Cold gets warm welcome

(Edmonton) Students and staff from the University of Alberta’s Canadian Circumpolar Institute received anything but a chilly reception in Vancouver at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference.

Visitors to Family Fun Days last weekend got a fascinating glimpse into U of A research being conducted in both polar regions.

An interactive screen linked visitors to researchers and projects, providing information, images and videos of their work. One display showed the effects of thawing permafrost on buildings and structures in the North. Another showed a graphic representation of sea ice melting over the last 50 years. U of A grad student Alec Casey and undergrad Joel Pumple provided context and explanation. CCI's research stories were brought alive on the interactive screen by a program created and developed by an undergraduate student volunteer, Tobias Tan.

Anita Dey-Nuttall, associate director of research advancement for the Canadian Circumpolar Institute, says the presentation, organized and arranged in co-operation with Telus World of Science, was an excellent example of our memorandum of understanding in action.

“Furthermore, the presentation was an outcome of both faculty members and the Circumpolar Students’ Association volunteering to communicate to the general public the science being done in the polar regions,” she said. “Our research stories were brought alive on the interactive screen by a program created and developed by an exceptionally talented undergraduate student volunteer, Tobias Tan, who is also a member of the CSA executive”.

David Hik, acting director of the Canadian Circumpolar Institute, took part in a five-person panel on interdisciplinary research. Hik’s presentation focused on advances made during the International Polar Year and the way they are shaping the planning of long-term polar research.

Hik said the U of A’s participation in American Association for the Advancement of Science conferences is crucial.

“It was very important for the University of Alberta to be visible at the meeting,” he said. “All the big funding agencies were there, and many international science leaders.”