Thursday, November 27, 2008

Caucus meeting this Friday (3:30pm-4:30pm)

Hello everyone,

Reminder that there is a caucus meeting this Friday (3:30-4:30pm) in the Grad Lounge (7000 level Biology).

The agenda is attached; highlights are the Travel Awards draw (yay!), as well as planning regarding next spring's Grad Symposium.

Also, positions have recently opened up for caucus Treasurer and Secretary. So far we have one nomination for Treasurer... let us know if you are interested in either. Both are a great way of getting involved in the department, and getting to know your fellow grad students. Also looks great on a CV! Details regarding the respective duties of each follow.


Erica Jeffery
Jerry Ericsson


3. Treasurer

a. To maintain all financial records of the Caucus, including an accounting of all funds received and spent.

b. To prepare a budget.

c. To make regular financial reports to the membership.

d. To provide liaison between the Caucus and all sources of funding, including the Biology Student Society and the Simon Fraser Student Society.

4. Secretary

a. To keep minutes of meetings and distribute the minutes by email, or post a copy on the Graduate Student notice board near the common area.

Erica Jeffery
Graduate Student
Dept. of Biological Sciences
Office B7231
Lab B6226
Simon Fraser University
8888 University Drive,
Burnaby, BC, V5A 1S6

Friday, October 31, 2008

Travel awards

Hey grads,

Wonderful news: I am now collecting names for the BISC grad caucus travel award lottery. If you are interested in entering the draw, please send me an email to that effect. Just your name is fine; we don't need to know what conference, etc. You are eligible if you have attended or plan to attend a conference between Sept. 1, 2008 and Aug 31, 2009.

There are six awards, each worth $100, and winners are determined by a random draw from a hat. We will draw names at the next caucus meeting, which will be on November 28.

Make sure to keep your receipts from conferences that you attend, even if you don't win an award this round, as we may have additional funds to hand out come summer.

So, send me an email sometime in the next 2 weeks if you are interested, and feel free to email me if you have any questions.

Good luck!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Caucus meeting this Wed., 3:30-4:30pm

Hello everyone,

We will be having our October caucus meeting this Wednesday, Oct. 29th, from 3:30-4:30pm in the grad lounge, 7000 level biology (agenda attached).

On the menu:
 - Results of the logo contest
 - Departmental Graduate Studies Committee (DGSC) Grad Rep election
 - GSS Travel Grants: the caucus will now control how and when these grants are given out to grads in our department... how should we do it?
 - Christmas Party fun
 - Ice cold beverages and snacks!

Only an hour - come out and meet your fellow caucus members!


Erica Jeffery
Jerry Ericsson

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Free notarization - US election mail-in ballots

Hi all,

I just heard that some US states require notarization of mail-in ballots for the US election. In light of this, I wanted to remind you that all grad students can get documents notarized FOR FREE at the on-campus free legal clinic.

The legal clinic is held on Thursdays all year round. You can make an appointment through the SFSS General Office by visiting Maggie Benston Centre Room 2250, emailing, or calling 778-782-3181.

Happy voting!

Clea Moray
GSS President

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

TODAY: on-campus federal election debate - candidates from Burnaby-Douglas

A federal election debate will be happening today, Oct 8th at 4:30 in West Mall 3520.

Come to hear and question the candidates from the Burnaby-Douglas riding debate the issues you care about.

Candidates appearing include (in party alphabetical order):
- Green Party - Doug Perry
- Liberal Party - Bill Cunningham
- New Democratic Party - Bill Siksay
(No Conservative candidate was available.)

Join us at the Highland Pub afterward to mingle, talk politics and get involved!

Clea Moray
GSS President

Clea Moray
President, The Graduate Student Society at Simon Fraser University (tel: 778-782-3899;
M.Sc. Candidate, Biology Department
Simon Fraser University


Monday, October 06, 2008

Call for 2 new student DGSC reps

Hi grads:

Over the next few months, both Jeff Joy and I will be coming to the end of our terms as DGSC reps.  Because of this, we need to elect 2 new grads to fill these positions.  Jeff and  I will be leaving our positions in a staggered fashion (one new rep to start in November, and another in February-March) so that there's a bit of overlap with incoming reps to ease the transition.

The position runs for a ~2 year term, is year-round, and is typically limited to students who already have a couple years experience in the department.  Because of this, DGSC rep positions are limited to PhD students who have already been in their program for a couple of years, and don't have any major fieldwork (or, other reasons to be away from campus for long stretches of time) left.

