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.
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.
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.