Keynote Speaker: Dr Isabelle Côté

Isabelle Côté is a professor of Marine Ecology in the Department of Biological Sciences at Simon Fraser University.  Her interests in marine ecology and conservation are broad.  Her recent research focuses on marine invasive species – measuring their impacts, predicting their spread and devising the best ways to control them.  Although much of her work is on tropical habitats, she also works in BC, with projects on invasive crabs and eelgrass resilience. She is passionate about science communication, particularly relating to ocean discovery, and is the President of the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution.  She became Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences in January.

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From fish mate choice to government advice: the twists and turns of an academic career

A PhD is the worst and the also best preparation for life. In this talk, I will use the trajectory of my own career in science to exemplify the twists and turns, and ups and downs of an academic life. There was nothing in my early work on the intricacies of group living in a freshwater fish that could have led me to suspect that I would eventually document large-scale patterns of coral decline and the effects of marine invasive species, or advise the government on what it takes for marine protected areas to work.  Along the way, there was conflict and finding a soulmate, moving around and having a family, feeling like an imposter and stepping up to lead.  I will try to weave the academic and the personal and how they act on and react to each other. A scientific career – whether in academia or not – is definitely an adventure like no other.