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.
RCIScience at Lunch! A new program for 2016-17. First up, we are delighted to welcome Dr. John Hull from the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto to speak on managing risk in financial markets. Dr. Hull is the Maple Financial Chair in Derivatives and Risk Management. He is the author of several books on the subject of managing risk in finance.
Note: lunch is not provided, but we welcome you to bring your own and enjoy it as you listen to the wonders of managing risk in financial markets.
Dr. Fiona F. Hunter
Brock University, Dept. of Biological Sciences
Mosquitoes have an important role to play in the ecosystem but this is usually overshadowed by the attention given to nuisance biters and disease vectors. We will explore the beauty and behaviours of both “good” and “bad” species, with an emphasis on West Nile and Zika virus transmission.
Fiona received her BSc and MSc degrees from University of Toronto and then went on to complete her PhD in Biology at Queen’s University. Throughout her academic career she has studied a wide variety of biting flies but she and her students now spend most of their time studying mosquitoes, no-see-ums and ticks. Fiona has taught at Brock University for over 20 years. She is a former Director of the Wildlife Research Station in Algonquin Park and now runs a Containment Level 3 (CL3) lab at Brock where studies on live, infected, mosquitoes are conducted.
Dr. Jatin Nathwani
Ontario Research Chair and Executive Director, Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy, University of Waterloo
Energy remains a fundamental enabler of human betterment and a key step on the ladder to an improved quality of life for billions who live without clean energy for heat, light, water or medical care. Delivering on the promise of global, universal energy access requires affordable solutions that are scalable on a massive scale.
This talk will highlight the foundational basis of scientific, technological and social innovations needed to support new talent and business models for revolutionary change that will make energy poverty a thing of the past.
Prof. Nathwani serves on several Boards at the provincial and national levels. He is Scientific Advisor to the Equinox Energy 2030 Summit of the Waterloo Global Science Initiative (WGSI). He is Chair of the Board of Canadian University Network of Excellence in Nuclear Engineering (UNENE), Member of the Ontario Smart Grid Forum, Board Member, Ontario Centre of Excellence (OCE), Member, Clean Tech Advisory Board (Dept. of Foreign Affairs and Intl Trade), Member, Council for Clean and Reliable Electricity (CCRE), Member, Advisory Panel for the Science Media Centre of Canada (SMCC), and Advisory Board Member, Sustainable Waterloo. His current focus is on competitive energy policies to enable the innovations required for the transition of the global energy system to a lower carbon energy economy. The Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy promotes policies to enhance the environmental and economic performance over the long term.
How did the lives of people and rice become intertwined and combined with other organisms such as peach, water chestnut, pig, and dog to develop one of the most important agricultural traditions in the world? We’ll travel to a region just south of Shanghai to explore archaeological discoveries of villages and towns whose people made extraordinary technological and ecological innovations beginning about 11,000 years ago and learn what these innovations were and why they may have developed where and when they did. Can we learn anything from these societies relevant to our lives today?
Gary W. Crawford, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto Mississauga, Canada. His interests lie in ancient human ecology and span two continents: North America and East Asia. He pioneered research on the relationships between plants and people (palaeoethnobotany) in Ontario and Japan in the 1970s and early 1980s and helped start palaeoethnobotanical research in China in the late 1990s. His current research focuses on agricultural origins and development in Ontario and China and the extent to which ancient people changed the environment in which they lived. He has published two textbooks, hosted a television series on archaeology for TVOntario, and has published widely in journals such as Antiquity, PLOS One, PNAS, Nature, Current Anthropology, American Antiquity, and The Holocene. He currently has a federally funded research grant to investigate the earliest agricultural society in the Yangtze basin, China.
Passwords are a bane to our online existence: they protect our most sensitive information, but we are so overwhelmed with the sheer number of them that many of us resort to insecure practices. This talk will raise awareness of the threats to passwords, strategies you can use to help protect yourself, and our research at UOIT to improve password security and usability.
Dr. Julie Thorpe is an Associate Professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT). Prior to joining UOIT, she worked in the field of IT security for 8 years. She has served on the program committee for various international computer security conferences including ACM CCS, USENIX Security, ACSAC, PST, ACM SPSM, and NSPW. Her research interests include authentication, biometrics, human factors, usability, security policy, software security, and operating system security. Her research has been featured in various media outlets, including Wired magazine, Popular Science, Slashdot, BBC World News, The New York Times, CBC’s Ottawa Morning Show, and the Toronto Star.
