The Student Program Events and the people behind the scenes

CEW prides itself on providing an amazing Student Program by giving students ample opportunities to network, learn, and exchange ideas at a reduced registration cost and lower short-course fees.  Just indicate which events you are interested in when you sign up via the online registration form, show up, and we will do the rest!

If you have any questions regarding the Student Program Events, then please take a look at the CEW Student Events website or contact the appropriate individuals below:

General Inquiries for the Student Program Events or questions for the Graduate Student AdvisorsJessica Leung
Esteban Gillio Meina
Sunday Evening Student-Mentor Speed Networking EventEsteban Gillio Meina
Amy Gainer
Student-Mentor LunchEsteban Gillio Meina
Amy Gainer
Meme CompetitionAmy
Assisting Session Chair(s)/Student Co-ChairsDanielle
Co-Judging/Student Judges and Mentor JudgesDanielle
Student Poster and Platform Competition/AwardsJessica
3MT Student CompetitionDerek Green
Laura Jane Phalen

Name Amy Gainer
Degree (most recent) Masters in Soil Science
Thesis title Human health and ecological risk assessment and fate of a hydraulic oil across Canadian soils.
Institute and advisor University of Saskatchewan, Dr. Siciliano
Currently pursuing... a PhD in toxicology, pursuing a career in research and academia
How did it come about that you went into toxicology? I discovered my interest for toxicology while working in environmental consulting and performing work for risk assessments.
Tell us about your research My research studies the fate of a hydraulic oil in the soil, the effects of the oil on the soil ecological functioning as well as potential human health concerns from potential ingestion of groundwater or soil contaminated with oil.
I'm currently busy conducting toxicity laboratory experiments with a hydraulic oil on earthworms, plants and many other soil organisms.
At CEW, I’m organizing the… Sunday Evening Student-Mentor Speed Networking Event, Student-Mentor Lunch, and the Meme Competition
Name Esteban Gillio Meina
Degree (most recent) MSc in Integrative biology; Wilfrid Laurier University
Thesis title Effect of water quality characteristics on the toxicity of vanadium to aquatic organisms
Institute and advisor Toxicology Centre, University of Saskatchewan, Karsten Liber
Currently pursuing... a PhD in toxicology
How did it come about that you went into toxicology? Since I started my undergraduate program I knew I wanted to focus my carrier towards applied science. One day, just by chance my professor of biochemistry mentioned that the Department of Biochemistry was looking into the possibility of launching a new class for biologist called Introduction to Toxicology. There was a version of that toxicology class but for chemist only. I read the syllabus and I really liked the class for chemists, but I couldn’t take the class version for chemist because it required several extra classes from the Chemistry Department. So, I worked together with the professors that were interesting in launching the new Intro Tox class for almost two years. After two years commitment and hard work, I was able to be part of the first cohort of students that took Introduction to Toxicology. After finishing this class, I realized that there is a world of opportunities in Toxicology.
Tell us about your research My project focused on the construction of models to better understand how environmental modifying factors representative of oil sand process-water alter the toxicity of vanadium to model-aquatic organisms. Since it is not fully understood yet, I am also interested in elucidating the mechanism of toxicity of vanadium to better understand its toxicity. This project will help to develop site specific guidelines applicable to the Oil Sand region (Alberta) and other regions of Canada, improve risk assessment and even land reclamation.
What's next? Who knows…..!!!! But, I would like to work in the consulting area or in the Natural Resources sector. I find this industry really challenging and I believe I can collaborate in helping it to protect the environment.
At CEW, I’m organizing the… Sunday Evening Student-Mentor Speed Networking Event and the Student-Mentor Lunch
Name Derek Green
Degree (most recent) Hons BSc in Biology
Thesis title Mercury, bioenergetics, and stress: Ecological implications of peaking
hydroelectric dams.
Institute and advisor University of Saskatchewan, Drs. David Janz and Tim Jardine
Currently pursuing... a MSc
How did it come about that you went into toxicology? I’ve always loved biology, but preferred to keep the scope of my education broad. I felt that a big picture view of biology, from ecology to chemistry, was the best way to develop a functional knowledge of the subject. After graduating with my bachelor’s degree I wanted to maintain the breadth of my education and also ensure it had practical applications. Fortunately I found exactly what I was looking for in the interdisciplinary toxicology program at the University of Saskatchewan. So far I have found research in toxicology to be both practical and fulfilling, and I ultimately hope pursue my passion for research in a career as an academic toxicologist.
