No, this talk does not not involve CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindormic repeats). This is about ‘old fashioned’ genetic breeding techniques with some ‘fancy pants’ words being thrown around. Also, somebody or other wants to patent this work on bees.
From a September 30, 2019 Café Scientifque announcement (received via email),
Our next café will happen on TUESDAY, OCTOBER 29TH at 7:30PM in the back room at YAGGER”S DOWNTOWN (433 W Pender). Our speaker for the evening will be DR. LEONARD FOSTER from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UBC [University of British Columbia].
BREEDING STRONGER BEES BY SHORTCUTTING NATURE
Dr. Leonard Foster’s laboratory at UBC has been involved in a Canada-wide project aimed at bringing modern molecular technologies to bear on the selective breeding of honey bees that are better able to resist disease and stress. They use molecular fingerprinting and genomics to identify stronger bees, enabling their selective breeding. This brings up several controversial topics, including whether these bees are “natural”, whether selectively bred bees could/should be patented and how far away direct genetic modification of honey bees will be. Dr. Foster will describe the state-of-the-art in bee genetics and where the future may lie here.
Dr. Leonard Foster is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Foster comes from a family of beekeepers and got his introduction to academic bee research at Simon Fraser University while doing his Bachelor’s degree in biochemistry – at SFU [Simon Fraser University] he worked with Drs. Winston [Mark Winston] and Slessor [Keith Slessor] on honey bee pheromones, particularly the components of queen mandibular pheromone. He then did a Ph.D in Toronto a post-doctoral studies in Denmark before starting his current position in 2005. The first independent operating grant that Dr. Foster secured was to study how bee pathogens were able to manipulate the protein machinery within bee cells. Since that time he has led three very large-scale projects that have investigated some of the molecular mechanisms behind disease resistance in bees. This effort has recently moved into trying to apply this knowledge by using the information they have learned to guide selective breeding for hygienic behavior in honey bees. He is very active in extension and frequently engages the public on various aspects of honey bee biology. He currently lives in Richmond and keeps bees himself.
We hope to see you there!
– Your Café Sci Vancouver Organizers
You can find out more about Leonard Foster and his work on this profile page on the University of British Columbia website, where I found this video,
One final comment, how are they going to patent a bee? For long time readers, it should be evident that I’m not a big fan of patents. They tend to impede research.
There are movies, plays, a multimedia installation experience all in Vancouver, and the ‘CHAOSMOSIS mAchInesexhibition/performance/discussion/panel/in-situ experiments/art/ science/ techne/ philosophy’ event in Toronto. But first, there’s a a Vancouver talk about engaging scientists in the upcoming federal election. .
Science in the Age of Misinformation (and the upcoming federal election) in Vancouver
Science in the Age of Misinformation, with Katie Gibbs, Evidence for Democracy In the lead up to the federal election, it is more important than ever to understand the role that researchers play in shaping policy. Join us in this special Policy in Practice event with Dr. Katie Gibbs, Executive Director of Evidence for Democracy, Canada’s leading, national, non-partisan, and not-for-profit organization promoting science and the transparent use of evidence in government decision making. A Musqueam land acknowledgement, welcome remarks and moderation of this event will be provided by MPPGA students Joshua Tafel, and Chengkun Lv.
Wednesday, September 4, 2019 12:30 pm – 1:50 pm (Doors will open at noon) Liu Institute for Global Issues – xʷθəθiqətəm (Place of Many Trees), 1st floor Pizza will be provided starting at noon on first come, first serve basis. Please RSVP.
What role do researchers play in a political environment that is increasingly polarized and influenced by misinformation? Dr. Katie Gibbs, Executive Director of Evidence for Democracy, will give an overview of the current state of science integrity and science policy in Canada highlighting progress made over the past four years and what this means in a context of growing anti-expert movements in Canada and around the world. Dr. Gibbs will share concrete ways for researchers to engage heading into a critical federal election [emphasis mine], and how they can have lasting policy impact.
Bio: Katie Gibbs is a scientist, organizer and advocate for science and evidence-based policies. While completing her Ph.D. at the University of Ottawa in Biology, she was one of the lead organizers of the ‘Death of Evidence’—one of the largest science rallies in Canadian history. Katie co-founded Evidence for Democracy, Canada’s leading, national, non-partisan, and not-for-profit organization promoting science and the transparent use of evidence in government decision making. Her ongoing success in advocating for the restoration of public science in Canada has made Katie a go-to resource for national and international media outlets including Science, The Guardian and the Globe and Mail.
