SETAC PNC introduced a Collaboration Training and Travel Grant this year which provided funding to students to allow them to visit another lab within PNC to learn a new technique or skill that would enhance their research. Sean Everitt (University of Lethbridge) was the first recipient of this award - check out what Sean had to say about his experience below!
Applications for the Collaboration Training and Travel Grant are due on April 1!
Traveling research projects are an amazing tool for graduate students to learn new techniques and network with other researchers that share your interests at neighboring universities. I was the fortunate recipient of the 2019 SETAC PNC travel award, which funded my travel from the University of Lethbridge to the University of Saskatchewan and two weeks of accommodations. This research project was an excellent compliment to my Masters Thesis and will potentially result in a publication in addition to publications written during my Masters. My Masters thesis focuses on the effects of diluted bitumen (dilbit) spills on freshwater fish and invertebrates. A significant data gap surrounding dilbit spills is the bioavailability of water-soluble dilbit-derived compounds to aquatic organisms. After discussing this knowledge gap with Dr. Markus Brinkmann at SETAC North America 2018, we developed a short, highly relevant project that would address it.
The two-week project focused on the bioavailability of chemicals in the water-accommodated fraction (WAF) of dilbit to rainbow trout gill cells. The two weeks were fast-paced, learning new techniques everyday and collecting large amounts of data. With the help of Dr. Brinkmann and several members of the toxicology department, I was able to learn the basics of cell culture, solid phase extraction, cytotoxicity and bioavailability testing. Much of the equipment required for these techniques was not available at my home institution. These are highly relevant techniques that will improve my employment and future collaboration opportunities, specifically in the field on petroleum toxicology.
I think this type of opportunity should interest all graduate students, regardless of where you are in your degree or what your topic is. Chances are, there is an institution within PNC that can accommodate a project that compliments your research. In 2019, I was the only applicant for this award and therefore the opportunity is there for those who put in the effort to write the proposal.