Jan. 18, 2019

The 6th Annual HPI Research and Curling Day 2019

Article by Shasta Webb (PhD student, Melin lab, University of Calgary)

On Friday, January 18th, 2019, the Host-Parasite Interactions (HPI) Group celebrated its 6th annual curling event at the Calgary Curling Club. Approximately 37 HPI members from all three institutions—UCalgary, ULethbridge, and UAlberta—attended, which allowed for some catching-up between trainees, as well as introductions for new trainees who had yet to meet their colleagues from all three universities.

The full-day event began with presentations from several HPI faculty members about their general research interests and current projects. A highlight of many presentations was the PI’s listing skills, services their labs can provide—including bioinformatics, microscopy, and other analyses—and encouraging trainees to reach across lab groups to access these skills. Many PIs also provided information about their personal—sometimes very personal—connections to parasites and parasitology, as well as summaries of their career paths that led them to their current positions. The presentations introduced the wide varieties of projects that current trainees are working on, as well as where former trainees are today.Once presentations concluded, and lunch conversations died down, it was time for the afternoon curling lesson and tournament to begin. The professional coaches at Calgary Curling Club patiently and effectively guided the group of 28 researchers through the basics of curling, offering positive encouragement even when many of us were finding ourselves horizontal on the ice.

Once the tournament began, sounds of granite curling rocks banging into one another filled the air, punctuated by bellows of “SWEEP!” coming from Dr. Andre Buret and his team. Once the games got going, it was quickly apparent who had the magic curling touch, as well as who had the best team spirit. I was fortunate to play on Dr. John Gilleard’s team—by far the most spirited group on the ice (as evidenced by the multitude of photos capturing our many celebratory moments).

Once the battle for the top team concluded, the group reconvened at the bar to enjoy a well-deserved beer. Members of the winning team, captained by Dr. James Wasmuth, were awarded their honorary doctorates of curling, and the rest of the afternoon was spent merrily chatting. Like so many other HPI events, the annual curling event struck an excellent balance between research material during the morning presentations, and social bonding in the afternoon. The commitment to both professional development and community-building among HPI members makes the organization in general a doubly important—and very fun—group for trainees and PIs alike.