Every year in early December the Veterinary Epidemiology community comes together in Chicago for the Conference for Research Workers in Animal Disease (CRWAD). This year our group contributed three oral presentations (Rachael Milwid, Melanie Cousins, and Kelsey Spence) and one poster presentation (Rachael Milwid) at the conference. I also served as the session moderator for the Modeling and Network Analysis session along with Kristen Davenport from Colorado State. Rachael presented two different projects related to her work on equine contact networks and Melanie presented her work on the development of a mathematical model for Campylobacter in Ontario. Since Kelsey is in the UK, I presented her longitudinal study of equine movement patterns. All of our projects were very well received by the audience and the Department of Population Medicine was well represented with a very large group of attending graduate students.
This week Dr. Salah Uddin Khan, Dr. Victoria Ng (Public Health Agency of Canada), and I had the great pleasure of attending the first CIHR Health Systems Impact Fellows Cohort Retreat in Toronto. Salah was awarded this prestigious postdoctoral award in the summer and began his fellowship in collaboration with the National Microbiology Laboratory this fall. The goal of these fellowships is to train PhD graduates in a way that focuses on both research and core competencies (such as project management, leadership, and change management) so that they can progress in their careers as leaders within the Canadian Health System. This was the first cohort retreat and it was a really excellent experience for both the fellows and their academic and organizational sponsors. I met many really interesting fellows who I expect will go on to do great things for the Canadian Healthcare system. One of the really amazing things about the inaugural HSI cohort? 80% of the fellows are women! I am looking forward to the next retreat in spring 2018.
We are currently recruiting undergraduate students interested in helping out with a large equine research project that will be running from November until the Christmas break 2017. No horse experience is necessary. This is a great opportunity for students interested in a career in veterinary medicine to learn more about veterinary research and get some experience working in a large animal (equine) environment. You will be providing technical and logistical support to the study coordinator, Dr. Tanya Rossi. Please contact Dr. Amy Greer in the Department of Population Medicine to learn more about this opportunity.
Over the summer, I have focused my own professional development on productivity and strategic planning within a academic research environment. I was motivated to spend some time thinking abut this after realizing that our research team has grown substantially with upwards of ten members starting this fall. I read this paper in Molecular Cell and felt motivated to put a version of this plan into action this fall as a way to improve our team productivity and communication.
On Friday September 15th, we spent the day working together as a group, discussing tools that we can we can use to make our research time more productive and efficient so that we are better able to balance our research, and teaching responsibilities with our personal lives. We also spent a considerable amount of time working on individual strategic plans for the fall semester. We will meet again in December to evaluate how well we were able to put our strategic plans into action over the course of the semester. Personally, I have found that my semester plan has helped me to prioritize my tasks and I feel much better organized as a result.
This week we also had our first lab meeting led by Emma. We had a great discussion with each person bringing and presenting a paper from the peer-reviewed literature that was important to their development as a scientist. It was a great first lab meeting! At our next lab meeting Rachael is going to teach the group how to work with R markdown.
With fall comes an opportunity to review our progress over the past year and plan for the coming academic year. September always feels much more like the "New Year" to me than January and I find myself spending time looking at the literature on productivity, and strategic planning in the hopes of implementing strategies to work "smarter" instead of "harder" this semester. With that comes my renewed desire to have our website, blog, and social media streams more active and as a group we are committing to making that happen.
Today we gathered as a team to discuss our research, and to plan for the coming academic year. There have been lots of changes over the summer.
1) We are really pleased to be welcoming Emma and Gabrielle back to the team.
2) Salah has accepted a CIHR Health Systems Impact Fellowship to start a joint postdoc in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) so we will likely see a little bit less of him this semester as he begins to make the transition to working out of the PHAC office here in Guelph..
3) We have bid farewell to Kelsey Spence and Ariel Brunn.
3) We are welcoming four new graduate students to our team this semester. Their profiles will be going up on the team page of the website next week but we are really excited to have Wendy, Elissa, Roksolana, and Haley joining the team!
From June 29 to July 6, I had the chance to volunteer with World Vets in Granada, Nicaragua. World Vets is an organization which provides free veterinary services to pet owners in developing countries. The days were packed with hours spent at the World Vets clinic; around 250 cats/dogs and 80 horses were helped by our team in the form of vaccinations, deworming, spay/neuter and physical exams. In our spare time, we got to experience the beautiful city of Granada: the food, music, salsa dancing and volcanos. It was so rewarding to be able to travel, learn and help the local community!
Congratulations go out to Beverly Goh, a former undergraduate research assistant in our group. Beverly will be furthering her studies in the DVM program here at the Ontario Veterinary College in September 2016. Congratulations Beverly (class of 2020)!