Category Archives: science communication

Ingenium increases Canada’s Museum of Science and Technology’s virtual outreach?

Something hopeful was in my email box this morning (August 27, 2020), it’s a survey from Ingenium, the portmanteau for the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, and the Canada Science and Technology Museum.

Have you ever asked yourself how the Canada Science and Technology Museum might improve its outreach to those of us outside Ottawa and the southern regions of Ontario and Québec? (To be fair, they do have an online presence with some activities and information.)

Well, it seems that now COVID-19 has constrained their attendance numbers, the folks at the museum are looking at livestreaming some of their Curiosity on Stage presentations and making them available for viewing afterwards.

The survey I saw this morning (August 27, 2020) is designed to gauge interest. Here’s more from the August 26, 2020 Ingenium notice,

Calling all museum lovers!

Would you have 3 minutes to help the Canada Science and Technology Museum develop activities, events, and experiences for young and old? You just need to complete a short set of questions in our online survey conducted with Quorus Consulting.

To complete this short survey please click on the following link (if the link is inactive, please copy and paste the URL into your browser to access the survey): Take the Survey

Please complete your survey by August 30, 2020.  

If you have any technical difficulties with the survey, please contact the team at Quorus at discussions@quorusconsulting.com. If you would like to contact someone at Ingenium regarding this study, you can reach Lisa Leblanc by email at: lleblanc@ingeniumcanada.org.

We appreciate your assistance.  

Sincerely,

Christina Tessier
President and CEO of Ingenium

P.S. As a reminder, your participation is voluntary. All your answers will remain completely confidential and anonymous; no individual respondents will be identified as part of the analysis and, in accordance with the Privacy Act, no one will contact you as a result of your answers to this survey without your express consent

—–

Appel aux amateurs de musées!

Auriez-vous trois minutes pour aider le Musée des sciences et de la technologie du Canada à développer des activités, des événements et des expériences pour petits et grands? Vous n’aurez qu’à répondre aux quelques questions de notre sondage en ligne réalisé conjointement avec le groupe-conseil Quorus.

Pour remplir ce court sondage, veuillez cliquer sur le lien suivant (si le lien est inactif, veuillez copier et coller l’URL dans votre navigateur pour accéder au sondage): Participer à l’enquête

Veuillez remplir le sondage d’ici le 30 août 2020

Si vous éprouvez des difficultés techniques avec le sondage, veuillez communiquer avec l’équipe de Quorus à discussions@quorusconsulting.com. Si vous souhaitez parler à quelqu’un chez Ingenium concernant cette étude, vous pouvez communiquer avec Lisa Leblanc par courriel à lleblanc@ingeniumcanada.org.

Votre aide nous est précieuse

Cordialement,

Christina Tessier
Présidente et chef de la direction d’Ingenium

P.S. Nous souhaitons vous rappeler que, votre participation se fait sur une base volontaire. Vos réponses seront entièrement confidentielles et anonymes. Aucune personne interrogée ne sera identifiée dans le cadre de l’analyse et, conformément à la Loi sur la protection des renseignements personnels, personne ne communiquera avec vous à la suite de ce sondage, et ce, sans votre consentement explicite

For anyone not familiar with ‘Curiosity on Stage’, here’s a description of a couple of the presentations and what they’re hoping to do (from the survey, which really did take me about 3 minutes),

email survey

During the 2019-2020 season, the Canada Science and Technology Museum hosted Curiosity on Stage, live evenings of talks and discussions with scientific leaders from private industry, academia and government. Topics were aimed at the future of innovation in science and technology and its applications for building a better society. 

Titles of previous events include:

  • “Can Artificial Intelligence Tackle Climate Change: exploring the potential of AI to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help Canada lead in the clean tech economy”, and
  • “When Your City is Smarter than You: exploring the future of cities in an increasingly algorithmic world”.

Given the challenges of hosting live events during COVID-19, Curiosity on Stage will have a different format this fall, as follows:

  • Digital instead of in-person discussions hosted through an online platform (i.e. YouTube, Zoom, or Crowdcast).
  • Available to anyone at no cost.
  • Recordings of the lectures available to those who cannot attend the virtual events live.
  • Fully bilingual through simultaneous translation.
  • Those who watch the event “live” will have the opportunity to ask questions to the experts through a live chat box and comments section.

Hopefully you can use this link,, Take the Survey or this one, Participer à l’enquête.

BTW, I wasn’t sure how to answer the question later in the survey about what time of day I would like to watch a livestream. Whoever designed the survey doesn’t seem to have taken timezones into account. I answered from the perspective of someone on the West Coast.

Open Call for Artwork—Ontario Science Centre Auction

The deadline is August 23, 2020 and artists get to keep up to 40% of a winning bid. As for the details, here’s more from an August 20, 2020 ArtSci Salon notice (received this morning Aug. 21, 2020 via email),

Hello ArtSci Salon,

I am working at the Ontario Science Centre and I lead their annual fundraiser. Due to COVID, we are not able to hold our traditional sit-down dinner, however we are organizing an eAuction and this year we are excited to be featuring Art in addition to some unique science themed packages.  We are pleased to be able to offer Artists up to 40% of the winning bids!

Would you consider sharing out our call for art to your SciArt community? Please visit our webpage on our event website for details about the Call for artwork and how to apply today. The deadline to apply is August 23.

I came across your artwork via the Sci-Art Gallery site and I am reaching out to a number of artists to consider participating, in addition to placing some ads (via Akimbo and canadainart.ca and various other local art organizations).

The Science Centre is able to leverage our relationship with various media partners who provide in-kind media space (over $450,000 value of ad space!) to help us promote the eAuction. We are also investing in paid targeted social ads to promote the auction to groups who might be interested in specific packages.

Proceeds from the auction will support the Science Centre as we imagine new ways to deliver accessible and innovative science-based learning experiences and programs.

Please feel free to email me with any questions.

Shannon Persaud Tolnay
Head, Events and Donor Communications
shannon.persaudtolnay@osc.on.ca
Phone: 416-696-3123
Cell: 416-992-7127
www.rbcinnovatorsball.ca
www.ontariosciencecentre.ca

Ontario Science Centre
770 Don Mills Road
Toronto, ON M3C 1T3

I found a few more details on the Ontario Science Centre’s Open Call for Artwork webpage,

Artist Participation Agreement (click to download and view the Agreement)

Selection Criteria Innovative connection to Science, Technology, Nature (30%), Aesthetic expression (30%), Diversity and Inclusion (20%), Ease of transport and delivery (20%).

If the Artwork is not sold, no fee will be paid to the Artist.

Employees of the Ontario Science Centre and RBC (title sponsor of the eAuction) are not permitted to submit Artwork for the eAuction, unless they agree to donate 100% of the proceeds.

Jury

Mary Jane Conboy, Chief Scientist, Ontario Science Centre

Ana Klasnja, Senior Multi Media Producer, Ontario Science Centre

Sabrina Maltese, Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art

Tash Naveau, Artist and Indigenous Arts Administrator

Shannon Persaud Tolnay, Head, Events and Donor Communications, Ontario Science Centre

Personal information is collected by the Centennial Centre for Science and Technology under the authority of section 6 of the Centennial Centre of Science and Technology Act, R.S.O. 1990 c. C.5. for the administration of the juried competition to participate in the Ontario Science Centre’s  RBC Innovators’ Online Art Exhibition and eAuction. Any questions about the collection of your personal information should be directed to shannon.persaudtolnay@osc.on.ca.

Tax receipts will not be issued to Artists for Artwork submission in the RBC Innovators’ eAuction. Should the Artist wish to donate their fee back to the Science Centre, a tax receipt can be issued for the amount of the donation.

