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Adult speaker series features Shannon Wagner


Exploration Place has challenged the narratives around sexual abuse, opened the gates of hell on Prince George’s historic reputation for crime, and went deep down the microscope to explain how we get cancer.

Happy New Year. That’s all just so far in 2018.

Exploration Place is certainly a museum – that’s unmistakable with the dinosaurs and artifacts all around the facility.  However, Exploration Place is also a science centre. That’s the leading edge of each edition of its Adult Speaker Series, where all these engaging topics are given a full public examination.

This set of lectures pulls the stuffing out of any nerdy assumptions floating around about the scientists of the city. There’s not a dry topic in the house. People have been packed from wall to wall, leaning in with interest and firing questions at some of the sharpest minds the region has to offer.

“There is a lot of perception that science is something elite, something up on the hill, in the ivory tower, hidden inside a lab or a classroom,” said Amanda Smedley, deputy director of Exploration Place. “We are showing how science is actually relevant, interesting, going on in our daily lives, something we are all a part of. We are the kind of place where science comes to life, and has a great showcase. It’s a big part of our exhibitions and our in-house public resources. But we knew we could do more. We have this beautiful facility, people love coming here for events, and so we thought we should host scientists here to talk about what they’re investigating and discovering.”

Many of the guest speakers so far have come from UNBC and CNC but Smedley said that is just a sign of the great partnership the museum and science centre has with these great local institutions. There are scientists in plenty of other positions as well, and they are also welcome to one day be featured in the Adult Speaker Series.

Each one of these keynote nights puts a scientist in the spotlight for a 30-40 minute talk about their interesting area of expertise, then the public gets a half hour or so to ask them questions and query them about their work.

“This has become really popular with our membership, we are meeting people at these speeches who have never been through our doors before, and it provides one more service to the community that fits our mandate as an organization,” said Exploration Place CEO Tracy Calogheros. “Our staff and sponsors have been getting excited about it. You should hear the conversations that spin off from these events. It really makes people think, including ourselves. How can you not get interested when it’s all so authentic, cutting edge, and right here in our own community.”

Each of these “science town-hall meetings” is free of charge to watch, and all are encouraged to listen in, bring up questions, and take it all home for whatever reading you might want to do on your own. They are events aimed at inspiring the mind, all from a local platform that looks out the wide windows onto beautiful Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park.

THE SCIENTIST ON DECK… 

The next Adult Speaker Series discussion is April 9 at 7 p.m. when Shannon Wagner takes the mic. She is a professor and the Chair of the School of Health Sciences at UNBC. Her research focus is occupational mental health, especially as it relates to disability management, occupational stress, trauma and family-work interface. She co-wrote the book Mental Illness In The Workplace, among her other achievements.

Shannon will be asking a key introductory question on April 9, then talking about possible answers. Who checks to make sure our emergency helpers get their own help? The title of her discussion is: Emergency Responders And Workplace Mental Health: Does Society Protect Its Protectors?

“Many occupations inherently include significant risk of workplace traumatic exposure, with firefighters, ambulance paramedics and police workers often considered to be among those most at risk,” Wagner said. “Current research indicates that this workplace exposure may subsequently lead to increased risk of psychopathology such as PTSD, depression, anxiety and substance disorders. This presentation will review literature on mental health and first responders, and then will present a selection of related projects from UNBC previously completed or currently underway.”

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