The RCI is Canada’s oldest scientific society. We envision a scientifically literate and well informed Canadian public which embraces science as part of its culture and decision-making contributing to civil society. We work to enhance public awareness and understanding of science and to create an environment in which science can flourish, be appreciated, and contribute to all aspects of Canadian life and society. To read more about the RCI and its history, please visit the About Us page.

  • Dr. Pierre Chastenay is Awarded the 2017 Fleming Medal/La Médaille Fleming 2017 Au Dr Pierre Chastenay
    Pierre Chastenay

    Dr. Pierre Chastenay. Credit: Émilie Tournevache, UQAM

    We are pleased to announce that Dr. Pierre Chastenay, a Professor of Science Education at Université du Québec à Montréal, will receive the 2017 Royal Canadian Institute for Science Fleming Medal.

    The award recognizes Dr. Chastenay’s outstanding contributions to the public understanding of science in Canada.

    Dr. Chastenay’s career has taken him from live presentations at the Planétarium de Montréal, to television, with Téléscience, Le Code Chastenay and Électrons libres, to writing award-winning books and countless articles. Perhaps most importantly, he works tirelessly and efficiently  to ensure science is taught well in school. Together, these accomplishments form an impressive list of achievements, made even more so by the fact that he does all of this while maintaining a professional interest in astronomical research.

    According to Professor John Percy, respected astronomy researcher and educator, “Pierre Chastenay has made significant and sustained contributions to science education, communication, outreach and promotion. The contributions have been unusually diverse, reaching audiences from professional scientists to educators, to members of the public of all ages.”

    Professor Percy notes that, “His impact is greatest in Québec and the Francophone world, but, through his publications, presentations and his work in professional institutions and organizations, he is known and respected elsewhere in North America and beyond.”

    With this award, The Royal Canadian Institute for Science (RCIS) also recognizes the strong commitment to science outreach and the public understanding of science in Québec, an area in which Pierre’s work has shone and gone on to make a significant impact on science communication in Canada.

    Since 1982, the RCIS Fleming Medal has recognized a Canadian who has made outstanding contributions to the public understanding of science. The medal is named for the co-founder of RCIS, Sir Sandford Fleming. Past winners include Fernand Seguin, Ursula Franklin, Bob McDonald, David Schindler and Chris Hadfield.


    Pierre Chastenay

    Dr Pierre Chastenay. Credit: Émilie Tournevache, UQAM

    Nous sommes heureux d’annoncer que le Dr Pierre Chastenay, professeur en enseignement des sciences à l’Université du Québec, à Montréal, recevra la médaille Fleming 2017 du Royal Canadian Institute for Science.

    Ce prix reconnaît la remarquable contribution du Dr Chastenay à la compréhension publique des sciences au Canada.

    La carrière du Dr Chastenay l’a conduit sur divers chemins : il a d’abord animé les présentations au public du Planétarium de Montréal, puis a poursuivi à la télévision avec Téléscience, Le Code Chastenay et Électrons libres et a écrit plusieurs livres primés et un nombre incalculable d’articles. En outre, et c’est sans doute le plus important, il travaille avec acharnement et efficacement afin que les sciences soient correctement enseignées dans les écoles. Si l’on en fait le bilan, la liste de ses accomplissements est impressionnante et elle l’est d’autant plus qu’il parvient, malgré tout, à conserver un intérêt actif et professionnel pour la recherche en astronomie.

    Selon le professeur John Percy, chercheur et enseignant respecté en astronomie, « Pierre Chastenay contribue de façon significative et régulière à l’enseignement, à la communication, au rayonnement et à la promotion des sciences. Ses contributions sont incroyablement diverses et s’adressent autant aux scientifiques et aux enseignants qu’au grand public de tout âge. »

    Le professeur Percy ajoute : « Son influence est plus importante au Québec et dans le monde francophone, mais, à travers ses publications, ses présentations et son travail au sein d’institutions et d’organisations professionnelles, il est reconnu et respecté partout en Amérique du Nord et même au-delà. »

    Avec ce prix, le Royal Canadian Institute for Science (RCIS) reconnaît aussi la volonté farouche de Pierre de faire rayonner les sciences et de les rendre accessibles à tous au Québec.  C’est un aspect de son travail qui a fait une réelle différence et il a, de ce fait, grandement influencé la communication scientifique au Canada.

    Depuis 1982, la médaille Fleming du RCIS reconnaît un Canadien ou une Canadienne pour sa contribution notable à la compréhension des sciences par le grand public. La médaille tire son nom du co-fondateur du RCIS, Sir Sandford Fleming. Parmi les gagnants précédents, on retrouve Fernand Seguin, Ursula Franklin, Bob McDonald, David Schindler et Chris Hadfield.



    The Royal Canadian Institute for Science (RCIScience), Canada’s oldest public scientific society, applauds the Government of Canada for appointing Dr. Mona Nemer to the position of Chief Science Advisor.