Acknowledgment, promotion and recognition will begin early October. In advertising materials (i.e. print: Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, National Post, Restobar and digital: PATH Video walls, globeandmail.com, VerizonMedia, etc) In targeted Social Ads: Paid Facebook / Instagram; Paid Twitter; LinkedIn posts; In donor, member and supporter eNewsletters, On RBC Innovators’ Ball event websites www.rbcinnovatorsball.ca/auction | bidsfortheball.ca POST EVENT: 2020/2021 Annual Report, Sponsor / Donor Wall for one year / Donor newsletter. 2019 in-kind media value total $470,855.

the auction runs from October 26 – November 9, 2020. Good luck!

Call for works for a virtual October 2020 ‘Catalyst: A Sci-Art Exhibition’ (Michigan State University)

McKenzie Prillaman both profiles a 2019 sci-art exhibit at Michigan State University (MSU) and publicizes a ‘call for submissions’ for the 2020 edition in a July 10, 2020 posting on artthescience.com (Note: Links have been removed),

The Exploring Life Through SciArt exhibition united the science and art communities of East Lansing, Michigan. Organized by the Michigan State University Science Communication Organization (MSU SciComm) in 2019, this exhibition featured original science-art collaborations created by university science students and local artists.

The artworks, which were exhibited on MSU’s campus from October 2019 to March 2020 then donated to various locations around the city, are now on display in Art the Science’s Polyfield Digital Art Gallery. 

Fine art photographer Jane Kramer helped plant biology student Emily Jennings share her research on chloroplasts, the structures in plants that convert light energy into plant food. Together, they created the work Micrometer by Micrometer, which showcases the size variation in chloroplasts. Jennings’ research examines how chloroplast size impacts the amount of food a plant can produce.

This initiative taught the photographer that participation in sci-art projects didn’t always mean she needed to be behind the camera. “I lent my skills in conceptualizing how to best present Emily’s work in a way that engages and excites the public,” Kramer says. “It was important for me to incorporate her passion for this research into the final piece and bring her message to light.”

Micrometer by Micrometer (2019) by Emily Jennings and Jane Kramer, 6” x 9”, image capture on acrylic

You can see all 18 artist or artist/scientist pairings for a digital exhibit of the work here at the online Polyfield Digital Art Gallery.

The ‘call for submissions’ is an ‘application’ according to the organizers (from the MSU SciComm ‘Catalyst: A Sci-Art Exhibition’ application webpage),

MSU SciComm 2020 Sci-Art Application

This form is meant to provide us with a more detailed picture of your project. Additionally, information provided on this form will help us get you the resources needed for your project’s success. Thank you and happy planning! The theme for this year’s exhibit is Catalyst: A SciArt Exhibit

Due Date: July 31st at 11:59pm

-Noelia Barvo (MSU SciComm SciArt Chair)

Please email questions at msuscicomm.sciart@gmail.com

There are two questions on the form:

Question 1: Please list a short description of yourself including name, background/affiliation, and degree (completed/in progress) as you’d like it to appear online.

Question 2: Are you an MSU student?

YesNo

Should you be concerned that you’re not a student or member of the MSU community, there’s this from Prillaman’s July 10, 2020 posting,

Applications are now open for MSU SciComm’s next exhibition, Catalyst: A Sci-Art Exhibition, scheduled to open virtually in October 2020. The organization hopes to keep growing and work with international artists [emphases mine] to continue making an impact through the beauty of science-art.

Fro the curious, here’s a brief description of the MSU SciComm’s mission on their organization’s homepage (scroll down),

MSU SciComm is a student-run organization that focuses primarily on promoting awareness of science communication across the various disciplines at Michigan State University. We focus on science writing, speaking, art, policy, & outreach.

Our mission is to empower students and young professionals to communicate complex scientific topics in clear and engaging ways. 

Good luck with your submission/application!

Sea Shambles update

Things have changed (but not the event date) since my March 3, 2020 posting about the Sea Shambles event in London’s (UK) Royal Albert Hall. It will now be livestreamed by the Royal Albert Home (series) and The Stay at Home Festival on May 17, 2020.

[downloaded from https://cosmicshambles.com/words/news/sea-shambles-at-home-guests]

You may recognize Cobie Smulders (fourth from the left) from her stints on television (How I Met Your Mother and Stumptown) and in the movies (the Avengers films). Here’s a little more about her from her IMDb (Internet Movie Database) entry, some of which helps to explain her presence,

Cobie Smulders was born on April 3, 1982, in Vancouver, British Columbia, to a Dutch father and an English mother. As a girl, Cobie had set her sights on becoming a doctor or a marine biologist. …

Is a certified scuba diver and former model.

Here’s more about the updated Sea Shambles event (from the Cosmic Network Shambles May 17, 2020 event page),

With the live version of Sea Shambles sadly unable to go ahead for obvious reasons, it’s time to bring a rejigged version of the show direct to you on the same date and time, May 17th [2020] at 7:00pm [BT]. [For those of us on the west coast of Canada, that would be 11 am {PT}.]

Among the exciting names who will be joining hosts Robin Ince, Helen Czerski and Steve Backshall on the night are physicst Professor Brian Cox, astronaut Chris Hadfield, actor and ocean advocate Cobie Smulders, rock band British Sea Power, science broadcaster Liz Bonnin, poet Lemn Sissay, comedian Josie Long, marine biologist Helen Scales, singer-songwriter Jim Moray, performer and rapper Ben Baily Smith, actor Samuel West, climate scientist Dr Tamsin Edwards, comedian Katy Brand, writer and broadcaster Natalie Haynes, actor Rufus Hound, violinist Dunja Lavrova, laserist Seb Lee-Delisle, performer David McAlmont, singer/songwriter Grace Petrie, actor Reece Shearsmith and musician Steve Pretty. And, of course, we’ve got a bunch of surprises up our sleeves too…

So join us on a celebratory online voyage of discovery of our own blue planet and how we are best placed to protect it. We might not be on stage but we’re still bringing everything you’ve come to expect from one of the Cosmic Shambles Network’s signature variety shows. Including running over. This is set to be a 3 hour + extravaganza.

Lucy Noble, Artistic Director of the Royal Albert Hall, said: “We’re so excited to present this special version of Sea Shambles as part of the Royal Albert Home series. We would have loved to welcome audiences to the building to experience this spectacular show, but at the moment of course that’s not possible. This ‘at home’ version is the next best thing, with a truly staggering line-up of guests from the worlds of science, comedy and music.”

The show will be free to watch but as with all the shows during the Stay at Home Festival there will be a tip jar where people can leave a tip to help artists and venues hit hard by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis as well the Royal Albert Hall charity itself. With all our profits from the original live show set to go to marine charities we’ll also be highlighting and encouraging donations during the show to our three chosen charities, Bite Back, Surfers Against Sewage and Oceana.

Here’s a link that will get you to the livestreamed event on May 17, 2020 at 11 am (PT): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBQmdbVeoKw#action=share

One last thing, Tara Lohan has written a May 7, 2020 article for The Revelator about a groundbreaking international treaty for protecting the high seas (Note: A link has been removed),

Most of us have never been to the world’s immense last wilderness and never will. It’s beyond the horizon and often past the limits of our imaginations. It contains towering underwater mountain ranges, ancient corals, mysterious, unknown forms of life and the largest seagrass meadow in the world.

Yet it begins just 200 nautical miles off our shores. Technically referred to as “areas beyond national jurisdiction,” these remote expanses are known to most people simply as “the high seas.”

