Continued growth and change at the BVRC

Spring is all about change and growth, and here at the centre we find ourselves in an important, and exciting period of transition and growth.

Right now, we have support staff transitioning roles, new people coming on board, and changes to our executive. This moment of change provides us with an opportunity to take stock, acknowledge how far we have come, and to look toward the future.

Sybille Haeussler is stepping down from her position as president of the board. I would like to sincerely thank Sybille for her dedication to this role over the years, and to acknowledge her ongoing contribution to the BVRC. I would like to farewell Regina Saimoto, and Harvey Tremblay, who have both resigned from the board, and extend a warm welcome to Johanna Pfalz as our newest board member.

As we heard at the AGM, we are also experiencing growth and change within our research program. As part of our mandate to diversify, we’ve continued to expand our research program in both content and funding, which has led us to interface with industrial agencies at a new level. Reaching into these new areas has brought the centre to a new level of maturity.

With all this change afoot, I believe it is a credit to the BVRC that we have become increasingly dynamic, and yet are able to maintain the organization’s essence. Our mandate and our motives are still true to our original vision: high-quality, interdisciplinary research on natural and cultural resources.

In the coming year, you can expect a continued focus on growth and change balanced by greater structure and stability. I believe that the new opportunities available to us, and how we overcome some of our challenges, make this an exciting time as we position the centre as a unique organization in this province.

- Rick Budhwa, Executive Director

Transitions at the centre

If you are having a hard time keeping up with all the change and transition, you are probably not alone, so here is an update!

Farewell to Kirsteen Laing

Kirsteen Laing, who has been with the centre since 2004, has decided to move on from the BVRC. Kirsteen has been an integral part of the BVRC and her meticulous work over the years has been an invaluable asset.

In recognition of her contribution, Kirsteen was presented with the BVRC’s first-ever Exemplary Service Award at our AGM. We wish her luck in her future endeavors.

Meet Barb McFee, our new finance coordinator

We are pleased to welcome Barb McFee as our new finance coordinator. Barb has many years of experience in book-keeping and internal accounting.

Originally from Burns Lake, Barb moved to Smithers from Edmonton in 2011. Barb is an avid reader, who enjoys travelling with her husband and two daughters, and spending time at her family's cabin on Francois Lake.

Amanda Follett begins maternity leave

This month, Amanda Follett will begin her maternity leave. Amanda has worked for the BVRC since 2006, and during this time the centre has benefited immensely from her diverse skill-set.

Amanda’s contribution ranges from organizing and running conferences to writing and editing all internal and external communications.

In her role as communications coordinator, Amanda has been instrumental in developing and maintaining a professional and vibrant public image of the BVRC as an organization. As Rick put it at the AGM: “Amanda just makes us all sound so good!”

We thank Amanda for all her hard work over the years, and we wish her all the best, as she embarks on her exciting new journey into motherhood.

Lydia Howard – acting communications coordinator

Lydia Howard will be acting communications coordinator while Amanda Follett is on maternity leave.

Lydia, originally from New Zealand, has made Smithers her home since 2010.  She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature, from the University of Otago, and a Diploma in Creative Writing.

Lydia worked in education policy in New Zealand, and since moving to Canada, Lydia has dabbled in freelance writing and blogging, worked as a flight attendant, published a children's book, and provided communication services to a number of local non-profits. Lydia spends the majority of her waking hours chasing after Eloise, her 18-month old daughter.

Bob Wescott's ever-changing role at the BVRC

Bob, who began at the centre in fall 2014, now provides a wide range of support services for the BVRC.  It seems Bob's role is always changing, and we are grateful for such a dynamic team member.

Along with his current role as acting integrated systems project manager, Bob is now also providing support for contract management and heath and environmental safety systems for the Centre.

Kala Hooker takes on new role as operations manager

Kala's role has now shifted from relations manager to operations manager.  In her expanded role, Kala is now also providing office support and ensuring the smooth day-to-day operations of the centre. If you have questions about human resources, contract management and health and safety, Kala is your go-to person.

Just back from her adventures in New Zealand with her husband Wade, Kala has already pulled the office apart and begun sprucing it up. Come check out the changes and be sure to ask Kala about her trip to Hobbiton.

Julia Kobetitch – summer school student

Julia started at the BVRC in 2014 as a summer student. We are pleased that she has returned after completing an undergraduate degree in Natural Resource Management, majoring in Wildlife and Fisheries, at UNBC.

This summer, Julia is providing technical support and participating in fieldwork before she embarks on some travels in the fall.

Growing up in Revelstoke, Julia developed a love for the outdoors and adventure. She is excited to be working in Smithers and will see where her future takes her.

Alana Clason welcomes baby Teslin

At 8:27 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 28, adjunct researcher Alana Clason and husband Mark Wong welcomed baby Teslin Meihen Joey Wong into the world. Teslin was born a healthy 7 pounds, 6 ounces and 52 cm in length. The BVRC is currently taking bets on whether her first words will be “whitebark pine.”

Annual General Meeting

On Thursday, March 19, the Bulkley Valley Research Centre welcomed close to 40 people to its annual general meeting at the Aspen Riverhouse, where members heard that diversity of funding, an expanded research program, and a wide network of collaborative relationships shows that the organization has the flexibility to respond to the region’s evolving research needs.

