Science Gala Dinner 2016 – Table Hosts

RCIS Science Gala Dinner 2016: Table Topics & Hosts


Tables 14-25

Table 1
Laurie Tannous


CEO Institute for Border Logistics and Security, Adjunct Professor, Windsor School of Law

 Border Security and Facilitating Trade: Risk vs. Opportunity 

Trade facilitation and border security are both essential and interdependent; the two should not be interchangeable at any cost. Increased trade is acknowledged as a significant instrument contributing to Canada’s economy, but the unimpeded flow of trade through the border should not compromise border security. A better understanding of the border and how to manage its nuances requires a balance of ensuring security while facilitating trade. There is no trade-off between securing regulatory compliance and facilitating legitimate trade.
Maximum Compliance = Maximum Facilitation.

CEO at the Institute for Border Logistics and Security (IBLS), the Border Security, Immigration and Customs Advisor for the Cross Border Institute and the Vice President of Government and Industry Relations at Farrow. Laurie is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Windsor School of Law and University of Detroit Mercy Law School. Laurie has been a practicing Canadian Trade and Immigration Lawyer since 2004.

Table 2
Justin Nodwell


Chair, Biochemistry Department, University of Toronto

Antibiotics and Antibiotic Resistance in Nature and in Medicine

Most antibiotics are “natural products.” They are produced by environmental microorganisms that live all over the earth, primarily in the soil but also in other ecosystems. It is not well-understood why bacteria produce these molecules and, furthermore, the full diversity of structure and activity of them is also unknown. A growing body of evidence suggests that resistance to antibiotics may also have its origin in nature. To be able to grow and survive, the antibiotic-producing bacteria must encode antibiotic resistance genes. The implication of this is a very important question for the future of medicine.

Justin grew up in Montreal and moved to Toronto then attended the University of Toronto for a BSc and PhD, then moved to Cambridge MA for a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University. His first academic appointment was at McMaster University where he worked until moving to the University of Toronto to become the Chair of of the the Department of Biochemistry. His research interests are focused on environmental bacteria called Streptomycetes, that produce biologically active molecules used extensively as antibiotics and other drugs. His group is focused on the discovery of new antibiotics and on understanding the role these molecules play in nature. Justin’s outside interests include music and chess.

Table 3
Aubie Angel


Senior Fellow, Massey College, University of Toronto, President, Friends of Canadian Institutes of Health Research,

 Cholesterol and Heart Disease: Cause and Current Treatments

1.3 million Canadians live with heart disease and approximately 1 person dies of it every 7 minutes in this country. The link between cholesterol and heart disease has been long established. What is the mechanism behind this connection and what current treatments are available to help reduce the risk?

An endocrinologist with research interests in adipose tissue and lipid/lipoprotein metabolism, Dr. Angel was Professor and Head, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Manitoba and Head of Medicine at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg. He has served as Director of the Institute of Medical Science and Director of the Clinical Sciences Division at the University of Toronto. He is a founding member of a number of academic and advocacy organizations and established Friends of CIHR, a national organization that promotes the goals and ideals of CIHR and under its auspices founded the Friesen International Prize in Health Research (2005) and the Video History of Medicine in Canada Project


Table 4
Trevor Pitcher


Associate Professor, Biological Sciences & Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, University of Windsor

Infusing Ecology and Evolution into Aquaculture to Produce Sustainable Seafood

Traditional capture fisheries cannot meet the increasing demand for seafood. As aquaculture, or “fish farming”, grows, it must balance production with environmental impacts. Though challenging, there are opportunities to increase aquaculture productivity and sustainability by learning from ecology and evolution. For example, we have evaluated sustainable organic salmon farming with a native salmon species in British Columbia and the value of incorporating natural mating into traditional hatchery-based breeding. We will discuss the challenges and misconceptions of aquaculture and the merits of more sustainable practices that involve an understanding of the ecology and evolution of wild salmon populations.

Trevor Pitcher obtained his PhD in Ecology and Evolution from the University of Toronto. Before joining the University of Windsor, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Western University.  Dr. Pitcher conducts research in the field of evolutionary ecology with applications in aquaculture and fish conservation.  He was a recipient of the national NSERC Synergy Award for his industry based research regarding sustainable salmon farming practices.

