Winner of the McLaughlin Medal awarded by the Royal Society of Canada, in recognition of his scientific contributions to the Medical Sciences
Heart disease is the number one killer in the world. It is preventable as shown by modifying known conventional risk factors such as cholesterol and high blood pressure. However, 50% of the risk for heart disease relates to your genes. The technology became available in 2005 to identify these risk-carrying genes. We identified the first gene in 2007 and, together with an international consortium, have identified a total of 36 genes. We believe comprehensive prevention based on conventional and genetic risk factors could eliminate heart disease in this century.
This talk is co-sponsored by the Gairdner Foundation.
The security of encrypted computer protocols such as credit card transactions depends on unproven mathematical assumptions concerning the limits of computation. The central assumption is the conjecture known as ‘P versus NP’ (one of the ‘million dollar questions’ listed by the Clay Mathematics Institute). I will explain the conjecture, and how our world could be very different if it turns out to be false.
Co-sponsored by the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences
Insects often arrive as hitchhikers from other countries and become pests in our own agricultural production systems. For some invasive pests, biological control using natural enemies is a cost-effective, safe, and efficient solution. This option is being explored for the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, a high-profile, recently introduced pest in Canada which threatens a wide variety of field, fruit, and vegetable crops. New methods, including the use of molecular diagnostics, can be used to rapidly identify and track invasive pests in urban and agricultural settings. Furthermore, DNA-based tools can help unravel the unseen interactions between pests and their parasites. Using these tools provides insight into the safety and efficacy of biological control agents and may help refine and fast-track biological control solutions for invasive insect pests.
Canada’s Arctic is still in a relatively natural state. But very rapid changes in climate, infrastructure, transportation, and accelerating viability of developing mineral, oil and gas deposits there present very significant risks that must be properly addressed by local people, investors, industry and governments alike. Around the world local people, wildlife and natural habitats have usually lost out in such situations. Will Canada’s upcoming chairing of the Arctic Council truly ensure that this doesn’t happen here? The talk will focus on risk assessment, scenarios planning, and social-ecological resilience, trying to help set a new approach in these new changing conditions.
Most of the mass in the Universe is believed to be in an unseen form called dark matter. In this talk I will present the observational evidence leading to this incredible realization. I will then focus in particular on the use of gravitational lensing to investigate dark matter. In gravitational lensing light is bent by the presence of
massive objects in much the same way that an optical lens bends light. Remarkably, we can use lensing to study the amount and distribution of dark matter in the universe on scales ranging from individual galaxies to the entire universe itself.
Joint lecture with the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada – Mississauga
Chocolate is enjoyed worldwide for its unique sensory properties. These sought-after properties of chocolate strongly depend on the composition of chocolate and in particular how cocoa butter is crystallized. In fact, cocoa butter is responsible for the snap, gloss and sharp melting profile of chocolate at body temperature. This presentation will explore how chocolate is made and how the solidification process of cocoa butter is a finely-tuned and controlled process. Next time you bite into your favourite chocolate bar, perhaps you’ll be astonished at just how important all those little cocoa butter fat crystals are.
We encounter ionizing radiation throughout our lives through naturally occurring radioactive materials, diagnostic and therapeutic medicine, air travel and nuclear power production. The measurement of the interaction of radiation with biological materials is termed ‘dosimetry’ and is a fundamental measurement science that ensures that appropriate standards are established for the application of ionizing radiation in medicine, industry and for radiation protection. However, in order to fully understand the effects of ionizing radiation on living tissue we need also to consider radiation interaction on the microscopic scale which, appropriately is termed ‘microdosimetry’. This talk will cover how we encounter radiation, what is meant by ‘dosimetry’ and ‘microdosimetry’ and how an appreciation of radiation interaction at the cellular and subcellular level can lead to advanced radiation therapies, improved radiation protection and a better understanding of the risks of low-dose exposures.
A fun-filled afternoon for kids aged 6 to 12. Explore science through fun hands-on activities. Parents welcome! Doors open at 2 pm.
Free, with no reserved seats.
Neutrinos are among the most abundant particles in the universe, and omnipresent. They are nonetheless the least understood of the fundamental particles because they rarely interact with other matter. They played a big role in the evolution of the universe after the Big Bang. Studying the properties of neutrinos is one of the current grand quests in physics and we are in a period of exciting discoveries. One such discovery is that neutrinos have a small but non-zero mass, contrary to what was believed, and this has shaken up the field. The universe we know is made of matter even though matter and anti-matter were created equally after the Big Bang, and neutrinos may be the reason for this! One way to test this is through controlled production of neutrinos at accelerators. I will describe the T2K experiment in Japan which has recently shed important light on a key missing ingredient in the neutrino puzzle.
Liquid crystals are a phase of matter with properties between that of a solid and a liquid: they exhibit some degree of molecular ordering (like solids), yet still maintain some fluidity and allow molecular motions (like liquids). The unique properties of these phases make them useful in a variety of applications, ranging from display technologies to solar cells. In this lecture, I will provide a brief introduction to this class of materials and explain what types of compounds display liquid crystalline phases and how these materials can be used in electronic devices. I will also highlight some of our research efforts that focus on the design and preparation of new liquid crystals using techniques in organic chemistry.
