VIU Create Conference Shines Light on Student Research

A team of biology students presented their research on the Douglas Fir Tree at the 2017 CREATE Conference. They outlined important aspects of the tree such as the importance of the tree to Aboriginal cultures for its spiritual and holistic properties and how the trees interact with each other through fungal networks.

April 21, 2017 - 10:00am

VIU undergraduate and graduate researchers representing a wide range of disciplines presented their work at this year’s CREATE Conference 

As the dust settles on what was for Vancouver Island University (VIU) the largest student-research showcase to date, organizers of the 5th annual CREATE Conference are able to reflect on the event that had more than 250 students presenting their work to the public.   

CREATE Conference coordinator Kelly Atkins helped pull the event together with the help of VIU student Alejandra Gomez. Atkins says thanks to an effective campus-wide advertising campaign and Gomez’s ability to spread the word through social media, more people kept stepping forward. As a result, participation was up 70 per cent over last year.

“As organizers we just embraced the challenge and found ways to make room for them all,” said Atkins. “It was an incredible experience seeing the support of faculty members from virtually every department combined with the energy of the students. There was a buzz around the event that we hope will carry over to next year.”

Students presented their research findings on posters and topics included everything from the effects of certain pesticides on bees; to Facebook cyber-bullying and its impacts on female university students; to shellfish mortality at sites occupied by sea otters; and microplastics as a global pollutant.

Dr. Tim Goater is an award winning biology professor, author and researcher who has supervised dozens of student researchers on a wide range of projects over many years. He is a big supporter of CREATE and has been since it first got underway five years ago.

“Having students publically defend their research benefits them in so many ways. It improves critical thinking, teaches patience and shows initiative,” said Goater. “The diverse array of projects at CREATE really shines a light onto our student’s independent research abilities and depth of knowledge. The presentations really highlight the valuable undergraduate research happening at VIU, which is why we all encourage our students to be a part of it.”

A series of unique presentations combined biodiversity and conservation with art. Called “Is it too late?” biology and art students teamed up to create several displays that matched scientific research on environmental issues with illustrations in the hopes of conveying meaningful conservation messages more effectively.

“Sometimes people look at numbers and just forget them when they walk away,” said Christina Kruit, a fourth-year biology student. “We did a very visual presentation as a way of invoking emotion and passion in our subject.”

VIU encourages undergraduate and graduate research in a number of ways. One way is through the dedication of faculty members who create opportunities by writing funding grants, planning research projects and supervising field work. It’s a huge amount of work added to their already busy teaching schedules but the results of that commitment become clear as VIU faculty and student researchers continue to gain regional, national and international recognition for their projects.

Another way is through the Scholarship, Research and Creative Activity office, which is dedicated to supporting and assisting faculty and students in applying for and administering research grants and awards.

In 2015-16, VIU received almost $2.3 million in external research funding. That funding comes from federal organizations such as the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and provincially through partners like the BC Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF). Research programming is also supported through ongoing relationships with non-profits like the Hakai Institute, an organization that conducts long-term research at remote coastal BC locations. Regional First Nations, businesses and communities also play an important role.

“For the public to have the opportunity to walk through CREATE, talk to the students about their research and listen to them explain their conclusions is inspiring and validates the work we’re doing to promote research at VIU,” said Dr. Nicole Vaugeois, Associate Vice-President, Scholarship, Research and Creative Activity. “Our research success flows from the relationships we have with our funders and community partners and the CREATE conference is a reflection of what our students and faculty can accomplish with their support.”

Awards totaling $3,600 were given out for People’s Choice Best Poster, Meritorious Best Presentation, and the Scholarship Slam competition. Congratulations to all of the CREATE Conference 2017 Award Winners.



Dane Gibson, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P: 250.740.6288 | C: 250.618.7296 | E: |  T: @viunews

Tags: Research