Table 5
Jessica Grahn


Associate Professor in the Brain and Mind Institute and the Department of Psychology at Western University

 Music and the Brain

Moving to music is an instinctive, often involuntary activity, experienced by those in all cultures. We will discuss why humans move to music, and whether other species share this special ability. We will also talk about how the brain’s movement centres light up in response to music and rhythm, even when we aren’t moving a muscle, and potentially speculate about why music evolved in the first place. Lastly, we will cover the exciting potential held by some musical therapies for helping those with degenerative neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease.

Dr. Grahn investigates how music affects our brain and behavior. Her topics include: how music makes us move, how musical training changes brain structure, and whether music can affect cognitive abilities (such as memory or reasoning), or can benefit patients with neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Grahn has degrees in Neuroscience and Piano from Northwestern University, and a PhD from Cambridge, England. She is Associate Professor in the Psychology department and Brain and Mind Institute at the University of Western Ontario. Dr. Grahn’s research is supported by the James S. McDonnell Foundation, the GRAMMY foundation, Parkinson Society Canada, and several Canadian research councils. She also plays electric cello in a local band.

Table 6
Lora Giangregorio


Associate Professor, Department of Kinesiology, University of Waterloo

 Should Exercise be a Vital Sign?

Replacing only one hour of sitting time with exercise or even non-exercise physical activity, like housework or gardening, can reduce one’s risk of death. However, monitoring or prescribing of physical activity is not routine in health care, and inactivity is highly prevalent, contributing to an epidemic of obesity, diabetes and chronic disease. Should we consider exercise as something life-sustaining, like heart rate or blood pressure, a metric that is monitored as part of our health care, and interventions are initiated when one is “at risk” of perpetual inactivity?

Dr. Lora Giangregorio is a Kinesiologist and Associate Professor at the University of Waterloo. She leads research to understand how to prevent bone loss and fractures by improving risk assessment and evaluating exercise interventions. She also leads initiatives to get research into practice for health care providers and patients, developing continuing education and other knowledge translation tools.

Table 7
Rachel Wortis


Professor, Department of Physics, Trent University

 Is Dirt Good for Quantum Computers?

Why do you feel safe entering your credit card number on a website? Would a quantum computer change that? We will discuss quantum computers and the role that new materials might play in making them. We have long known that materials are made from electrons and nuclei which interact. And yet fascinating mysteries continue to bubble up from this familiar stew. A lot of materials research focuses on synthesizing and characterizing the cleanest possible materials. However, impurities aren’t always just an inconvenient distraction. A new phase of matter, dubbed the many-body localized phase, has recently been identified in disordered interacting systems. Might it help address a key challenge in the construction of quantum computers?

Professor Wortis obtained her undergraduate degree from Harvard University and completed her PhD from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.  After post-doctoral research work at McMaster University and the University of Sherbrooke, she received an NSERC University Faculty Award at Trent University.  Her research is in the field of theoretical condensed matter physics.  She studies the electronic behavior of materials, with a current focus on the role of disorder in strongly correlated systems.

Table 8
Tom Mikkelsen


President and Scientific Director of the Ontario Brain Institute

 Team Science, Genomics, Big Data and Open-Source: The Tools of Modern BioScience

The old image of a scientist working alone in the lab is persistent in popular culture. But that image could not be more wrong in this era of collaborative research. It is not uncommon to a paper to include more than 100 authors. The reason is that teams of scientists can uncover more, at a faster rate, by sharing their data and collaborating on methodologies. We will explore how this works and why this is the future of bioscience.

Tom Mikkelsen received his MD from the University of Calgary and completed clinical training in neurology at the Montreal Neurological Institute. He did post-doctoral training in tumour and molecular biology at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in Montreal and then in La Jolla, California. He led the brain tumour program at Henry Ford Hospital and was responsible for building the clinical trials program and laboratory of tumour biology. He helped assemble the Hermelin Brain Tumor Center, a leader in the understanding of the genetics of brain tumours and in the development of treatments for brain tumours. As Co-Director, he participated in the organization’s development on many levels spanning from face-to-face clinical care to clinical trials and translational and bench research.

