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Very Employable Person – Erin McCallum

NAME: Erin McCallum Contact e-mail: erin.s.mccallum@gmail.com Degree: Ph.D. (with specific focus on ecotoxicology and behavioural ecology) Title of Thesis: Pharmaceuticals, wastewater effluent, and agonistic behaviours in a wild, invasive fish (Neogobius melanostomus) Institution and Advisor: Dr. Sigal Balshine, McMaster University Graduation Date: September 2016 Career Goals: To continue conducting research on environmental stressors (like toxicants!), and understanding how animals respond and adapt to anthropogenic change. I love studying behavioural responses, but I’m interested in learning new skills that allow me to better understand biological mechanisms that might cause behavioural change, and/or skills that would allow me take a bigger view, and assess how stressors affect interspecific interactions, communities and ecosystems. Connection with Laurentian SETAC: I became a member in 2014 and quickly joined the pub night committee. I’ve been a part of it ever since! Accomplishment I am most proud of: Finishing my PhD on time, of course! More specifically, I’m very proud of a chapter in my thesis that I considered to be my “baby”. It was a large pharmaceutical exposure experiment, where I collected an obscene amount of fish behaviour videos (576, to be exact). It was a lot of work, and the project chained me to the lab every day for 2.5 months, where I had to be in the lab every 20 minutes to start new videos. All day. Every. Single. Day. But, it generated a lot of great data and the project turned out better than I could have hoped. Big cheese I would most like to have a drink with: I wish I could travel back in time to have a drink with Rachel Carson. I recently read Silent Spring (finally!), and found her writing about environmental issues to be so passionate and engaging. Her work launched a movement and she was so outspoken for her time. I think it would be amazing to meet such a pioneer in the field. Most people won’t guess that I: I am a bit of a gym-rat and I love cross fit, but I balance that out with a serious love for puzzles. Best laugh I had during my degree: Probably when I was stuck upside down in between two rocks in the field reaching for a water quality probe that I had dropped. I had to yell for my thesis students to haul me out by my feet. No one was hurt, and we rescued the probe, but my students wouldn’t let me live it down. Best weird science moment: The rare occasions where I found intersex in my study species. It was always so interesting! Most memorable conference I have been to during my degree was: Both times I went to the Aquatic Toxicology Workshop (ATW, now CEW) meetings. I was the only one attending the meetings from my lab, but I found that everyone was so welcoming at the conference. There were great talks and ATW had a great student program. Most memorable philosophical moment I had during my degree: I think everyone at some point experiences this in their PhD, and that the moment when you realize that you are really the expert on your work. It was a very philosophical moment. My graduate experience was more than just a degree because: It was a way of life! My PhD definitely changed the way that I thought about the world. It was also great to meet new people all the time, and be surrounded by so many people in love with science. Click here to view Erin's resume. –Submitted by Oana Birceanu

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