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.
Wade Knaap, Detective Constable (retired), Faculty University of Toronto Mississauga Forensic Sciences Program
Forensic investigations are often incorrectly portrayed on television and film. This presentation will address these issues and provide the audience with a more accurate depiction of how crime scenes are investigated.
Wade Knapp is retired from Toronto Police Services, where he did Forensic Identification and Scenes of Crime Officer Coordinator.
Spencer C.H. Barrett, PhD. FRS, FRSC, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto
Plants exhibit unrivalled diversity in the ways they reproduce including clonal propagation, self-fertilization, and mating with numerous partners simultaneously. Understanding plant sexual diversity is of importance for both basic and applied research, and I will show how diverse approaches from Darwinian natural history to genomics have provided novel insights into sex lives of plants.
Spencer Barrett is a globe-travelling evolutionary biologist. His work on the reproductive biology, genetics and evolution of flowering plants has garnered many awards. Spencer sits on the RCIScience Council.
Allison McGeer, MD MSc FRCPC, University of Toronto, Canada, Mt. Sinai Hospital
Despite the evidence that vaccines save lives and prevent illness, many of us remain willing to believe that vaccines are dangerous and at least two Canadian universities have defended courses that suggest that children should not be vaccinated. I will discuss why we have so much trouble interpreting and applying scientific evidence about vaccination.
Allison McGeer is the Director of Infection Control at Mt. Sinai Hospital and serves on Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunizationand the Infection Control Subcommittee of the Ontario Provincial Infectious Diseases Advisory Committee.
Frauke Zeller, PhD, Ryerson Universoty
David Harris Smith, PhD McMaster University
This talk will introduce hitchBOT, a cultural robot and arts and science project. Drawing on the experiences with the hitchBOT project, we will discuss the cornerstones of the conception and design of a cultural robot, focusing on the importance of personality in robots, and critically discuss the role of social and cultural robots in our society.
Frauke Zeller & David Harris Smith are interested in, among many other things, human-robot interactions. Developed to help in this research, hitch-BOT has received much attention during its adventurous travels.
Eric Poisson, BSc, MSc, Ph.D, Department of Physics, University of Guelph
General relativity, Einstein’s greatest scientific achievement is turning 100 this year. The speaker will describe how a companion body can raise a tide on a black hole, much as the Moon raises a tide on Earth and what consequences this can have on the motion of the two-body system.
Eric Poisson is an award-winning physicist specializing in black holes and gravitational waves. In 2006, he won the Canadian Association of Physics Herzberg Medal for outstanding achievement by a physicist aged 40 or less.
This talk is co-sponsored by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada — Mississauga Centre
Trevor Charles, PhD University of Waterloo
Advances in molecular genetics now make it possible to envision building designer microbes or plants. This presentation will explore the science behind genome engineering, discuss some of the potential applications, and look towards what the future might bring.
Follow up reading: Starved for Science, Robert Paarlberg.
Dr. Charles has provided his slides for us for reference: genome engineering lecture RCI edited
**NOTE: this talk replaces Feeding the World by Boosting Crop Health by Dr. Charles Després. We are working with Dr. Després to reschedule his talk in a future series.
In partnership with Ontario Genomics
Enjoy Toronto’s Santa Claus Parade!
The President of the Royal Canadian Institute for Science is pleased to invite you to the 2015 Fleming Award Ceremony
November 16, 2015 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM
“Embrace the geek in you, make a difference, and tell people about it.”
This year’s Royal Canadian Institute Fleming Medal & Citation winner is Dr. Molly Shoichet.
A professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Toronto, Dr. Shoichet has won kudos internationally for her work on hydrogels – versatile materials that can act help rebuild damaged tissues in the body. Since September 2014, as the senior advisor to the President of the University of Toronto on science and engineering engagement, Dr. Shoichet has also focused on building public awareness about what scientists do all day.
Come and hear Dr. Shoichet share how she is using an innovative media campaign to engage Canadians in science.
The lecture follows the presentation of the Fleming Medal by the Honorable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and Honorary Vice Patron of the Royal Canadian Institute.
Monday, November 16, 7:30 pm, OISE auditorium.
Free and open to the public.
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education Auditorium, 252 Bloor St. W, Toronto, ON
Direct access from St. George Subway station (Bedford St. end).
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.