Nov. 1, 2013

The 1st Annual Host-Parasite Interactions Bootcamp 2013

Article by HPI

On March 15-16th, 2013 the first trainee bootcamp under our Host-Parasite Interaction training was held with 35 people attending (including both trainees, faulty and speakers).  This event consisted of two days at the University of Calgary’s Kananaskis BioGeosciences field station. The focus of the bootcamp was to offer trainees (and indeed faculty) instruction in the important, non-science parts of their research. 

Dr. Kim Barrett, Dean of Graduate Studies at UCSD, kicked us off with an insight to getting through the perils of the academic career ladder. The focus was moving from graduate student to postdoc to assistant professor.

Dr. John Wallace, McMaster University, led us through the roller-coaster ride that is the commercialization of ones scientific idea. “The science is the easy part,” was a frequent slide in his presentation.  It is obvious that there’s clear need for better training in understanding the pit-falls and the rewards. John did a good job. He also led a team building exercise for the trainees from which the faculty were barred. They all seemed to enjoy it.

Dr. Tim Geary, Director of the Institute of Parasitology at McGill University, gave a call to arms for the trainees. He gave his perspective as someone with extensive industrial experience as both a scientist and later a manager, and then moved to an academic environment. He broke the myths that industry is a 9-to-5 job and something that failed postdocs migrate to. If the trainees don’t understand the task ahead of them as scientists after that, they never will.

Dr. Brent Dixon, Research Scientist at Health Canada, provided us with the role of research in a government lab.   Brent showed that you can have a varied career within this structure and also be a successful research scientist. His story of interaction with media over a recent publication was particularly amusing and informative.

Finally, UofC’s very own Andre Buret told us how to “present with pizzaz.” Dr. Buret provided all with great tips on preparing and giving presentations.  Everyone found this very helpful.

The four guests were more than guest speakers’ they provided key feedback on the progress and direction of the HPI program. Many excellent suggestions were made and we’ve already begun to implement the great ideas.

Thanks to everyone that participated and helped with making the NSERC CREATE HPI first annual Bootcamp (2013) a great success.  Planning of Bootcamp 2014 has already begun, with more career developing skills seminars/presentations planned.  We look forward to seeing everyone next year as well as welcoming new participants.