Sunday, February 1, 2015

Event - Environmental Sciences Symposium: Human Health & the Environment

The 21st annual Environmental Sciences Symposium will take place on Saturday February 7, 2015, at the OEC Centennial Arboretum Center at the University of Guelph, in Guelph, Ontario. The theme for this years Symposium is Human Health & the Environment. It will address topics such as harmful cosmetics and everyday products, environmental chemicals in our water systems, food, agriculture, pesticides & GMOS, Inuit health and food security, First Nations health in relation to water quality, and overall sustainability and human health.

Past Symposium themes have included:

2014 - Collaboration Between Science and Activism 2013 - Traditional Ecological Knowledge 2012 - Environmental Outlook on Agriculture 2011 - Climate Change 2010 - Business and Economics 2007 - Media and the Environment 2006 - Water Issues


Adria Vasil, Author of Ecoholic, Leading Environmental Columnist

Through her accessible and comprehensive books, the popular green advice column she's been writing since 2004, her public lectures, and her regular appearances on CBC News, CTV's Canada AM, and many other programs, Vasil helps regular people decipher legitimately green products and choices from the marketing greenwash now flooding store shelves. (What, for instance, does "all-natural" even mean?) Her writing, grounded in everyday concerns and people, has won praise from consumers, corporate audiences, and environmentalists alike. David Suzuki says of Ecoholic: "This book is for people who want to do something to lighten their impact on the planet. The small steps cost us little in the way of effort, money or time, but the cumulative effects can be enormous."

Holly Dressel, Best-selling author and researcher

Best-selling author and researcher Holly Dressel has become one of Canada’s most recognized names in environmental studies, health care history and practices, economic concerns and aboriginal issues.

Professor Dressel is an adjunct professor at McGill School of the Environment, a very active board member of E-Tech International (a U.S. and South American-based NGO providing engineering advice to indigenous groups and governments faced with mining projects), and a well-known Canadian author and activist, especially in the areas of food, agriculture and water and habitat protection. Her last two environmental books, co-written with David Suzuki, Good News for a Change and More Good News, provide templates for sustainable agricultural, conservation and social systems. Their first book together, From Naked Ape to Super-species, tackles the economic basis of the environmental crisis.

Dressel lives on a farm west of Montreal and has worked for two decades with grassroots rural and agricultural groups such as the Coalition Rural du Haut St-Laurent, Beyond Factory Farming and Union Paysanne. She is also the author of a major work on the Canadian health care system, Who Killed the Queen? The Story of a Community Hospital and How to Fix Health Care, published by McGill-Queen’s. This is the only book in print that analyses Canada's health care system in comparison with that of other countries, especially the U.S., and demonstrates why it obtains its remarkable result, which continues to make the Canadian population among the healthiest in the world, despite many attacks against it in recent years. Dressel has worked with columnist Gwynne Dyer as a researcher and on many documentary films and series for the CBC and the NFB, as well as many famous names in the environmental field such as Vandana Shiva, Maude Barlow, Elizabeth May, Andy Kimbrell, David Korten and many more. She also has extensively visited and continues to work with traditional and aboriginal groups around the world, in South America, West Africa and India. Since the late 1980s, Dressel has worked with the Cree of northern Quebec, most recently as an advisor and collaborator on the Wemindji Project, ongoing work between McGill University and the Wemindji Cree to acquire full conservation status for two river basins and the adjacent sea floor and islands in that region.

Besides teaching and lectures at McGill and many speaking engagements associated with her books, Dressel is currently writing a new book on women’s health care with Dr. Georgina Wilcock, who was until recently the Green Party health critic. Dressel continues to attend, as she has for 15 years, the Convention on Biological Diversity of the UN’s meetings concerning biosafety and indigenous and local community issues. She also remains fully committed, especially through her students, to local, national and international issues, especially: economic reform, agricultural issues, habitat and species conservation, as well as control of toxins and diseases, including zoonotic disease (largely caused by habitat and biodiversity disruption), and the new health challenges being introduced through extreme technologies like geoengineering, nanotech and synthetic biology.