Their vast, dark waters encompass roughly two-thirds of the ocean and half the planet and are the last great global commons. Yet just 1% are protected, leaving these vital but relatively lawless expanses open to overfishing, pollution, piracy and other threats.

That could change soon.

In 2018, after more than a decade of groundwork at the United Nations, negotiations officially began for a new treaty focused on conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in the waters beyond national jurisdiction.

Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative needs an intern (paid position) for summer 2020

Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) Conservation Initiative has a paid internship position for a Videographer and Digital Storyteller. The submission deadline is May 18, 2020.

Before getting to the internship, here’s a description of the organization from its Wikipedia entry (Note: Links have been removed),

The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative or Y2Y is a joint Canada–United States not-for-profit organization and the only organization dedicated to securing the long-term ecological health of the region from Yellowstone National Park to Canada’s Yukon.

Y2Y’s work is a collaborative effort. Whether it is other conservation groups, local landowners, businesses, government agencies, Native Americans and First Nations, scientists, or others, partners are the force behind the Yellowstone to Yukon vision.

Here’s more about the job, from the Videography and Digital Storytelling Intern job posting (Note: I have changed the order in which the information is presented),

ELIGIBILITY AND QUALIFICATIONS:

This position is partly funded through the Canada Summer Jobs program. Applicants must be between the ages of 15 to 30 years, a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or with refugee protection, and have a valid Social Insurance Number. Y2Y is an equal opportunity employer and it is our policy to assure equal opportunities for employees and applicants regardless of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, genetic characteristics, disability or conviction of an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered. This policy applies to hiring, terms and conditions of employment, salary, benefits, promotion, salary adjustment, evaluation, termination and grievances.

The successful candidate must have their own equipment including editing software and an office space to work from.

LOCATION: Ideally, but not absolutely required, the candidate will be based in the southeastern British Columbia’s Columbia Headwaters region. Y2Y’s B.C. staff are located in Nelson and New Denver and the intern’s main supervisor is located in Canmore, Alberta.

HOURS OF WORK AND SALARY

The start and end date is flexible with the video project(s) to be completed in summer/fall 2020. This position is subject to Canada Summer Jobs funding and restrictions but is predicted to be eight weeks at 30 hours/week. Hours and days of work are somewhat flexible and will vary depending on filming needs. The salary is $18 per hour. Y2Y will reimburse approved out-of -pocket expenses.

THE POSITION:

As a strong candidate for this position, you are a story-teller – and you know the power of digital storytelling, especially when it comes to a well-crafted video. You find yourself seeking new ways to inspire people to explore the great outdoors and take action on environmental issues in their own backyard. As such, you want to combine your passion for nature with your skills in video production and digital storytelling. If this sounds like you, we want to get to know you more! Yellowstone to Yukon

Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) is seeking a videography and digital storytelling intern to support its public outreach and strengthen its connections with supporters, funders and donors. This exciting position is suited to someone interested in combining their videography, interpersonal and digital communications skills with their passion for wildlife, outdoor recreation and ecosystems conservation.The successful candidate will help with telling the story of our project work, partners and successesthrough interviewing stakeholders and editing videos that will make the case for conservation.

This role will also support our public-facing events and help convey the importance of Y2Y’s work in large landscape conservation, and more specifically in the Columbia Headwaters region of British Columbia.The position offers significant hands-on experience with the processes and practices of a non-profit conservation organization, and non-profit culture and administration. It aims to mentor a young professional interested in combining skills in video production, digital communications or another related field with a love of the environment, wildlife recreation and/or science.

TO APPLY: Send cover letter and resume detailing why you are interested in this position and your qualifications by 5 p.m.MST on Monday, May 18, 2020 to catherine@y2y.net. Include at least two references and a portfolio or at least one sample/link to your recent work in videography and digital storytelling.Successful candidates will receive a phone interview followed by videoconference interviews.

You can find the Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) Conservation Initiative website here. For anyone who’s interested but not eligible for the internship or wants a permanent job, there are other positions listed on Y2Y’s Career Opportunities webpage,

We are pleased to share career opportunities at Y2Y as well as environmental, conservation and biology jobs at partners and organizations in (and sometimes beyond) the Yellowstone to Yukon region.  

Good luck to all!

A mathematical sculptor, a live webcast (May 6, 2020) with theoretical cosmologist and author Katie Mack, & uniting quantum theory with Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity in a drawing

I’ve bookended information about the talk with physicist Katie Mack at Canada’s Perimeter Institute on May 6, 2020 with two items on visual art and mathematics and the sciences.

Mathematical sculpting

Robert Fathauer’s Three-Fold Hyperbolic Form exhibits negative curvature, a concept in geometry and topology that describes a surface curving in two directions at every point. Hemp crochet by Marla Peterson. Image courtesy of Robert Fathauer. [downloaded from https://www.pnas.org/content/114/26/6643.full]

You’ll find this image and a few more in a fascinating 2017 paper (see link and citation below) about mathematical sculpture,

Ferguson [Helaman Ferguson], who holds a doctorate in mathematics, never chose between art and science: now nearly 77 years old, he’s a mathematical sculptor. Working in stone and bronze, Ferguson creates sculptures, often placed on college campuses, that turn deep mathematical ideas into solid objects that anyone—seasoned professors, curious children, wayward mathophobes—can experience for themselves.

Mathematics has an intrinsic aesthetic—proofs are often described as “beautiful” or “elegant”—that can be difficult for mathematicians to communicate to outsiders, says Ferguson. “It isn’t something you can tell somebody about on the street,” he says. “But if I hand them a sculpture, they’re immediately relating to it.” Sculpture, he says, can tell a story about math in an accessible language.

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Science and Culture: Armed with a knack for patterns and symmetry, mathematical sculptors create compelling forms by Stephen Ornes. PNAS [Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences] June 27, 2017 114 (26) 6643-6645; https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1706987114

This paper appears to be open access.

Live webcast: theoretical cosmologist & science communicator Katie Mack

The live webcast will take place at 4 pm PT (1600 hours) on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. Here’s more about Katie Mack and the webcast from the event webpage (click through to the event page to get to the webcast) on the Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics (PI) website,

In a special live webcast on May 6 [2020] at 7 pm ET [4 pm PT], theoretical cosmologist and science communicator Katie Mack — known to her many Twitter followers as @astrokatie — will answer questions about her favourite subject: the end of the universe.

Mack, who holds a Simons Emmy Noether Visiting Fellowship at Perimeter, will give viewers a sneak peek at her upcoming book, The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking). She will then participate in a live “ask me anything” session, answering questions submitted via social media using the hashtag #piLIVE.

Mack is an Assistant Professor at North Carolina State University whose research investigates dark matter, vacuum decay, and the epoch of reionization. Mack is a popular science communicator on social media, and has contributed to Scientific American, Slate, Sky & Telescope, Time, and Cosmos.

PI is located in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

Uniting quantum theory with Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity with a drawing about light

The article by Stephon Alexander was originally published March 16, 2017 for Nautilus. My excerpts are from a getpocket.com selection,

LIGHT IN THE GARDEN: This drawing by the Oakes brothers, Irwin Gardens at the Getty in Winter, inspired the author to think anew about quantum mechanics and general relativity. The meticulous drawing, done on curved paper, allows viewers to reflect on the act of perception. Credit: Ryan and Trevor Oakes [downloaded from http://nautil.us/issue/46/balance/what-this-drawing-taught-me-about-four_dimensional-spacetime]

My aim as a theoretical physicist is to unite quantum theory with Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. While there are a few proposals for this unification, such as string theory and loop quantum gravity, many roadblocks to a complete unification remain.