2016 Fleming Medal and Citation
Join us Tuesday, November 15th for an evening celebrating excellence in science communication as we honour IvanSemeniuk, with the 2016 Fleming Medal and Citation from the Royal Canadian Institute for Science (RCIScience). The award recognizes Ivan’s outstanding contributions to the public understanding of science.
The ceremony will be followed with a talk by Ivan entitled A Canary in the Cathedral, where Ivan reveals his favourite stories as a science communicator, broadcaster and journalist and considers the future of the profession in Canada.
Ivan has been an instructor/researcher at the Ontario Science Centre, Producer/columnist at Discovery Channel Canada, senior correspondent with two of the highest-impact science publications in the world (Nature and New Scientist), writer/host of the TV series Cosmic Vistas, for the last three years as science reporter for the Globe and Mail, “Canada’s national newspaper”, through numerous freelance articles, conference presentations, workshops, and public lectures, and through his on-line presence.
Doors open at 7pm. Ceremony beings at 7:30. Reception to follow the talk.
The OSIRIS REx spacecraft has an ambitious mission – to travel to an asteroid, land, grab some samples and return. How difficult was it to plan a mission like this? What can we hope to learn about our own past by studying these ancient citizens of the solar system?
Dr. Michael Daly, Lassonde School of Engineering, contributed to the OSIRIS REx Mission and will give us an overview of what it hopes to achieve, as well as the Canadian angle. York University Research Chair in Planetary Science, Dr. Daly’s research interests focus on answering a variety of planetary science questions using custom instrumentation in the laboratory or in-situ. Dr. Daly is currently leading the science contribution of Canada’s OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter that was launched in September. He also works in the area of deep-UV Raman spectroscopy and is currently building a multi-million dollar planetary surface simulation facility. Mike is also the Undergraduate Program Director for York’s unique Space Engineering Program. Prior to joining York University, he led the engineering of Canada’s first instruments to operate on Mars and the design of the cameras in the International Space Station’s Dextre robot’s end-effectors.
Dr. Jonathan D Schertzer
What are the underlying mechanisms controlling metabolism and how do these contribute to the link between Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes? Hear how research has uncovered a role for stress and inflammation in metabolic diseases, and how exercise and commonly used medications for type 2 diabetes create glucose lowering effects. Hear about a newly-discovered role for bacteria and the “microbiome” relates to obesity and blood sugar levels.
Dr. Jonathan Schertzer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences at McMaster University. He completed a BSc and MSc at the University of Waterloo. He completed his PhD in 2007 at The University of Melbourne (Australia). He then did postdoctoral work in the Cell Biology Program with Dr. Amira Klip at The Hospital for Sick Children (Toronto). He holds Canadian Diabetes Association Scholar and Canadian Institutes of Health Research New Investigator awards. His research is focussed on how nutrients, bacteria and drugs trigger inflammation and changes in blood glucose during obesity.
Dr. Stephen Morris & Pueblo Science
Icicles are harmless and picturesque winter phenomena, familiar to anyone who lives in a cold climate. The shape of an icicle emerges from a subtle “chicken and egg” feedback. Ice formation is controlled by how the water flows over the shape of the icicle. But the shape that the ice grows depends on how the water flows. Ideal icicles are predicted to have a universal “platonic” shape, independent of growing conditions. In addition, many natural icicles exhibit a ripply shape. The wavelength of the ripples is also remarkably independent of the growing conditions. Similar shape and ripple phenomena are also observed on stalactites in caves, although certain details of their formation differ. Dr. Stephen Morris from the University of Toronto Physics Department built a laboratory icicle growing machine to explore icicle physics and learned what it takes to make a platonic icicle and the surprising origin of the ripples.
Make this Sunday a family affair and bring children of all ages as Pueblo Science will simultaneously be providing chilly hands-on winter activities outside.
Pueblo Science is a Toronto-based registered charity working to advance science education in low-resource communities. By sparking an interest in science at an early age, Pueblo Science aims to jump-start fundamental changes in social attitudes about science and to help young students understand the impact of human activity on environment, health, and communities.
Leptin and the Biological Basis of Obesity
The discovery of leptin has led to the elucidation of a robust physiologic system that maintains fat stores at a relatively constant level. Leptin is a peptide hormone secreted by adipose tissue. This hormone circulates in blood and acts on the hypothalamus to regulate food intake and energy expenditure. When fat mass falls, plasma leptin levels fall stimulating appetite and suppressing energy expenditure until fat mass is restored. When fat mass increases, leptin levels increase, suppressing appetite until weight is lost. By such a mechanism total energy stores are stably maintained within a relatively narrow range.