Being a DGSC rep is a great way to get to know the inner workings of the department, and have an influence on how the grad program is run within the Biology department.  There's a brief blurb about student rep responsibilities on the Biology Grad Caucus website – click on this link and go to the bottom of the page (  The 2 student members have full voting rights on the committee, so because of this, grads are able to have a fair bit of influence on decisions taking place at the DGSC, through their reps.  In general, the major responsibilities of the position tend to be:

  • reviewing all incoming applications to the department, and all applications to switch up to a PhD from an MSc
  • attending ~monthly DGSC meetings (less frequent in the summer), where issues related to the grad student program are discussed.  These could include things like courses and course requirements, completion time, student funding, student supervisor relationships and other issues directly related to the department's grad program.
  • soliciting feedback from grads on any major issues under discussion, or decisions about to be made, by the DGSC. 
  • attending the monthly grad caucus meetings, to provide an update on the most recent DGSC meeting.
  • being available to talk to grads about any issues that they may have related to their program.  This may include providing more information on grad student 'rights' within the department, providing advice on who to go to about problems that are being experienced, or being prepared to act on behalf of another grad student (if this is desired) and raise issues with the DGSC chair, or other appropriate members of the department, for them.

In short – this is a great position, and I think that both Jeff and I feel like we've gained a lot through being DGSC reps.  Anyone interested in becoming a DGSC rep can nominate themselves, and the vote for both positions will be by grad students, at the next grad caucus meeting (Wed, October 29, 3:30 pm).   We'll also provide an opportunity for those who can't make the caucus meeting to vote.  We're going to get a short (paragraph-long) blurb from everyone who's interested in the position, stating why they think they'd make a good rep.  Names of those up for election, and their blurbs will be circulated before the meeting, and read out at the meeting right before the vote.  You can send your blurb to Jeff ( or me ( up until the Friday (24th) before the vote, and we'll circulate them the following Monday.

Let either of us know if you have any questions!


Jeff and Suzanne

Monday, August 25, 2008

REMINDER: New Student Orientation & Welcome Back BBQ -- Sept 4

Just a reminder that the department is holding a new grad student orientation next Thursday, September 4, 2008 in B9242 from 1:30-3:30 pm.

Following the orientation, BISC Grad Caucus will be hosting a Welcome Back BBQ starting at 4 pm in the physics-biology courtyard (7000-level) to welcome our new grad students.  [All new grad students and mentors: we ask that you meet us there at 3:30 so you have a chance to meet each other beforehand.]

GSS update [Aug 25, 2008]

GSS Update -- Aug 25, 2008

1. Grad Social Fri Sept 5
2. Wireless internet access in grad lounge
3. Info for students traveling to the USA

1. Grad Social Friday Sept 5.

Come out to the Highland Pub next Friday for a welcome (back) grad social, starting at 4:30 p.m. Enjoy some free pizza and cheap beverages with other grad students brought to you by the TSSU and the GSS.

2. Wireless internet access in the Grad Lounge: The Grad Lounge (MBC 2212), a comfy area with couches where grad students can work, eat lunch, or hang out, now has internet access. If you'd like to connect to the wireless network, drop by MBC 2205 or email to get a password.

3. Travelling to the states? New Homeland Security Regulations.

The following is from the UVic grad newsletter in April, but sounds like useful info for SFU grads too:

There are some new rules between the US Homeland Security and Canadian Border services that may affect researchers and others attending conferences, or doing presentations in the United States.
In essence Homeland Security has the right to copy, scan, review and withhold, laptops, external drives, blackberries, cell phones etc from anyone travelling to the United States.  [Uvic] has already had several instances where research findings and presentations were withheld at the border and the information destroyed and equipment never returned.  In one case no other copies of the research existed.
Please ... be sure to save copies of materials you are taking to the US and to email yourself a copy of your presentations so that in the event that your laptop is detained, you will at least be able to access the presentation when you arrive at your conference... .
Clea Moray
President, Graduate Student Society

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Department Scholarship Committee Grad rep position opening - taking nominations

This is to let you know that one of the two Grad Student Rep positions on the Departmental Scholarships Committee (DSC) will be opening up this fall. We'll be taking nominations over the next few weeks (you can nominate yourself, of course), and holding an election for the position at the end of Sept Caucus meeting.

"This is an excellent opportunity to be part of a process that ensures the allocation and ranking of awards is done in a manner that is fair, unbiased and in the best interests of the graduate students that you are representing. It is also invaluable experience with the grant/scholarship/fellowship process and how these awards are administered, something all of us Graduate students have to do."

Ideally, a student holds a DSC Rep position for two years so that at least one of the representatives has had prior experience serving on the committee.

The committee meets about once or twice a semester, during the fall and spring semesters. You are also required to put in a bit of time reading and ranking applications. Part of the reason for having two grad student reps is to ensure that at least one rep can attend each meeting, in case the other is off at a conference, doing field work, etc... DSC Grad Reps are encouraged to apply for departmental scholarships along with everyone else, and the DSC makes an effort to ensure that the selection process is not biased against these students.

In general, the caucus encourages a PhD student to hold one of the positions (currently Sarah Jamieson), and a Masters student to hold the other position (the one that is opening up, previously held by Brendan Connors). However, this is a 'soft' rule, and anyone who is interested should feel free to nominate themselves.

As a previous DSC Grad Rep, I can honestly say that the experience was interesting, informative, had a minimal time commitment, and in my opinion is one of the more enjoyable ways you can volunteer your time in the department (also sounds good on a CV).

Please let us know if you're interested!

Erica Jeffery
Jerry Ericsson