Angela Schoellig, M.Sc, Ph.D, Head of Dynamic Systems Lab, Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS), University of Toronto
In contrast to their early industrial counterparts, robots have become increasingly safe, capable and affordable. A new generation of robots will operate alongside humans in complex and changing environments. I will show how we prepare robots for their new tasks by, for example, enabling them to “learn” and to automatically adapt to new situations.
Angela Schoellig was recently named one of “25 women in robotics you need to know about” by Robohub.org. You can watch her vehicles performing slalom races and flight dances on her popular YouTube channel.
Details to be confirmed
Sapna Sharma, PhD, Department of Biology, York University
Around the world, lake surface water temperatures are changing. Ontario lakes are an important bellwether for this as they are home to both the northern or southern limits of many freshwater fish species. As the climate changes, these limits shift, making Ontario fish particularly vulnerable. I will discuss how the northward march of the feisty smallmouth bass puts angler-favourites, trout and walleye, at long-term risk in Ontario.
Sapna Sharma researches the impact of stressors, such as climate change, invasive species and habitat degradation to refine overall environmental predictions. Sapna’s lab is committed to outreach, producing educational resources for younger learners.
Siobhan Roberts, Journalist and Author
Author Siobhan Roberts discusses the powerful and promiscuous curiosity of her latest biographical subject, the profoundly playful Princeton mathematician John Horton Conway. Conway is famous for his “Game of Life” which creates emergence, or complexity from simple conditions, a concept adapted from pure mathematics to such diverse fields as biology, economics and computer science.
Siobhan Roberts is a Toronto journalist and author whose work focuses on mathematics and science. Her first book, King of Infinite Space won the Mathematical Association of America’s 2009 Euler Prize for expanding the public’s view of mathematics.
Russell Zeid, RCI Council Member
For those ages 6 to 12, experience the forces of physics through a series of demonstrations and experiments with volunteers participating during an hour of science discovery and fun.
Dr. Michael Strong, Dean of the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and Distinguished University Professor at Western University
Rather than being a single disease entity, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) is now considered to be a syndrome in which the death of motor neurons occurs through a wide range of pathological processes. However, there is now emerging a consensus view that alterations in RNA metabolism play a critical role and perhaps the final common pathway uniting these pathological processes. In this lecture, we will review the evidence that, for the majority of cases, that ALS is a disorder of RNA metabolism.
In partnership with the Gairdner Foundation
Prof Bryan Gaensler, Director of the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Toronto, and Canadian Science Director for the Square Kilometre Array
Some of the biggest questions about our Universe are as yet unsolved. How did the first stars form? What is the mysterious “dark energy” that is pushing the Universe apart? And are there other planets out there like our own, perhaps harbouring life? To answer these and other key questions, astronomers are about to build the biggest telescope ever conceived, the Square Kilometre Array. Prof Gaensler will describe this enormous international project, the results it promises to deliver, and the major role being played by Canadian scientists and engineers in this exciting endeavour.
In partnership with the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Toronto Centre
Photo credit – Daniel Boud, University of Sydney
For more information on this topic:
Square Kilometer Array – Canadian website
Jane Heffernan, PhD, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, York University
Mathematical models can be used to describe the spread of infectious diseases and how infections affect your immune system. We will discuss diseases such as influenza, measles, pertussis, and HIV.
Professional Engineer with the Province of Ontario, Assistant Professor in the Biological Engineering program of the University of Guelph, Director of the BioNano Laboratory
The risk of a major biological incident in farmed animals, such as the emergence of a novel infectious agent and/or a global pandemic, is on the rise due to globalization and ecological pressures. Anticipating when and where an incident may occur can enable a timely and well-informed response. The 4th revolution in agriculture has begun, bringing novel technologies such as Internet of Things, SMART and Precision Agriculture and mobile ‘apps’ for disease surveillance. I will discuss nanosensor biotechnologies for innovative detection and advanced diagnostics for farmed animal health management.
Chris Fletcher, Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Management at the University of Waterloo
Human activities are changing Earth’s climate, making it imperative to determine the impact on climate if we continue to use fossil fuels. I will explore computer models of the climate system which allow us to gaze into the future by making projections of how Earth’s climate could evolve over the coming century.
Hosted by Ryerson University.