In this talk, Dr. Jeffrey Friedman, a Professor at The Rockefeller University, and an Investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute will discuss his discovery of the leptin hormone and how recessive mutation in the leptin gene is linked to obesity, infertility, diabetes and other immune abnormalities. He will also explore the several avenues by which leptin can be used to treat or correct an increasing number of human conditions.
Dr. Jeffrey Friedman is a physician scientist studying the genetic mechanisms that regulate body weight. His research on various aspects of obesity received national attention in late 1994, when it was announced that he and his colleagues had isolated the mouse ob gene and its human homologue. Since then, Dr. Friedman has received countless honours and awards for his contribution to science, including his most recent Harrington Prize for Innovation in Medicine in 2016.
This talk is presented in partnership with the Gairdner Foundation.
RCIScience at Lunch!
The Food from Thought project
As the world’s population continues to grow, stories of food poverty and barriers to access persist. This is not because we are undergoing a food shortage. On the contrary, despite exponential rises in population over the past 25 years, production has historically always surpassed demand. The unfortunate truth is that one third of the world’s food does not find its way to the table. In the city of Vancouver alone, 80, 000 potatoes, 30,000 eggs and 70,000 cups of milk are thrown away each day. It is this level of waste, along with the severe inequality that accompanies it, that creates an increased demand which threatens both local and global food security. To meet this demand, food is often produced in varieties and quantities that are vastly different than what the world’s population needs.
Join RCIScience and Evan on Friday, January 20th at the First Canadian Place for a special look at factors like food waste, climate change, extreme weather events, and policy influence food security in Canada and globally.
Evan did degrees in forestry, anthropology and agriculture at the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto. After graduating, he worked in a policy institute with the Hon. Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, and began his academic career in 2003 in the UK where he worked on farming and climate change at the University of Leeds. He is the author of over 75 scientific papers or book chapters on these topics, has written for the Guardian.com, CNN.com, ForeignAffairs.com, the Walrus, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and the Ottawa Citizen, and has two popular non-fiction books about food and food security including Empires of Food: Feast, Famine and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations that was shortlisted for the James Beard Food Literature Award in 2010. In late 2014, he self-published a graphic novel called #foodcrisis that depicts a global food crisis hitting North America in the 2020s as a way of reaching 18-24 year-olds. His web video series on “feeding nine billion” has been watched over 280,000 times and used in classrooms around the world. Currently, Evan is Director of the Food Institute, a professor of Geography in the Department of Geography at the University of Guelph, where he holds the Canada Research Chair in Global Food Security. He is also an associate of the Guelph Food Institute, a Fellow of the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation, a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geography Society, and a Member of the Royal Society of Canada’s college of new scholars.
Dr. Richard Zemel
Interpreting the World with Machines: How information systems & statistical inference influence decisions
Information systems are becoming increasingly reliant on statistical inference and learning to render all sorts of decisions, including the issuing of bank loans, the targeting of advertising, and the provision of health care. This growing use of automated decision-making has sparked heated debate among philosophers, policy-makers, and lawyers, with critics voicing concerns with bias and discrimination. Bias against some specific groups may be ameliorated by attempting to make the automated decision-maker blind to some attributes, but this is difficult, as many attributes may be correlated with the particular one. The basic aim then is to make fair decisions, i.e., ones that are not unduly biased for or against specific subgroups in the population. In this talk, Dr. Zemel will discuss social implications of this problem, and work that he has done on it as well as that by other groups.
Richard Zemel is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Toronto. Prior to that he was on the faculty at the University of Arizona in Computer Science and Psychology, and a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Salk Institute and at CMU. He received the B.Sc. in History & Science from Harvard, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Toronto. His awards and honors include a Young Investigator Award from the ONR, a US Presidential Scholar award, and seven Dean’s Excellence Awards. He is a Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, an NVIDIA Pioneer of AI, and a member of the NIPS Advisory Board. His research interests include topics in machine learning, computer vision and neural coding.
Hosted by Ryerson University.
Where Captain Nemo Got It Right, and Wrong – Life in the Deep Earth
From Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo, to Astronaut Mark Watney stranded on Mars, we remain fascinated by the theme of Exploration. Fact can be stranger than fiction however as we discover that even here on Earth, there are parts of the planet we have only begun to probe for new habitable domains and microbial ecosystems.
