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.
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.