Much of science plays out behind closed doors, and that is exactly what SPARCS is fighting against. 

SPARCS, which is short for the Society for the Promotion of Applied Research in Canine Science, is a non-profit bridging the gap between dog lovers and canine science. Started in 2013, it achieves its mission in a straight-forward way: Get a bunch of animal behavior & cognition scientists, geneticists, and veterinarians in a room, have them discuss significant dog science topics, and live stream the three-day conference free on the Internet. If SPARCS is new to you, it's time to join the club. The live streaming conference received over 40,000 hits in past years.

After a two-year hiatus, the 4th SPARCS international, live streaming conference returns Friday, June 1 - Sunday, June 3, 2018 with ‘The Real Dog: What We Know & What We Don’t (Yet).’ Six researchers and veterinarians tackle canine behavioral genetics from the evolution of dogs’ close relationship with humans, the difference between genetics and predestination, and the impacts of behavioral genetics on dog relationships with people. Speakers will highlight citizen science projects like Darwin’s Dogs and research at the Family Dog Project that rely on dog lover participation to fill gaps in our knowledge.

Speakers Ádám Miklósi, Jessica Hekman, Kristopher Irizarry, Elinor Karlsson, Claire Wade, and Kelly Ballantyne are well-equipped to translate the methods, findings, outstanding questions, and practical application of canine behavioral genetics. Scroll down for their bios, and you’ll see they’re practically oozing genomics (which isn’t possible, but you know what I mean).

I know that watching a live streamed conference may seem like a passive activity, but SPARCS ensures just the opposite. Audience participation over Twitter #SPARCS18 is encouraged. Viewers can not only chat with one another, but your questions and comments will make their way to speakers, which is where I come in. 

For the third time running, Mia Cobb and I are the SPARCS conference science hosts! Which makes a lot of sense because back in 2012, we founded the canine science platform Do you Believe in Dog? to share dog behavior and welfare science far and wide. With overlapping missions, we jumped at the chance to host SPARCS. Our job on the live stream is to connect you — the online audience — with speakers. We’ll bring your questions and comments, especially those shared on Twitter #SPARCS18, to speaker interviews and panel discussions at the end of each day. Whether you're tuning in from the couch (or from the bathroom), you too can be a part of SPARCS.

Watch live: June 1 - June 3, 2018, 9:30am - 5:15pm (EDT).‘The Real Dog: What We Know & What We Don’t (Yet).’ Each day concludes with a group panel discussion from 4:30pm - 5:15pm. Access the conference live stream here.

Get social: Chat with other viewers and pose questions or comments using #SPARCS18 on Twitter. For more details on each day’s schedule, follow SPARCS on Facebook and Twitter as well as your conference science hosts, Do You Believe in Dog? on Facebook and Twitter.

Watch later: #SPARCS18 content will be recorded and posted to the SPARCS website in the week following the conference. 

Watch the past: As mentioned, this is the 4th SPARCS conference, but the past is not gone! Previous speaker presentations, interviews, and panel discussions are available on the SPARCS website and topics include learning & memory, dogs around the world, stress, aggression & conflict, personality & temperament, and science & training. Hear from Marc Bekoff, Michael Fox, Clive Wynne, Ádám Miklósi, Raymong Coppinger, James Serpell, Simon Gadbois, Monique Udell, Alexandra Horowitz, Kathryn Lord, Patricia McConnell, Stephen Zawistowski, Michael Hennessey, Bonne Beerda, James Ha, Hal Herzog, Márta Gácsi and others anytime you like. 

See you at #SPARCS18!