 2016 I was asked to chair and help to formulate the new ESC Science Policy Committee. Your committee now consists of (in alphabetical order):

  • Patrice Bouchard (ESC First VP, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)
  • Crystal Ernst (appointed member, postdoctoral fellow at Simon Fraser University)
  • Neil Holliday, (ESC President, ex officio committee member, University of Manitoba)
  • Dezene Huber (appointed member as academic representative, Chair 2016/2017, University of Northern British Columbia)
  • Fiona Hunter (ESC Second VP, Brock University)
  • Rachel Rix (appointed member and student and early professional representative, Dalhousie University)
  • Amanda Roe (appointed member as government representative, Natural Resources Canada – Canadian Forest Service)

Each executive member’s term is specified by their ESC executive term. Each appointed member is a member for up to 3 years. The Chair position is appointed on a yearly basis. The terms of reference specify that the committee should contain members “who (represent) the Student (and Early Professional) Affairs Committee, and preferably one professional entomologist employed in government service and one employed in academia.

We are officially tasked “(t)o monitor government, industry and NGO science policies, to advise the Society when the science of entomology and our Members are affected, and to undertake tasks assigned by the Board that are designed to interpret, guide, or shift science policy.”

We are now working on putting together an agenda, and have started to work on a few items. For instance, you may recall an eBlast requesting participation in Canada’s Fundamental Science Review that was initiated by Hon. Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science. We hope that some of you took the opportunity to send your thoughts to the federal government.

As we develop an agenda, we would like to consult with you, the ESC membership. Please tell us:

  • What policy-related issues do you see emerging in your area of study, your realm of employment, or in the place that you live?
  • How might the ESC Science Policy Committee integrate better with your concerns and those of the rest of the membership? 
  • How can our Society be more consultative and responsive to the membership and to issues as they arise?
  • Who are the people and organizations with which ESC should be working closely on science policy issues?
  • How can you be a part of science policy development, particularly as it relates to entomological practice and service in Canada and abroad?

 

Please email me at huber@unbc.ca with your thoughts, questions, and ideas. We know that many of you are already involved in this type of work, and we hope that we can act as synergists to your efforts and that you can help to further energize ours.

 

Dr. Dezene Huber

Chair, ESC Science Policy Committee

This article also appears in the March 2017 ESC Bulletin, Vol 48(1).

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ESC Blog Classifieds – MSc Positions at U Manitoba

Dr. Alejandro Costamagna, along with Dr. Harry Sapirstein, are advertising 2 MSc opportunities in agricultural entomology in the Department of Entomology at the University of Manitoba:

Effects of Midge Damage on Gluten Strength of Resistant and Susceptible Wheat Genotypes

Determining the role of crop and non-crop habitats to provide sustainable aphid suppression in soybeans

Deadline for applications is March 15, 2017. Contact Dr. Costamagna for more information or to apply.

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ESC Blog Classifieds – Student Field Research Assistants (Horticulture Crops, OMAFRA)

“Are you serious about making your mark, getting hands-on work experience and learning more about careers in the Ontario Public Service? These positions at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in Guelph, Ontario will provide an excellent opportunity for those interested in a career in horticulture crop production, pest management, research or the agricultural service sector. Crops may include fruits, vegetables and ornamentals. These positions will provide the opportunity to learn about horticulture crop production, plant diseases, insect pests, integrated pest management (IPM) and agronomy in the horticulture crop sectors within the province. Training will be provided on research methods, technology transfer and working in the public sector.”

Six temporary positions based in Guelph, Ontario for up to 18 weeks are available. Closing date is February 2, 2017. See flyer for more details and how to apply.

