Lister Family Engaged Science Initiative

Helping researchers make their science accessible by teaching them to hone their content, physical presence and voice to effectively engage a variety of audiences.

For three years the generous gift of the late E. Edward, BSc(Agr)'55, MSc'57 and his wife, Teresa, has supported over 50 workshops and events offering dynamic science communication training to more than 240 Macdonald Campus students. Thanks to this continued generous contribution, the program will deepen its impact by collaborating with McGill's SKILLSETS team to bring graduate student peer instruction and coaching to an innovative suite of learning experiences improving the science presentation skills of Macdonald campus students.

For more information about current events, workshops and other services, or annual events, please contact ingrid.chiraz [at] (Ingrid Chiraz).

Enjoyed one of our events? Get notified of upcoming Lister public events by signing up here.

Current Events

Lister Science Chats

The Lister Science Chats connects students currently at home through live science talks with researchers from the McGill Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Each chat features a Macdonald Campus graduate student giving an engaging 30-minute English presentation on their research, followed by a 15-minute question period. Although the targeted levels for these science chats are Secondary 4 & Secondary 5, anyone with a passion for science is welcome to join.

An article on the April 2020 series has been published in the Focus on Macdonald May 2020 Issue: "Macdonald Campus Graduate Students Transcend the Boundaries of Social Distancing Through the Lister Science Chats!"

Workshops and Other Services

Workshops: Effective Presenting 101

The Effective Presenting 101 Series takes you through each of the basic steps needed to present effectively: honing content and creating trajectory, designing effective visuals, and developing a dynamic presence. Together these skills combine to increase the comprehension, credibility and connection needed to maximize your impact when presenting.

The first workshop, Content Development, helps you understand how a framework to interrogate audience and purpose can help refine content so that is accessible, interesting, and strategic. Additionally, you will learn detailed hook strategies and sequencing strategies for everything from a 3-minute to a 1-hour long presentation.

The second workshop, Body Language & Voice, focuses on understanding how to develop a dynamic presence that will help you overcome public speaking nerves. You will learn to appear confident and credible to your audience, while increasing engagement and clarity.

The third workshop, Effective Visuals, explores how to use PowerPoint and other technology to effectively supplement your talk, without interfering with people’s experience of listening to you. Sample slides for everything from methodology overviews, to results, to effective hooks will be shared to give you ideas about how to effectively develop visuals for your next presentation.

The workshops can be taken independently or as a series, depending on your needs and presentation goals.

The workshops are hosted on ZOOM. Advanced registration is required.

Online 101: Quick Tips

Quick Tips is a 45-minute Zoom session designed to help people optimize their Zoom presentation strategies. Three topics will be covered: basic set-up issues such lighting, camera and body position; transforming powerpoint for the online environment; engagement strategies to increase audience interaction. Whether you are prepping for an 8-minute research presentation or an hour long class lecture, you are sure to come away with some helpful tips that can increase your impact. There will also be an additional 15-minute open Q&A at the end for people to ask questions to our Presentation Skills Director: Dr. Andrew Churchill who will be leading all 5 sessions.

The live chats will take place on ZOOM. Advanced registration is required.


  • September 9, 2020 - Quick Tips (12:00pm to 12:45pm)
  • September 9, 2020 - Quick Tips (4:00pm to 4:45pm)
  • September 10, 2020 - Quick Tips (10:00am to 10:45am)
  • September 16, 2020 - Quick Tips (2:00pm to 2:45pm)
  • September 17, 2020 - Quick Tips (12:00pm to 12:45pm)

Workshops: Conference Prep

Presenting at a conference sometime this spring? It’s not too early to start preparing! The Lister Engaged Science Initiative is sponsoring a series of group workshops and individual coaching sessions with our trained team to help you prepare. For more information come to our initial information event (see link below) or email us at ingrid.chiraz [at]


January 22, 2020 - Conference prep

Workshops: Public Speaking

The presentation workshop series covers basic building blocks identified by Dr. Churchill of developing effective presentation skills: body language, voice, visuals and attitude. Workshops can be as short as 45 minutes and cover a single topic, or as long as a half or full-day retreat.


January 22, 2020 - Body Language
January 29, 2020 - Voice and Attitude
February 5, 2020 - Effective Slide Development

Pitch Training

Pitch Training begins with a focus on developing the effective content needed in emerging competitive arenas such as the 3MT competition, grant funding, entrepreneurship, and business development competitions. Typically, a three or four session sequence is ideal.

For more information on how to schedule a training session, please email ingrid.chiraz [at]


Coaching is done in groups of four or fewer and focuses on the final stages of presentation preparation and involves targeted specific feedback for each individual.

For more information on how to schedule a training session, please email ingrid.chiraz [at]

Event Preparation

Event preparation is customized to the needs of event organizers with a focus on helping speakers understand the audience and purpose of the event and then translating that information to participants in a manner that helps them succeed in achieving these goals.

For more information on how to schedule a training session, please email ingrid.chiraz [at]

Annual Events

USRA Poster Showcase - Fall 2020

The original LFESI event, the USRA poster showcase has been running since 2017. The event features 25 summer research interns displaying the results of their three-month long work with a Mac campus professor. During the summer before this capstone event, there is a series of workshops designed to help the interns understand how to effectively develop and present a scientific research poster.


September 17, 2020 - from 4:00pm to 5:30pm. Advance registration is required.

NEW! John Abbott Sustainability Through Science Symposium - POSTPONED

Held in partnership with the John Abbott College Science Department, The StS Symposium will feature Mac campus graduate students giving an engaging 12-15 minute talk about how their research contributes to our understanding of how to create a more sustainable future.

The event itself will be followed by a reception for the audience to meet the presenters and ask questions about their research.

Date and Time to be determined at a later date, John Abbott AME Atrium

3MT Competition

Since 2017, LFESI and SKILLSETS have combined efforts to support the 3MT Mac campus competition. This event, along with its pre-training program, is focused on helping graduate students learn how to communicate their science in a compelling, accessible manner to a general audience.

Last year’s winner, Anthony Ilheonye, went on to be the People’s Choice at the McGill Downtown Competition. Let’s hope this year’s award winners can have similar successes!

Past Events

View Past Events

For a complete list of past events provided by the Lister Family Engaged Science Initiative, please click here.

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