Jack W. Szostak, PhD, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2009; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School; Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology,
The amazing diversity of life is the result of billions of years of evolution. But how did evolution itself begin? I will describe how efforts to design and build very simple living cells are testing our assumptions about the nature of life, generating ideas about how life emerged from the chemistry of the early Earth, and even offering clues as to how modern life evolved from its earliest ancestors.
Co-sponsored by the Gairdner Foundation
Global energy consumption is conservatively projected to expand two-fold by 2050. A survey of our renewable options reveals the Sun as the only viable non-carbon based energy source. Currently, silicon-based photovoltaics (PV) dominate the market. They are a practical and mature technology, but expanding the solar energy market to meet our needs will require a substantial change in technology. This presentation will survey recent advances in PV technology and ‘shed some light’ on the current research directed at making materials that can supplement our current use of silicon cells.
The first European settlement of Toronto was simply a continuation of patterns that had been in place for thousands of years. The Aboriginal occupants of the encampments and semi-permanent villages that lined the former water courses in the City left no written record of their lives. Their legacy consists of the oral histories and traditions passed on to descendants and the surviving traces of those settlements. This talk will summarize this rich archaeological record and discuss how the City of Toronto is ensuring its conservation.
Liette Vasseur, BSc, MSc, PhD, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, Brock University; Thematic Group Leader of Climate Change Adaptation of the Commission for Ecosystem Management of IUCN; Minjian Scholar at Fujian Agricultural and Forestry University, China
Climate change affects different parts of Canada in different ways. Predictions indicate that Southern Ontario will experience more droughts and heavy rainfalls that can greatly affect ecosystems and especially plants. In Atlantic Canada, sea level rise, continuous coastal erosion and more frequent storm surges threaten the fragile coastal ecosystem. I will describe some of the projects that I am involved with to examine the potential impacts of climate change on the human condition in Ontario and Atlantic Canada, and the actions taken to try to adapt and improve resilience of communities and ecosystems.
The impact hazard from small asteroids is uncertain because of many poorly understood factors. These include how asteroids vapourize in the atmosphere together with the associated impact effects at the ground. The Chelyabinsk event gave scientists their first detailed instrumental data on a well observed, damage-producing airburst. I will describe what we have learned about the Chelyabinsk airburst in the year since it occurred and what it may tell us about future impacts at the Earth.
Co-sponsored by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada–Toronto Centre
Social insects like ants, bees and some wasps live in large colonies composed of many sterile workers and a few reproductive individuals. The division of labour between workers and queens is believed to be at the heart of the dominance of social insects. But how do social insects evolve and adapt when most members of their societies are sterile workers? I will present our laboratory’s recent progress on understanding the relationship between genes, worker behaviour, and evolution in the honey bee, Apis mellifera.
The shrinking Arctic sea ice cover is often taken as one of the most prominent indicators of recent climate change, andThe shrinking Arctic sea ice cover is often taken as one of the most prominent indicators of recent climate change, and its early, complete disappearance seems almost inevitable in the public debate, spawning speculations about the opening of northern shipping routes and resource exploration, as well as about the extinction of polar bears and the collapse of Arctic food-webs. However, little is actually understood about the recent rapid sea ice changes in the
Arctic, and climate models continue to predict sea ice changes with little skill. The presentation will provide a status of observed sea ice changes in the Arctic and Antarctic, and will discuss some of the uncertainties related to changes of the sea ice mass balance. I will then focus on results of our own field and remote sensing research with regard to Arctic sea ice, particularly results from airborne and snowmobile-based ice thickness surveying. Results show large regional sea ice variability in the Canadian Arctic which represent different environmental conditions and prevents easy, general predictions of future ice conditions.
The incredibly small bits of matter we call neutrinos may hold the secret to why antimatter is so rare, how mighty stars explode as supernovae, what the universe was like just seconds after the big bang, and even the inner workings of our own planet. In Neutrino Hunters, I will take you on a thrilling journey into the shadowy world of neutrinos and the colorful lives of scientists chasing these elusive particles, recounting a captivating saga of scientific discovery and celebrating a glorious human quest. Hear what the next decade of neutrino hunting may hold in store.
*Robin Kingsburgh, PhD Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences/ School of Interdisciplinary Studies OCAD University; Natural Science, York University
*Stephen Morris, PhD, Department of Physics, University of Toronto
Lisa Carrie Goldberg, Multidisciplinary Artist, and founder of Action Potential Lab, dedicated to merging science and art.
Moderator: Ian Clarke, BSc, PhD, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences/ School of Interdisciplinary Studies, OCAD University
Science and art often have a perceived divide in contemporary culture, yet historically their roots stem from similar manifestations of creativity and aesthetics, in exploring, responding to and explaining Nature. This panel presentation brings together scientists, artists and those with a foot in each of the ‘two cultures’ to discuss their interdisciplinary practices, and encourage novel ways to understand the world around us.
*Curatorial team members for “Occam’s Razor: Art, Science & Aesthetics”, a juried exhibition of works of art inspired by science, examining similarities in practice amongst scientists and artists, at Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts (April 2-20, 2014), and the !dea Gallery, Ontario Science Centre (May 3- June 1, 2014).
Microscopes have been serving scientists for more than four hundred years and provided a possibility to glimpse into the lives of cells and minute living organisms. Modern microscopes utilize lasers with very short pulses to help visualize cells without labeling and in their natural environment. We use advance microscopy to study the structural dynamics of cells in plant and animal tissue, and how their behaviour is affected by diseases including cancer. I will guide you into the inner parts of a moving cell and discuss how cells contract and react to changes in the environment.
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.