Both conventional wisdom and research evidence suggest that severe stress is unhealthy. Serious and sometimes debilitating mental health responses often follow trauma experiences such as combat exposure, assault or a serious motor vehicle accident. More recently, evidence shows that stress can impact our physical health as well. I examine factors that may change the relationship between stress and health, such as the age of exposure, the type of traumatic experience, and sociocultural supports that may buffer the mind-body effects of stress.
Peter will speak about energy issues in Canada and climate change as the most important environmental issue to face mankind. He will highlight the critical role energy conservation plays, the benefits of conservation and its challenges. He will refer specifically to what you can do in Mississauga, at home, at work and in school. There will be lots of time for questions so use this as a chance to ask those questions about energy that have been nagging you for years.
How do we know that people in Syria were exposed to the nerve agent, sarin? How do pesticides get into arctic fauna? Where did Ötzi, the iceman, come from? Analytical chemists measure all kinds of parameters that are used in the service of crime scene investigations and in the development of regulations. They can tell us not only where Ötzi came from, but what he did for a living.
This talk will provide you with a look into the world of analytical chemistry where large machines are used to measure small amounts of chemicals that are of great consequence. Medical diagnoses, environmental policies, battery lifetimes, ancient trade routes – all of these and many aspects of our everyday life – depend upon the work of analytical chemists, who provide the numbers that are used to find the answers to diverse problems.
Lockerbie, TWA 800, Ustica are names cast in the collective memory for large aircraft accidents. How can science help forensic investigation?
The solution of each such investigation calls for the participation of large number of experts from various disciplines, from coroners to aircraft forensic experts, from meteorologists and radar experts to police investigators, from ballistic to material scientists. Wreckage recovery, often at the sea, and aircraft reconstruction over convenient false fuselages call for large logistic and financial efforts. Investigation often borders true scientific research when investigation routine protocols are not sufficient. Donato Firrao has been called in Italy to the investigation of many aircraft accidents, often many years after the fact. He will explain how science and forensic engineering is applied in these types of investigations.
Modern science is a powerful and successful institution for creating knowledge. Given this general success, it is interesting to consider situations in which smart researchers, with integrity, get things wrong. One area in which there is a long history of good science leading to bad results is scientific research on women’s and men’s sexuality, and the distribution of labour between the sexes. This is a case in which scientific research can produce ignorance rather than knowledge. How does this happen? What are the consequences of these errors? And, how can we improve this state of affairs?
Disease causing bacteria are increasingly resistant to antibiotic drugs. The result is a growing medical crisis across the globe. Why is this happening and how can we prime the drug discovery pipeline?
The development of antibiotics in the early part of the 20th Century is arguably one of the most revolutionary discoveries in modern medicine. Yet these remarkable medicines are increasingly losing their efficacy to treat disease. This fact is one of the greatest challenges to Medicine and global Public Health in the 21st Century. Why is this happening? The answer lies in evolutionary biology and the natural history of antibiotics that reaches deep into the past and reflects the need to continuously discover and invent new drugs to match microbial evolution. Lewis Caroll’s Red Queen from the Through the Looking Glass anticipated this idea when she told Alice “ it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place”. Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical and regulatory sectors have failed to take notice of this warning and there are few new drugs in the antibiotic pipeline. What is the impact on medicine in the short and long terms and what can be done about it?
What are Block Polymers and where can they be used in society? Dr. Liu will explain how Block copolymers form numerous intricate nanostructures with many applications that will benefit consumers, the environment, and society. The versatility of block copolymers arises from their inherent structure, which consists of two or more distinct chains of repeating molecular units. This multi-component feature allows block copolymers to form a vast array of elaborate and ordered nanostructures in solution or the solid state. More exotic block copolymer nanostructures can be created using novel generic methods developed by us. While the diversity and complexity of these structures are fascinating in their own right, these materials are also extremely useful. They can provide robust protective coatings that repel water- and oil-based pollutants alike or particles that reduce friction and engine wear.
Every cell in the human body interacts with its environment through the proteins found on its outer surface. It is through these many surface proteins that cells obtain nutrients, receive signals (e.g. hormones) and adhere to the right location in the body. In order to work properly, each cell surface protein must be organized and then removed when it is no longer needed. This critical role is carried out by a protein termed clathrin, which controls how cells respond to hormones and obtain nutrients from their environment. Understanding how clathrin works thus has important possible implications for human health.
Photosynthetic solar energy conversion occurs on an immense scale across the earth, influencing our biosphere
from climate to oceanic food webs. These are amazing solar cells! Fronds in kelp forests, crustose coralline algae and
purple bacteria have shown interesting properties relevant these energy transfer phenomena. Underpinning these examples are some fascinating chemical physics, where experiments and theories reveal the mechanisms involved in the ultrafast energy transfer processes of light harvesting. This talk will introduce the incredible physical processes that initiate photosynthesis in the first picoseconds after light is absorbed.
Co-sponsored by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and hosted by Ryerson University.
ThIs lecture was given at Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University, 55 Dundas Street West, Toronto M5G 2C3 – 7th Floor Room TRS-1-067.