Sept. 25, 2015

The 3rd Annual HPI Research and Curling Day 2015

Article by Edina Szabo (postdoctoral fellow, Finney lab, University of Calgary)

This annual event for the HPI curling seems to be becoming a tradition now. This year was the 3rd occasion the event was held at the Calgary Curling Club on Friday 25th September. However, this was the first time that the curling was combined with a Research Day, where only the PIs talked about their work and the trainees that have been involved with their projects.

In the morning of the Research Day each PI from the HPI group presented their work, introduced all the members of their team, and highlighted their specific area of interest. During a short, 15 minute presentation, which was strictly monitored by Dr. Susan.

Kutz, they talked about the aim of their research and the progress they made in the last year. This was a great opportunity for everyone to become more familiar with the work other members of the group are doing. The research talks were informal and casual, highlighting the main areas of research each group is working on, and also introducing new members of their team. We heard about how the MinIon device will help the work of Dr. James Wasmuth’s group, how certain molecules affect severity of Leishmania from Dr. Lash Gedamu; the importance of the mucus layer of the intestine for establishing Giardia infection from the Dr. Andre Buret; and fieldwork that Dr. Susan Kutz’s and her team members carry out on parasites of wild animals. Dr. Patrick Hanington talked about the prevalence of trematodes in natural waters, while Dr. Constance Finney explained how she and her team are investigating models of multiple parasitic infections. Dr. Kris Chadee is looking at how Entamoeba is able to overcome host immune defences, while Dr. Derek McKay is interested in certain molecules from parasitic worm that can modulate immune responses, and how Dr. John Gilleard’s team tackle drug resistance in parasitic worms using molecular genetic and genomic approaches.

Besides the research talk, members of the HPI group enjoyed an afternoon of curling. The open buffet lunch gave the opportunity to get to know others from the group, and to be introduced to new members, as well as welcoming colleagues from UofA, who we usually communicate with through video conferencing. The curling session started with an introduction to the basics of curling, where everyone had a chance to learn or improve their skills before the real competition began. After a few bumpy starts for some, everyone got the hang of the game, learnt how to hold and sweep with the broom or launch yourself and aim your rock to get the high score. As this was the 3rd event, some of the members already developed great curling skills, but teams were organised in a way that beginners could learn from their team members. Despite the cold ice everyone had a great experience, and was keen to compete for the 1st place. The group was split into six teams to play against each other. “Team 3” with exceptional curling skills won the tournament, but the runner-up, the “Rockstar Rockets”, right behind them. Unfortunately, “The Curlies” with only three players ended up at the 6th place.

All members of the HPI group enjoyed both the curling event and the Research Day. These social events are great to bring the group closer and lets everyone have a relaxing time away from the lab. For next year’s event everyone voted for curling again, so it seems that nobody is scared away by the cold!