Celebrating our Second Annual BISC Outreach Award Winners!

April 28, 2022

Department of Biological Sciences

We are excited to announce the recipients of the second annual Biological Sciences Outreach Awards. The winners in no particular order are:

Congratulations to Katie Leonard who is the recipient of the student outreach award in SFU affiliated outreach initiatives!

Over the last year Katie has, almost single-handedly, initiated and run a campaign to challenge SFU to do a better job preventing bird collisions with windows, a significant source of avian mortality. She did her own research to show that SFU is not following its own ‘sustainability’ policies and coordinated bringing bird-friendly solutions to SFU’s attention. This effort resulted in ordering and putting up anti-collision solutions in the windows of the Center for Wildlife Ecology space. Due to her engagement with the SFU architects on the issue, feather friendly decals will also be put on windows around Blusson/Saywell hall once temperatures warm up.  She was out on campus on Welcome Day last fall directly engaging students on this issue. Partly because of Katie’s efforts, CWE has received $50K in funding to support a graduate student working on this topic (an ECCC priority) who will start in David Green’s lab in summer.

Katie has also worked hard to promote ornithological research throughout Covid by engaging in a wide range of related activities. She has been a Graduate representative on BISC’s Outreach Committee, contributed to the Meet an SFU Scientist series and led a public tour at the SFU Burnaby campus for International Mountain Day. Katie has also volunteered with the Vancouver Avian Research Center and WildResearch and she contributes to citizen science through the NestWatch database.

Congratulations to Brett Hodinka who is the recipient of the student outreach award in wider area of public engagement category!

Brett is very active in social media, working to promote biology on Twitter.  He routinely features his own PhD research there, as well as re-tweeting general posts about birds and nature. More broadly, Brett has volunteered his social media expertise to professional organizations including as Social Media Ambassador and Liaison for the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) of The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB). In addition, Brett has given online lessons to kids around the world about birds, their habitats and adaptations using lessons and materials he developed himself. His MSc research was also featured in a blog post in the The Ethogram (the official blog of the UC Davis Animal Behavior Graduate Group, 21 January 2021) and he has contributed to The Animal Behavior Podcast and the Bio-Breakdown Podcast.

Congratulations to Tiia Haapalainen who is the recipient of a Staff and Faculty award!

Since joining the Department as a member of the technical staff in 2015, Tiia has regularly contributed to the University and Department Outreach events, as well as many initiatives of her own. She has contributed to Open House displays as well as facilitated events such as Science Rendezvous and Science Spooktacular by providing knowledge and specimens from the teaching collection.  Tiia has also been contributing to departmental leadership in outreach as the staff representative on the Outreach and Engagement committee since its founding in 2018. Some highlights of her outreach activities from the last year include contributing to Nature Vancouver, participating in Meet an SFU Scientist, assisting with the Whistler Naturalists Annual Whistler BioBlitz, and working with SFU’s Museum of Archeology and Ethology for Night at the Museum. Tiia has also spent a considerable amount of time creating and updating the various departmental social media accounts with faculty and graduate research, publications, awards, poetry and photo competitions and theme days such as International Day of Women and Girls in Science, LGBTQ STEM Day, World Pollinator Day and Fascination of Plants Day.

Congratulations to Dr. John Reynolds who is the recipient of a Staff and Faculty award

In the past 12 months John has been heavily involved in various forms of community outreach where he worked to promote biology and create awareness of species at risk. Other highlights include co-organizing a large community science program with Dr. Brian Starzomski from the University of Victoria that works with BC Parks using iNaturalist. He also practices what he preaches and is the top observer in iNatrualist for both BC and Canada! In addition, he regularly promotes public appreciation of nature with natural history organizations such as the Burke Mountain Naturalists, RBC Museum, the Canadian Wildlife Federation, the Fraser Basin Council and Metro Regional Parks.  He also works with First Nations in the Heiltsuk territory in the Bella Bella region, doing salmon counts, providing data to the Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Department, and contributing to salmon habitat restoration.  In addition to emphasizing species at risk in community programs, John also is the chair of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and advises on provincial and federal government science policy about threatened species.