 Table 9
Isabel Meirelles


Professor Faculty of Design, and researcher, Visual Analytics Lab, OCADU


The Visualizing Spirit: Current trends in data visualization

The second half of the eighteenth century saw most disciplines in the sciences and the humanities share a “quantifying spirit” characterized by the systematization of knowledge as well as a preoccupation with measuring all types of phenomena. This is not much different from our current obsession with collecting, quantifying and analyzing all types of data. I would argue that a “visualizing spirit”, however, better describes the present passion and widespread use of visual-spatial techniques in the already quantified sciences, humanities and the arts. I will discuss the significance of our present “visualizing spirit” with a focus on recent visualization trends, their roles, affordances and limitations in helping us explore, extract and interpret information.

Isabel Meirelles is a designer and educator whose intellectual curiosity lies in the relationships between visual thinking and visual representation. She is a Professor in the Faculty of Design, and researcher in the Visual Analytics Lab, OCAD University. Isabel’s research focuses on the theoretical and experimental examination of the fundamentals underlying how information is structured, represented, and communicated in different media. Meirelles is the author of “Design for Information: An introduction to the histories, theories, and best practices behind effective information visualizations” (Rockport Publishers, 2013).

 Table 10
Charles Thomas McElroy


NSERC Industrial Research Chair, Dept. of Earth and Space Science and Engineering, Lassonde School of Engineering, York University

 Atmospheric Remote Sounding Satellites

Space exploration has extended greatly our knowledge about our own planet. Satellites, in particular, have revolutionized how we track and monitor what is happening on Earth. We will discuss what satellites can contribute in measuring the composition of the atmosphere, supporting weather forecasts, contributing to national security and supporting disaster management.

A graduate of the Math, Physics and Chemistry program at University of Toronto. McElroy did an M.Sc. at U of T and a Ph.D. at York University, then was a Visiting Research Professor at University of Denver before returning as a Research Scientist at Environment Canada. He did a brief spell as the technical assistant to the Manager of the Canadian Astronaut Program, then left Environment Canada in 2011 to join York University’s Dept. of Earth and Space Science. McElroy is a co-inventor of the Brewer Ozone Spectrophotometer and the UV Index which are now used in more than 25 countries globally. He is the Principal Investigator for the MAESTRO instrument on the Canadian Space Agency’s SCISAT satellite that continues to work in its 13th year on orbit.

 Table 11
Art Petronis


Senior Scientist in the Neuroscience Research Department and Head of the Krembil Family Epigenetics Laboratory, CAMH.

Why Your DNA Isn’t Your Destiny: the Promise of Epigenetics*

The prefix “epi-” indicates small chemical marks that sit on the top of DNA and control genes. Several major findings have placed epigenetics at the frontier of biomedical research. First, epigenetic factors may be inherited from the parents. That means that heritability may not be an exclusive function of DNA. Second, epigenetics signals are malleable and can be influenced by what we eat, drink, breath, how long we sleep and what kind of stresses we experience. Finally, epigenetic misregulation of genes may be directly involved in the origin of common diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and schizophrenia. Several large epigenetics programs have been launched to uncover the most fundamental questions. We will explore the latest research and its implications.

*The discussion title is borrowed from an article on epigenetics published in the Time magazine (John Cloud, Time, Jan 6, 2010).

Art Petronis graduated from Kaunas Medical University, Lithuania, and he worked on his PhD at the Brain Research Institute in Moscow. Dr. Petronis completed his post-doctoral training at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, Toronto and has been on the faculty at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and University of Toronto. Currently Dr. Petronis is Professor and Head of the Krembil Family Epigenetics Laboratory. He is also Tapscott Chair for Schizophrenia Studies at the University of Toronto. His research is dedicated to the elucidation of the role of epigenetic factors in complex non-Mendelian diseases such as schizophrenia, diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease.