Katie has also been involved in international efforts to increase evidence-based decision-making and advises science integrity movements in other countries and is a member of the Open Government Partnership Multi-stakeholder Forum.
Disclaimer: Please note that by registering via Eventbrite, your information will be stored on the Eventbrite server, which is located outside Canada. If you do not wish to use this service, please email Joelle.Lee@ubc.ca directly to register. Thank you.
Location Liu Institute for Global Issues – Place of Many Trees 6476 NW Marine Drive Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z2
Sadly I was not able to post the information about Dr. Gibbs’s more informal talk last night (Sept. 3, 2019) which was a special event with Café Scientifique but I do have a link to a website encouraging anyone who wants to help get science on the 2019 federal election agenda, Vote Science. P.S. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to post this in a more timely fashion.
Transmissions; a multimedia installation in Vancouver, September 6 -28, 2019
Lisa Jackson is a filmmaker, but she’s never allowed that job description to limit what she creates or where and how she screens her works.
The Anishinaabe artist’s breakout piece was last year’s haunting virtual-reality animation Biidaaban: First Light. In its eerie world, one that won a Canadian Screen Award, nature has overtaken a near-empty, future Toronto, with trees growing through cracks in the sidewalks, vines enveloping skyscrapers, and people commuting by canoe.
All that and more has brought her here, to Transmissions, a 6,000-square-foot, immersive film installation that invites visitors to wander through windy coastal forests, by hauntingly empty glass towers, into soundscapes of ancient languages, and more.
Through the labyrinthine multimedia work at SFU [Simon Fraser University] Woodward’s, Jackson asks big questions—about Earth’s future, about humanity’s relationship to it, and about time and Indigeneity.
Simultaneously, she mashes up not just disciplines like film and sculpture, but concepts of science, storytelling, and linguistics [emphasis mine].
“The tag lines I’m working with now are ‘the roots of meaning’ and ‘knitting the world together’,” she explains. “In western society, we tend to hive things off into ‘That’s culture. That’s science.’ But from an Indigenous point of view, it’s all connected.”
Transmissions is split into three parts, with what Jackson describes as a beginning, a middle, and an end. Like Biidaaban, it’s also visually stunning: the artist admits she’s playing with Hollywood spectacle.
Without giving too much away—a big part of the appeal of Jackson’s work is the sense of surprise—Vancouver audiences will first enter a 48-foot-long, six-foot-wide tunnel, surrounded by projections that morph from empty urban streets to a forest and a river. Further engulfing them is a soundscape that features strong winds, while black mirrors along the floor skew perspective and play with what’s above and below ground.
“You feel out of time and space,” says Jackson, who wants to challenge western society’s linear notions of minutes and hours. “I want the audience to have a physical response and an emotional response. To me, that gets closer to the Indigenous understanding. Because the Eurocentric way is more rational, where the intellectual is put ahead of everything else.”
Viewers then enter a room, where the highly collaborative Jackson has worked with artist Alan Storey, who’s helped create Plexiglas towers that look like the ghost high-rises of an abandoned city. (Storey has also designed other components of the installation.) As audience members wander through them on foot, projections make their shadows dance on the structures. Like Biidaaban, the section hints at a postapocalyptic or posthuman world. Jackson operates in an emerging realm of Indigenous futurism.
The words “science, storytelling, and linguistics” were emphasized due to a minor problem I have with terminology. Linguistics is defined as the scientific study of language combining elements from the natural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities. I wish either Jackson or Smith had discussed the scientific element of Transmissions at more length and perhaps reconnected linguistics to science along with the physics of time and space, as well as, storytelling, film, and sculpture. It would have been helpful since it’s my understanding, Transmissions is designed to showcase all of those connections and more in ways that may not be obvious to everyone. On the plus side, perhaps the tour, which is part of this installation experience includes that information.
The Roots of Meaning World Premiere September 6 – 28, 2019
Fei & Milton Wong Experimental Theatre SFU Woodward’s, 149 West Hastings Tuesday to Friday, 1pm to 7pm Saturday and Sunday, 1pm to 5pm FREE
In partnership with SFU Woodward’s Cultural Programs and produced by Electric Company Theatre and Violator Films.
TRANSMISSIONS is a three-part, 6000 square foot multimedia installation by award-winning Anishinaabe filmmaker and artist Lisa Jackson. It extends her investigation into the connections between land, language, and people, most recently with her virtual reality work Biidaaban: First Light.
Projections, sculpture, and film combine to create urban and natural landscapes that are eerie and beautiful, familiar and foreign, concrete and magical. Past and future collide in a visceral and thought-provoking journey that questions our current moment and opens up the complexity of thought systems embedded in Indigenous languages. Radically different from European languages, they embody sets of relationships to the land, to each other, and to time itself.
