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APECS: APECS at the Canadian Science Policy Conference

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CPSCThis week APECS had the opportunity to take part in the Canadian Science Policy Conference. The Canadian Science Policy Conference (CSPC) brought together approximately 300 people, including researchers, students, science administrators, science policy analysts and elected officials from all three levels of government. Several themes permeated the conference workshops, panels and discussions.

 The most prevalent topic at the CPSC this year was the relationship between science and industry. Several panels focused on how science and industry need to be more integrated, both when it comes to training graduate students, and in fostering research together. What to do with ‘big data’ was a large and popular session that many people took part in. Large data sets and how to store them and keep them safe is a problem across disciplines and departments.

 ehPECSAnother theme that several sessions touched upon was science communication. Science within classrooms, and general science communication was discussed. The general consensus focused around the need for more communication on all levels to increase public science literacy and support for evidence based decision making. Several successful programs were highlighted, and a new Canadian network of science blogs (Science borealis; scienceborealis.ca) was unveiled during the meeting.

CSPCBoth the state of the PhD (and the glut of post-docs) in Canada and how we can move towards more diversity within the realm of research were both allotted their own sessions, and were themes discussed throughout the conference. Most discussions within these two realms resulted in how high level policy changes may be needed to balance and manage 1) how academia prepares PhDs for a more broad set of jobs after completing their degree, and 2) how increased diversity in research is still very much needed, specifically in regards to women.

CPSC panel smallLastly, I had the opportunity to represent both APECS and the APECS Canada National Committee on a panel discussing “Is Canada able to meet its needs for research and innovation on northern issues, given that it does not have graduate programs situated in the three Canadian territories?” (  http://www.cspc2013....t-does-not-have). This session included representatives the Yukon Government, the Northwest Territories government, the Nunavut Arctic College, the Yukon College, ArcticNet, the Association of Universities of Northern Studies (ACUNS), and the Association of Polar Early Career Representatives (APECS). Our panel discussed the needs of early career researchers in the north, how these needs were being met, and how the creation of graduate programs in the north may help facilitate the development of skilled workers in the north that are in great demand.

 To learn more about the discussion, you can hear from of the panelists viewpoints here at the conference website ( http://www.cspc2013.ca/).

--Jennifer Provencher

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