Dr. Loren Knopper

Dr. Knopper is an internationally recognized Environmental Health Scientist working at Intrinsik Environmental Sciences, a small employee owned consultancy based in Ontario Canada. In his role as an environmental health scientist, Dr. Knopper has a diverse and considerably experienced practice. Much of Dr. Knopper’s professional career has focused on the energy sector in terms of human health and ecological risk assessment, human and ecological toxicology and health, public communication and scientific training. He has lead numerous human health and ecological risk assessments for the energy sector, which include petroleum contaminated sites across Canada and prognosticative risk assessment of energy generating projects in support of federal and provincial environmental assessments (e.g., oil refineries, off shore drilling in Arctic waters, in situ and mining oil sands and coal development in Alberta, carbon capture and storage, hydroelectric in Newfoundland and Labrador, wind power in Canada and the United States, energy-from-waste). For many of these projects Dr. Knopper has been involved in risk/scientific communication (through public open houses and workshops) with a number of stakeholders including government and regulatory officials, industry representatives, aboriginal councils and the general public. He has also conducted human and ecological toxicology and health investigations dealing with the energy sector (e.g., the study of electromagnetic fields in schools and around wind power projects and transmission lines). Much of his work has been published in scientific journals and presented at international conferences.

Dr. Ralph C. Martin

Ralph Martin grew up on a beef and hog farm in Wallenstein, ON. He learned what is essential about agriculture from his grandfather, before he died when Ralph was seven. After 4-H, his formal education includes, a B.A. and an M.Sc. in Biology from Carleton University and a Ph.D. in Plant Science from McGill University. His love of teaching grew unexpectedly when he began teaching at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, in 1990, and realized how students teach him too. In 2001, he founded the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada ( to coordinate university research and education pertaining to organic systems, across Canada . In 2011, he was appointed as Professor and the Loblaw Chair in Sustainable Food Production at the Ontario Agricultural College, University of Guelph.

Dr. Maria Trainer

Maria Trainer joined CropLife Canada in April 2012. Maria provides technical expertise on a broad range of science and regulatory priorities related to pesticides, which one of two main business lines at CropLife Canada. CropLife Canada's goals include improving public confidence in our members' technologies, facilitating a positive regulatory environment, ensuring proper stewardship of our industry's products and building collaborative stakeholder relationships.

Maria holds a PhD in Bacterial Molecular Genetics and a Master of Science in Biochemistry. Her professional experience includes having been program director with the Council of Canadian Academies where she had the lead responsibility for the Expert Panel on the Integrated Testing of Pesticides. Maria has also worked as a scientific evaluator with the New Substances Bureau of Health Canada and has experience in human health toxicological risk assessment.

Dr. Rene Van Acker

Dr. Rene Van Acker is Professor and Associate Dean (external) of the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) at the University of Guelph and was previously chair of the department of Plant Agriculture. Prior to his appointments at The University of Guelph, Rene was a professor of weed science and crop management at the University of Manitoba. As Associate Dean external in OAC, Rene is responsible for helping to initiate and coordinate fundraising in the college and manage communications and partnerships with and across the college. He also works with the Associate Dean academic in OAC to initiate and coordinate student recruitment projects and he is the lead for OAC on initiatives to gauge demand in the food and agriculture sector for graduates from OAC programs. This included the commissioning of the "Planning For Tomorrow" report (released in 2012) which documented the significant gap in supply for graduates to fill a broad range of positions in the food and agriculture sector in Ontario. Rene's research interests include weed biology and ecology and the coexistence of GM and non-GM crops. He conducts field-based research, supervises graduate students and teaches courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. He has published over 100 peer-reviewed works to-date and has made over 300 other non-peer reviewed contributions. His research work on coexistence of GM and non-GM crops has lead to international collaborations, presentations, and consulting work with governments and organizations in Denmark, Austria, Switzerland, France, Germany, Australia, the US and Canada. Rene grew up on a farm in southwest Ontario. He holds BSc and MSc degrees from the University of Guelph and a PhD from the University of Reading in the UK.

Dr. Connie Moase

Director, Health Effects Division II, Health Evaluation Directorate, Health Canada Pest Management Regulatory Agency

Dr. Moase has been a Federal Government scientist with Health Canada since 1995. She has held a number of positions within Health Canada and is currently Director within the Health Evaluation Directorate of Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency, providing operational oversight for human health evaluation of new pesticides, as well as for pesticides under re-evaluation.

Education: Dr. Moase obtained her BSc Honours from Acadia University, Nova Scotia, and her MSc and PhD in Developmental Biology from McGill University. Prior to joining Health Canada, Dr. Moase was a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Reproductive Biology Unit of the Ottawa Health Research Institute at the Ottawa Hospital.