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ESC Blog Classifieds – Indigenous Scholar, Assistant Professor @ University of Manitoba

The Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, University of Manitoba invites applications from Indigenous (e.g., First Nations, Métis, Inuit) Scholars for a tenure-track position at the rank of Assistant Professor, commencing July 1, 2017, or as soon as possible thereafter, in one of the following broad disciplines: Agricultural Business/Economics; Food/Nutritional Sciences; or Agricultural Production/Ecology. Identification of a specific Department (Agribusiness and Agricultural Economics, Animal Science, Biosystems Engineering, Entomology, Food Science, Human Nutritional Sciences, Plant Science, Soil Science) will be based on the area of specialty of the successful candidate. The position will be weighted at approximately 45% teaching, 40% research and 15% service/outreach. Qualified applicants must possess: a Ph.D. in a relevant discipline; a record of independent research as demonstrated by scholarly publications; the potential for developing an active externally-funded research program including supervision of graduate students; demonstrated ability or potential for excellence in undergraduate and graduate teaching; and excellent oral and written communication skills. The successful candidate will be required to teach undergraduate and graduate courses in their area of expertise with inclusion of Indigenous perspectives and approaches. We also envisage that the Scholar will work closely with other instructors to help include Indigenous knowledge and perspectives for all students.

Closing date for applications is February 27, 2017.

For more information & how to apply, see this flyer (PDF).

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ESC Blog Classifieds – Research Assistant, AAFC Saskatoon

Interested in working with agricultural research entomologists in Saskatchewan? Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is hiring!

 

Research Assistant – Entomology

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada – Science and Technology Branch Saskatoon (Saskatchewan)

Permanent Full Time // Temporary part time // $55,840 to $67,936 (Salary under review)

Closing date: 7 December 2016 – 23:59, Pacific Time

Who can apply: Persons residing in Canada and Canadian citizens residing abroad.

More information & application

Duties

-Assist in the development, adaptation, and implementation of protocols to collect research data on insect pest impact and management in field and controlled conditions
-identify insect pests of field crops and their natural enemies
-rear insects in laboratory and field cages
-adapt lab and field equipment and protocols as required to meet research needs
-assist with the planning and execution of surveys for invasive insect pests and their natural enemies
-summarize data and assist with preparation of reports, extension materials, presentations, and research articles
-assist with staffing of students, train students, and coordinate their work
-procure and manage laboratory and field supplies

 

Learn more about this position and apply on the AAFC website.

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Leonard, the insects and me

 

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By Rama – Commons file, CC BY-SA 2.0 fr, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53046764

 

Last winter, I spent a few months working on insect identifications for the BC Conservation Data Centre, mostly collections of insects made at newly-acquired conservation lands in the Okanagan and Kootenay regions of BC.

As I had no laboratory of my own, and no reference collections to work with, I was working out of the ROM, back behind Antonia Guidotti’s office in the entomology workroom. This place, in midwinter, is usually a little lonely, as Antonia has a lot of work to do all around the collection. And so mostly in solitude, I would sit there at my microscope,  stumbling through insect IDs, learning what I could about a vast array of taxa, and listening to an inordinate amount of Leonard Cohen’s music.

Somehow, I feel the mood of Leonard Cohen’s later works lends itself so well to solitary entomology pursuits. The consummate outsider, looking closely and inwardly at the human condition, and yet always so aware of a wider world, Leonard’s music has many parallels to sitting at a scope, baffled by Nature’s  diversity and wondering how it all fits together.

(As an aside, when I was going through scads of unfortunate, dead, trapped insects, the song “Who by Fire” seemed morbidly appropriate)

Occasionally, from the lab bench, I would reach out to the other folks online, sharing my discoveries through Twitter (the entomology workroom has a modest wireless connection!).

How excited I was, having lived in BC most my life to discover the wonderful piglet bug Bruchomorpha beameri, a wonderful fulgoroid planthopper that I had no idea even existed before taking this contract!

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It was heartening, sitting there alone, singing softly along to Leonard Cohen that people out there on Twitter responded so well to my excitement at discovering these treasures, and offering helpful advice. Terry Wheeler  was especially helpful when I was stumbling over some puzzling scathophagids from the Peace District.

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Connecting with people like Terry, who encouraged me through my ID struggles made me feel that despite being on the outer edges of my knowledge and what could reasonably be called paid employment in entomology, people cared about what I was doing and were there if I needed them.

With the help of Terry, Antonia, Laura Timms, Lu Musetti, and the great Leonard Cohen, I struggled my way through my contract, and my first eastern winter. Last week, Leonard Cohen died, leaving a huge hole in Canadian songwriting. We still have his recordings and poems to keep us company, though no matter what we are doing.

