From left to right: Mount students Ksenia Kholina (MSc Applied Human Nutrition, Conference Logistics), Alyssa Teed (BSc Applied Human Nutrition, Conference Volunteer Coordinator) and Morgan King (MSc Applied Human Nutrition, Conference Logistics Assistant) are leading efforts to plan and implement the inaugural Science Atlantic Nutrition and Foods Conference at Mount Saint Vincent University.
On February 28 and March 1, 2019, Mount Saint Vincent University will host the inaugural Science Atlantic Nutrition and Foods Conference.
Organized by the Nutrition and Foods Committee of Science Atlantic, the conference will give undergraduate and graduate nutrition, foods and dietetics students from across the region, a chance to showcase their research (with awards for top presentations!) and hear from local leaders in the field.
Science Atlantic is an association for scientists, faculty, and students that seeks to advance post-secondary science education and research in Atlantic Canada. It’s an organization with a long-standing commitment to undergraduate students, in particular by enabling conference, research and mentorship opportunities. Previous Science Atlantic conferences have featured Biology, Geoscience, Computer Science, Chemistry, Psychology, and more. The organization’s Nutrition and Foods Committee was formed in 2016 and “serves as a community for faculty and students working within the nutrition and food science fields, notably those in human nutrition, dietetics and food science” (source: scienceatlantic.ca).
As part of the many opportunities that will be on offer at the conference, Dalhousie-based scientist Dr. Bradley Johnston will deliver a keynote address, including an exploration of current approaches to evaluating evidence that is used to create consumer-centred nutrition guidelines. Dr. Johnston is an Associate Professor with the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology at Dalhousie and Director and Co-founder of NutriRECS, an international consortium of researchers and research trainees aiming to develop trustworthy and novel nutritional guideline recommendations on major nutrition, food and dietary pattern questions.
A featured workshop will focus on developing research infographics – a useful tool in nutrition knowledge translation. That session is being sponsored by the Canadian Nutrition Society and facilitated by Dr. Kaitlin Roke (Canadian Sugar Institute), Dr. Flora Wang (Canadian Sugar Institute), and Dr. Shannan Grant (MSVU).
Experiential education in project/event planning
Third-year Bachelor of Applied Human Nutrition (Dietetics) student Alyssa Teed, the undergraduate student representative for the Science Atlantic Nutrition and Foods Committee, has taken on the role of volunteer coordinator.
For Alyssa, conference planning has presented a new professional experience and opportunity to step out of her comfort zone. One of her tasks has included organizing a network of student representatives from universities across the region to help promote the conference. As a conference promoter on the Mount campus, she has “come out of her shell” to spread the word on the event by various means. “I have learned I can push myself to do more than I ever thought,” she says.
Alyssa notes that learning the ropes of conference planning from Dr. Grant has been a great opportunity. Not only is she knowledgeable, but “she’s [also] very encouraging and has been a true mentor to me,” Alyssa says. Dr. Grant has been a part of the Science Atlantic community since the late 1990s, first as a student in the Biological Life Sciences Department at the University College of Cape Breton (now Cape Breton University) and then via the Human Nutrition Department at St. Francis Xavier University.
Hailing form Freeport, NS, Alyssa first heard of the Mount from her sister Amanda (class of 2016, Bachelor of Public Relations). Promises of a small-community with big opportunities sold Alyssa on the Mount experience, but she says her time at the Mount has surpassed her expectations. In addition to her conference planning role, Alyssa volunteers at the IWK and with the Mount’s chapter of the Canadian Association of Food Service Professionals. She notes that these opportunities have all stemmed from a supportive learning environment, calling the Mount “one big family.”
As the conference quickly approaches, Alyssa is excited to welcome those she has connected with to campus and see the event come to life. “The conference will be a great opportunity for students to connect and be involved in the field,” she says. “It has definitely done that for me already.”
Alyssa is collaborating with two other students in the conference planning – Morgan King and Ksenia Kholina, both of whom are graduate student representatives on the Science Atlantic Nutrition and Foods Committee. “With registrants so far hailing from nine nutrition faculties across the Atlantic region (registration remains open until February 15), attendees will have a fantastic opportunity to network with peers and mentors alike,” notes Mount Master of Science in Applied Human Nutrition student Ksenia Kholina, adding “This is a valuable experience to present research at a real conference, in a safe peer-led environment.”
Student abstract and logo submissions are being accepted until February 1st, 2018. Click here for details.