Linnaea Jasiuk, MA Candidate

Linnaea Jasiuk is a MA Candidate in the Department of Geography at the University of Guelph. Linnaea’s work partners with the community of Ulukhaktok, NWT to examine Inuit women’s conceptualizations of and approaches to health in adaptation to climate change. Holding a bachelor’s of environmental sciences Linnaea brings an interdisciplinary perspective to addressing the health gap felt by Canadian Inuit as climate change imposes. Her research is a part of the IK-ADAPT project and is supported by the Nasivvik Center for Inuit Health and Changing Environments.

Colleen Parker, MA Candidate

Colleen Parker is a second year Masters student in the Department of Geography at the University of Guelph, working with Dr. Tristan Pearce. Her research focuses on Inuit food security in light of climate change and adaptation options in a case study of Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories. Her interest in the Arctic was sparked during her time as a field assistant on the DEW Line Clean-up Project in Byron Bay and Cape Dyer, Nunavut. She has also worked on developing protocols for reciprocal exchange between Aboriginal and Western science knowledge systems in natural resource co-management and was the Director of the 19th Annual Environmental Sciences Symposium focusing on Traditional Knowledge and Cultural Perspectives on the Environment. She graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences in December 2012.

Dr. Sherilee Harper

Sherilee Harper is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Population Medicine at the University of Guelph. Her research investigates associations between weather, water, and Indigenous health in the context of climate change, and she collaborates with Indigenous partners to prioritise climate-related health actions, planning, interventions, and research.

She is currently a collaborator in an international research initiative called the “Indigenous Health Adaptation to Climate Change” (IHACC) project, which works closely with Indigenous peoples and their organizations in the Canadian Arctic, Ugandan Impenetrable Forest, and the Peruvian Amazon. The project aims to combine science and traditional knowledge to strengthen health systems in light of a rapidly changing climate, within three areas of foci: food security, malaria, and waterborne disease. Sherilee is also a co-investigator on the “Indigenous Peoples Adapting to the Health Effects of Climate Change” (IK-ADAPT) project, which works with Indigenous communities and knowledge users in the Canadian Arctic to develop and apply a framework for adaptation assessment, and develop and evaluate pilot interventions for adaptation to the health impacts of climate change.

Sherilee has worked with the Rigolet Inuit Community Government to develop a 3-year community-led, capacity-building research program, called the “Changing Climate, Changing Stories, Changing Health” project. As Co-Director of this program (with Ashlee Cunsolo Willox), she assisted the small community secure research funds to use culturally appropriate methods to examine the impacts of climate change on health and well-being. Specifically, this project used qualitative methods and digital media to engage the community in climate-health research and to create locally-appropriate public health media. This project led to the development of the ‘My Word’: Storytelling and Digital Media Lab, which has a multi-media lab in Rigolet which offers research assistance and a host of services and workshops to individuals and communities.

Amelia Meister

Amelia Meister is a poet, freelance writer, mother and fierce lover of the Earth. Her writing invites a deep love, devotion and connection to Life that leaves the heart necessarily open/broken. In 2013, she represented Guelph at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, placing 2nd in the country. She has performed poetry at Eden Mills Writer's Festival, Hillside festival as well as at universities and events across Southern Ontario. Amelia has self-published three poetry chapbooks: New Eyes on Old Messes in 2011, Intermezzo in 2013 and Coming Home in 2014.

Frances Dietrich-O’Connor

Frances Dietrich-O’Connor has a strong background in community based research and project coordination. Her diverse experience includes community economic development work with Aboriginal communities, public consultation programs, GIS, and research related to sustainable food systems and public policy. She has also been involved with the design and implementation of evaluation research in locations from Guelph, Ontario to rural Vietnam. She is a member of the Canadian Evaluation Society and the Ontario and International Association for Impact Assessment. She holds a M.Sc. in Rural Planning and Development from the University of Guelph with an emphasis on environmental management and program evaluation.

Emily Ferguson

Emily Ferguson is an Energy and Regulatory Specialist. She provides consulting services with a focus on oil and gas pipelines. Emily is working with First Nations in northern Ontario to address concerns about the Energy East project including impact on water bodies. She has first-hand familiarity with the National Energy Board (NEB) and Ontario Energy Board (OEB) and works with clients to help navigate the regulatory process. As a graduate of McMaster University, her background and skills lie in Geography, Energy, Sustainability, Ecosystems, Climate Change, Earth Science, Surface Climate Processes, Water Issues, Environmental Policy, Environmental Assessment and Canadian Politics. She trained with Al Gore as a Climate Reality Leader and has been involved with a variety of renewable energy associations.


To get tickets ($10 - $15) for this event click here.

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