Tell us about your research My Master’s research examines mercury contamination in hydroelectric reservoirs and downstream ecosystems. My initial findings show long-term fish contamination in both reservoir and downstream populations, help determine what drives this long-term mercury retention, and delineate rates of mercury decline from commercially relevant fishes. My results also show a curious delay of mercury decline in downstream fish populations. More recent findings suggest that stressors imparted downstream of peaking facilities may impose energetic deficits in downstream fishes, exacerbating mercury concentrations by diminishing growth dilution.
What's next? I plan to complete my Masters by the end of summer 2016, and have accepted a PhD position with Dr. Markus Hecker at the University of Saskatchewan.
At CEW, I’m organizing the… 3MT Student Competition and the Student Travel Cost-Share Listing
Name Jessica Leung
Degree (most recent) MSc
Thesis title Implications of Cu and Ni exposure to ecologically distinct members of the Hyalella azteca species complex
Institute and advisor Department of Biology, University of Waterloo, Jonathan Witt and George Dixon
Currently pursuing... a PhD in toxicology and molecular diversity.
How did it come about that you went into toxicology? Random luck… When I decided that I wanted to pursue graduate work, I reached out to a few places but no luck. Discouraged, I decided to look for a job instead and ended up volunteering for a laboratory manager at the University of Waterloo in the Earth Sciences Department. Interestingly, the laboratory manager sent me down the halls of Biology to troubleshoot an old mass spectrometer. As I walked by my current supervisor’s office, he had posted a description of MSc position outside his door. I read the description, knocked on the door, and the rest is history.
Tell us about your research Environment and Climate Change Canada as well as the United States Environmental Protection Agency has been using Hyalella azteca for more than two decades. Unfortunately, this amphipod (looks like a small shrimp) is actually at least 85 different species that all looks the same. My job as a researcher is to see how different their toxicity responses are when I expose them to a variety of tests and metals.
What's next? Rule the world… but first, complete my comprehensive exam.
At CEW, I’m organizing the… Student Poster and Platform Competition
Name Laura Jane Phalen
Degree (most recent) Environmental Science
Thesis title Immunotoxic effects of benzo[a]pyrene rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
Institute and advisor University of Prince Edward Island, Michael van den Heuvel
How did it come about that you went into toxicology? I began pursuing toxicology after a summer work term in the laboratory of aquatic toxicologist Dr. van den Heuvel. I have always loved flowing water environments and the importance of understanding the dynamic way that contaminants can affect them drew my attention immediately.
Tell us about your research My research focused on understanding how the ubiquitous environmental contaminant class, PAHs, interacted with the immune system of rainbow trout.
Currently... Now I work in consulting and hope to continue working towards understanding how science is translated into policy, and how policy is implemented.
At CEW, I’m organizing the… 3MT Student Competition
Name Danielle Philibert
Currently pursuing... Specialization in physiology and developmental biology, currently PhD. student in aquatic toxicology
Thesis title The impact of oil related contaminants on the development and behaviour of fishes
Institute and advisor University of Alberta, Dr. Keith Tierney
How did it come about that you went into toxicology? I took an undergrad course on ecotoxicology in my 3rd year and fell in love with the subject, I approached the professor of the course to do some undergrad research in the lab and I never left.
Tell us about your research I study the impact of developmental exposures of oil related contaminants on both fresh and saltwater fishes. I conduct research on both conventional and non conventional oil (i.e., diluted bitumen) toxicity, weathered oil toxicity, the impact of dispersant application on crude oil toxicity, and the toxicity of oil sands process affected water (OSPW). Many of my research questions center around changes in behavioural phenotypes in fishes as well as the long term implications of developmental exposures on prey capture efficiency, breeding success and survival.
What's next? Surviving my candidacy exam
At CEW, I’m organizing the… Student Co-chairs and the Student Judges and Mentor Judges
Name Kathleen Racher
Degree (most recent) Doctor of Philosophy, Biochemistry
Thesis title "Introduction of Novel Amino Acids into Proteins in Vivo"
Institute and advisor Institute of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia
Currently... an independent consultant in the area of regulatory and water quality advice
How did it come about that you went into toxicology? I started as a chemist/biochemist in an environmental analytical laboratory then went on to become a technical advisor to regulatory agencies in the NWT. Toxicology is a major part of the environmental assessment process as well as helping to verify effects predictions during the life of a resource development project.
At CEW, I’m organizing the… one of the co-chairs for this year’s CEW.