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.
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.