Large-scale brain models have become a mainstay of “big science”. Currently, Canada has the largest functional brain model known as “Spaun”. This brain model produces behaviour comparable to people and animals. Researchers use Spaun to understand normal brain function, disorders, the effects of drugs and how to build smarter artificial agents.
Catherine Scott, PhD Student, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto Scarborough
Darwin wrote, “who indeed could suspect that [spiders] should be susceptible of the finer feelings? Yet such is the fact.” The private lives of spiders are filled with fine scents, sounds, and silk. This discussion of the sophisticated sexual communication system of the black widow spiders is the perfect way to celebrate both Valentine’s day and Darwin’s theory of sexual selection.
Catherine’s blog: spiderbytes.org, @Cataranea on twitter
Cesar Hidalgo, Associate Professor at MIT, Director of Macro Connections at MIT Media Lab
Making sense of data requires the development of tools that can transform data into narratives. In this presentation I show various examples of tools that we have created at The MIT Media Lab that facilitate the ability of people to construct visual narratives from large datasets. These data visualization engines include (i) the Observatory of Economic Complexity (atlas.media.mit.edu), a comprehensive effort to visualize international trade data; (ii) DataViva (dataviva.info), a tool visualizing data for the entire formal sector economy of Brazil; (iii) Pantheon (pantheon.media.mit.edu), a tool focused on human collective memory centered on data from globally famous biographies; (iv) Immersion (immersion.media.mit.edu), a tool that focuses the interface of email on people to reveal your personal story of professional and personal interactions; (v) Place Pulse and StreetScore (pulse.media.mit.edu & streetscore.media.mit.edu), which are tools exploring the physical evolution of cities, and (vi) DataUSA, a tool that visualizes public data for the entire United States. I conclude by demoing a prototype of (vii) DIVE, a data visualization and integration tool that helps automate the creation of data driven narratives.
In partnership with the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences
Mr. Ken Knox,
Chair of the Science, Technology, and Innovation Council (STIC), CEO of Knox-Vannest Inc
The Science, Technology and Innovation Council (STIC) is an independent body that advises the Government of Canada on science, technology and innovation. With STIC’s latest “State of the Nation” report, I will explore how Canada’s performance compares to the rest of the world in science & technology innovation.
For further reading, visit the STIC website and download the “2014 State of the Nation” report.
Premysl Bercik, Associate Professor in the Division of Gastroenterology and member of the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute at McMaster University
The evidence is growing that intestinal microbiota influences the brain chemistry and behaviour of the host. I will discuss the data obtained in animal experiments, as well as recent evidence from a clinical trial, which suggest that probiotic bacteria may be beneficial in treatment of depression.
Charles Desprès, PhD, Brock University
Microbes responsible for crop disease are becoming resistant to conventional pesticides akin to antibiotic resistance in human disease. We are developing non-GMO approaches, conceptually similar to vaccines, to enhance crop immunity.
Charles Despres is an expert molecular biologist and biochemist studying signaling pathways involved in plant immunity, with over 20 years of experience in this field. He has won several awards, including the C.D. Nelson Award from the Canadian Society of Plant Biologists.
In partnership with Ontario Genomics
Annual General Meeting of the 166th session of the Royal Canadian Institute. Talk, followed by a reception.
For Members of the Institute only. Invitations will be issued.
Germs. They’re all around us. For years, we have tried to eradicate them, but now we understand the vital role they play. We are learning to love our microbes! We invite you to explore this topic with the “Germ Guy,” Jason Tetro.
Since he was a teenager, Jason Tetro has called the laboratory his second home. His experience in microbiology and immunology has taken him into several fields including bloodborne, food and water pathogens; environmental microbiology; disinfection and antisepsis; and emerging pathogens such as SARS, avian flu, and Zika virus. He currently is a visiting scientist at the University of Guelph.
In the public, Jason is better known as The Germ Guy, and regularly offers his at times unconventional perspective on science in the media with outlets such as the Huffington Post Canada, Popular Science, Globe and Mail and the CBC. Jason has written two books, The Germ Code, which was shortlisted as Science Book of The Year (2014) and The Germ Files, which spent several weeks on the national bestseller list. He has also co-edited, The Human Microbiome Handbook, which provides an academic perspective on the impact of microbes in human health. This year, he was honoured as one of the top 50 contributors by the Huffington Post Canada. He lives in Toronto.