 Table 12
Cindi Morshead


Professor, Department of Surgery, University of Toronto School of Medicine

 Stem Cells and Neural Repair:  The last frontier in regenerative medicine

The promise of using stem cells and their progeny to treat a variety of currently untreatable human diseases has received worldwide attention. In particular, work in animal models has shown that stem cells could potentially be used to treat patients suffering from disorders of the nervous system, such as stroke and spinal cord injury, conditions which are devastating to the patients, their families, and society as a whole. If stem cells hold out the promise of becoming a biological tool kit, then it’s important we use the right tools for the job. An understanding of the fundamental biology as it relates to stem cells is needed so that we can apply this knowledge to repair the injured nervous system  – the last frontier in regenerative medicine.

Dr. Morshead did her PhD at the University of Toronto and joined the faculty in the Department of Surgery. She is currently a tenured Professor and Chair of the Division of Anatomy.  Dr. Morshead also holds faculty appointments in the Institute of Biomaterial and Biomedical Engineering and the Rehabilitation Science Institute. Dr. Morshead’s expertise is in stem cell biology and specifically, in the field of neural stem cells. Her lab is interested in exploring fundamental questions regarding the behaviour and characterization of neural stem cells and applying this knowledge to regenerative medicine strategies. Her team is actively pursuing the role of stem cells in models of injury and neurodegenerative disease such as stroke, cerebral palsy, acquired brain injury and spinal cord injury.

 Table 13
Imogen Coe

13_coe width=

Dean, Faculty of Science, Ryerson University

Change the Numbers: Ensuring Diversity in STEM is essential for Canada’s Economic Future

Only 3% of Nobel Prizes in physics, physiology/medicine and chemistry have been awarded to women. In 1987, women were 20% of the Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) workforce; in 2015 it was 22%. At the same time, there is substantial evidence for equal interest and engagement in STEM in both boys and girls from an early age. Data from diverse studies are peeling back the barriers to inclusion and the nature of exclusion. Cultural conditioning, implicit bias, stereotype threat and media influence actively and persistently exclude girls and women from making significant contributions to society in STEM. Full inclusion and engagement of girls and women in STEM are moral and economic imperatives for Canada because diversity leads to creativity and innovation which will both be needed as we tackle the complex global problems of the 21st century. To quote Malala Yousafzai, “We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back” and as Myra Sadker said, “If the cure for cancer is in the mind of a girl, we might never find it.”

Founding Dean of the Faculty of Science and Professor (Department of Chemistry and Biology) at Ryerson University, Dr. Coe is also an affiliate scientist in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, Keenan Research Centre at St. Michael’s Hospital. Dr. Coe is a Board Director for the Michael Garron Hospital (formerly TEGH), and hErVOLUTION, a non-profit organization which working on access to innovative education and employment services to girls and young women in STEM and a member of the International Women’s Forum, an invitation-only organization that promotes women’s leadership. A vocal advocate for the engagement, retention, recruitment and promotion of girls and women in STEM, Dr. Coe is recognized internationally for her work in this field. She has written and spoken on the issue on numerous occasions in diverse venues such as TEDx and the Huffington Post.

Table 14
Ian Hambleton


Director, Fields Institute & Dr. F. Ronald Britton Professor Mathematics, McMaster University


Mathematics and Architecture

From earliest times,  mathematics has been closely linked to architecture. The underlying structural integrity of any building is based on geometrical analysis of stress and strain, from the invention of the arch, the flying buttresses of Gothic cathedrals, to the earth-quake resistant skyscrapers of the modern world. Beyond function, architecture expresses the beauty of proportions and symmetry through harmonious ratios. Leading architects now experiment with new materials, aperiodic order and curved structures. To create practical designs, new mathematical methods are under active development.

Dr. Hambleton received his doctorate from Yale University, and was an L. E. Dickson Instructor at the University of Chicago before joining McMaster University, where he has served as Chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics for three terms.  His  research in geometry and topology connects to a broad range of mathematics. He was a Member of the School of Mathematics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton for two years, and a Visiting Professor for three years at the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in Bonn, in addition to numerous other visiting positions at major mathematical centres.

