Sabrina Rochefort – winner of the President’s Prize for best poster

At the recent ESC/ESS JAM in Saskatoon, not only were we treated to some great science and camaraderie, but the beloved institution of the President’s Prize sessions for student talks and posters provided some of the most stimulating and exciting times. This was my first year not being in the competition, and I would like to offer my views on the subject.

1) The President’s Prize encourages excellence: Students are definitely motivated to deliver polished and professional presentations in the hopes that their efforts will be recognized publicly. This reaches further than the conference, to encourage students to vet their talks and posters within their laboratories and departments in formal and informal settings in order to make the best presentation possible. This can only be a good thing.

2) The recognition is important: this prize, although modest financially, has amazing value as something to put on one’s CV. This enhances the career prospects of the winners and also the recognition that conference travel for students is worth funding within departments. Again, the value of this prize reaches much further than the conference, as students returning with the tangible benefits of a prize winning talk encourages others to make it a priority to attend and give an excellent talk next year.

The President’s Prize and the more recent innovation of the Graduate Student Showcase are thus valuable to the society as a whole. By encouraging and recognizing the efforts of students who attend our conferences to present well-polished research results, we promote excellence in scientific communication. We can all learn from the skill and innovation of these students!

With all of this in mind, I would like to make some recommendations:

1) For every conference, pre-publish the scoring rubric to be used by the judges. This will ensure that students entering a talk or poster know what points they have to hit to make their talk a candidate for the prize. These rubrics should not penalize creativity on the part of the students or discretion on the part of the judges, but should ensure that there is a baseline for what is expected.

2) At every conference, formally recognize runners-up in every session: It costs nothing but a bit of extra time during award presentation, but the chance to bestow recognition on a few more students should not go to waste. Many sessions have many excellent talks, and to send an excellent presenter home with nothing does no one any good.  It has been a bit hit and miss in recent years at ESC meetings with regards to runners-up, and I think it should be the case that every conference includes this important recognition.

3) Send all competitors home with the judging sheets. This is a bit more onerous on the part of the judges, but the judges can definitely jot down some notes on their scoring sheet and show the tally for how well the talk lived up to the rubric. This is important to show that the criteria used to score the talks informed the decision. More importantly, it allows students to see how well their talk met the judges’ expectations, and to improve their presentations for the next year. This has been done at a couple of ESC meetings over the last few years and as far as I know, students found the feedback they got very valuable and were able to use it to improve their science communication skills.

 Thanks to Mile Zhang for photos of the poster competitors, and to Catherine Scott for helpful suggestions. Congratulations to all this year’s winners, runners-up, and competitors!






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By Gary Umphrey, University of Guelph & President of ESC-ESO 2013 JAM Organizing Committee


Greetings Fellow Entomological Enthusiast:

I wish to draw your attention to the following photo, which is of the participants at the Entomological Society of Ontario’s 50th Anniversary meeting, held in Guelph Aug 27-29, 1913. Yes, this meeting was held 100 years ago this past week. And if you peruse the distinguished individuals in the photo you may recognize William Morton Wheeler, the iconic ant man and Ed Wilson’s predecessor in myrmecology at Harvard, sitting on the far left in the front row. Indeed Wheeler was scheduled to present a public lecture, succinctly titled “Ants”, at 8:00 pm on August 28, 1913. Wheeler was only one of the distinguished entomologists at the meeting, and I invite you to check out the second file which will attach names to the people you may not recognize.

ESO 50th Anniversary, 1913

ESO 50th Anniversary, 1913 - names

I am not sure how (or if) you celebrated the anniversary of Wheeler’s talk (a Bitburger in my Ants! cup worked for me), but in any case I might suggest that a good way for you to do so would be to register for the special 150th Anniversary entomological extravaganza, the Joint Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of Canada and Entomological Society of Ontario in Guelph, Oct 20-23, 2013. The deadline for early registration at a deep discount is fast approaching — indeed it is TODAY! The conference website is at:

This will be a very full program this year, and it has been necessary to extend it to include Wednesday afternoon. To ensure that you won’t have to miss out on any presentations you might want to attend, we are including lunches with your registration fee for the Monday to Wednesday concurrent sessions at the Delta Hotel. Registration also includes the opening reception and banquet.

An unadvertised attraction of this meeting: you will have opportunities to have your photo taken with Jeremy McNeil, the King of Entomological T-Shirts! You will probably want to be wearing an entomology t-shirt yourself. If you don’t bring a favorite shirt (or even if you do) we will have a limited supply of commemorative 150th JAM t-shirts. If you find the official logo too edgy, are troubled by the raging controversies that have surrounded this logo, or simply don’t like biting flies, we will have t-shirts with an alternative logo as well.

The deadline for submitting a presentation (talk or poster) is September 15. Note that abstracts are not required, we only want your title. Space on the program for talks is limited, so don’t delay if you want to present.

The Delta Hotel is our official conference hotel, and we have a block of rooms available at a special price that includes parking (regularly $12/day). While there are certainly other hotels in Guelph, and some at lower prices, the Delta is a very nice hotel and there is real convenience in staying at the conference hotel, especially if we get some nasty weather. The reserved block is quite limited, and so if you wish to stay in the Delta I would suggest making your reservation as soon as possible.

To our entomological colleagues in the U.S.A., YOUR PRESIDENT WILL BE HERE! Yes, Dr. Rob Wiedenmann, President of the Entomological Society of America, will be speaking on Sunday in the opening session, and we would be delighted if you could attend as well (subject to meeting capacity, we certainly can’t handle the numbers that attend an E.S.A. meeting). Here’s a chance to burnish your international reputation and meet your President at the same time, simply by making a jaunt to Canada to attend our meeting!

I would encourage you to join us in the celebrations of the ESC/ESO Sesquicentennial Anniversary JAM and join William Morton Wheeler and his colleagues in the rich historical legacy of special anniversary entomological meetings in Canada.


By Adrian Thysse, Photographer and  co-organizer of the JAM 2012 Photo Competition
The Joint Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of Alberta and the Entomological Society of Canada will be hosted in Edmonton, November 3-7, 2012 . All participants of JAM 2012 are eligible to participate in the photo competition.

The theme for the competition will be Canadian Arthropods, in the following categories:

1. Dead–pinned or preserved specimens
2. Alive–in the natural habitat
3. Dead or Alive–predators with prey
4. Alive with mites–insect mite symbiosis (Sponsored by International Journal of Acarology editor, Dave Walter)

$150 will be awarded to the winner for each category and the “Alive with mites” winner may be offered the opportunity to be a cover illustration for the International Journal of Acarology.

So far the judges include John Acorn, David Walter and myself, and we are looking forward to a wealth of submissions from all the many entomologists, amateur or professional, that will be attending JAM 2012.

Nothing to submit? There is a whole season of delicious bug photography still ahead!

The closing date for submissions is October 30, so get your macro lens on and get cracking! We are looking forward to a biodiverse flood of entries!

Sympetrum sp. Photo by Adrian Thysse

Originally posted at Splendour Awaits