Transmissions invites us to untether from our day-to-day world and imagine a possible future. It provides a platform to activate and cross-pollinate knowledge systems, from science to storytelling, ecology to linguistics, art to commerce. To begin conversations, to listen deeply, to engage varied perspectives and expertise, to knit the world together and find our place within the circle of all our relations.
Produced in association with McMaster University Socrates Project, Moving Images Distribution and Cobalt Connects Creativity.
Admission: Free Public Tours Tuesday through Sunday Reservations accepted from 1pm to 3pm. Reservations are booked in 15 minute increments. Individuals and groups up to 10 welcome. Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to book groups of 10 or more.
Her Story: Canadian Women Scientists (short film subjects); Sept. 13 – 14, 2019
Curiosity Collider, producer of art/science events in Vancouver, is presenting a film series featuring Canadian women scientists, according to an August 27 ,2019 press release (received via email),
“Her Story: Canadian Women Scientists,” a film series dedicated to sharing the stories of Canadian women scientists, will premiere on September 13th and 14th at the Annex theatre. Four pairs of local filmmakers and Canadian women scientists collaborated to create 5-6 minute videos; for each film in the series, a scientist tells her own story, interwoven with the story of an inspiring Canadian women scientist who came before her in her field of study.
Produced by Vancouver-based non-profit organization Curiosity Collider, this project was developed to address the lack of storytelling videos showcasing remarkable women scientists and their work available via popular online platforms. “Her Story reveals the lives of women working in science,” said Larissa Blokhuis, curator for Her Story. “This project acts as a beacon to girls and women who want to see themselves in the scientific community. The intergenerational nature of the project highlights the fact that women have always worked in and contributed to science.
This sentiment was reflected by Samantha Baglot as well, a PhD student in neuroscience who collaborated with filmmaker/science cartoonist Armin Mortazavi in Her Story. “It is empowering to share stories of previous Canadian female scientists… it is empowering for myself as a current female scientist to learn about other stories of success, and gain perspective of how these women fought through various hardships and inequality.”
When asked why seeing better representation of women in scientific work is important, artist/filmmaker Michael Markowsky shared his thoughts. “It’s important for women — and their male allies — to question and push back against these perceived social norms, and to occupy space which rightfully belongs to them.” In fact, his wife just gave birth to their first child, a daughter; “It’s personally very important to me that she has strong female role models to look up to.” His film will feature collaborating scientist Jade Shiller, and Kathleen Conlan – who was named one of Canada’s greatest explorers by Canadian Geographic in 2015.
Other participating filmmakers and collaborating scientists include: Leslie Kennah (Filmmaker), Kimberly Girling (scientist, Research and Policy Director at Evidence for Democracy), Lucas Kavanagh and Jesse Lupini (Filmmakers, Avocado Video), and Jessica Pilarczyk (SFU Assistant Professor, Department of Earth Sciences).
This film series is supported by Westcoast Women in Engineering, Science and Technology (WWEST) and Eng.Cite. The venue for the events is provided by Vancouver Civic Theatres.
Screening events will be hosted at Annex (823 Seymour St, Vancouver) on September 13th and 14th . Events will also include a talkback with filmmakers and collab scientists on the 13th, and a panel discussion on representations of women in science and culture on the 14th. Visit http://bit.ly/HerStoryTickets2019 for tickets ($14.99-19.99) and http://bit.ly/HerStoryWomenScientists for project information.
I have a film collage,
I looks like they’re presenting films with a diversity of styles. You can find out more about Curiosity Collider and its various programmes and events here.
Vancouver Fringe Festival September 5 – 16, 2019
I found two plays in this year’s fringe festival programme that feature science in one way or another. Not having seen either play I make no guarantees as to content. First up is,
Adam and April are a regular 20-something couple, very nearly blissfully generic, aside from one important detail: one of the pair is an “artificially intelligent companion.” Their joyful veneer has begun to crack and they need YOU to decide the future of their relationship. Is the freedom of a robot or the will of a human more important? For AI Love You:
***** “Magnificent, complex and beautifully addictive.” —Spy in the Stalls **** “Emotionally charged, deeply moving piece … I was left with goosebumps.” —West End Wilma **** —London City Nights Past shows: ***** “The perfect show.” —Theatre Box
Red Glimmer Dusty Foot Productions Vancouver, Canada Written & Directed by Patricia Trinh
Abstract Sci-Fi dramedy. An interdimensional science experiment! Woman involuntarily takes an all inclusive internal trip after falling into a deep depression. A scientist is hired to navigate her neurological pathways from inside her mind – tackling the fact that humans cannot physically re-experience somatosensory sensation, like pain. What if that were the case for traumatic emotional pain? A creepy little girl is heard running by. What happens next?
