As April approached, the Becker Lab was anxiously preparing for presentations at the annual Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference hosted this year in Vancouver, BC. Research scientists, students, stakeholders, tribal representatives, and concerned citizens transformed the Westin in Vancouver to a powerful center for connection and hope. Registration overflowed at the maximum capacity of 1100 attendees! The three-day conference was composed of workshops, a phenomenal keynote speaker, oral presentations, and a poster gala session.
The conference began with the keynote speaker, Roberta Bondar, who enthusiastically presented photography from her experience as the first Canadian woman and neurologist in space. Her talk focused on emphasizing the power of perspective, with a particular emphasis on the environment. She urged the audience to personally take a step back and soak in the environment, but to also recruit others to do so as well. In her eyes, if we don’t realize the connection we have with the environment, we won’t care about its health. This is our home, and no matter which continent we live on or ecosystem we’re in, we are a part of this beautiful collection on Earth.
The main portion of the conference was the oral presentation sessions. In fact, there were 72 total sessions, each with 5-6 speakers. This totals to around 400 presentations! Although it wasn’t possible to view all of them, you could hop back and forth among sessions. Topics included climate change, ocean acidification, pollutants, engagement, policy and management, remediation and restoration, shorelines, and food webs. The diversity of topics was awe-inspiring! I attended a memorable talk that brought in Four Seasons’ executive chef, Ned Bell, who discussed the sustainable seafood movement and Ocean Wise program in Vancouver. This was the perfect example of Dr. Bondar’s stress on perspective, investment, and involvement.
The Becker Lab did a fabulous job presenting all of our current research. UW SAFS graduate student Megan Hintz delivered an enticing and captivating talk on her work with Olympia oyster population connectivity. Megan even had a posse of sorts inquiring about her work after the conclusion of her presentation. Axton Bullock, Michelle McCartha, and myself presented posters at the poster session. People were able to stroll through aisles of posters and discuss the work personally with presenters. It was such a success, the session went over 30 minutes and could’ve gone all night! The Becker Lab returned to Tacoma with high spirits and full minds. We are looking forward to next year and many conferences to come!