January 24th General Meeting: Julia Biedermann and Brenda Gilmore of Conestoga College

CFUW-Stratford hosted two guest speakers form Conestoga College on January 24th at the University of Waterloo, Stratford Campus.

Julia Biedermann Executive Dean, School of Engineering and Information Technology, Trades and Apprenticeship and the Institute of Food Processing Technology, Conestoga College

Brenda Gilmore, Program Manager, School of Trades and Apprenticeship



National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

CFUW Stratford & the Zonta Club of Stratford have jointly developed a Public Education Display Board to commemorate the National Day of Remembrance & Action on Violence against Women. The theme of the Board is: Ending Violence in Educational Settings. The Stratford Public Library generously provided the space for this Public Education initiative. It will be on display from December 5 to 9, 2016.

The City of Stratford acknowledged the significance of the day, by adopting the following resolution in Council on November 28, 2016: That Stratford City Council hereby proclaims December 6, 2016 as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in the City of Stratford.


November Guest Speaker: Dr Joanne Altee, Professor of Computer Science

The next meeting of C.F.U.W.-Stratford Club will be Tuesday, November 22nd at University of Waterloo, Stratford Campus.  The meeting will start at 7:30 p.m.  The Guest speaker will be Dr. Joanne Altee.


Dr. Joanne Altee is a Professor in the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo.  Her research is in software engineering specializing in the “engineering” of safety-critical software, including automotive software and autonomous driving.  Dr. Altee is currently the Director of Women in Computer Science at U.W., providing leadership and directions for efforts to increase diversity in the School.  This includes outreach educational events, technical workshops, female-friendly learning environments and labs, community building and networking and mentoring activities for female CS students.  It also includes providing guidance on avoiding conscious and unconscious bias against women in School policies, procedures and activities.

October General Meeting Guest Lecturer: Dr. Anne Croy

CFUW-Stratford Club

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

University of Waterloo, Stratford Campus

7:30 p.m.

Anne Croy Canada Tier I Research Chair in Reproduction, Development and Sexual Function, Department of Biomedical and Molecular Science, Queen’s University.

Professor, Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, Research Chair (Tier 1), Reproduction, Development and Sexual Function – Queen’s University

Tales from the Mouse Lady

Anne Croy, Professor of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences at Queen’s University, holds a Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Reproduction, Development and Sexual Function. She studies animal models to gain insight into what goes wrong during human pregnancy.

The goals of her research are to ensure that every child born is a healthy child and that, for mothers, every pregnancy is complication-free.

How did she choose this path of research? When Croy was growing up, two historic events shaped her future: monkey spaceflights and the development of Salk polio vaccine. Both used nonhuman primates for research and, in both, that research involved veterinarians.

“That’s what motivated me to study veterinary medicine,” she says. “I thought that all veterinarians did research, and I really wanted to get into immunology and vaccine development.”

Convincing the registrar at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, of her passion was another matter. Croy had never owned a pet.

“He told me, ‘Why, you didn’t even keep honeybees’,” she recalls. “He thought that I had no experience and no justification, but I had an Ontario scholarship, so they couldn’t turn me away.”

One of three women in a class of 80, she earned a DVM and married a classmate.

“When I got to the end of my veterinary degree, I still wanted to do immunology. I was fortunate to get an opportunity at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto,” she says. It was the late 1960s, and the war on cancer had just begun.

Croy was hired to manage a tricky breeding program for a colony of mice with no thymus – the source of immune cells. Her task was to figure out what was wrong with their immune system.

“That’s how I started my work with immune-deficient mice,” she says.

Twists and turns

Her budding career as a medical researcher came to an standstill, when she and her husband bought a veterinary practice in St. Catherine’s, ON. During this era, she worked on the Ontario licensing board for veterinarians and inspected veterinary schools internationally. She thought she was “done with research.”

Four years later, she had an opportunity to volunteer in Janet Rossant’s research laboratory at Brock University – and grabbed it.

At Brock, while searching for functional immune cells in the mouse uterus, Croy found large, polka dot-filled cells, which she suspected were natural killer cells (NKCs). They were only present during pregnancy.

When mice lacking NKCs were developed as animal models in 1995, Croy obtained histological samples of uterine implantation sites from collaborators at Harvard and in Paris. She immediately noticed differences between normal and NKC-deficient mice.

“When mice don’t have the ability to develop NKCs, they have this very peculiar implantation site. The mouse pups still go to term, but there’s something wrong with the blood vessels.”

Screening those mice strains lead her down a path of research that she continues to walk today.

As part of Croy’s graduate training, she completed a two-week course in mammalian genetics at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbour, Maine. The laboratory is the worldwide repository of all mouse strains. Working there “really convinced me that the mouse is the most effective model for mammalian disease research.”

After graduate school and her research time with Dr. Rossant, Croy took a job, teaching the gross anatomy of cows and horses, at the University of Guelph. She loved her students but found the work much more stimulating when she was asked to incorporate small-animal anatomy. She used regular insights into interesting cases from staff at the Croys’ veterinary practice to direct her veterinary students in innovative ways.

“I was called the ‘Mouse Lady’ at Guelph,” she recalls.

Happy coincidence

A happy coincidence led to her current research. A friend in Kansas City convinced her to regularly review grant applications submitted to the U.S. National Institutes of Health in the area of perinatology – the study of human pregnancy, birth and infancy. She noted that several researchers had applied to study preeclampsia.