CHAOSMOSIS mAchInes exhibition/performance/discussion/panel/in-situ experiments/art/ science/ techne/ philosophy, 28 September, 2019 in Toronto
An Art/Sci Salon September 2, 2019 announcement (received via email), Note: I have made some formatting changes,
28 September, 2019 7pm-11pm. Helen-Gardiner-Phelan Theatre, 2nd floor University of Toronto. 79 St. George St.
A playful co-presentation by the Topological Media Lab (Concordia U-Montreal) and The Digital Dramaturgy Labsquared (U of T-Toronto). This event is part of our collaboration with DDLsquared lab, the Topological Lab and the Leonardo LASER network
7pm-9.30pm, Installation-performances, 9.30pm-11pm, Reception and cash bar, Front and Long Room, Ground floor
Description: From responsive sculptures to atmosphere-creating machines; from sensorial machines to affective autonomous robots, Chaosmosis mAchInes is an eclectic series of installations and performances reflecting on today’s complex symbiotic relations between humans, machines and the environment.
This will be the first encounter between Montreal-based Topological Media Lab (Concordia University) and the Toronto-based Digital Dramaturgy Labsquared (U of T) to co-present current process-based and experimental works. Both labs have a history of notorious playfulness, conceptual abysmal depth, human-machine interplays, Art&Science speculations (what if?), collaborative messes, and a knack for A/I as in Artistic Intelligence.
Thanks to Nina Czegledy (Laser series, Leonardo network) for inspiring the event and for initiating the collaboration
Project presentations will include: Topological Media Lab tangibleFlux φ plenumorphic ∴ chaosmosis SPIEL On Air The Sound That Severs Now from Now Cloud Chamber (2018) | Caustic Scenography, Responsive Cloud Formation Liquid Light Robots: Machine Menagerie Phaze Phase Passing Light Info projects Digital Dramaturgy Labsquared Btw Lf & Dth – interFACING disappearance Info project
Earlier last month [August 2019?], surgeons at St Paul’s Hospital performed an ankle replacement for a Cloverdale resident using a 3D printed bone. The first procedure of its kind in Western Canada, it saved the patient all of his ten toes — something doctors had originally decided to amputate due to the severity of the motorcycle accident.
Maker Faire Vancouver Co-producer, John Biehler, may not be using his 3D printer for medical breakthroughs, but he does see a subtle connection between his home 3D printer and the Health Canada-approved bone.
“I got into 3D printing to make fun stuff and gadgets,” John says of the box-sized machine that started as a hobby and turned into a side business. “But the fact that the very same technology can have life-changing and life-saving applications is amazing.”
When John showed up to Maker Faire Vancouver seven years ago, opportunities to access this hobby were limited. Armed with a 3D printer he had just finished assembling the night before, John was hoping to meet others in the community with similar interests to build, experiment and create. Much like the increase in accessibility to these portable machines has changed over the years—with universities, libraries and makerspaces making them readily available alongside CNC Machines, laser cutters and more — John says the excitement around crafting and tinkering has skyrocketed as well.
“The kind of technology that inspires people to print a bone or spinal insert all starts at ground zero in places like a Maker Faire where people get exposed to STEAM,” John says …
… From 3D printing enthusiasts like John to knitters, metal artists and roboticists, this full one-day event [Maker Faire Vancouver on Saturday, September 14, 2019] will facilitate cross-pollination between hobbyists, small businesses, artists and tinkerers. Described as part science fair, part county fair and part something entirely new, Maker Faire Vancouver hopes to facilitate discovery and what John calls “pure joy moments.”
We’re closing off August 2019 with a couple of talks, Curiosity Collider features an art/science event and Café Scientifique features a discussion about protease research.
Collider Café: Art. Science. Hybrids. on August 21, 2019
From an August 14, 2019 Curiosity Collider announcement (received via email),
How can the hybrids of scientific studies and artistic practices – embroidery, botanical art, projection sculpture, and video storytelling – spark creativity and discoveries?
Our #ColliderCafe is a space for artists, scientists, makers, and anyone interested in art+science to meet, discover, and connect.
Are you curious? Join us at “Collider Cafe: Art. Science. Hybrids.” to explore how art and science intersect in the exploration of curiosity.