Today we will journey with explorers past, present and future as we descend into some of the places on Earth where life ekes out an existence far from the energy of sunlight. We will discuss microorganisms that draw their energy for life not from the sun but from the power of chemistry in the deep dark places of the Earth – in subsurface habitats ranging from the black smoker vents of the ocean’s hydrothermal fields, to deep fracture waters bubbling up 3 km below the surface of northern Canada and in the gold mines of South Africa.
How did they get so deep? What do they eat? How old are they? Some of the answers will make Mark Watney wish he had looked under a few rocks.
Dr. Barbara Sherwood Lollar, C.C. FRSC is a University Professor in Earth Sciences at the University of Toronto. She is Research Chair in Isotopes of the Earth and Environment, Director of the Stable Isotope Laboratory, and Past-President of the Geochemical Society. In 2015 she was named a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union. Sherwood Lollar has published extensively in research on stable isotope geochemistry and hydrogeology, the fate of carbon-bearing fluids and gases such as CO2, CH4 and H2 in ancient fracture waters in the Earth’s crust, and the role of deep subsurface microbial populations in carbon cycling. She has been a recipient of many academic awards (including the NGWA Darcy Lecturer, Steacie, Killam and NSERC Accelerator Awards) and most recently the 2012 Eni Award for Protection of the Environment 2012 Geological Society of America Geomicrobiology and Geobiology Prize, and NSERC Polanyi Research Award. Sherwood Lollar was selected in 2000 by Time Magazine Canada for their feature on ”Leaders for the 21st Century” and by Canadian Geographic in 2013 for their list of Ten Canadians “Changing the World” along with and Astronaut Chris Hadfield.
Dr. Justina Ray
How did the secretive and solitary wolverine of the north acquire its reputation as a dangerous and ruthless killer?
Few people have laid their eyes on a wolverine, an elusive creature that dwells in the farthest reaches of the world’s northern hemisphere and emblem of Canadian northern wilderness. This talk will provide a behind-the-scenes look at a decade of research in Ontario’s Far North addressing questions about this animal that range from the very basic (is there a breeding population in the province and where does it occur?) to complex issues that will be vital to the future survival of this animal (is natural resource development compatible with wolverines?).
Dr. Ray’s talk will be a behind-the-scenes look at a decade of research and policy engagement in Ontario. It would not only detail some of the scientific work and discoveries (starting from essentially no knowledge in the province), to how we have applied the best available information to real-world management and conservation decisions, including working with the trapper community.
Dr. Justina Ray has been President and Senior Scientist of Wildlife Conservation Society Canada since its incorporation in 2004. In addition to overseeing the operations of WCS Canada, Justina is involved in research and policy activities associated with land use planning and large mammal conservation in northern Canadian landscapes. She has been appointed to numerous government advisory panels related to policy development for species at risk and land use planning in Ontario and Canada and is Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto (Faculty of Forestry) and Trent University (Biology Department).
Edible Nanostructures & The Pleasures of Chocolate
Butter and chocolate – two very pleasurable foods – taste the way they do because of their underlying fat crystal networks. In this talk we discuss cocoa butter, the structuring material in chocolate and confections, from solid-state structure and polymorphism to melting behavior and mechanical strength. The reason for a tempering chocolate while mixing will become clear upon review of the effects of shear on the crystallization behavior of cocoa butter. Recent advances on our understanding of how oil migrates through chocolate and causes blooming and chocolate softening will also be discussed.
You will never look at chocolate in the same way after this talk.
Alejandro G. Marangoni, Ph.D., FAOCS, FRSC
Professor and Tier I Canada Research Chair Food, Health and Aging at the University of Guelph, Canada. His work concentrates on the physical properties of lipidic materials in foods, cosmetics and biolubricants. He has published over 300 refereed research articles, 60 book chapters, 13 books, and over 40 patents. He is the recipient of many awards including the 2013 AOCS Stephen Chang award, the 2014 IFT Chang Award in Lipid Science, the 2014 Supelco/Nicholas Pelick Award, and the 2015 ISF Kaufmann Medal. Marangoni was honored as one of the 10 most influential Hispanic Canadians in 2012 and a Fellow of the American Oil Chemists’ Society in 2015. He is the first co-editor in Chief of Current Opinion in Food Science and Technology, and past Editor-in-Chief of Food Research International. Dr. Marangoni has trained over 100 people in his laboratory; many occupy positions of importance in the academe and industry, including eleven professors at major North American universities.