 Table 15
April Khademi


Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Guelph

Can Advances in Medical Image Analysis and Computing Replace the Physician?

IBM’s supercomputer, Watson, is currently training to become a radiologist’s assistant by learning how to read both images and medical records. Is this the future? When a patient visits their physician, a plethora of tests can be ordered producing radiology and pathology images, genomic data, blood work, biomedical signals, cognitive tests and more. These data are generated quickly and in large volumes, and are classified as medical bigdata. Recent technological advances ensure medical bigdata are captured in a digital format and can be stored in central repositories, creating new opportunities to leverage computing power to analyze it. The result is an integrative approach that is personalized and prescriptive, with models that describe disease on a much deeper level than is usually done today. Focusing on neurological and breast cancer disease, we will explore how algorithms can be used to automatically analyze and diagnose medical images, and how this knowledge may be integrated with other pieces of the medical bigdata pipeline for computer-aided prognosis.

Director of the Image Analysis in Medicine Lab (IAMLAB), which specializes in the design of algorithms for Pathology and Radiology images, as well as for clinical bigdata. The algorithms are applied to breast cancer and neurodegenerative (stroke, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s) diseases. Her research has resulted in high impact publications, patent disclosures, invited talks and an NSERC Discovery Grant.  She currently serves as Associate Editor for IEEE (CJECE and Canadian Conference Board), is a member of the Scientific Committee of the European Congress of Digital Pathology, and is part of the Organizing Committee IEEE ICASSP 2021. April holds a Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Toronto and has had previous roles in research at GE Healthcare, PathCore Inc., Sunnybrook Research Institute and Toronto Rehab Institute.

 Table 16
Michael Arts


Professor and Graduate Program Director for Molecular Science, Department of Chemistry and Biology,
Ryerson University

 Global and Local Threats to the Production and Distribution of Essential Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Our world is warming rapidly yet we do not fully understand the ramifications of this far-reaching process. Monitoring and modeling changes in temperature, rainfall patterns and extreme weather patterns, on both local and global scales, has still not produced a complete picture of how increased temperatures will affect the biochemical processes essential to the health of plants and animals. For example, plants and animals respond to increasing water temperature by adjusting the chemical composition of their cell membranes. This involves increasing the amount of saturated fatty acids at the expense of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). The potential for systemic wide-scale losses of omega-3 long-chain PUFA as our world heats up has enormous implications for all life.

Dr. Arts received his BSc from Concordia, his MSc and PhD from the University of Toronto. He has been a research scientist with Environment Canada at both the National Hydrology Research Centre in Saskatoon and at the National Water Research Centre in Burlington. With a focus on fish, his major projects involve investigating changes to the aquatic ecosystem in a warming world, the effects of ocean acidification and the risks and benefits of eating Ontario sport fish.

 Table 17
Scott Beeser


Lawyer and patent agent at Aitken Klee LLP


 Pharmaceutical Patents and Innovation 

It is often said that a strong patent system is required in order to promote innovation, particularly in the pharmaceutical sector. But what types of pharmaceutical innovation should the patent system be promoting? Are all pharmaceutical patents necessarily desirable? If not, how should patents take into account the competing interests of pharmaceutical patentees and generic drug manufacturers be balanced? What role does the public have in this establishing and maintaining this balance?

Scott Beeser is a lawyer and patent agent at Aitken Klee LLP, one of Canada’s premier patent litigation firms. He has represented both patentees and generic drug manufacturers in litigation under Canada’s unique regulatory scheme linking generic drug approval to patent issues. Before becoming a lawyer, he earned his Ph.D. from the University of Utah where he studied the effects of amino acid substitutions on protein dynamics, folding and stability.

 Table 18
Jim McGeer


Professor, Biology & Director, Laurier Institute for Water Science,
Wilfrid Laurier University

 Are we using the best tools to protect our environment?