When: 8:00pm on Wednesday, August 21, 2019. Doors open at 7:30pm. Where: Pizzeria Barbarella. 654 E Broadway, Vancouver, BC (Google Map). Cost: $5-10 (sliding scale) cover at the door. Proceeds will be used to cover the cost of running this event, and to fund future Curiosity Collider events.
//Special thanks to Pizzeria Barbarella for hosting the upcoming Collider Cafe!//
September 13, 14 We are excited to announce events for Her Story: Canadian Women Scientists, a film series dedicated to sharing the stories of Canadian women scientists. We will be hosting two screening events in September at the Annex. Get your tickets now! August 15 Explore our relationships with waterways across Metro Vancouver at Living Legends of Vancouver: a premiere screening of short videos by students from the Emily Carr. This screening will be hosted by the Beaty Biodiversity Museum (admission by donation), and intermixed with interactive presentations and dialogue led by the artists. August 28 Our friends at Nerd Nite Vancouver is hosting Nerd Nite Goes to the Movies at the VIFF. The next event will focus on evolution. The event will be followed by a screening of Andrew Niccol’s Gattaca. Get tickets now! Until September 29New Media Gallery presents Winds, where artists explore how our perception and understanding of landscape can be interpreted through technology. Until November 10 CC friend Katrina Vera Wong (also speaker for Collider Cafe!), and Julya Hajnoczky will present their exhibition Closer at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum. Using different approaches – Hajnoczky with high-resolution still life photographs and Wong with sections of pressed or dried plants – both artists explore the enchanting world of the often overlooked in this unique joint exhibition
Café Scientifique: From tadpole tails to diagnosing disease – the evolution of protease research, August 27, 2019
From an August 14, 2019 Café Scientifique announcement (received via email),
Our next café will happen on Tuesday, August 27th at 7:30pm in the back room at Yagger’s Downtown (433 W Pender). Our speaker for the evening will be Dr. Georgina Butler from the Centre for Blood Research at UBC [University of British Columbia].
From tadpole tails to diagnosing disease – the evolution of protease research Proteases are enzymes that cut other proteins. Humans have 560 different proteases – why so many? what are they doing? We know that too much protease activity can be detrimental in diseases such as cancer and arthritis, but failed efforts to stop cancer spread by blocking proteases has contributed to the realization that some cuts are essential. In the era of “big data”, at UBC we have developed new techniques (degradomics) to study proteases on a global scale to determine what they really do in health and disease. Hopefully this information will enable us to identify new drug targets as well as novel biomarkers to diagnose or monitor disease.
Dr. Butler completed her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry (with Studies in Italy) at the University of Kent at Canterbury, and her PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Leicester in the UK. She came to UBC as a Wellcome Trust Travelling Fellow in 1999 for 2 years. Still here, she is a Research Associate at the Centre for Blood Research and in Oral, Biological and Medical Sciences at UBC, where she studies novel roles of proteases in health and disease.
A July 22, 2019 announcement (received via email) features an upcoming talk hosted by the local Café Scientifque community,
Our next café will happen on TUESDAY, JULY 30TH  at 7:30PM in the back room at YAGGER’S DOWNTOWN (433 W Pender). Our speaker for the evening will be DR. VAHID RAEESI.
TARGETING HEAT FOR DISEASE TREATMENT
Vahid is a nanotechnologist specializing in the design and development of functional platforms for disease detection and treatment. He holds a PhD in nano-biomaterials from the University of Toronto during which, he engineered nanoscale heat generators for precise destruction of different cancer types and antibiotic-resistant infections. He pursued this concept during postdoctoral studies under a nanoparticle-aided radiotherapy program for advanced prostate cancer at Grand River Cancer Centre, Waterloo. His research has been published in high profile scientific journals and featured in UofT News, “The Varsity” newspaper and NatureAsia.
We hope to see you there!
As per usual I searched for more information about Dr. Raeesi and his topic. First, I was a little curious as to how someone based in Toronto was recruited for talk in Vancouver but it all became clear after seeing Dr. Raeesi’s LinkedIn profile which lists his current employer as Precision NanoSystems Inc. (PNI). The company has its corporate headquarters here in Vancouver and I’m guessing that employees from other offices come here from time to time.
While I was looking for more information about Dr. Raeesi and his work I found that PNI is part of something called the Nanomedicines Innovation Network (NMIN), which is currently being hosted by the University of British Columbia (UBC; Vancouver, Canada). NMIN’s About page includes a history of the organization (scroll down the About page to Vision and Mission where you will see Two buttons, Fast Facts and History on the right side of your screen) ,
NMIN is based on R&D efforts to develop nanomedicines that began in 1980 at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Funding from UBC Excellence Funds in 2016 allowed UBC-based scientists to establish links with investigators across Canada to develop a national nanomedicines program. This resulted in the successful NMIN application to the federal NCE program.