Einstein’s theory tells us the gravitational force is a direct manifestation of space and time bending. The sun bends the fabric of space, much like a sleeping person bends a mattress. Planetary orbits, including Earth’s, are motion along the contours of the bent space created by the sun. This theory provides some critical insights into the nature of light.

… one summer, I had the most unexpected breakthrough. Beth Jacobs, a member of the New York Academy of Sciences’ Board of Governors, invited me and some friends to her New York City apartment to meet the Oakes twins, artists who have gained attention in recent years for their drawings as well as the innovative technique and inventions they deploy to create them. An Oakes work, Irwin Gardens at the Getty in Winter (2011), an intricate drawing of the famous gardens designed by Robert Irwin at The Getty Museum in Los Angeles, was displayed on the balcony of Jacobs’ apartment overlooking Central Park, with the backdrop of the New York City skyline lit with a warm orange sky moments before sunset.

As I gazed at the drawing, I could feel the artists challenging me to reconsider the nature of light. I began to realize I should consider not only the physics of light, but also how light information is perceived by observers, when theorizing and conceiving new principles to unify quantum mechanics and general relativity. …

Ryan and Trevor Oakes, 35, have been exploring the impact and intersection of visual perception and the physics of light since they were kids. After attending The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City, and years of experimentation and inventing new techniques, the twins exploited the notion that light information is better described when originating from a spherical surface.

Fascinating stuff. BTW, you can find the original article here on Nautilus.

The decade that was (2010-19) and the decade to come (2020-29): Science culture in Canada (an addendum)

I missed a few science journalists (part 1 of this series, under the Science Communication subhead; Mainstream Media, sub subhead) as the folks at the Science Media Centre of Canada (SMCC) noted on Twitter,

Science Media Centre @SMCCanada Apr 16 Replying to @frogheart

Thanks for the mention. But I think poor @katecallen at the Toronto Star would be dismayed to read that @IvanSemeniuk is the only science reporter on a Canadian newspaper. And @row1960 Bob Weber at Canadian Press is carried in every newspaper in the country.

Science Media Centre @SMCCanada Apr 16 Replying to @frogheart

In addition, @mle_chung at CBC News Online (#1 news source in Canada) is read more than any other science writer in the country, as is her colleague @NebulousNikki

Thank you.

***ETA April 29, 2020 at 0910 PT: Yesterday, April 28, 2020, Postmedia announced that it was closing 15 community newspapers and a number of jobs elsewhere in the organization. Earlier in the month on April 7, 2020 Postmedia announced that 85 positions were being eliminated, including 11 in the editorial department of TorStar (Toronto Star). I hope they keep a position for a science writer at the Toronto Star.***

Alice Major, a poet mentioned in Part 3 under The word subhead; Poetry sub subhead, wrote with news of two other poets who focus on science in their work.

  • Christian Bök
  • Adam Dickinson

From Bök’s Wikipedia entry (Note: Links have been removed),

Christian Bök[needs IPA] (born August 10, 1966 in Toronto, Canada) is an experimental Canadian poet. He is the author of Eunoia, which won the Canadian Griffin Poetry Prize.

On April 4, 2011 Bök announced a significant break-through in his 9-year project to engineer “a life-form so that it becomes not only a durable archive for storing a poem, but also an operant machine for writing a poem”.[7][8] On the previous day (April 3) Bök said he received confirmation from the laboratory at the University of Calgary that my poetic cipher, gene X-P13, has in fact caused E. coli to fluoresce red in our test-runs—meaning that, when implanted in the genome of this bacterium, my poem (which begins “any style of life/ is prim…”) does in fact cause the bacterium to write, in response, its own poem (which begins “the faery is rosy/ of glow…”).”[9]

The project has continued for over fifteen years at a cost exceeding $110,000 and he hopes to finish the project in 2014.[10] He published “Book I” of the resulting Xenotext in 2015.

Xenotext: Book 1 published by Coach House Books is described this way,

Internationally best-sellling poet Christian Bök has spent more than ten years writing what promises to be the first example of ‘living poetry.’ After successfully demonstrating his concept in a colony of E. coli, Bök is on the verge of enciphering a beautiful, anomalous poem into the genome of an unkillable bacterium (Deinococcus radiodurans), which can, in turn, “read” his text, responding to it by manufacturing a viable, benign protein, whose sequence of amino acids enciphers yet another poem. The engineered organism might conceivably serve as a post-apocalyptic archive, capable of outlasting our civilization.

Book I of The Xenotext constitutes a kind of ‘demonic grimoire,’ providing a scientific framework for the project with a series of poems, texts, and illustrations. A Virgilian welcome to the Inferno, Book I is the “orphic” volume in a diptych, addressing the pastoral heritage of poets, who have sought to supplant nature in both beauty and terror. The book sets the conceptual groundwork for the second volume, which will document the experiment itself. The Xenotext is experimental poetry in the truest sense of the term.

Adam Dickinson is a poet and an associate professor at Brock University (Ontario). He describes himself and his work this way (from the Brock University bio page),

Adam Dickinson is a poet and a professor of poetry. His creative and academic writing has primarily focused on intersections between poetry and science as a way of exploring new ecocritical perspectives and alternative modes of poetic composition. His latest book, Anatomic (Coach House Books), involves the results of chemical and microbial testing on his body, and was shortlisted for The Raymond Souster Award. Sections of it were also shortlisted for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Poetry Prize. His book, The Polymers (House of Anansi [2013]), which is an imaginary science project that combines the discourses, theories, and experimental methods of the science of plastic materials with the language and culture of plastic behaviour, was a finalist for both the Governor General’s Award for Poetry and the Trillium Book Award for Poetry. He has published two previous books, Kingdom, Phylum (also nominated for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry) and Cartography and Walking (nominated for an Alberta Book Award). His scholarly work (supported by SSHRC [Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada]) brings together research in innovative poetics, biosemiotics, pataphysics, and Anthropocene studies.

His current research-creation project, “Metabolic Poetics,” (also supported by SSHRC) is concerned with the potential of expanded modes of reading and writing to shift the frames and scales of conventional forms of signification in order to bring into focus the often inscrutable biological and cultural writing intrinsic to the Anthropocene, especially as this is reflected in the inextricable link between the metabolic processes of human and nonhuman bodies and the global metabolism of energy and capital.

He has been featured at prominent international literary festivals, such as Poetry International in Rotterdam, The Harbourfront International Festival of Authors in Toronto, and the Oslo International Poetry Festival in Norway. Adam has also been a finalist for the K.M. Hunter Artist Award in Literature, Administered by the Ontario Arts Council. Adam welcomes potential student supervisions on topics in poetry and poetics, environmental writing, science and literature, and creative writing.

Thank you.

This last addition may seen a little offbeat but ARPICO (Society of Italian Researchers & Professionals in Western Canada) has hosted a surprisingly large number of science events in Vancouver. Two recent examples include: The Eyes are the Windows to The Mind; Implications for Artificial Intelligence (AI) -driven Personalized Interaction on March 4, 2020 and, the relatively recent, Whispers in the Dark: Underground Science on June 12, 2019.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to resist the impulse to make any more additions.

***ETA April 30, 2020: Research2Reality (R2R) was launched in 2015 as a social media initiative featuring a series of short video interviews with Canadian scientists (see more in my May 11, 2015 posting). Almost five years later, the website continues to feature interviews and it also hosts news about Canadian science and research. R2R was founded by Molly Shoichet (pronounced shoyquette) and Mike MacMillan.***

For anyone who stumbled across this addendum first, it fits on to the end of a 5-part series:

Part 1 covers science communication, science media (mainstream and others such as blogging) and arts as exemplified by music and dance: The decade that was (2010-19) and the decade to come (2020-29): Science culture in Canada (1 of 5).