“The role of the centre as a research and monitoring organization is more important than ever. Working with large companies helps to promote evidence-based decision-making and create a space where research and monitoring can happen,” BVRC vice president Don Morgan told the gathering.

One of the centre’s strategic goals has been to create a diverse funding base. Today, the BVRC has 56 projects and 18 funding sources, from foundations and trusts, to government and large corporations. In the context of growing interest in natural resource exploration in northern B.C., the objective to diversify has become increasingly relevant.

Read more


BVRC celebrates budding scientists at the 2015 science fair

On Saturday April 18th, twelve students were presented with the Bulkley Valley Research Centre’s Special Effort Award at the 2015 Pacific Northwest Regional Science Fair Awards Ceremony, which was held at the Northwest Community College in Smithers.

Representatives from each participating school chose one student who was observed putting the most energy and interest into their project, regardless of whether the project received any other recognition or awards.

Sybille Haeussler, a founding board member and past president of the Bulkley Valley Research Centre (BVRC), presented the awards on behalf of the organization.  “It was a pleasure and an honour to present these awards, and in particular to encourage these students in their extra efforts, which is what this award is all about,” says Haeussler. Read more

Call for scholarships

The BVRC is now calling for scholarship applications for the BVRC Irving Fox Memorial Scholarship for Natural Resources Research and Management. Applications must be received by May 31st 2015.

The scholarship is awarded annually to a student from northwestern British Columbia or a student enrolled in, or entering studies in, natural resources research and/or management in northwestern British Columbia. The value of the award is $750-$1000.

Click here for eligibility, and application information. 

Project Profile: Morice Water Monitoring Trust

Image: Office of Wet’suwet’en Fisheries staff member sampling in the Morice Watershed during winter low flow.

During the Morice Land and Resource Management Plan (LRMP), the Wet’suwet’en chiefs voiced their interest in the protection of the upper Morice River Watershed which is the heart of the Wet’suwet’en traditional territory. The stated interests include maintaining the quantity and quality of country foods including water, produced in this particular part of their territories, in prime condition and free from contamination.

The result of a collaborative effort between the provincial government of B.C. and the Wet’suwet’en is reflected in the creation of the Morice Water Management Area within the upper reaches of the watershed.

The Office of the Wet’suwet’en, the BVRC and biologists are working together to create a Morice Water Monitoring Trust: The Morice Trust.  The goal of The Morice Trust is to create and operate a long-term, collaborative, and transparent science-based program to oversee inventory, research, and monitoring activities related to key natural resource values in the Morice Water Management Area, and adjacent areas.

It is anticipated that partners or supporters of the initiative may include governments (federal, provincial, local), First Nations, non-governmental organizations, and natural resource development proponents. Funds to support activities may be received from government, non-governmental, or proponent sources using a trust governance model. The BVRC is assisting with the establishment and administration of the Morice Trust.

Member Profile: Adriana Almeida-Rodriguez

Adriana Almeida-Rodriguez became interested in genetics and molecular biology while studying biology at Los Andes University in Bogota, Colombia and continued on to do her undergrad thesis at the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture, CIAT, where she studied the Quantitative Trait Loci (QTLs, regions in the chromosomes with quantitative effects) associated with yield and related traits in rice.

Adriana describes “one of the most remarkable feelings in my life” as being in the forest, so she did her PhD in Forest Biology and Management at the University of Alberta, under the supervision of Dr. Janusz Zwiazek, studying the effects of drought in the physiology of poplars and how this abiotic stress influences changes in the gene expression patterns of aquaporins (proteins that move water between membranes in living organisms).

After her PhD, Adriana joined the Water Relations Lab of Dr. Uwe Hacke as a post-doctoral fellow (PDF) and continued studying the effects of abiotic stresses like nitrogen deficiency, light and drought in the physiology of poplars, and their effects in aquaporins’ gene expression. She learned about phytoremediation and become fascinated with using plants and microbes for decontaminating soil and water. She also learned about epigenetics, chemical changes occurring in the DNA and associated proteins triggered by the environment that influence the way genes are expressed.

Read more


Winter seminar series wraps up

Each winter, from October through March, the BVRC in partnership with Northwest Community College, presents a biweekly lunchtime seminar series.

The seminar series is becoming increasingly popular with members and the wider public.  "It is great to see that the popularity of our lunchtime seminars is growing. Many of presentations were extremely well attended," said Kala Hooker, BVRC operations manager.

The centre endeavours to ensure the seminars are interesting and relevant, focussed on the latest developments in natural resources research and management.  This winter we heard talks from members, as well as special guests, on a wide range of topics, from discussions about western cedar deformity, genomics and caribou to a recent talk from energy expert and geoscientist, David Hughes on the proposed LNG industry in B.C.

Click here for a full list of this winter’s seminars.

A big thank you to those members and special guests, who shared their research with us.

The next seminar series will commence in October. We are always looking for new and interesting presentations for our seminar series. If you would like to present a talk, or have an idea for a seminar, please call 250-847-2827 or e-mail:

Photo contest winner: Kala Hooker

Congrats to BVRC operations manager Kala Hooker for winning the 2014 Fall Photo Contest with her image of moosedung moss! Start collecting photos of your fieldwork or our local natural resources and submit them to the 2015 competition in September.

Coming soon: BVRC backyard BBQ!

Enjoy your spring and keep an eye out for details of our upcoming summer social!

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