In 2019 NMIN was awarded five years of funding (2019-2024) from the Government of Canada through the Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) Program.
NMIN researchers are located at 17 universities across Canada. Team members have contributed to the development of five of the 13 systemically-administered nanomedicines approved by the US FDA, the European EMA and Health Canada to treat human disease.
NMIN researchers, together with Canadian companies Arbutus Biopharma and Acuitas Therapeutics, developed the lipid nanoparticle technology (LNP) incorporated into a gene therapy nanomedicine (Onpattro) that was recently (August 2018) approved by the US FDA to treat an incurable hereditary disease known as hereditary amyloidogenic transthyretin (hATTR) amyloidosis. Onpattro is the first RNAi gene therapy drug to be approved by the US FDA.
The world-class capacity of the network is also illustrated by the strong commercialization record of NMIN researchers. NMIN researchers have co-founded more than 20 companies that now employ more than 500 people across Canada. As a result, Canada has become a leading global hub for the development and commercialization of nanomedicines.
Hope you have a good time at the talk should you be inclined to attend.
This June 11, 2019 announcement (received via email) features an upcoming talk hosted by the local Café Scientifque community,
Our next café will happen on TUESDAY, JUNE 25TH at 7:30PM in the back room at YAGGER’S DOWNTOWN (433 W Pender). Our speaker for the evening will be DR. LARS MARTIN.
FROM ALPHA TO OMEGA – PARTICLES AND HOW WE DETECT THEM
Ever since the discovery of the electron in the late 19th century, physicists have used detectors to measure and identify particles. While today’s detector systems – like ATLAS at the Large Hadron Collider – are complex (and expensive) systems that detect obscure particles, the underlying principles of these detectors are relatively straightforward. The goal of this talk is to give attendees a basic understanding of what these machines actually do.
Lars Martin works as a detector physicist at TRIUMF, most recently supporting the ALPHA-g antimatter gravity experiment at CERN.
It’s been a while since I’ve received any notices about upcoming talks from the local Café Scientifique crowd but on May 22, 2019 there was this announcement in an email,
Dear Café Scientifiquers,
Our next café will happen on TUESDAY, MAY 28TH  at 7:30PM in the back room at YAGGER’S DOWNTOWN (433 W Pender). Our speaker for the evening will be DR. CATHERINE JOHNSON from the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences at UBC [University of British Columbia] .
GETTING TO THE HEART OF MARS WITH INSIGHT
Catherine Johnson is a professor of geophysics in the Dept of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences at UBC Vancouver [campus], and a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson. She is a Co-Investigator on the InSight mission to Mars, the OSIRIS-REx mission to asteroid Bennu and was previously a Participating Scientist on the MESSENGER mission to Mercury.
We hope to see you there!
I did some digging and found two articles about Johnson, the InSight mission, and Mars. The first one is an October 21, 2012 article by James Keller on the Huffington Post Canada website,
As NASA’s Curiosity rover beams back photos of the rocky surface of Mars, another group of scientists, including one from British Columbia, is preparing the next mission to uncover what’s underneath.
Prof. Catherine Johnson, of the University of British Columbia, is among the scientists whose project, named Insight, was selected by NASA this week as part of the U.S. space agency’s Discovery program, which invites proposals from within the scientific community.
Insight will send a stationary robotic lander to Mars in 2016, drilling down several metres into the surface as it uses a combination of temperature readings and seismic measurements to help scientists on this planet learn more about the Martian core.
The second one is a May 6, 2018 article (I gather it took them longer to get to Mars than they anticipated in 2012) by Ivan Semeniuk for the Globe and Mail newspaper website,
Thanks to a thick bank of predawn fog, Catherine Johnson couldn’t see the rocket when it blasted off early Saturday morning at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California – but she could hear the roar as NASA’s InSight mission set off on its 6½-month journey to Mars.
“It was really impressive,” said Dr. Johnson, a planetary scientist at the University of British Columbia and a member of the mission’s science team. Describing the mood at the launch as a mixture of relief and joy, Dr. Johnson added that “the spacecraft is finally en route to do what we have worked toward for many years.”
But while InSight’s mission is just getting under way, it also marks the last stage in a particularly fruitful period for the U.S. space agency’s Mars program. In the past two decades, multiple, complementary spacecraft tackled different aspects of Mars science.