Part 2 covers art/science (or art/sci or sciart) efforts, science festivals both national and local, international art and technology conferences held in Canada, and various bar/pub/café events: The decade that was (2010-19) and the decade to come (2020-29): Science culture in Canada (2 of 5).

Part 3 covers comedy, do-it-yourself (DIY) biology, chief science advisor, science policy, mathematicians, and more: The decade that was (2010-19) and the decade to come (2020-29): Science culture in Canada (3 of 5).

Part 4 covers citizen science, birds, climate change, indigenous knowledge (science), and the IISD Experimental Lakes Area: The decade that was (2010-19) and the decade to come (2020-29): Science culture in Canada (4 of 5).

Part 5: includes science podcasting, eco art, a Saskatchewan lab with an artist-in-residence, the Order of Canada and children’s science literature, animation and mathematics, publishing science and more: The decade that was (2010-19) and the decade to come (2020-29): Science culture in Canada (5 of 5).

The decade that was (2010-19) and the decade to come (2020-29): Science culture in Canada (5 of 5)

At long last, the end is in sight! This last part is mostly a collection of items that don’t fit elsewhere or could have fit elsewhere but that particular part was already overstuffed.

Podcasting science for the people

March 2009 was the birth date for a podcast, then called Skeptically Speaking and now known as Science for the People (Wikipedia entry). Here’s more from the Science for the People About webpage,

Science for the People is a long-format interview podcast that explores the connections between science, popular culture, history, and public policy, to help listeners understand the evidence and arguments behind what’s in the news and on the shelves.

Every week, our hosts sit down with science researchers, writers, authors, journalists, and experts to discuss science from the past, the science that affects our lives today, and how science might change our future.

THE TEAM

Rachelle Saunders: Producer & Host

I love to learn new things, and say the word “fascinating” way too much. I like to talk about intersections and how science and critical thinking intersect with everyday life, politics, history, and culture. By day I’m a web developer, and I definitely listen to way too many podcasts.

….

H/t to GeekWrapped’s 20 Best Science Podcasts.

Science: human contexts and cosmopolitanism

situating science: Science in Human Contexts was a seven-year project ending in 2014 and funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Here’s more from their Project Summary webpage,

Created in 2007 with the generous funding of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Strategic Knowledge Cluster grant, Situating Science is a seven-year project promoting communication and collaboration among humanists and social scientists that are engaged in the study of science and technology.

You can find out more about Situating Science’s final days in my August 16, 2013 posting where I included a lot of information about one of their last events titled, “Science and Society 2013 Symposium; Emerging Agendas for Citizens and the Sciences.”

The “think-tank” will dovetail nicely with a special symposium in Ottawa on Science and Society Oct. 21-23. For this symposium, the Cluster is partnering with the Institute for Science, Society and Policy to bring together scholars from various disciplines, public servants and policy workers to discuss key issues at the intersection of science and society. [emphasis mine]  The discussions will be compiled in a document to be shared with stakeholders and the wider public.

The team will continue to seek support and partnerships for projects within the scope of its objectives. Among our top priorities are a partnership to explore sciences, technologies and their publics as well as new partnerships to build upon exchanges between scholars and institutions in India, Singapore and Canada.

The Situating Science folks did attempt to carry on the organization’s work by rebranding the organization to call it the Canadian Consortium for Situating Science and Technology (CCSST). It seems to have been a short-lived volunteer effort.

Meanwhile, the special symposium held in October 2013 appears to have been the springboard for another SSHRC funded multi-year initiative, this time focused on science collaborations between Canada, India, and Singapore, Cosmopolitanism and the Local in Science and Nature from 2014 – 2017. Despite their sunset year having been in 2017, their homepage boasts news about a 2020 Congress and their Twitter feed is still active. Harking back, here’s what the project was designed to do, from the About Us page,

Welcome to our three year project that will establish a research network on “Cosmopolitanism” in science. It closely examines the actual types of negotiations that go into the making of science and its culture within an increasingly globalized landscape. This partnership is both about “cosmopolitanism and the local” and is, at the same time, cosmopolitan and local.

Anyone who reads this blog with any frequency will know that I often comment on the fact that when organizations such as the Council of Canadian Academies bring in experts from other parts of the world, they are almost always from the US or Europe. So, I was delighted to discover the Cosmopolitanism project and featured it in a February 19, 2015 posting.

Here’s more from Cosmopolitanism’s About Us page

Specifically, the project will:

  1. Expose a hitherto largely Eurocentric scholarly community in Canada to widening international perspectives and methods,
  2. Build on past successes at border-crossings and exchanges between the participants,
  3. Facilitate a much needed nation-wide organization and exchange amongst Indian and South East Asian scholars, in concert with their Canadian counterparts, by integrating into an international network,
  4. Open up new perspectives on the genesis and place of globalized science, and thereby
  5. Offer alternative ways to conceptualize and engage globalization itself, and especially the globalization of knowledge and science.
  6. Bring the managerial team together for joint discussion, research exchange, leveraging and planning – all in the aid of laying the grounds of a sustainable partnership

Eco Art (also known as ecological art or environmental art)

I’m of two minds as to whether I should have tried to stuff this into the art/sci subsection in part 2. On balance, I decided that this merited its own section and that part 2 was already overstuffed.

Let’s start in Newfoundland and Labrador with Marlene Creates (pronounced Kreets), here’s more about her from her website’s bio webpage,

Marlene Creates (pronounced “Kreets”) is an environmental artist and poet who works with photography, video, scientific and vernacular knowledge, walking and collaborative site-specific performance in the six-acre patch of boreal forest in Portugal Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, where she lives.

For almost 40 years her work has been an exploration of the relationship between human experience, memory, language and the land, and the impact they have on each other. …

Currently her work is focused on the six acres of boreal forest where she lives in a ‘relational aesthetic’ to the land. This oeuvre includes Water Flowing to the Sea Captured at the Speed of Light, Blast Hole Pond River, Newfoundland 2002–2003, and several ongoing projects:

Marlene Creates received a Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts for “Lifetime Artistic Achievement” in 2019. …

As mentioned in her bio, Creates has a ‘forest’ project. The Boreal Poetry Garden,
Portugal Cove, Newfoundland 2005– (ongoing)
. If you are interested in exploring it, she has created a virtual walk here. Just click on one of the index items on the right side of the screen to activate a video.

An October 1, 2018 article by Yasmin Nurming-Por for Canadian Art magazine features 10 artists who focus on environmental and/or land art themes,

As part of her 2016 master’s thesis exhibition, Fredericton [New Brunswick] artist Gillian Dykeman presented the video Dispatches from the Feminist Utopian Future within a larger installation that imagined various canonical earthworks from the perspective of the future. It’s a project that addresses the inherent sense of timelessness in these massive interventions on the natural landscape from the perspective of contemporary land politics. … she proposes a kind of interaction with the invasive and often colonial gestures of modernist Land art, one that imagines a different future for these earthworks, where they are treated as alien in a landscape and as beacons from a feminist future.

A video trailer featuring “DISPATCHES FROM THE FEMINIST UTOPIAN FUTURE” (from Dykeman’s website archive page featuring the show,

If you have the time, I recommend reading the article in its entirety.

Oddly, I did not expect Vancouver to have such an active eco arts focus. The City of Vancouver Parks Board maintains an Environmental Art webpage on its site listing a number of current and past projects.