     “The appointment of a Chief Science Advisor provides a strong signal, not just to scientists, but to all Canadians that science matters.  The discoveries that are made in Canada will drive innovation at home and will provide a better quality of life for people around the world,” said Peter Love, President of the Royal Canadian Institute for Science (RCIScience), Canada’s oldest public scientific society.

     Since our founding in 1849, RCIScience has worked towards building a strong science culture in Canada. A science culture features strong public engagement with science, inspires students to pursue careers in STEM, stimulates innovation and creates jobs in science and technology. People who live in a science culture can more easily make informed decisions when weighing medical treatment options or healthy food purchases. Their lives are enriched by fascinating bodies of knowledge of how the world works. We welcome the appointment of the Chief Science Advisor as a strong step by the Government of Canada to foster a stronger science culture in Canada. Dr. Nemer’s career in medicine and academia, along with her record of training and community service in the health sector will serve her very well in this position.

     Canadian scientific research is robust and has a large impact, locally and globally. RCIScience strongly believes that bringing a scientific perspective to decision-making is vital to building a stronger Canada. This idea was central to Sir Sandford Fleming when he and his colleagues formed the Institute in 1849: a forum for the exchange of scientific ideas that would “do great good to my adopted country.” This appointment represents a great step towards that goal.

     The RCIS is a platform for public engagement with leading scientists. Through public talks and webcasts, we expand science dialogue and promote informed decision making in our communities. Founded in 1849, the RCIS is among the oldest societies of any kind in Canada and its longest-running scientific organization. It has a long tradition as an independent, not-for-profit organization, a credible source of scientific information, helping the public understand the vital role that science plays in our lives.

     Media Contact: Kirsten Vanstone, 416-509-0797/Peter Love: 416 904 5787



  • 2017 Fall Programming

    The War on PTSD 

    Sunday September 24th,  2017 – 2pm

    J.R.R MacLeod Auditorium, University of Toronto

    Post Traumatic stress disorder is one of the most common and debilitating mental health conditions. This panel discussion will commence with a 45 minute documentary by Patrick Reed entitled “Beyond Trauma”, which focuses on the military and civilian struggle with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Experts Ruth Lanius, Candice Monson, Anthony Feinstein and Ute Lawrence will discuss current research and treatment by taking a look at data on global conflicts around the world.



    The Planets, a Musical Odyssey of Evolution, Environment and Exploration

    Sunday October 29th, 2017 – 3pm

    Hart House, University of Toronto

    A century ago, Gustav Holst had 7 planets to inspire his composition, The Planets. With Earth, these were the known worlds. Holst evoked the planets’ astrological characteristics, assigned in the distant past by sky watchers trying to make sense of their world. As Holst looked back, astronomers were busy looking up with telescopes, photography and spectroscopy, collecting data, testing ideas and uncovering the true nature of the planets. In the 1960s, space travel launched a steady stream of metal ambassadors and, with them, virtual human exploration. Then, just over 20 years ago, astronomers spied the first planets orbiting other stars. The known world count has swollen since then into the thousands. Explore the mystic and the scientific in this unique presentation, in which the Hart House Orchestra plays excerpts from Holst’s The Planets, interspersed with talks about planetary science in 2017.



    Science at the South Pole

    Thursday November 2nd, 2017 – 7pm

    Mississauga Central Library

    The quest for ever-clearer views of the sky has driven astronomers to put telescopes in some pretty remote places, ranging from arid deserts, to the tops of mountains, and even the middle of Antarctica. Professor Keith Vanderlinde talks about his work with the 10m South Pole Telescope, and the science that convinced him to undertake an eleven-month “winterover” position working on-location with the telescope.



    Genome Sequencing – A Beaver’s Tale

    Sunday, November 26, 2 PM

    J.R.R MacLeod Auditorium, University of Toronto

    This talk describes the use of a difficult but useful form of genome sequencing called de novo sequencing, where the genome sequence is reconstructed from scratch without the shortcuts of current methods.  De novo sequencing is particularly suited to the genomes of species that have previously not been sequenced.  To celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary, and as a part of our effort to develop de novo sequencing for clinical use, we completed and published the first genome sequence of the Canadian beaver (Castor canadensis), the country’s iconic national symbol that was the economic engine that drove early British and French colonial expansion leading to the founding of Canada.


    Research at the Northern Edge of the Canadian Arctic

    Sunday December 3rd, 2017 – 2pm

    J.R.R MacLeod Auditorium, University of Toronto

    Perched on a ridge in the remote polar desert of Ellesmere Island sits an atmospheric research facility, the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL). Surrounded by vast, rugged, and beautiful Arctic scenery, a small team of Canadian scientists use sophisticated instruments at PEARL to measure and investigate a wide range of atmospheric science topics. From this is strategic location, research is conducted to better understand climate change, ozone depletion chemistry, pollution transport, and the high Arctic atmosphere. This talk will highlight how PEARL contributes to research on global environmental issues and what it is like to carry out fieldwork at one of the northernmost research sites in the world.