I am a PhD candidate and the incoming Chief Executive Officer for the Canadians Working for Inclusivity in the Chemical Sciences, Engineering and Technology (CWIC) Network, which is a member resource group (MRG) for the Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC). Together with co-chair Simarpreet Singh, and many volunteers from across Canada, we were excited to organize the 5th LOGIC retreat, and the second virtual one.

Leaders Overcoming Great Inequalities in Chemical Sciences (LOGIC) is an annual retreat organized by CWIC and typically occurs 2-3 days before the Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition (CCCE). However, due to the ongoing pandemic the retreat has been run virtually for the past two years. While we have missed getting to meet people in person, the virtual format opened a new avenue for people, not only in Canada, but for others around the world, to network and participate in this unique retreat. This was the fifth year that LOGIC has occurred. The goal of this retreat is to provide an avenue for professional development and to create a supportive community in the chemical sciences. Our speakers, panelists and workshops are focused on EDI issues within the chemical sciences community.

This year we had over 200 attendees register for the event. The participants ranged from coast to coast in Canada. In addition, we had participants attend from Great Britain, Brazil, Paraguay, United States, India, China, Egypt, and Indonesia. The participants were mainly graduate students. However, there were some undergraduates, post-doctoral students and professors that joined us. Most attendees were in the chemical science field, but other STEM disciplines joined us for the event as well.

This year’s program focused on the central theme of “Be the Catalyst for Change”, to educate and start discussions on how to promote positive change in the chemical sciences. LOGIC 2021 occurred between Aug. 7 – 13 and our program started with a workshop by DragonFly Mental Health’s Dr. Wendy Ingram. Dr. Ingram taught attendees all about what mental health is and means. We felt this was important to include in the program due to the struggles faced by all during the pandemic. We concluded the day with a networking night that gave attendees an opportunity to meet and mingle with one another. The following day started with a panel that focused on alternative chemistry careers. BoYee Chung (Scientist at Novartis), Dr. Laura Hoch (Materials scientists at Patagonia), Rovena Tey (The Chemist Tree) and Dr. Zachary Thammavongsy (d-orbital games) joined us and discussed how they got into their careers. We then had working groups where we invited experts to have roundtable discussions with attendees. Dr. Sarah Habibi joined us for Science Communication, Susan Egbert for LGBTQ+ in STEM, and Lara Lalemi for decolonization in STEM. We ended the night with a fabulous game of Trivia.

On Aug. 9 we were extremely honored to have the Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister, Dr. Mona Nemer, join us for a keynote talk. She shared valuable knowledge with attendees on promoting a diverse and inclusive environment in science. She also shared data and stats about retention of women in STEM, along with ways that we can make changes within the science policy world.

For the remainder of the retreat we had asynchronous talks from various speakers such as Farah Qaiser, who shared her journey through the science policy realm, Dr. Fay Lin, who shared her experiences with mental health in graduate school, Bec Roldan, who shared a personal story about being an out LGBTQ+ in graduate school, Dr. Paulette Vincent-Ruz, who talked about her inclusive approach to chemistry education, Jacky Deng, who shared with us her experience with racism as an Asian American in STEM, and finally Dr. Shira Joudan, who talked about her time and experiences going through graduate school, reminding us to never lose our hobbies. Throughout the week we had attendees submit flash talks (3-minute videos) on their research and had a Twitter poster session where attendees shared their outreach and EDI works. Our retreat ended with a final workshop from Movement Consulting led by Dra. Nicole Cabrera Salazar who taught us community care is essential to survive in academia.

We would like to give a special thank you to the funding provided by Merck, along with all the incredibly hard-working volunteers who helped organize LOGIC for the past year. If you’re interested in being part of the organizing committee next year, please send an email to logic@cwicnetwork.com or send us a message on Twitter (@CWICNetwork)

CWIC and the LOGIC organizing team would like to send an extra thank you to all the attendees, speakers, panelists, workshops, and working group hosts for their time. The pandemic has been challenging, and we greatly appreciate the time and dedication of all who were involved. We hope all who joined us have been inspired to become a catalyst for change in their institutions and communities.