I cannot find the date for when this Parks Board initiative started but I did find a document produced prior to a Spring 2006 Arts & Ecology think tank held in Vancouver under the auspices of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, the Vancouver Foundation, and the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (London UK).

In all likelihood, Vancouver Park Board’s Environmental Art webpage was produced after 2006.

I imagine the document and the think tank session helped to anchor any then current eco art projects and encouraged more projects.

The document (MAPPING THE TERRAIN OF CONTEMPORARY ECOART PRACTICE AND COLLABORATION) while almost 14 years old offers a fascinating overview of what was happening internationally and in Canada.

While its early days were in 2008, EartHand Gleaners (Vancouver-based) wasn’t formally founded as an arts non-for-profit organization until 2013. You can find out more about them and their projects here.

Eco Art has been around for decades according to the eco art think tank document but it does seemed to have gained momentum here in Canada over the last decade.

Photography and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)

Exploring the jack pine tight knit family tree. Credit: Dana Harris Brock University (2018)

Pictured are developing phloem, cambial, and xylem cells (blue), and mature xylem cells (red), in the outermost portion of a jack pine tree. This research aims to identify the influences of climate on the cellular development of the species at its northern limit in Yellowknife, NT. The differences in these cell formations is what creates the annual tree ring boundary.

Science Exposed is a photography contest for scientists which has been run since 2016 (assuming the Past Winners archive is a good indicator for the programme’s starting year).

The 2020 competition recently closed but public voting should start soon. It’s nice to see that NSERC is now making efforts to engage members of the general public rather than focusing its efforts solely on children. The UK’s ASPIRES project seems to support the idea that adults need to be more fully engaged with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) efforts as it found that children’s attitudes toward science are strongly influenced by their parents’ and relatives’ attitudes.(See my January 31, 2012 posting.)

Ingenious, the book and Ingenium, the science museums

To celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017, then Governor General David Johnston and Tom Jenkins (Chair of the board for Open Text and former Chair of the federal committee overseeing the ‘Review of Federal Support to R&’D [see my October 21, 2011 posting about the resulting report]) wrote a boo about Canada’s inventors and inventions.

Johnston and Jenkins jaunted around the country launching their book (I have more about their June 1, 2017 Vancouver visit in a May 30, 2017 posting; scroll down about 60% of the way]).

The book’s full title, “Ingenious: How Canadian Innovators Made the World Smarter, Smaller, Kinder, Safer, Healthier, Wealthier and Happier ” outlines their thesis neatly.

Not all that long after the book was launched, there was a name change (thankfully) for the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation (CSTMC). It is now known as Ingenium (covered in my August 10, 2017 posting).

The reason that name change was such a relief (for those who don’t know) is that the corporation included three national science museums: Canada Aviation and Space Museum, Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, and (wait for it) Canada Science and Technology Museum. On the list of confusing names, this ranks very high for me. Again, I give thanks for the change from CSTMC to Ingenium, leaving the name for the museum alone.

2017 was also the year that the newly refurbished Canada Science and Technology Museum was reopened after more than three years (see my June 23, 2017 posting about the November 2017 reopening and my June 12, 2015 posting for more information about the situation that led to the closure).

A Saskatchewan lab, Convergence, Order of Canada, Year of Science, Animated Mathematics, a graphic novel, and new media

Since this section is jampacked, I’m using subheads.

Saskatchewan

Dr. Brian Eames hosts an artist-in-residence, Jean-Sebastien (JS) Gauthier at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Medicine Eames Lab. A February 16, 2018 posting here featured their first collaboration together. It covered evolutionary biology, the synchrotron (Canadian Light Source [CLS]) in Saskatoon, and the ‘ins and outs’ of a collaboration between a scientist an artist. Presumably the art-in-residence position indicates that first collaboration went very well.

In January 2020, Brian kindly gave me an update on their current projects. Jean-Sebastin successfully coded an interactive piece for an exhibit at the 2019 Nuit Blanche Saskatoon event using Connect (Xbox). More recently, he got a VR [virtual reality] helmet for an upcoming project or two.

After much clicking on the Nuit Blanche Saskatoon 2019 interactive map, I found this,

Our Glass is a work of interactive SciArt co-created by artist JS Gauthier and biologist Dr Brian F. Eames. It uses cutting-edge 3D microscopic images produced for artistic purposes at the Canadian Light Source, Canada’s only synchrotron facility. Our Glass engages viewers of all ages to peer within an hourglass showing how embryonic development compares among animals with whom we share a close genetic heritage.

Eames also mentioned they were hoping to hold an international SciArt Symposium at the University of Saskatchewan in 2021.

Convergence

Dr. Cristian Zaelzer-Perez, an instructor at Concordia University (Montreal; read this November 20, 2019 Concordia news release by Kelsey Rolfe for more about his work and awards), in 2016 founded the Convergence Initiative, a not-for-profit organization that encourages interdisciplinary neuroscience and art collaborations.

Cat Lau’s December 23, 2019 posting for the Science Borealis blog provides insight into Zaelzer-Perez’s relationship to science and art,

Cristian: I have had a relationship with art and science ever since I have had memory. As a child, I loved to do classifications, from grouping different flowers to collecting leaves by their shapes. At the same time, I really loved to draw them and for me, both things never looked different; they (art and science) have always worked together.

I started as a graphic designer, but the pursuit to learn about nature was never dead. At some point, I knew I wanted to go back to school to do research, to explore and learn new things. I started studying medical technologies, then molecular biology and then jumped into a PhD. At that point, my life as a graphic designer slipped down, because of the focus you have to give to the discipline. It seemed like every time I tried to dedicate myself to one thing, I would find myself doing the other thing a couple years later.

I came to Montreal to do my post-doc, but I had trouble publishing, which became problematic in getting a career. I was still loving what I was doing, but not seeing a future in that. Once again, art came back into my life and at the same time I saw that science was becoming really hard to understand and scientists were not doing much to bridge the gap.

The Convergence Initiative has an impressive array of programmes. Do check it out.

Order of Canada and ‘The Science Lady’

For a writer of children’s science books, an appointment to the Order of Canada is a singular honour. I cannot recall a children’s science book writer previous to Shar Levine being appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada. Known as ‘The Science Lady‘, Levine was appointed in 2016. Here’s more from her Wikipedia entry, Note: Links have been removed,

Shar Levine (born 1953) is an award-winning, best selling Canadian children’s author, and designer.

Shar has written over 70 books and book/kits, primarily on hands-on science for children. For her work in Science literacy and Science promotion, Shar has been appointed to the 2016 Order of Canada. In 2015, she was recognized by the University of Alberta and received their Alumni Honour Award. Levine, and her co-author, Leslie Johnstone, were co-recipients of the Eve Savory Award for Science Communication from the BC Innovation Council (2006) and their book, Backyard Science, was a finalist for the Subaru Award, (hands on activity) from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Science Books and Films (2005). The Ultimate Guide to Your Microscope was a finalist-2008 American Association for the Advancement of Science/Subaru Science Books and Films Prize Hands -On Science/Activity Books.

To get a sense of what an appointment to the Order of Canada means, here’s a description from the government of Canada website,

The Order of Canada is how our country honours people who make extraordinary contributions to the nation.

Since its creation in 1967—Canada’s centennial year—more than 7 000 people from all sectors of society have been invested into the Order. The contributions of these trailblazers are varied, yet they have all enriched the lives of others and made a difference to this country. Their grit and passion inspire us, teach us and show us the way forward. They exemplify the Order’s motto: DESIDERANTES MELIOREM PATRIAM (“They desire a better country”).