“Since preeclampsia doesn’t happen in livestock, as a veterinarian, I didn’t know much about it,” she says. “I learned that a major pathological finding with preeclampsia is that the mother’s arteries don’t change appropriately for pregnancy at the fetal implantation site.”

Croy realized that she’d seen those abnormal arteries before in her mouse research. The narrow, spiral arteries had “sick” walls – like those that she’d seen in NKC-deficient mice.

Without reviewing the grant applications, “I never would’ve figured out what was happening in those animals,” she says. Realising the potential for using mice as a model for preeclampsia, Croy refocused her research. In 2004, she accepted the Canada Research Chair at Queens University to continue her studies.

NKCs in pregnancy

Her basic research has uncovered much of what we know about the role of NKCs in early pregnancy. This work has helped to shift a paradigm from the belief that the uterus needs to suppress immune cells to prevent fetal rejection to the present view that the activation of lymphocytes in the uterus is necessary for proper fetal development.

“NKCs promote changes that enable the uterus to support a placenta,” she says.

These cells recognize where a fertilized egg implants and kick-start the process of new blood-vessel formation, she says. “That recognition and activation is critical in generating a supply of new blood vessels exactly where the embryo has landed. So, instead of being turned off, these immune cells are turned on, increasing the blood supply to that region of the uterus by 500-fold during pregnancy.”

The NKCs discharge proteins that digest blood vessel walls, altering the smooth muscle cells inside. The vessels expand to roughly four times their original size. Then NKCs slowly release enzymes – the colourful polka dots stored within their cytoplasm. They make a sticky substance that provides a new structure for blood vessel cells, which form small new arteries called capillaries.

“The large, spiral arteries transform from narrow, firm vessels into a wide smear that gets pruned into mature, branching arteries,” she explains.

Croy also studies the role of NKCs in mouse models of diabetic pregnancy. In future, she plans to study the role of NKCs in the formation of new blood vessels in cancer.

Sept 27th Meet “n” Greet: Speaker -Judith Yan, Conductor, Guelph Symphony Orchestra

CFUW-Stratford Club will hold a Meet “n” Greet for new and returning members on Tuesday, September 27th at the University of Waterloo, Stratford Campus commencing at 7:30 p.m.  Our Guest Speaker will be Judith Yan, Conductor of the Guelph Symphony Orchestra.  Welcome!


Judith Yan, Biography

Judith Yan has been a staff conductor for the San Francisco Opera, the Canadian Opera Company, and the National Ballet of Canada. She is the Music Director and Principal Conductor of Opera on the Avalon, a summer festival in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and was most recently appointed Artistic Director of Guelph Symphony Orchestra. As a conductor of ballet she has led over 90 performances for the National Ballet of Canada, working with the world’s leading choreographers and ballet masters of today. Prior to her work with the NBoC, Judith served as the Staff Conductor of the San Francisco Opera, assistant to Maestro Donald Runnicles.

While with San Francisco Opera, her performances of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress for San Francisco Opera Merola was included in the San Francisco Chronicle’s Top Ten Classical Performances of the Year. Prior to the San Francisco Opera she served as the Canadian Opera Company’s Conductor-in-Residence, a position created for her by then General Director, the late Richard Bradshaw. For the company, she conducted in the Altamira-sponsored outdoor concerts, Alexina Louie’s The Scarlet Princess, and Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia.

She made her German conducting debut in 2005 with of La Cenerentola and Idomeneo with Ulmer Oper, and made her Italian debut in 2007 in Sulmona, Italy with COSI Festival’s production of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. She returned in 2008 to conduct Puccini’s La Boheme. 2011 includes a New Zealand debut with Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, a Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra debut, a return to Hong Kong Ballet for Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, a recital with members of the San Francisco Opera for the Muir Land Trust in Lafayette, California, Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro in St. John’s, Newfoundland, a debut with Stratford Symphony Orchestra, and concerts with Guelph Symphony Orchestra.

CFUW Stratford Receives Advocacy Award in Recognition of Work to Return More Trains to Stratford

At the recent Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) National Annual General Meeting held in St. Catherines, Ontario, CFUW  Stratford received an Advocacy Award in recognition of their ongoing work to return more trains to Stratford through the gettingthere.ca campaign. Club co-operation with local, provincial and national organizations was also recognized.  The campaign began in 2012, with meetings with stakeholder groups to examine the impact of the removal of key VIA trains in 2012, and has continued through community partnerships with the City of Stratford, the Chamber of Commerce, the United Way, University of Waterloo Stratford Campus and the Festival Theatre, among others.


In June of 2015, VIA President Yves Desjardins-Siciliano came to Stratford with the promise of two additional trains, a morning commuter train at 6:30 AM, and an additional return train from Toronto at 4:30 PM. CFUW work in the community has continued with marketing meetings involving the stakeholders and VIA representatives to develop strategies to recreate rail culture and train use in Stratford once the new trains begin.  CFUW Stratford, along with its many community partners, looks forward to VIA’s proposed commencement of the additional trains in the Fall, demonstrating its commitment to SW Ontario public rail transportation.


CFUW-Stratford Club members Charlotte Gillett, Sheila Clarke, Nora Walden, Louise McColl, Mary Jane Amey and Mary Anne Van Den Heuvel wait for a train!

CFUW-Stratford Club members Charlotte Gillett, Sheila Clarke, Nora Walden, Louise McColl, Mary Jane Amey and Mary Anne Van Den Heuvel wait for a train!