Nov. 1, 2017

The 5th Annual Host-Parasite Interactions Bootcamp 2017

Article by Sonja Dunemann (PhD student, Wasmuth lab, University of Calgary)

This year’s HPI Bootcamp was all about careers, self defense and community outreach: 

Careers: Careers in academia roundtable discussions and talks on careers outside  academia

Self defense and teambuilding & leadership sessions

Communication: community engagement, science communication and tips for teaching

The mountains were calling and once again we went, (or for the first time for our new members) for the HPI Bootcamp at the University’s Kananaskis field station at beautiful Barrier Lake.  

At the Barrier Lake Field Station, we jumped right into alternative career paths with three talks: Adriann Mootz from Zoetis gave a comprehensive comparison of careers in the pharmaceutical industry vs academic careers. Alex Chin from Calgary Laboratory Services and UofC gave a perspective on working for Alberta Health, introducing different diagnostic tools and methods. Steve Larter from the Department of Geoscience of UofC told us about his experiences with start-up companies in the oil industry.

For those of us who want to stay in academia, we had excellent roundtable discussions with professors where we had the opportunity to ask questions about careers in academia after a small introduction from their side. Drs. James Wasmuth, John Gilleard, Patrick Hanington and Amanda Melin participated in these roundtables discussions. The three main points that we worked out in this session were:

  1. Explore and take advantage of opportunities, develop different skill sets, apply widely and be flexible
  2. Be strategic, start networking early and plan your applications with good time management and constant optimization of your applications
  3. In the end, do something you are passionate about!

During team building exercises: a self defense session with Andre Buret, Fernando and Toshio, HPI members learnt about Karate, Caipoera and Jiu-Jitsu which brought everyone closer. Colin Funk was present again this year and taught about leadership, group dynamics and success.

During the Trainee Operational Committee (TOC) Townhall meeting, we elected the new TOC members. Jeanie was awarded for outstanding participation with HPI.

The day ended in a very successful murder mystery event, where HPI members connected in an attempt to find the murderer of the best Elvis impersonator in Las Vegas (hint: it was not his gardener).

On Saturday, the main theme was science communication. Tim and Leah from the TOC community outreach shared an excellent, self-made video with us: and HPI memories slideshow: Furthermore, we planned further community outreach events and social activities with HPI. Dr. Mindi Summers from Biological Sciences department at UofC gave an introduction to active-learning and teaching science.

Coming in last but as the highlight of the event, special guest and science broadcaster Jay Ingram answered questions about science communication and gave tips about writing science books.

All in all, we had a very diverse and a successful 5th annual HPI Bootcamp. See you all again next year! 

For more 2017 HPI Bootcamp photos, go to: