Things kick into a different gear during our Ocean Frontier 2018 conference breakout sessions. Choose your subject matter — and choose your format — for a unique and engaging experience.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

01:30 pm - 03:30 pm

How to turn good science into great policy
Location: Salon F

  • Moderated by Geoff Munro
  • Panelists: Jeff Kinder, Executive Director, Science and Innovation and Mehrdad Hariri, President and CEO of the Canadian Science Policy Centre 

About the Presentors 
Before retiring in 2013, Geoff Munro held several senior roles within the Canadian government including serving as chief scientist of Natural Resources Canada, assistant deputy minister of Innovation and Energy Technology Sector and associate deputy minister of Science and Policy Integration. This experience will be shared with delegates as Geoff provides an overview of how to ensure research results are understood at the political and bureaucratic levels and properly reflected in government policy.

Jeff Kinder has almost 30 years of experience in government science and innovation policy. His U.S. experience includes the National Science Foundation, the National Academies and the Naval Research Laboratory. In Canada, Jeff has worked at Industry Canada, Natural Resources Canada and the Council of Science and Technology Advisors. Most recently, he led the Federal Science and Technology Secretariat. Jeff authored 'Government Science 2020: Re-thinking Public Science in a Networked Age' and co-authored 'Strategic Science in the Public Interest: Canada’s Government Laboratories and Science-Based Agencies'. He holds a PhD in public policy, a Master’s in science, technology and public policy, and a BS in physics.

Mehrdad Hariri founded the national annual Canadian Science Policy Conference (CSPC), a national multidisciplinary forum dedicated to the Canadian Science Technology and Innovation Policy discussions, engaging hundreds of organizations from various sectors and across Canada to discuss the most pressing issues in Canadian Science and Innovation Policy. Mehrdad has numerous publications and opinion pieces in various media outlets, and regularly appears as a commentator on science policy issues. He studied in the fields of Veterinary Medicine, Cell Biology and Functional Genomes, in Tehran, Montréal, and Toronto universities, and performed a post-doctoral research fellowship at the McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health.

Engaging Indigenous communities and coastal stakeholders to find effective solutions for cooperative ocean management and development
Location: Salon C 

About the Session
Indigenous community members, researchers and government representatives will discuss why engaging Indigenous communities and coastal stakeholders in marine and coastal research, management and development is essential to future sustainability. They will examine the challenges associated with achieving cooperative marine and coastal research, management and development in Canada and suggest ways to address these challenges. 

  • Moderated by Barbara Neis, Professor, Department of Sociology, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Eric Oliver, Assistant Professor of Oceanography, Dalhousie University 
  • Panelists: 

Erin Carruthers is a Fisheries Scientist with the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW-Unifor), which represents the owner-operator inshore fleet in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

Mary Denniston, BA, Environmental Studies, currently serves as the Environmental Protection Analyst for the Nunatsiavut Government and is the lead on Nunatsiavut Government’s Imappivut (Our Oceans) Marine Plan project.  

Laura Halfyard, President, Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association and General Manager of Sunrise Fish Farms and Connaigre Fish Farms. She is a member of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band Order, NL

Max Liboiron is Associate Vice-President (Indigenous Research) at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Her research bridges the physical and social sciences in its investigation of how marine plastics and other pollutants are represented in science.

About the Moderators 

Barbara Neis (Ph.D., C.M., F.R.S.C.) is John Paton Lewis Distinguished University Professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Professor Neis has worked for four decades in multi-disciplinary teams carrying out research in marine and coastal communities. 

Eric Oliver is Assistant Professor of Physical Oceanography in the Department of Oceanography, Dalhousie University. His research interests involve the role of climate change on the mean state, variability and extremes of the climate system. He is of Inuit descent with roots in Nunatsiavut (northern Labrador) and aims to contribute to northern and indigenous communities through his research and teaching.

Ocean data and technology, how the IT world is changing how research gets done, and reported
Location: Salon D 

Moderated by:
Sara Iverson, Scientific Director, Ocean Tracking Network (OTN); Professor of Biology, Dalhousie University

About the Session
The continued evolution of IT presents challenges and opportunities to scientific research: it enables the collection and analysis of vast data sets that allow us to answer questions at a huge scale (opportunity); it elevates the need for data expertise in research teams (challenge and opportunity); it presents the lazy option of just measuring everything and letting an algorithm sort it out (challenge). We need to harness these opportunities in order to understand and maintain a sustainable ocean, and support the Blue Growth agenda, in the face of a changing ocean. Through presentations and discussion, we will explore how this evolution is driving changes to how we observe the environment; creating new needs and expectations around access to FAIR data (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable); and enabling new kinds of collaborations. We will  examine the role data plays in engagement with the private sector, including introducing DeepSense, an initiative bringing industry and academia together for applied R&D in analytics and the ocean economy, and COVE, the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship.