The environmental impact of contaminants is a rapidly developing field where leading edge technologies can help us understand and solve real problems.  The development of “omic” technologies: genomics, proteomics and metabolomics, and other molecular tools, has made exciting new areas of research possible. These have potentially broad-reaching uses, including in regulatory decision making. In spite of these and other developments, the basis for environmental regulations and guidelines has not changed in the past 30+ years.  The traditional measurements of survival/death, growth inhibition and reproductive impairment remain as the main (or only) data used for establishing environmental thresholds and criteria.  The reasons for and implications of this situation provides insight into how we approach the protection of our environment.

Jim’s research is focused in toxicology and the physiological disruptions induced by contaminants and other environmental stressors in aquatic biota.  Much of this work is directed towards understanding the mechanisms of toxicity of metals and integration of this knowledge into tools for ecological risk assessment.  Studies involve a variety of animal models, from fish to small invertebrates, with the overall goal of learning how to better protect the environment during the development and use of our natural resources.

 Table 19
Shushanta Mitra


Associate Vice-President Research and Kaneff Professor in Micro & Nanotechnology for Social Innovation at the Lassonde School of Engineering,
York University

 Convergence of Science and Engineering to Solve Globally Challenging Problems

Traditionally, researchers in  natural sciences and engineering have worked in silos. However, some of the globally challenging problems in water, food security, energy, and health would require teams with complementary skills working across the traditional discipline boundaries. Also, it is increasingly becoming important to understand the uptake of technological solutions by communities and broader stakeholders, which often is driven by researcher questions in social science.

Dr. Mitra’s research interests are in the fundamental understanding of fluid transport in micro and nano-scale confinements with applications in energy, environmental monitoring, and bio-systems. He has authored and co-authored more than 100 peer-reviewed journal papers. For his contributions in engineering and sciences, he has been elected as the Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering (CSME), the Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC), the Canadian Academy for Engineering (CAE), the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He is also a Fellow of the National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT) and the recipient of 2015 Engineering Excellence Medal from the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers.

 Table 20
Stephen Scott


GSK-CIHR Chair in Neuroscience, Centre for Neuroscience Studies, Queen’s University

 Robotics as a Next Generation Technology for Neurological Assessment

Clinical assessment plays a crucial role in all facets of patient care, from diagnosing the specific disease or injury, to management and monitoring of rehabilitation strategies to ameliorate dysfunction. However, assessment of sensorimotor function is largely subjective in nature (e.g. observe touching finger to nose) with relatively coarse rating systems (0, 1 or 2). It is difficult for even experienced observers to discriminate consistently small changes in performance. I am exploring the potential of robotic technologies for neurological assessment and have developed a robotic device called KINARM to measure and modify how the arms are used to move and interact in the environment. These devices are now being used at Queen’s and elsewhere around the world to quantify neurological impairments in many disorders/injuries including stroke, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury and concussion.

Leading expert on neural basis of voluntary motor control. His basic research program explores the neural, mechanical and behavioural aspects of motor function, and his clinical research examines the use of robots for neurological assessment. He has published over 100 refereed journal articles and given over 150 invited talks. He is the inventor of the KINARM robot and is actively involved in the continued development of advanced technologies for use in basic and clinical research.  He is Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of BKIN Technologies that commercialises and manufacturers the KINARM robot. 

 Table 21
John Floras


Canada Research Chair in Integrative Cardiovascular Biology, University of Toronto

 Your Heart and Blood Vessels Need a Good Night’s Sleep

Healthy sleep relaxes the heart and circulation and quiets the nerves that control their function.  The cardiovascular system may not enjoy fully the restorative effects of sleep when this pacific state is interrupted. A common and concerning cause of such interruption is obstructive sleep apnea, which has been linked to high blood pressure, heart failure, stroke and serious heart rhythm disorders. Remarkably, patients with heart disease and sleep apnea tend not to be sleepy, and the majority are not aware that they have this condition. Dr. Floras and his colleagues have devoted over 2 decades  to understanding the causes and cardiovascular consequences of sleep apneas and how these risks can be mitigated.