On Tuesday, I will head back to the ROM as a volunteer, to help sort out some of the ant collection, to the best of my ability. Perhaps I will listen to some of Leonard Cohen’s music, and tweet out some of what I find to connect me and my entomology work to the wider world.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NW7oNpzBSGc&w=560&h=480]

 

 

 

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ESC Blog Classifieds: Assistant Professor, Extension Specialist

The Department of Horticulture at Oregon State University seeks outstanding candidates for a full-time, nine month, tenure track position titled: Extension Specialist—Vegetable and Specialty Seed Crops. The position is based at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center (NWREC) located in Aurora, OR—about 90 minutes north of Corvallis, OR and Oregon State University’s main campus. The position is at the assistant professor rank.

We seek an individual that will develop a regionally and nationally recognized, Extension outreach and research program in support of the fresh and processed vegetable and specialty seed crop industries. Extramural funding generated by the incumbent will help support this position and grow capacity. The appointment is 50% Extension, 30% research, 15% scholarship, and 5% service. Potential areas of emphasis could include, but are not limited to: pest management, irrigation, soil fertility and nutrient management, production science, food safety, marketing, environmental monitoring, technology and automation. The incumbent will be expected publish in peer-reviewed scientific journals and present at professional meetings. Also, the incumbent will be expected to work closely with other OSU faculty—on campus and off-campus who support vegetable and specialty seed crop research, teaching, Extension and outreach.

See flyer for more details & how to apply. Deadline November 20, 2016.

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A Nobel prize and the unknown benefits that come from saying yes

Aziz Sancar delivering his Nobel Lecture for his prize in Chemistry 2015. He said yes.

My early morning wakeup on Wednesday, October 7, 2015 began as usual with a, though admittedly not healthy, quick Twitter check. My internet-induced squint widened when I saw that Aziz Sancar was trending. Dr. Sancar had just been named co-winner of the Nobel prize in chemistry for his work on DNA repair mechanisms. Not at all surprised by the recognition of his career achievements, I was, however, flabbergasted because I actually know Aziz Sancar and in no small way, my career is what it is because of his generosity and kindness.

Twenty years ago, I was an MSc candidate studying the physiological ecology of amphibians at Trent University. At the time I was working with Michael Berrill on replicating and testing the findings of a 1994 PNAS paper by Andrew Blaustein and company. This was important work on declining amphibian populations in the Cascade Mountains. They found that these declining populations were characterised by low levels of a DNA repair enzyme called photolyase. This finding was intriguing because photolyase catalyses the repair of the principal form of damage to DNA from ultraviolet-b radiation. Because emerging ozone holes would result in natural populations experiencing an increased amount of UVB radiation, low levels of photolyase might be a “magic bullet” that explained which populations would be in decline in otherwise “pristine” areas.

Intriguing, but I was actually not ready to test it. With a potent combination of naïve enthusiasm, I figured I could simply contact the authors of the paper and ask them to teach me the methods that I needed to know to further their work. I tried email but could not find an address on the department website. So I phoned the Department of Biochemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They explained that Dr. Sancar did not want or have an email address. I asked that the call be connected to his office. When he picked up the phone, I leapt immediately into my explanation that I was an MSc student from Trent University in Peterborough, Canada, and that I was hoping to visit his lab to learn methods of photolyase extraction that I would apply to my system. To my now weathered academic amazement, but, at the time, only to my joy, immediately and without hesitation, he said yes. If I could get myself to Chapel Hill, he would teach me what I needed to know.

Alex Smith with hair studying amphibian photolysase induction and concentration in the late 20th century.

Alex Smith with hair studying amphibian photolysase induction and concentration in the late 20th century.

So on my spring break of 1997, I rented a car (two cars actually – one died, another story) and drove from snowy Peterpatch to the flowering springtime of Chapel Hill, North Carolina to spend a week in Dr. Sancar’s lab. “Lab” didn’t quite cover it. Dr.’s Sancar (he and his wife, Dr. Gendolyn Sancar) had a floor of the building at UNC. Dr. Sancar met me on that Monday morning and arranged for a postdoc and a PhD student to help me all week and ensure that I could extract and purify the enzyme. He even arranged for another lab to give me some African clawed frog eggs to practice on! He met with me every day to see how I was progressing and answer any questions. I remember him encouraging me to take in a UNC NCAA women’s basketball game while in Chapel Hill (Tar Heels!), and I was very impressed that this academic superman was often watching soccer in his office when I arrived (the knockout phase of the UEFA Champions League, I think). A man of many interests! I left at the end of the week and proceeded to apply these methods successfully in my MSc. Three papers (Smith 2000, Smith et al 2000, and Smith et al 2002), eventually came from this project and one of the principal findings was that this enzymatic system could be induced in individuals from natural populations (previously not considered – and something that dramatically affects ones’ estimation of a populations’ photolyase level).

