Professional Development

Short Courses

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Registration Deadline: September 15

Important note: Registration for only the professional development short courses is allowed. Short course attendees are not required to register for the entire conference.

Full-day Course

What is the strength and relevance of your ecotoxicology?  Better studies, better papers, better science

Instructors: Dr. Keith Solomon, University of Guelph, Dr. Glen Van der Kraak, University of Guelph, and Dr. Mark Hanson, University of Manitoba

Regulators of chemicals (e.g., pesticides) look to the peer-reviewed literature to help inform their risk assessments and decision-making.  These efforts are hampered by a number of factors, including poorly designed and executed studies, but also well-conducted studies that are poorly reported.  This course will help students new to the field as well as those with years of experience to think closely about the how and why of their research, but also their communication of these findings.  Specifically, this course will provide a robust overview on how to:

  1. Design and implement studies to assess for effects that are of value to regulators and decision-makers.
  2. Report those studies effectively in the peer reviewed literature so that the data that matter are front and centre.
  3. Evaluate these papers for their strength and relevance to questions of interest for risk assessors.
  4. Use these evaluations in a weight of evidence approach to help assign causality.

Half-day Courses

Dose-Response Modelling and Mixture Toxicity Assessment using RStudio

Instructor: Dr. Lorna Deeth, University of Guelph

Afternoon Course

The statistical computation packages R and RStudio are open source software that are widely used among statisticians in academia, with increased use among researchers from all fields that require statistical analyses. This is largely due to the availability of a wide selection of R packages, each with different statistical functions and applications, allowing R/RStudio to be easily integrated into almost any type of statistical analysis.

The focus of the course will be on an introduction to, and investigation of, the R packages “mixtox” and “drc”. These packages have been introduced with specific functions in dose-response curve fitting and assessing mixture toxicities, and are therefore highly relevant to the fields of ecotoxicology and environmental toxicology. Course content will be demonstrated through interactive demonstrations of relevant statistical analyses.  Participants will have the opportunity to practice the statistical analysis of provided data sets, as well as the opportunity to investigate how these R packages could be applied to their own data.  This short course will benefit researchers conducting biological and toxicological assessments who would like to improve their statistical computation skills, as well as those who would like to learn how to carry out such analyses in R/RStudio.

Designing Adaptive Monitoring Programs

Instructors: Dr. Kelly Munkittrick, Canada’s OIl Sands Innovation Alliance and Dr. Tim Arcizewski, Alberta Energy Regulator

Morning Course

A primary goal of environmental monitoring is to indicate if unexpected changes in the physical, chemical, and biological attributes of ecosystems are occurring.  Although designing a monitoring program is conceptually simple, there are varying scientific and social challenges that often limit its effectiveness. Generally, a robust monitoring program is characterized by hypothesis-driven questions associated with potential adverse outcomes, and feedback loops informed by data to focus monitoring. The focus of the short course will be on conceptualizing, designing, and operating monitoring programs that better delineate and align adaptive monitoring, adaptive management, and environmental risk assessment aspects. Basic requirements of effective monitoring can combine with predictions of future observations (triggers) and mechanisms to respond to success or failure of those predictions (tiers) to either accelerate or decelerate monitoring efforts. While much of the presentation will focus on study designs using fish species, the principles are applicable to many difference aspects, and the issues of appropriate sampling designs, power analysis, replication and statistical approaches apply to any environmental monitoring program.


  1. Aspects of monitoring design
  2. Adaptive monitoring principles
  3. Basic requirements of effective monitoring
  4. Designing tiers
  5. Designing triggers
    1. Parametric
    2. Non-parametric
    3. Other considerations
  6. Linking programs and decision-making in a holistic framework

Using the Results of Environmental and Human Health Risk Assessments to Guide Decisions during the Life Cycle of Energy and Non-Energy Developments or “What the heck do Hazard and Risk Quotients Mean?”

Instructor: Mandy Dumanski, M.Sc., P.Biol, Senior Environmental Toxicologist, Alberta Energy Regulator

Afternoon course

This course will focus on using published techniques and methods as well as best professional judgment to interpret the results of risk assessments conducted using CCME, Health Canada, US EPA, WHO, and provincial risk assessment guidance.

As a toxicologist, risk assessor, consultant, operator, and researcher you are tasked with conducting and interpreting human and environmental risk assessments to support industrial development. During this process have you ever found yourself wondering if a hazard or risk quotient greater than 1 ever “truly” results in the potential for an adverse effect to environmental or human receptors? If you have then this course will help you develop the technical skills required to interpret the results of risk analysis and make recommendations to guide decision makers.

As scientists we know that we can never “truly” answer any question but we can use the most accurate and precise methods to propose reasonable answers.  From a risk perspective we can do this by evaluating the frequency, magnitude, and duration of predicted risks and attempt to correlate this with the potential for actual risks to the receptors of concern.

This course will combine research, consulting, and regulatory components to allow for the attendees to gain perspective on the cradle to grave complexity of risk assessments used in Canada and internationally.

After completing this course attendees will have the tools to interpret environmental impact assessments and risk assessment allowing them to make risk based decisions on future research, gap analysis, and environmental monitoring and risk management and mitigation programs.

Refund/Cancellation Policy

Sunday Short-Course registrants only: if you decide to cancel your short course, a $25 cancellation fee will apply.