  • Data needs, new technology, and the oncoming data onslaught (Fred Whoriskey, Executive Director, OTN)
  • The journey to wide-spread ocean data availability (Mike Smit, Associate Professor, School of Information Management, Dalhousie University)
  • DeepSense 101 – what it is and what it is not (Kevin Dunn, Executive Director, DeepSense)
  • Industry’s interest in / needs for ocean data partnerships (Jim Hanlon, Chief Executive Officer, COVE)  

Looking toward the Labrador Sea; why science is essential
Location: Salon G 

  • Moderated by Brad DeYoung, Professor, Department of Oceanography, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Doug Wallace, Professor, Department of Oceanography, Dalhousie University 

The Labrador Sea is one of the few places where the deep ocean exchanges gases such as oxygen and carbon dioxide (CO2) directly with the atmosphere. Localized deep convection also releases large amounts of heat to the atmosphere and the resulting Labrador Sea water contributes to the global ocean thermohaline circulation that redistributes heat from low latitudes to the poles. Transport out of the Labrador Sea carries oxygen and anthropogenic CO2 into the North Atlantic interior, oxygenating subsurface layers and slowing the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere, but exacerbating ocean acidification along Canada’s sensitive eastern continental margin.

These globally significant processes are regionally localized, temporally variable, and sensitive to the effects of ongoing climate changes. Gas uptake and redistribution processes are expected to respond to and feedback on climate change, as the high latitude warming surrounding the Labrador Sea increases stratification. With the accelerating rate of warming, multiple sources of freshwater now converge on the Labrador Sea, with the potential to disrupt deep convection, meridional ocean heat transport, climate, and ocean biogeochemistry at regional and global scales. Changes in the circulation of this region may even cut off the source of oxygen and “suffocate” the deep ocean, as well as reduce a critical sink of anthropogenic CO2. In addition to impacts on gas budgets, changing stratification and far-field changes to ice-cover and biological productivity in the Arctic regions have the potential to alter nutrient concentrations and transports with potential consequences for biological productivity over large regions of the western Atlantic Ocean, including the sensitive ecosystems of coastal Labrador.

The goal of this session is to:

  • Review what we know and don’t know about the Labrador Sea and consider fundamental questions about how the system functions with particular attention to climate change, societal impacts and ecosystem services, both regional and global.
  • Discuss options for combining, connecting and expanding planned and potential observation and modelling studies to maximize their impact, long-term sustainability and utility (LabSea2020).
  • Identify initiatives and opportunities to connect international scientific activity with the development and mobilization of regional research capacity and knowledge (including traditional knowledge) in support of sustainable ocean development.

In this session there will be presentations by interested contributors discussing work that has been done, present thinking, and plans for future research. Our goal is to expand our understanding and to develop a connected program of research which addresses key questions in the Labrador Sea for the benefit of both regional and global communities.There will be opportunities for discussion and questions after each thematic block of talks. 

  • Discussion: 1:30 - 3:30 pm
  • Break / Plenary 
  • Reconvene: 4:30 pm (consider plans for future research) 

The message box: effectively communicating about science 
Location: Brownsdale 

  • Moderated by Nancy Baron of COMPASS and Kenneth R. Weiss, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist

About the Session
This science communication training will help participants share what they do, what they know — and most importantly, why it matters — in clear, lively terms. Grounded in the latest research on science communication, this training is designed to help participants find the relevance of their science for the audiences they most want to reach: journalists, policymakers, the public, and even other scientists.

Participants will be introduced to The Message Box, a powerful tool to help distill what they know, and why it matters. Practice with your peers and participate in an interactive exercise to develop your "elevator pitch” to explain to others what you do in 30 seconds.

About the Presentors
As the Director of Science Outreach for COMPASS, Nancy holds workshops around the world for academic, government, and NGO scientists helping them develop core competencies as scientist communicators who want to make their work relevant to journalists, policy makers, and the public. An ardent naturalist, she published a popular field guide, The Birds of Coastal British Columbia (Lone Pine Publishing) and a “how to” communications guide book for scientists titled Escape from the Ivory Tower (Island Press). 

Kenneth R. Weiss, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, is a freelance magazine writer focusing on oceans, science and environmental issues. His work has most recently appeared in National Geographic, Science, Nature, Foreign Policy and other magazines, following a career as a newspaper reporter at the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times Company.