In my paper I was very critical of previous research – and not surprisingly, the manuscript received quite harsh and negative reviews. I had never written a response to reviewer comments before, and I did not craft them elegantly or with appreciation. Dr. Sancar was the editor at the journal handling the submission. He phoned me to suggest how I might better word my response. Connecting the phone call alone was no easy feat considering I was living in my car at the time, couch-surfing amongst friends on the west coast of North America – I’m still not sure how he managed to find me. But the advice was priceless and likely not something I would have come to on my own (let’s say it was something along the lines of…“I can hear that you’re angry by these comments, and they are not elegant – but you can’t say what you’ve said. What you mean is this……..so try expressing it like this….”). I was so appreciative, and now 20 years later I’m not sure I expressed my gratitude sufficiently.

And so, fast forward 20 years when I wake to read that the world has recognised Aziz Sancar for his pioneering work in the broad field of DNA repair. It made me think about the often unappreciated or unintended effects that saying yes can have on those around you.

At the end of his Nobel Lecture in Sweden in December 2015, Dr. Sancar showed a slide acknowledging his lab and colleagues. In part, these people and their output are the metrics that the Nobel committee evaluated in awarding him the prize. It was an impressive, but I knew not an exhaustive, list, for Dr. Sancar’s direct effect on my career – and indirectly then on all the students I have worked with in the subsequent years – was invisible to the Nobel committee (and perhaps not even remembered by Dr. Sancar). But these effects are significant and they came from a busy scientist saying yes when confronted with a naïve but enthusiastic student. There were many reasons for him to not take my call, not encourage me to come to North Carolina, not host me while I was there nor mentor me through the review process later on. But he did. He did say yes and it had an immeasurable effect.

I now work with insects in the neotropics and Canada on questions of biodiversity. I don’t work with photolyase and I don’t work as a physiological ecologist. However, by saying yes to me 20 years ago, Dr. Sancar’s act of generosity enabled me to follow this path. In the over-scheduled and busy lifestyle that we lead, it is important to consider this ripple that saying yes can have. There are many intended and measurable outcomes of supervision and mentoring – however there are many, perhaps more, unintended and important effects that kindness can have. As Anne Galloway said on Twitter, “We’re all smart – distinguish yourself by being kind”. The Nobel committee judged Dr. Sancar’s academic output worthy of its highest award last year. They were likely unaware of the affect that he has had in other scientific disciplines through his generosity and kindness.

 

I don’t think I said it clearly enough before. Thank you Dr. Sancar.

 

Dr. Alex Smith
Department of Integrative Biology,
University of Guelph

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ESC Blog Classifieds: Job opportunity – Entomologist / Offre d’emploi – Entomologiste

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) recently published a job advertisement for two Research scientist positions in the fields of entomology (Vector-borne Entomology & Molecular Insect Taxonomy). Please find below the link to the job advertisement, shall this be an employment opportunity that could interest you. https://emploisfp-psjobs.cfp-psc.gc.ca/psrs-srfp/applicant/page1800?poster=966937&toggleLanguage=en Thank you for your consideration! Deadline: Oct 26, 2016

L’Agence canadienne d’inspection des aliments (ACIA) a récemment publié une offre d’emploi pour deux postes de chercheurs scientifiques, dans les domaines de l’entomologie (Entomologie vectorielle & Taxonomie moléculaire des insectes). Veuillez trouver le lien menant à l’offre d’emploi, advenant que ce soit une opportuniqué qui vous intéresse.https://emploisfp-psjobs.cfp-psc.gc.ca/psrs-srfp/applicant/page1800?poster=966937&toggleLanguage=fr Merci pour votre consideration! Date limite: 26 octobre 2016.

Krista McCarthy, Recruitment-recrutement Advisor, Canadian Food Inspection Agency