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Christina SemeniukUWindsor professor Christina Semeniuk releases Atlantic salmon smolts in Sheet Harbour, N.S.

Program to train students in freshwater fisheries and fish conservation

The University of Windsor is leading a cross-Canada training program that will give students the opportunity to train in freshwater fisheries and fish conservation. The Fisheries management and conservation Careers in Science and Technology (FishCAST) program will provide mentoring and experience to undergraduate and graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows.

“The economic value of freshwater fisheries and aquaculture production, coupled with the current and future pressures on our freshwater resources is driving strong demand for highly qualified personnel to fill jobs within academia, industry, government, and NGOs, and this program will help students develop those marketable skills,” says program director Christina Semeniuk, a professor of integrative biology cross-appointed to the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research (GLIER).

UWindsor secured the $1.65 million grant from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) Collaborative Research and Training Experience Program (CREATE) for the six-year FishCAST program.

As part of a CREATE grant, FishCAST will provide training in four areas:

  • technical expertise in fisheries and fish conservation research methodology and practice;
  • focused professional and transferable workplace skills;
  • relevant employment and hands-on experience;
  • familiarity with the different perspectives and disciplines that contribute to the complex social, economic, and ethical issues facing fish research, conservation, and management.

Mentorship will feature prominently: in addition to the academic partners, FishCAST has more than 50 external collaborators from myriad organizations, including conservation authorities, museums, First Nation communities, commercial and recreational fisheries, and government ministries.

“Our collaborators jumped at the opportunity to be involved by providing internship opportunities, access to data, field and laboratory experiences – it’s a real community involvement,” Dr. Semeniuk says. “They benefit in the long term because they are helping create the next generation of Canadian scientists.”

Chris Houser, dean of the Faculty of Science, says FishCAST is a pivotal project that will contribute to making UWindsor the Destination Science program in Ontario by providing students with unrivalled training opportunities to place them at the forefront of a competitive global field.

“CREATE is notable for providing a unique value-added training program in job readiness and job placement due to the already existing close partnerships co-applicants have cultivated with employers engaged in fisheries and fish culture,” says Dr. Houser.

“This comprehensive, career-oriented training will give our students a competitive edge in the global job market, build on Canada’s global leadership in the field, and place them into economies that matter for Canada by contributing to the effective management and conservation of fish resources.”

Semeniuk says the sustainability of freshwater fish for future generations is particularly pressing within Indigenous communities. One particular focus will be on building and maintaining strong partnerships with Walpole Island First Nations and Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation. There will be dedicated scholarships for Indigenous students to ensure that emerging leaders are mentored in science pathways that align with specific issues directly relevant to their communities.

“With Canada being a global leader in sustainable fisheries research that partners science with Indigenous communities, fostering further training at this nexus is not only strategic, but uniquely effective as well” says Semeniuk. “FishCAST also acknowledges that many groups are still vastly underrepresented in fisheries science in Canada. We will be addressing these systemic issues by promoting a culture of inclusivity, ensuring equal opportunity in our research activities, and focusing on the recruitment and retention of trainees from underrepresented groups.”

FishCAST is distinguished from traditional fisheries programs in Canada in that it is solely freshwater-based. Semeniuk says although freshwater fish contribute significantly to Canada’s economy, environment, biodiversity and food security, they are referred to as the “hidden harvest” because their significance is often overlooked in favour of marine resources.

“Freshwater fish lie at the intersection of two fundamental environmental and social issues facing Canada and, indeed, the world — food security and biodiversity loss,” she says. “We’re at a critical juncture with a quarter of the more than 200 species of freshwater fish considered to be at risk. Since the 1970s alone, 85 per cent have been lost.”

Semeniuk says the first year of the program begins this fall and involves gathering applicants and matching them up with projects, collaborators, and academic mentors. In the long run, her expectations are that FishCAST will be a success in placing trainees into economies that matter for Canada.

—Sara Elliott

Rob GordonUWindsor students, faculty, staff, and community members are invited to a virtual town hall meeting with president Rob Gordon on Wednesday, June 10.

President to discuss planning for return to campus June 10

UWindsor president Rob Gordon will discuss the institution’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in a virtual town hall meeting Wednesday, June 10.

Students, faculty, staff, and community members will gather on Microsoft Teams for an update on the planning of the graduated re-opening of UWindsor facilities.

“This event will be an opportunity to take stock of where we are today during this challenging time, and to build on our strengths and co-operation for a safe return to campus,” Dr. Gordon says.

It will run 3 to 4 p.m. Register here: Questions may be submitted in advance to ensure an opportunity to provide an informed answer; submit via this form.

cartoon of mother homeschooling childThe pandemic is particularly challenging for mothers in the academic workforce, say two researchers associated with the Faculty of Education. Illustration by Lauren Crosby

Pandemic parenting highlights inequities in academia: researchers

Within the academic community, mothers are facing an increase in challenges already well-documented prior to the pandemic, say two researchers associated with the University of Windsor Faculty of Education.

Recent doctoral grad Kimberly Hillier and associate professor Christopher Greig note that while the shift to working from home has meant more time for writing and other work-related responsibilities for some, others — most notably mothers — are experiencing far less time to engage in writing, research, and academic work.

“Women are often expected to shoulder the lion’s share of caregiving duties,” Dr. Hillier says. “Research is demonstrating that domestic loads have been increased by the closure of schools in Ontario and inability to outsource childcare. Some mothers are finding themselves at a disadvantage that is far greater than what many were facing prior to a global pandemic.”

While recognizing that academic fathers and nonparents are not exempt from the challenges the pandemic has generated, the two add that gender issues are intersecting with many other social justice factors — including, though not limited to, race, social class, ability, marital status, and age — in impacting their productivity on the job and the overall experiences of the pandemic for mothers and women.

“The current pandemic presents an opportunity to actively reflect upon social injustices and the important work that mothers and women perform every day. This includes mothers’ visible work and invisible work like remembering things that need to be done,” says Hillier.

“Although women have come so far in academia and the labour market, the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the ways in which women and mothers continue to experience disempowerment within the domestic sphere and beyond.”

Tech Talk logoA video demonstrates how to use background effects during a meeting in MS Teams.

Video demonstrates use of background effects in Microsoft Teams

Connecting virtually through Microsoft Teams and forgot to clean your workspace? No worries. Teams now offers background effects.

Watch IT Services team member, Steve Karamatos, demonstrate how to use background effects during a video call or meeting in Teams during this 80-second Tech Talk video.

If you want more information about changing your background in Teams, click on the link in the Comments section below the video.

Tech Talk is a presentation of IT Services. More Tech Talks are available at

—Ericka Greenham

image of Ambassador Bridge superimposed with heart monitor read-outThe Vital Signs survey asks residents of Windsor-Essex to rate the community on a number of measures.

Survey to take pulse of Windsor-Essex County

A survey by the WindsorEssex Community Foundation will measure residents’ views of local issues, providing an opportunity for UWindsor students, faculty, and staff to make an impact, says Wen Teoh.

Director of the Entrepreneurship Practice and Innovation Centre (EPICentre), she volunteers on the foundation’s board, and calls its Vital Signs survey a catalyst for community dialogue about “who we are and where we’re headed.”

Questions seek respondents’ opinions on the natural environment, safety, transportation, education, housing, employment, cultural outlets, and more. A report will combine the results with national, provincial, and local data to measure where assistance is needed to make the community a better place to live, work, play, and grow.

“The survey result will help our community leaders identify and address priority issues in our community,” says Teoh.

Reports from past years are available for download here.