BFN & Biotech Annecto Event Popup

The opening chapter in the life of BioFuelNet has passed, marked by our first Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Montreal, one year after our founding. Hired last October as BioFuelNet’s Communications Manager, I had only met about a dozen BioFuelNet researchers before at committee meetings, so it’s been such a great experience meeting the 200 other members of the network. BioFuelNet is made up of bright and talented graduate students (called Highly Qualified Personnel or HQP) and their supervisors, who are leading professors and researchers in the biofuels sector. I am delighted to be working closely with these HQP, the future of the biofuels industry and future ambassadors for sustainable energy in Canada, and internationally. The people in BioFuelNet work on diverse aspects of the biofuels sector. That includes research on:

  • The most promising feedstocks
  • The most efficient conversion techniques
  • The effects of biofuels on engines
  • Ways to reduce emissions and achieve environmental, economic and social sustainability
BioFuelNet’s platform and theme leaders pose for a picture with Scientific Director Don Smith

BioFuelNet’s platform and theme leaders pose for a picture with Scientific Director Don Smith

AGM plenary session at the Holiday Inn, Montreal

AGM plenary session at the Holiday Inn, Montreal

Canadian Biofuels Demography

Coming from an environmental sciences/ecology background, I was surrounded by 70-80% women. More and more women are entering the engineering and microbiology fields; however, most of the seasoned researchers at BioFuelNet are men. The graduate students split to about a 2:1 male to female ratio, which indicates that the gender gap is closing in this field. Another trend is that the HQP are of diverse international backgrounds, which I absolutely love, as a former United Nations employee who was raised in international schools.

BioFuelNet HQP having a coffee break at the AGM

BioFuelNet HQP having a coffee break at the AGM

Volunteers

On behalf of BioFuelNet, I am so grateful to the HQP that volunteered their time at the Annual General Meeting and the HQP Workshop. Some volunteers were not even officially part of BioFuelNet, and were extremely dedicated and hardworking. Both mornings of the meeting, I arrived at the conference venue at 7:15 am and there were four eager and bright eyed volunteer HQPs waiting for me, who immediately asked what I needed to get done and how they could help. Yves Roy was pretty much running the show on his own at one point. Phillipe Versailles, Edris Madadian and Camilo Perez were there from beginning to end helping me with all details.

Some of BioFuelNet’s dedicated volunteers/HQP working the registration desk

Some of BioFuelNet’s dedicated volunteers/HQP working the registration desk

Communications

Mark Stumborg, head of the applied science group of Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, concluded the meeting with a passionate plea about how communications is a crucial part of the success of this network and the need inform the broader public about our work in a way that is exciting and comprehensible “to a 10th to 12th grade student”. Mark emphasized that this will ensure that our network survives and that the policy makers and decision-makers understand or work and help us achieve the results were set out in our mandate.

The purpose of the Biofueled Blog is to communicate our message to every member of BioFuelNet and to the public at large. A good Blog is very powerful tool that will help us spread the word in a visible and accessible way. I invite all those who would like to contribute to this Blog to contact me (at annie [dot] webb [at ] mcgill [dot] ca) so that you can provide your opinions, share your work and build a sense of community in order to exchange of information within the network. I would ask you to send me a short testimonial about your experience at the AGM and key takeaways. I will quote and credit those who are chosen for the next Blog post.

Mark Stumborg giving a lecture at the HQP workshop

Mark Stumborg giving a lecture at the HQP workshop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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