EEB Seminar – 15 October

This week EEB will host Queen’s own Dr. John Smol who will present:

Advice to Young Scientists: Some Personal Perspectives on Thriving in a Complex World

Science continues to play an increasingly important role in peoples’ lives. Furthermore, to be a scientist is an opportunity to lead an exciting, influential and fulfilling life. However, just as it is a career with many opportunities, it is also a life with many challenges. Especially after being named Canada’s Top Mid-Career Science Mentor by Nature a few years ago, John Smol has been invited to present talks at graduation events, undergraduate student workshops, and departmental seminars focussing on advice to young scientists. Over the last few years, he has presented similar talks on 5 different continents. This short presentation will provide a summary of some of his personal perspectives on possible ways to maximize your opportunities whilst living in an increasingly complex world.


JOHN P. SMOL, OC, PhD, FRSC is professor of biology (cross-appointed with the School of Environmental Studies) at Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario), where he also holds the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change. Smol founded and co-directs the Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Lab (PEARL), a group of ~30 students and other scientists dedicated to the study of long-term global environmental change, and especially as it relates to lake ecosystems. Smol has authored over 500 journal publications and chapters since 1980, as well as completed 21 books. Much of his research deals with the impacts of climatic change, acidification, eutrophication, contaminant transport, and other environmental stressors. Smol was the founding Editor of the international Journal of Paleolimnology (1987-2007) and is the current Editor of the journal Environmental Reviews. Since 1990 Smol has been awarded over 50 research and teaching awards and fellowships, including the 2004 NSERC Herzberg Gold Medal as Canada’s top scientist or engineer, and three medals from the Royal Society of Canada (the only scientist to win 3 individual medals from the RSC since its foundation in 1882). A 3M Teaching Fellow, he has won 11 teaching, mentoring and scientific outreach awards. He is currently Chair of the International Paleolimnology Association (IPA). In 2013, John was named an Officer of the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honour.

EEB Seminar – October 8

On Thursday 8 October, Queen’s Biology’s very own Dr. Vicki Friesen will present:

Can We Predict Appropriate Population Units for Successful Conservation?

Identification of genetically differentiated populations is critical for successful conservation. If local populations differ genetically, then loss of a population may deplete some of the species’ genetic resources, including local adaptations. Genetically differentiated populations also are not likely to be recolonized naturally following extirpation. Furthermore, demographic parameters such as mortality rates and main sources of mortality may differ between such populations. Thus, genetically differentiated populations should be managed separately, as recognized in most endangered species legislation. However, identification of genetically isolated populations can be time-consuming and expensive if not virtually impossible, especially for declining or cryptic species. Could such populations be predicted from appropriate population and ecological variables? Here I review population genetic studies of seabirds to test the predictive value of five such factors: physical (geographic) barriers to dispersal, philopatry, and differences in ocean regimes, nonbreeding distributions and breeding phenology.


EEB Seminar – October 1

On Thursday 1 October, the EEB Seminar Series welcomes Manisha Bhardwaj (back) to Queen’s. Manisha will be presenting:

How did the bat cross the road?

Currently, there are more than 64 million kilometres of road on Earth. Understanding the impact of roads, and successfully mitigating these impacts is essential to conserve wildlife populations. Manisha Bhardwaj (HBSc Queen’s 2013) is currently a PhD student at the Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology (ARCUE) at the University of Melbourne, studying the barrier effects of roads on insectivorous bats.  She will present the results of ongoing work looking at road effect zones, the use of highway crossing structures by bats, and the possible influence of lighting on the barrier effect.


As a 537 student, Manisha examined how aggressive nest defense by Western Bluebirds (Sialia mexicana) varies with anthropogenic disturbance. Her goals to connect research with urban planning policy and management attracted her to the program at ARCUE.

HOST – Laurene Ratcliffe

EEB Seminar – September 24

On Thursday 24 September, Queen’s Biology’s very own Drs. Chris Eckert and Bob Montgomerie will present:

Getting your act together in the era of reproducible research

The ways that scientists collect, manage, analyze and publish data have evolved over the past 400 years from using notebooks to spreadsheets to the internet. We are right now on the cusp of a revolution in data handling with tools that allow open access, data repositories, and reproducibility in ways that could not even have been imagined a decade ago. In this session we will present a bit of this history, followed by what we think is the (inevitable) way forward, using tools developed and readily available only in the last year or two. We believe that all scientists will need to use these tools in the very near future and the benefits will be reaped by society, our disciplines and ourselves. These are not (likely) the methods that your supervisor used or uses, so we have designed this session to introduce you to these new methods. We will make a short presentation but we are hoping to spawn some free-wheeling discussion about the pros and cons of these methods and how best to fit them into your workflow as a scientist.

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EEB Seminar – September 17

For our first seminar of the semester, Queen’s Biology’s very own Dr. Lonnie Aarssen brings us:

What Are We?  Exploring the Evolutionary Roots Of Our Future

at 12:30 in the EEB lounge (BioSciences 4338)


Humans are fascinated with themselves. What are we? Do our lives mean something? Our obsession with these questions is why the arts and humanities exist. And yet, their long history of success is built on a celebrated pluralism of interpretation for the human experience. Ironically, the ‘What are we?’ question is required here to remain essentially unanswered — an enduring and revered mystery.

But evolutionary biology has, with wide consensus in recent decades, given us a very clear and certain perspective of what we are: We are an animal among many millions of others, the vast majority of which have long been extinct — a species that is only about 300,000 years old, but descended from a long lineage, most of which was not human. These discoveries have given us what the arts and humanities never could, and never aspired to find: vital insights into how and why human nature, social life, and culture have come to be what they are, and so uniquely different from other species.

My new book is a survey of these insights from Darwinism — insights that have never been met with enthusiasm from the general public, nor from many professionals.   But a deeper, more concise, and more broadly public understanding of our evolutionary roots has never been more urgent. We are now faced with the daunting task of surviving the impending collapse of modern civilization, and the challenges of designing a new, more sustainable and more humanistic model for our descendants. And our greatest limitation may be that we don’t really know ourselves very well at all

Welcome back everyone!

The Ecology, Evolution, and Behaviour Seminar Series is back in action for Fall 2015, with our first talk scheduled for 17 September!

We will have talks every Thursday at 12:30 in the EEB Seminar room (BioSci 4338). Please check the Current Schedule for this year’s lineup of speakers, it promises to be another great year!