Unlike the Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars nearly six years ago and is in the process of climbing a mountain in the middle of an ancient crater, InSight is designed to stay in one place after it touches down Nov. 26 . Its purpose is to open a new direction in Mars exploration – one that leads straight down as the spacecraft deploys a unique set of instruments to spy on the planet’s interior.
“What we will learn … will help us understand the earliest history of rocky planets, including Earth,” Dr. Johnson said.
It has been a prolonged voyage to the red planet. In 2015, technical problems forced program managers to postpone InSight’s launch for 2½ years. Now, scientists are hoping for smooth sailing to Mars and an uneventful landing a few hundred kilometres north of Curiosity, at a site that Dr. Johnson cheerfully describes as “boring.”
Does the timing of this talk mean you’ll be getting the latest news since InSight landed on Mars roughly six months ago? One can only hope. Finally, Johnson’s UBC bio webpage is here.
Baba Brinkman brings us up-to-date
Here’s most of a May 22, 2019 newsletter update (received via email) from former Vancouverite and current rapper, playwright, and science communicator, Baba Brinkman,
… Over the past five years I have been collaborating frequently with a company in California called SpectorDance, after the artistic director Fran Spector Atkins invited me to write and perform a rap soundtrack to one of her dance productions. Well, a few weeks ago we played our biggest venue yet with our latest collaborative show, Ocean Trilogy, which is all about the impact of human activities including climate change on marine ecosystems. The show was developed in collaboration with scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, and for the first time there’s now a full video of the production online. Have you ever seen scientifically-informed eco rap music combined in live performance with ballet and modern dance? Enjoy.
Speaking of “Science is Everywhere”, about a year ago I got to perform my song “Can’t Stop” about the neurobiology of free will for a sold-out crowd at the Brooklyn Academy of Music alongside physicist Brian Greene, comedian Chuck Nice, and Neil deGrasse Tyson. The song is half scripted and half freestyle (can you tell which part is which?) They just released the video.
Over the past few months I’ve been performing Rap Guide to Evolution, Consciousness, and Climate Chaos off-Broadway 2-3 times per week, which has been a roller coaster. Some nights I have 80 people and it’s rocking, other nights I step on stage and play to 15 people and it takes effort to keep it lively. But since this is New York, occasionally when there’s only 15 people one of them will turn out to be a former Obama Administration Energy Advisor or will publish a five star review, which keeps it exciting.
What’s Rap Guide to Culture about? Cultural evolution and the psychology of norms of course. I recently attended a conference at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis in Knoxville, TN where I performed a sneak preview and did a “Rap Up” of the various conference talks, summarizing the scientific content at the end of the day, check out the video.
Okay, time to get back to packing and hit the road. More to come soon, and wish me luck continuing to dominate my lonely genre.
Brinkman has been featured here many times (just use his name as the term in the blog’s search engine). While he lives in New York City these days, he does retain a connection to Vancouver in that his mother Joyce Murray is the Member of Parliament for Vancouver Quadra and, currently, the president of the Treasury Board.
I recently received three email announcements that might be of interest to people looking for science and/or art/science events.Of course, they are taking place thousands of kilometers apart.
March 26, 2019 Café Scientifique event in Vancouver
Café Scientifique sent out a March 7, 2019 email announcement about,
Our next café will happen on TUESDAY, MARCH 26TH at 7:30PM in the back room at YAGGER’S DOWNTOWN (433 W Pender). Our speaker for the evening will be DR. LOVE-ESE CHILE, founder of Grey to Green Sustainable Solutions.
SHIFTING THE PLASTIC LANDSCAPE: BIO-PLASTICS, CIRCULAR ECONOMY AND SUSTAINABLE MATERIAL MANAGEMENT
Growing public and scientific opinion are driving businesses and policy-makers to change the way plastics circulate through our communities. Moving away from a linear supply chain that allows a multitude of plastic to seep out into the environment, this talk will discuss new ideas and technology being implemented to move plastics into a circular supply loop.
Dr. Love-Ese Chile is a sustainable plastic researcher based in Vancouver, BC. Arriving from New Zealand, Ese completed her doctoral thesis on biodegradable plastics at the University of British Columbia in 2017. During her studies, Ese became a vocal supporter of sustainability, green chemistry and community-driven science. In 2018, Dr. Chile started a research consulting company, Grey to Green Sustainable Solutions, that works with local businesses, not-for-profit groups and policy-makers to increase understanding of the sustainable plastic supply chain and develop new technologies that will allow plastics to transition into a circular economy.