Dr. John Floras, a consultant cardiologist, Professor of Medicine and Deputy Physician-in-Chief for Research at Mount Sinai Hospital pursues patient-oriented research into circulatory and cardiac control mechanisms in health and disease, with particular emphasis on heart failure, high blood pressure, kidney failure, and sleep-related breathing disorders in men and women.  His discoveries, which have appeared in over 200 original publications, have had a significant impact on cardiovascular medicine. He co-edited “Sleep Apnea: Implications for Cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular Disease”, the first text devoted to this topic He recently concluded 5 years as Chair of the Banting Research Foundation, Canada’s oldest health-related granting agency. Its mission is to provide early career support for Canada’s most promising medical discovery scientists.

 Table 22
Julia Spaniol


Associate Professor, Psychology, Ryerson University

 Cognitive Ageing

Why does cognitive function change as we age? What is “normal” cognitive aging? Are there cognitive skills that improve with age? Can new technologies help mitigate age-related cognitive decline? Is brain training effective? Our discussion will focus on scientific evidence on these and other questions, as well as the societal significance of cognitive-aging research in the 21st century.

Julia Spaniol received her doctorate in cognitive psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and completed postdoctoral work at Duke University Medical Center and at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest in Toronto. She directs the Memory and Decision Processes (MAD) lab in the Department of Psychology at Ryerson University. She currently holds a Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Aging, and is a recipient of the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation’s Early Researcher Award.

 Table 23
Latham Boyl


Faculty, Perimeter Institute

Penrose Tilings and Quasicrystals

In the 1970’s, a renowned mathematical physicist named Roger Penrose, and an unknown (but ingenious) recreational mathematician named Robert Ammann, independently discovered a new type intuition-defying pattern now called “Penrose tiling”.  Among its many remarkable properties, the pattern never repeats itself and can even seem random, although it is, in fact, just as rigidly ordered as the tiles on, say, your bathroom floor. Mathematicians were immediately entranced, but it wasn’t for 10 years that scientists discovered Penrose tiling was the blueprint for a new class of materials called “quasicrystals.” Remarkable analogues of Penrose tiling exist in two, three and four dimensions. These are clearly special objects which stand at the crossroads between many different topics in physics and mathematics, where they beautifully illuminate the unity of physics and mathematics, suggest intriguing new connections, and point the way to future discoveries.

Latham Boyle obtained his PhD from Princeton University, was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics and a CIFAR Global Scholar, and is now a faculty member at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. His research interests include developing new observational tests to distinguish between competing theories of the very early universe, developing new designs for telescopes to detect gravitational waves,  investigating the idea that certain features of the laws of nature are really clues that spacetime is not just curved (as Einstein taught us) but also “non-commutative” and investigating exotic types of crystals called “choreographic crystals” and “quasicrystals” and the unexpected ways that they connect to physics and mathematics.

Table 24
Sheldon Williamson


NSERC Canada Research Chair in Electric Energy Storage Systems for Transportation Electrification, UOIT-Automotive Center of Excellence (UOIT-ACE)

 Electric mobility and transportation: “Charging” ahead and looking at what’s in “store” for the future

Electric transportation has the potential to offer a practical and sustainable mobility solution in the face of dwindling oil reserves and growing environmental concerns. Major transportation electrification R&D efforts have accelerated and commercialization plans laid out in the last decade. However, major barriers and issues linger: costly battery energy storage and management systems, few alternate energy storage options, limited driving range, lack of charging infrastructure and fast charging stations, and expensive electric machines and drives for e-propulsion. From e-bikes, scooters, industry-grade electric vehicles and e-golf-carts-to urban mass transit and infrastructure electrification, we will discuss a wide range of applications of e-transport and explore new ideas for Canadian innovation, R&D, and manufacturing for low-carbon economic development within the automotive and transportation sectors.

Sheldon S. Williamson received his Bachelors in Electrical Engineering degree with high distinction from the University of Mumbai, India. He received the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering (with Honors) from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL. His main research interests include electric energy storage systems, advanced power electronics, electric machines, and motor drives for electric mobility and transportation. Dr. Williamson has published over 150 journal and conference papers, which have been cited nearly 3000 times. He is a Senior Member of the IEEE and is a Member of the IEEE Power Electronics and Industrial Electronics societies. He is also a Distinguished Lecturer of the IEEE Vehicular Technology Society.