12th November 2010 Ottawa, Canada

Trip to Sudbury – The Recap

So, it’s been a bit of a long time coming…the hazards of planning work trips just before holidays that were in turn followed by hectically planned work weeks afterwards (I’m sure I’m not the only one who does this, and that provides me with some consolation!).  So here I am about to regale you with tales of my visit to the not-so-far North (if you consider other possible Canadian Northern destinations).

Before I start however, I wanted to point out (though some of you may have already noticed) that the commenting system on our blog has changed.  The upside to this is that your comments will appear immediately without my having to do much pre-posting moderation, allowing for a more dynamic conversation. The downside is that all previous comments through the previous system are no longer visible (which makes me sad, as we had some excellent comments/ers 🙁 ).  Please do not let this change deter you from commenting on any and all posts – I do REALLY appreciate hearing your thoughts (even if you may disagree with me on occasion :P).

So now, on to my adventures in Sudbury!

First stop: the Old Rock coffee shop for what was a wonderful meeting (aided by warm drinks and the aroma coffee roasting to perfection as we spoke) with SNOLAB director Dr. Nigel Smith.  We would have met at the SNOLAB facilities, but it seems that there are some rather specific (and very early in the morning) entry times, that my travel schedule wouldn’t allow for on this visit (but I promised to come back when time would permit, because I really would love to visit the facility!).  We spoke about the facility (predominantly particle astrophysics research, CBC just did a great piece on them here), ongoing international collaborations and of course potential for additional Canada/UK connections.  I was told that although the SNOLABS facility is novel for many reasons (one of the most obvious of which is its large underground clean room facility), apparently anywhere in the world that you find a deep hole, there will likely be a (particle physics studying) scientist in it…who knew!

In addition to particle astrophysics, the SNOLABS facility is also attracting interest from other scientific fields looking at deep underground work including: seismology, geophysics and biology.  We’ll have to stay tuned to see how that develops!

At Laurentian University I met with Dr. Sawyer, the VP of Research and Graduate Studies. Among the many things we spoke of, Laurentian’s five research priorities were mentioned (for LOTS of detail, see Laurentian’s Strategic Research Areas) :

  • Mineral resource Science and Engineering (see the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI), a Government & Industry collaboration)
  • Environmental sciences (environmental planning and remediation – see the Living with Lakes Centre which is currently under construction)
  • Regional economic, political, social and cultural development (in particular contributing to the preservation and enrichment of the social and cultural environment of Northern Ontario)  
  • Health (with the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (est. 2005), cancer research, in addition to areas of health policy, delivery of health services and the public administration of health )
  • Underground sciences (SNOLAB see above).

I also spoke with the University’s International Office about international students at the University. As I mentioned in my pre-visit post, Laurentian has been attracting increasing numbers of international students to Sudbury. I must admit that the University offers a unique Northern Ontario/Canada perspective for those looking to study abroad.

My final stop for this trip was at Science North (the local science centre), where I met with Chantal Barriault one of the co-directors of the Science Communications program (the other co-director is Dr. David Pearson) – a joint program between Laurentian University and Science North. This program, the only one of it’s kind in North America, is very cool.  It’s a multidisciplinary program that provides the foundations for a wide variety of science communications careers (see where some of their alumni have ended up).   In addition to learning science journalism foundations, students also learn about other science communication methods including (but not restricted to) creating science centre exhibits. They also participate in the broader science communication community through relevant field trips (read about their recent trip to STAN in Ottawa here), and get real-world, portfolio building experience through an 8 week internship.  I’m a firm believer that better communication (in all fields) is the best way forward, and that science communication (in general) is the best thing ever (although I may be biased ;P)!

…so that was my trip to Sudbury!  All in all lots of cool things going on in Northern Ontario worth exploring!  What did I miss?  Any other cool sciency things/people in Sudbury (or surrounding areas) I should be trageting for follow-up visits?  Let me know! 



About Nicole Arbour

Based in the National Capital, I cover the federal S&T sector, national S&T organisations, as well as local industry and academic partners. I manage the UK’s Science & Innovation Network…

Based in the National Capital, I cover the federal S&T sector, national S&T organisations, as well as local industry and academic partners. I manage the UK’s Science & Innovation Network in Canada, and our contribution towards the wider Canada-UK relationship. This year my focus will be working towards the delivery of the Canada-UK Joint Declaration and the Canada-UK Joint Innovation Statement. In my spare time I like to cook and spend quality time with my family. Find me on Twitter @narbour