St. Mary’s University science faculty members and students pose with Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks and Calgary-Shaw MLA Graham Sucha.

St. Mary’s University welcomes Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks to campus

November 30, 2017 was an exciting day for faculty and student representatives of the St. Mary’s University science department as Shannon Phillips, Minster of Environment and Parks visited St. Mary’s for a unique meet and greet discussion and tour of some of the many amazing scientific initiatives being undertaken by our students and faculty.

Minister Phillips, along with Calgary-Shaw MLA Graham Sucha engaged the biology students in rigorous discussion on such topics as forest fire mitigation, water quality in Fish Creek Park and how St. Mary’s University can work with her Ministry to create further opportunities for St. Mary’s students to partner with Alberta provincial parks.

Minister Shannon Phillips got a closer look at 4th year StMU biology student Daniel Issak’s senior class project on tardigrades.

For fourth-year biology student Daniel Isaak, it was a unique opportunity to share his work, and one that he won’t soon forget.

“It was a great opportunity to engage in discussion with Minister Phillips,” said Isaak, whose senior project focuses on Tardigrades – who have risen to prominence thanks to their inclusion in the new Star Trek television series. “To be able to show the Minister of Environment and Parks some of the work I’ve been doing this semester was pretty cool.”

As one of the science faculty members in attendance for Minister Phillips’ visit to campus, biology professor Dr. Gary Grothman was impressed with the quality of discussion between his students and the government officials and believes that opportunities such as this meet and greet session can go a long way in helping student development.

“It was wonderful to see our students talk directly with the Minister of Environment and Parks about the students’ own work,” said Grothman. “It’s a welcome opportunity for them to discuss their independent research, and to share their excitement about what they are doing.”

“I was impressed by the informed questioning by our students, and by the thoughtful and considered comments by both Minister Phillips and by Mr. Sucha. It’s important to provide these research and field study opportunities, but perhaps just as exciting is to get our students sitting down with members of government, to develop the  skills and experience to be the informed and effective citizens we hope they will be.”