Year of Science in British Columbia

In the Fall of 2010, the British Columbia provincial government announced a Year of Science (coinciding with the school year) . Originally, it was supposed to be a provincial government-wide initiative but the idea percolated through any number of processes and emerged as a year dedicated to science education for youth (according to the idea’s originator, Moira Stilwell who was then a Member of the Legislative Assembly [MLA]’ I spoke with her sometime in 2010 or 2011).

As the ‘year’ drew to a close, there was a finale ($1.1M in funding), which was featured here in a July 6, 2011 posting.

The larger portion of the money ($1M) was awarded to Science World while $100,000 ($0.1 M) was given to the Pacific Institute of Mathematical Sciences To my knowledge there have been no followup announcements about how the money was used.

Animation and mathematics

In Toronto, mathematician Dr. Karan Singh enjoyed a flurry of interest due to his association with animator Chris Landreth and their Academy Award (Oscar) Winning 2004 animated film, Ryan. They have continued to work together as members of the Dynamic Graphics Project (DGP) Lab at the University of Toronto. Theirs is not the only Oscar winning work to emerge from one or more of the members of the lab. Jos Stam, DGP graduate and adjunct professor won his third in 2019.

A graphic novel and medical promise

An academic at Simon Fraser University since 2015, Coleman Nye worked with three other women to produce a graphic novel about medical dilemmas in a genre described as’ ethno-fiction’.

Lissa: A Story about Medical Promise, Friendship, and Revolution (2017) by Sherine Hamdy and Coleman Nye, two anthropologists and Art by Sarula Bao and Caroline Brewer, two artists.

Here’s a description of the book from the University of Toronto Press website,

As young girls in Cairo, Anna and Layla strike up an unlikely friendship that crosses class, cultural, and religious divides. Years later, Anna learns that she may carry the hereditary cancer gene responsible for her mother’s death. Meanwhile, Layla’s family is faced with a difficult decision about kidney transplantation. Their friendship is put to the test when these medical crises reveal stark differences in their perspectives…until revolutionary unrest in Egypt changes their lives forever.

The first book in a new series [ethnoGRAPIC; a series of graphic novels from the University of Toronto Press], Lissa brings anthropological research to life in comic form, combining scholarly insights and accessible, visually-rich storytelling to foster greater understanding of global politics, inequalities, and solidarity.

I hope to write more about this graphic novel in a future posting.

New Media

I don’t know if this could be described as a movement yet but it’s certainly an interesting minor development. Two new media centres have hosted, in the last four years, art/sci projects and/or workshops. It’s unexpected given this definition from the Wikipedia entry for New Media (Note: Links have been removed),

New media are forms of media that are computational and rely on computers for redistribution. Some examples of new media are computer animations, computer games, human-computer interfaces, interactive computer installations, websites, and virtual worlds.[1][2]

In Manitoba, the Video Pool Media Arts Centre hosted a February 2016 workshop Biology as a New Art Medium: Workshop with Marta De Menezes. De Menezes, an artist from Portugal, gave workshops and talks in both Winnipeg (Manitoba) and Toronto (Ontario). Here’s a description for the one in Winnipeg,

This workshop aims to explore the multiple possibilities of artistic approaches that can be developed in relation to Art and Microbiology in a DIY situation. A special emphasis will be placed on the development of collaborative art and microbiology projects where the artist has to learn some biological research skills in order to create the artwork. The course will consist of a series of intense experimental sessions that will give raise to discussions on the artistic, aesthetic and ethical issues raised by the art and the science involved. Handling these materials and organisms will provoke a reflection on the theoretical issues involved and the course will provide background information on the current diversity of artistic discourses centred on biological sciences, as well a forum for debate.

VIVO Media Arts Centre in Vancouver hosted the Invasive Systems in 2019. From the exhibition page,

Picture this – a world where AI invades human creativity, bacteria invade our brains, and invisible technological signals penetrate all natural environments. Where invasive species from plants to humans transform spaces where they don’t belong, technology infiltrates every aspect of our daily lives, and the waste of human inventions ravages our natural environments.

This weekend festival includes an art-science exhibition [emphasis mine], a hands-on workshop (Sat, separate registration required), and guided discussions and tours by the curator (Sat/Sun). It will showcase collaborative works by three artist/scientist pairs, and independent works by six artists. Opening reception will be on Friday, November 8 starting at 7pm; curator’s remarks and performance by Edzi’u at 7:30pm and 9pm. 

New Westminster’s (British Columbia) New Media Gallery recently hosted an exhibition, ‘winds‘ from June 20 – September 29, 2019 that could be described as an art/sci exhibition,

Landscape and weather have long shared an intimate connection with the arts.  Each of the works here is a landscape: captured, interpreted and presented through a range of technologies. The four artists in this exhibition have taken, as their material process, the movement of wind through physical space & time. They explore how our perception and understanding of landscape can be interpreted through technology. 

These works have been created by what might be understood as a sort of scientific method or process that involves collecting data, acute observation, controlled experiments and the incorporation of measurements and technologies that control or collect motion, pressure, sound, pattern and the like. …

Council of Canadian Academies, Publishing, and Open Access

Established in 2005, the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) (Wikipedia entry) is tasked by various departments and agencies to answer their queries about science issues that could affect the populace and/or the government. In 2014, the CCA published a report titled, Science Culture: Where Canada Stands. It was in response to the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation (now called Ingenium), Industry Canada, and Natural Resources Canada and their joint request that the CCA conduct an in-depth, independent assessment to investigate the state of Canada’s science culture.

I gave a pretty extensive analysis of the report, which I delivered in four parts: Part 1, Part 2 (a), Part 2 (b), and Part 3. In brief, the term ‘science culture’ seems to be specifically, i.e., it’s not used elsewhere in the world (that we know of), Canadian. We have lots to be proud of. I was a little disappointed by the lack of culture (arts) producers on the expert panel and, as usual, I bemoaned the fact that the international community included as reviewers, members of the panel, and as points for comparison were drawn from the usual suspects (US, UK, or somewhere in northern Europe).

Science publishing in Canada took a bit of a turn in 2010, when the country’s largest science publisher, NRC (National Research Council) Research Publisher was cut loose from the government and spun out into the private, *not-for-profit publisher*, Canadian Science Publishing (CSP). From the CSP Wikipedia entry,

Since 2010, Canadian Science Publishing has acquired five new journals:

Since 2010, Canadian Science Publishing has also launched four new journals

Canadian Science Publishing offers researchers options to make their published papers freely available (open access) in their standard journals and in their open access journal, (from the CSP Wikipedia entry)

Arctic Science aims to provide a collaborative approach to Arctic research for a diverse group of users including government, policy makers, the general public, and researchers across all scientific fields

FACETS is Canada’s first open access multidisciplinary science journal, aiming to advance science by publishing research that the multi-faceted global community of research. FACETS is the official journal of the Royal Society of Canada’s Academy of Science.

Anthropocene Coasts aims to understand and predict the effects of human activity, including climate change, on coastal regions.

In addition, Canadian Science Publishing strives to make their content accessible through the CSP blog that includes plain language summaries of featured research. The open-access journal FACETS similarly publishes plain language summaries.

*comment removed*

CSP announced (on Twitter) a new annual contest in 2016,

Canadian Science Publishing@cdnsciencepub

New CONTEST! Announcing Visualizing Science! Share your science images & win great prizes! Full details on the blog http://cdnsciencepub.com/blog/2016-csp-image-contest-visualizing-science.aspx1:45 PM · Sep 19, 2016·TweetDeck

The 2016 blog posting is no longer accessible. Oddly for a contest of this type, I can’t find an image archive for previous contests. Regardless, a 2020 competition has been announced for Summer 2020. There are some details on the VISUALIZING SCIENCE 2020 webpage but some are missing, e.g., no opening date, no deadline. They are encouraging you to sign up for notices.

