Every February, the Graduate Students’
Union and the School of Graduate Studies host the Aldrich
Interdisciplinary Lecture and Conference. This conference
is a great opportunity for graduate students from all disciplines
to showcase their work and to gain valuable presentation experience.
This year’s event went ahead Feb. 23-24 and included
the Aldrich Lecture, delivered by Dr. Marc Renaud, president
of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).
The conference consists of a series of 15-20 minute presentations
(followed by 5-10 minutes of questions) from a range of topics
within the various disciplines.
Below is a sample of some of the presentations.
Mark Jones, Anthropology
What Our Mothers Can Teach Us About Social Injustice
Mark Jones’ lecture was derived from a fieldwork assignment
where students were expected to record and analyze an interview
free from the burdens of theory, which Mr. Jones described
as a “liberating experience.” His talk provided
a wonderfully descriptive illustration of the layers of personal
experience narrative in an individual’s oral history.
By interviewing his mother about her experiences growing up
in England during the depression and wartime, he analyzes
the narratives thematically in terms of trouble, treatment
of others, injustice, punishment, fairness and equality. Mr.
Jones also interprets his mother’s traits through her
choice of narratives that she shared during their interview,
as well as her personal reaction as witness or involvement
in various situations.
Jay Fitzsimmons, Biology
Outwit, Outplay, Outlast – Wolbachia and Other Evolutionarily
Using the clever analogy to the slogan of the television show
Survivor, Mr. Fitzsimmons described plants, bacteria, insects
and other animals that exhibit selfish traits to further their
own survival and evolution. For example, the bacteria Wolbachia
infects between 20-76 per cent of the world’s arthropods,
altering its host’s lifestyle to suit its own needs.
He also demonstrated that those species that seemingly act
in a cooperative way with other species, in fact do so to
suit their own needs. For example, this single-celled organism
has the ability “to manipulate its insect host to produce
more daughters than sons, reproduce asexually, and even eat
siblings.” Evidence of this selfish behaviour can be
observed at all levels of organism.
Carla Baker, Cognitive and Behavioural
Impact of Ecotourism on Atlantic Puffins in the Witless Bay
Seabird Ecological Reserve, NL
Ms. Baker’s presentation focused on the impact of the
booming ecotourism business on the Witless Bay Seabird Ecological
Reserve, which provides nesting habitat for over 200,000 pairs
of breeding Atlantic Puffins, the largest colony in eastern
North America. Her hypothesis was that frequent exposure to
ecotourism resulted in a lower body condition and lower reproductive
success, as well as elevated levels of avian stress hormone
in the affected puffins. Methodologies included behavioural
observation, measurement of reproductive success, body measurements
and blood collection. The next field season will see Ms. Baker
addressing issues of how puffins living on inshore waters
respond to boats, as well as a playback study on the effect
of noise on the birds.
Sarah Moore, Folklore
Fostering Regional Identity through Popular Culture: Great
Big Sea, Trad-Pop and Newfoundland Music
By examining Newfoundland as an island culture with distinct
traditions, Ms. Moore’s paper “looks at Great
Big Sea’s music as a deliberate fostering of local identity,
emphasizing Newfoundland tradition with Newfoundland place
names, phrases and words combined with popular ‘folk’
instruments into a perceptibly indigenous sound.” Through
analysis of music and interviews, Ms. Moore contextualizes
the songs and songwriting of Great Big Sea as a trad-pop band,
viewing them as purveyors of folk music through their promotion
of Newfoundland culture and its traditional songs and tunes.
She concludes that Great Big Sea not only merges music genres,
but also helps to locate Newfoundland geographically and ideologically
in the Canadian musical landscape.
Heather Smith, Medicine
The Psychological Impact of Genetic Testing for Hereditary
Breast and Ovarian Cancer Families
Ms. Smith is involved with a project with two goals: to identify
the psychological factors around the decision for genetic
testing, and the lifestyle and environmental factors that
cause cancer. Two genes have been identified as the cause
for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC). Each HBOC
has a specific genetic mutation or alteration that must be
identified before genetic testing is done. While conclusions
have yet to be reached from this research, and indeed research
is still actively being conducted, Ms. Smith identified the
focus of her project and some preliminary findings. Levels
of stress, anxiety, and the process of coping were identified
as psychological areas of interest, and lifestyle/environmental
factors such as diet, exercise and medical history are also