On April 6th, the Biology Graduate Student Association (BGSA) hosted the 10th annual Biology Graduate Student Symposium (BGSS). The BGSS is an annual, full day event, featuring research presentations from graduate students from departments across campus, including: biology, ocean sciences, geography, psychology, environmental science, and cognitive animal behaviour and ecology. The symposium was founded by graduate students with a mandate to promote professional development, foster communication and interaction between students, and to provide a between understanding of the work of their peers. This year we had 50 graduate students present their research, and had over 100 people attend throughout the day including students, faculty, and external collaborators. Additionally, we were honoured to have our keynote address given by Dr. Joe Roman, a Conservation Biologist and Researcher from the University of Vermont, who presented about his research on whales as ecosystem engineers. Previous keynote speakers include Dr. Diane Orihel (Experimental Lakes Area, University of Ottawa) and Dr. James Sulikowski (Life history of sharks, rays and skates, University of New England).
Every year, the BGSA looks for new ways to improve the symposium and this year we successfully added two new components. First, we invited external organizations to attend the symposium as exhibitors, allowing for collaboration between MUN and local companies. This year we had the Center for Fisheries Ecosystems Research (Marine Institute), Oceans Ltd., Salmonid Association of Eastern Newfoundland, and Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium set up booths for the duration of the symposium. Additionally, we had the Ocean Sciences Center touch tank participate during our lunch hour, giving students the opportunity to interact with local marine species and find out more information about the OSC and the programs held there. Second, we expanded the symposium from a one day event and included a scientific communication workshop on April 5th, which allowed students to work on communicating effectively, collaborate with students of other varying research and collaborate with representatives from MUN, Coastal Explorers and CBC. Next year we hope to continue expanding by reaching out to more collaborators as exhibitors and future workshops.