Back to open access, in a January 22, 2016 posting I featured news about Montreal Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute [MNI] in Québec, Canada) and its then new policy giving researchers world wide access to its research and made a pledge that it would not seek patents for its work.

Fish, Newfoundland & Labrador, and Prince Edward Island

AquAdvantage’s genetically modified salmon was approved for consumption in Canada according to my May 20, 2016 posting. The salmon are produced/farmed by a US company (AquaBounty) but the the work of genetically modifying Atlantic salmon with genetic material from the Chinook (a Pacific ocean salmon) was mostly undertaken at Memorial University in Newfoundland & Labrador.

The process by which work done in Newfoundland & Labrador becomes the property of a US company is one that’s well known here in Canada. The preliminary work and technology is developed here and then purchased by a US company, which files patents, markets, and profits from it. Interestingly, the fish farms for the AquAdvantage salmon are mostly (two out of three) located on Prince Edward Island.

Intriguingly, 4.5 tonnes of the modified fish were sold for consumption in Canada without consumers being informed (see my Sept. 13, 2017 posting, scroll down about 45% of the way).

It’s not all sunshine and roses where science culture in Canada is concerned. Incidents where Canadians are not informed let alone consulted about major changes in the food supply and other areas are not unusual. Too many times, scientists, politicians, and government policy experts want to spread news about science without any response from the recipients who are in effect viewed as a ‘tabula rasa’ or a blank page.

Tying it all up

This series has been my best attempt to document in some fashion or another the extraordinary range of science culture in Canada from roughly 2010-19. Thank you! This series represents a huge amount of work and effort to develop science culture in Canada and I am deeply thankful that people give so much to this effort.

I have inevitably missed people and organizations and events. For that I am very sorry. (There is an addendum to the series as it’s been hard to stop but I don’t expect to add anything or anyone more.)

I want to mention but can’t expand upon,the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, which was established in the 2017 federal budget (see a March 31, 2017 posting about the Vector Institute and Canada’s artificial intelligence sector).

Science Borealis, the Canadian science blog aggregator, owes its existence to Canadian Science Publishing for the support (programming and financial) needed to establish itself and, I believe, that support is still ongoing. I think thanks are also due to Jenny Ryan who was working for CSP and championed the initiative. Jenny now works for Canadian Blood Services. Interestingly, that agency added a new programme, a ‘Lay Science Writing Competition’ in 2018. It’s offered n partnership with two other groups, the Centre for Blood Research at the University of British Columbia and Science Borealis

While the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada does not fit into my time frame as it lists as its founding date December 1, 1868 (18 months after confederation), the organization did celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2018.

Vancouver’s Electric Company often produces theatrical experiences that cover science topics such as the one featured in my June 7, 2013 posting, You are very star—an immersive transmedia experience.

Let’s Talk Science (Wikipedia entry) has been heavily involved with offering STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programming both as part of curricular and extra-curricular across Canada since 1993.

This organization predates confederation having been founded in 1849 by Sir Sandford Fleming and Kivas Tully in Toronto. for surveyors, civil engineers, and architects. It is the Royal Canadian Institute of Science (Wikipedia entry)_. With almost no interruption, they have been delivering a regular series of lectures on the University of Toronto campus since 1913.

The Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics is a more recent beast. In 1999 Mike Lazirides, founder of Research In Motion (now known as Blackberry Limited), acted as both founder and major benefactor for this institute in Waterloo, Ontario. They offer a substantive and imaginative outreach programmes such as Arts and Culture: “Event Horizons is a series of unique and extraordinary events that aim to stimulate and enthral. It is a showcase of innovative work of the highest international standard, an emotional, intellectual, and creative experience. And perhaps most importantly, it is a social space, where ideas collide and curious minds meet.”

While gene-editing hasn’t seemed to be top-of-mind for anyone other than those in the art/sci community that may change. My April 26, 2019 posting focused on what appears to be a campaign to reverse Canada’s criminal ban on human gene-editing of inheritable cells (germline). With less potential for controversy, there is a discussion about somatic gene therapies and engineered cell therapies. A report from the Council of Canadian is due in the Fall of 2020. (The therapies being discussed do not involve germline editing.)

French language science media and podcasting

Agence Science-Presse is unique as it is the only press agency in Canada devoted to science news. Founded in 1978, it has been active in print, radio, television, online blogs, and podcasts (Baladodiffusion). You can find their Twitter feed here.

I recently stumbled across ‘un balados’ (podcast), titled, 20%. Started in January 2019 by the magazine, Québec Science, the podcast is devoted to women in science and technology. 20%, the podcast’s name, is the statistic representing the number of women in those fields. “Dans les domaines de la science et de la technologie, les femmes ne forment que 20% de la main-d’oeuvre.” (from the podcast webpage) The podcast is a co-production between “Québec Science [founded in 1962] et l’Acfas [formerly, l’Association Canadienne-Française pour l’Avancement des Sciences, now, Association francophone pour le savoir], en collaboration avec la Commission canadienne pour l’UNESCO, L’Oréal Canada et la radio Choq.ca.” (also from the podcast webpage)

Does it mean anything?

There have been many developments since I started writing this series in late December 2019. In January 2020, Iran shot down one of its own planes. That error killed some 176 people , many of them (136 Canadians and students) bound for Canada. The number of people who were involved in the sciences, technology, and medicine was striking.

It was a shocking loss and will reverberate for quite some time. There is a memorial posting here (January 13, 2020), which includes links to another memorial posting and an essay.

As I write this we are dealing with a pandemic, COVID-19, which has us all practicing physical and social distancing. Congregations of large numbers are expressly forbidden. All of this is being done in a bid to lessen the passage of the virus, SARS-CoV-2 which causes COVID-19.

In the short term at least, it seems that much of what I’ve described in these five parts (and the addendum) will undergo significant changes or simply fade away.

As for the long term, with this last 10 years having hosted the most lively science culture scene I can ever recall, I’m hopeful that science culture in Canada will do more than survive but thrive.

For anyone who missed them:

Part 1 covers science communication, science media (mainstream and others such as blogging) and arts as exemplified by music and dance: The decade that was (2010-19) and the decade to come (2020-29): Science culture in Canada (1 of 5).

Part 2 covers art/science (or art/sci or sciart) efforts, science festivals both national and local, international art and technology conferences held in Canada, and various bar/pub/café events: The decade that was (2010-19) and the decade to come (2020-29): Science culture in Canada (2 of 5).

Part 3 covers comedy, do-it-yourself (DIY) biology, chief science advisor, science policy, mathematicians, and more: The decade that was (2010-19) and the decade to come (2020-29): Science culture in Canada (3 of 5)

Part 4 covers citizen science, birds, climate change, indigenous knowledge (science), and the IISD Experimental Lakes Area: The decade that was (2010-19) and the decade to come (2020-29): Science culture in Canada (4 of 5)

*”for-profit publisher, Canadian Science Publishing (CSP)” corrected to “not-for-profit publisher, Canadian Science Publishing (CSP)” and this comment “Not bad for a for-profit business, eh?” removed on April 29, 2020 as per Twitter comments,

Canadian Science Publishing @cdnsciencepub

Hi Maryse, thank you for alerting us to your blog. To clarify, Canadian Science Publishing is a not-for-profit publisher. Thank you as well for sharing our image contest. We’ve updated the contest page to indicate that the contest opens July 2020!

10:01am · 29 Apr 2020 · Twitter Web App