RCIScience at Lunch with Dr. Howard Hu, Dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health
The Role of a Re-emergent Canadian School of Public Health in a Hot, Hungry, Polluted, Aging, Polarized World Prone to Pandemics, Chronic Disease, and Unsustainable Health Systems
Howard Hu, M.D. (Albert Einstein); M.P.H., Sc.D. (Harvard). Dr. Hu is the inaugural Dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and Professor of Environmental Health, Epidemiology, Global Health and Medicine at the University of Toronto. He is a physician-scientist who previously had been Professor at the Harvard School of Public Health (1990-2006); and a Department Chair and Professor at the University of Michigan (2006-2012). Dr. Hu has led multi-institutional teams that have generated over 300 peer-reviewed publications on the environmental, nutritional, social, psychosocial, genetic and epigenetic determinants of child development as well as the risk for chronic disease in adults in population-based studies around the world, several of which have influenced policies affecting millions. He also served as the Chair of the Research Commission for the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (Nobel Peace Prize, 1985) and served on fact-finding missions for Physicians for Human Rights (Nobel Peace Prize Co-Laureate, 1997). Among his awards are the 1999 Progress & Achievement Award from the U.S. National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, the 2011 Award of Excellence from the American Public Health Association, and the 2015 John Goldsmith Award for Outstanding Contributions to Environmental Epidemiology from the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology. In 2016, four years after arriving in Canada and the University of Toronto, he became a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.
3 recipients of grants from the Banting Research Foundation. The Banting Research Foundation’s mission is to invest in the early careers of researchers who demonstrate excellence and creativity in health and biomedical sciences. We are delighted to have this new partner to showcase excellence in early career researchers.
A wide variety of microorganisms in the mouth are embedded in biofilms that contribute to periodontal diseases such as gum disease and tooth decay. To understand the contribution of a consortium of periodontal pathogens to biofilm formation and dental diseases, Dr Suits’ research group will clone, produce and isolate ~40-50 proteins selected using a bioinformatics-based approach with the aim of characterizing novel factors that contribute to biofilm formation and immune evasion.
Individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) are overrepresented in the criminal justice system. There is an urgent need to identify neurobiomarkers of FASD and individuals at risk in order to reduce recidivism and the resulting high social, health, and economic costs. Novel use of neurotechnologies, including portable eye movement control tracking and EEG, may offer a window into the brain and aid in the identification of patterns of deficits in offenders with FASD.
Dr. Noam Miller
Animals that live in groups, including humans, have many advantages, including enhanced safety from predators and the possibility of taking advantage of social information. I will present an experiment designed to explore which of these two motivations for grouping drives cohesion in zebrafish schools. This research highlights that fish cognition is more complex than we often assume.
This panel discussion will feature concussion researchers, athletes who can suffer from them and doctors who treat them. The presentation and subsequent discussion by key experts in the field will explore the science behind concussions and what is (or should be) done to protect athletes.
Attendees will learn about evidence-based research, prevention and policy and how to be aware and vigilant about concussions, while continuing to participate in sports and all of the benefits that brings.
How Will We Eat on Mars? An Update on Life Support Research at the University of Guelph
Presented in partnership with the Mississauga Centre of the RASC
If humans hope to ever get to Mars or farther, we will need to be able to grow food in space. The space travel environment produces unique challenges to growing food, including microgravity, limited water, artificial light sources and many more. Research at the Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility at the University of Guelph is showing us how to grow food in space and, in the process, is developing beneficial technologies for earth-bound farming.
Dr. Mike Dixon is the Director of the Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility and program, and Chair of the Environmental Biology Department, University of Guelph. Dr. Dixon joined the University in 1985 as an NSERC fellow after earning his PhD from Edinburgh University in Scotland and is now a full professor.
Off campus he is the Technology Exchange Coordinator for the International Advanced Life Support Working Group (IALSWG) which is a strategic planning group offering information and personnel exchange between international space agencies such as NASA, CSA, ESA, RSA and JAXA (Japan). He also is Chair of the Space Exploration Advisory Committee of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and is a member of the Life Sciences and Technical Committee within the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
As project leader for the Canadian research team investigating the contributions of plants to life support in space, Dr. Dixon formed the Space and Advanced Life Support Agriculture (SALSA) program at the University of Guelph. This program currently represents Canada’s prime contribution to the International Space program objectives in Life Support.
Dr. Dixon is also the project leader for the research team at Guelph investigating the biofiltration of indoor air as a method of alleviating what is commonly known as “sick building syndrome”.