We hope to see you there!
I love her name and I couldn’t find too much information other than her LinkedIn page and her page on Research Gate. Her first name reminds of flower names and her last name does not signify her country of origin, which is New Zealand. Enjoy!
Superorganism city on March 27 and 28, 2019 in Toronto
Toronto’s Art/Sci Salon’s email announcement was also received on March 7, 2019 ( Note: The formatting has been changed),
A LECTURE, A WORKSHOP AND A COLLECTIVE EXPERIMENT EXPLORING ART, BIOLOGY AND URBANIS
We are pleased to invite you to a series of events featuring interdisciplinary artist Heather Barnett and Physarum polycephalum: during her visit, Barnett will present her recent research, will conduct a workshop, and will explore the city of Toronto, inspired by the nonhuman perspective of this organism, also known as slime mould.
The slime mould (Physarum polycephalum) is a bright yellow amoeba that possesses primitive intelligence, problem solving skills and memory. It is highly efficient at forming networks between given points and has been used to map the worlds’ transport networks, migration routes and desire paths. Most notably, in 2010 it accurately replicated the Tokyo suburban rail network. The slime mould is also quite beautiful, the branching patterns reminiscent of forms seen at varying scales within nature, from blood vessels to tree branches, from river deltas to lightning flashes. It can learn about its environment, remember where it’s been and navigate through complex territories – all without any sensory organs and not a single neuron to its name.
Join us to these events:
RESEARCH TALK March 27 2:00-3:00 PM Sensorium (YORK U) *
WORKSHOP (by invitation) March 28 1:00-4:00 PM Wilson Hall (UofT) *
COLLECTIVE EXPERIMENT March 30 1:00-5:00 PM Wilson Hall (UofT)
** Wilson Hall Student Lounge (2nd floor) University of Toronto 40 Willcocks street Toronto, ON M5S 1C6
Biography: Heather Barnett’s art practice engages with natural phenomena and complex systems. Working with live organisms, imaging technologies and playful pedagogies, her work explores how we observe, influence and understand the world around us. Recent work centres around nonhuman intelligence, collective behaviour and knowledge systems, including The Physarum Experiments, an ongoing ‘collaboration’ with an intelligent slime mould; Animal Collectives collaborative research with SHOAL Group at Swansea University; and a series of publicly sited collective interdisciplinary bio/social experiments, including Crowd Control and Nodes and Networks.
This event has been possible thanks to the support of the School of Cities and New College (UofT), and is a collaboration between ArtSci Salon, Sensorium, the Research Centre for Creative inquiry and Experimentation, the Departments of Computational Art and Visual Art & Art History at York University
Research for this event was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
ArtSci Salon is an interdisciplinary program hosted by the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences. LASER – Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous is a project of Leonardo® /ISAST
For anyone who’d like to see the poster in its original format, go here. I don’t believe you have to register for either of the two public events.
Evolution – Exhibition and Panel Discussion on March 29, 2019 in Toronto
On March 9, 2019 I received another Art/Sci Salon email announcement (Note: The formatting has been changed),
Evolution – Exhibition and Panel Discussion March 29, 2019 What is nature and the evolution of living beings is an inevitable issue. While searching for the answer to this and other questions around Nature and its variations, we find what we are and how we stand among all organisms and in the world. Charles Darwin offered the world a simple scientific explanation for the diversity of life on Earth: evolution by natural selection. Countless scientists have found that Darwin’s work is fundamental to their own.
Contemporary scientists can now answer questions about the natural world in ways Darwin never could. New tools and technologies, such as DNA analyses, can reveal unexpected relationships between seemingly dissimilar groups.
This event consists of an exhibition (part of FACTT-TO) and a panel discussion. Together, they interrogate the meaning, the relevance and the implications of evolution from different vantage points, including perspectives from a range of scientific disciplines, technological approaches, and artistic practices. We wish to reflect on the condition of co-habitation and co-existence of human and non-humans in this world (and beyond?) and pose questions about transformation; forced or elective mutation and survival; agency and decision making; conservation and intervention.
Text by Marta de Menezes and Roberta Buiani
Join us March 29 for the opening and tour of FACTT, followed by a panel discussion
5:00 pm Opening Tour
Meet us in Sidney Smith (University of Toronto), 100 St George street (enter from Huron street)
Stop#1 – Sidney Smith Commons (Huron Street side)
Stop#2 – McLennan Physics Labs (60 St. George street)
Artists: André Sier; Elaine Whittaker; Felipe Shibuya & Pedro Cruz; Gunes-Helene Isitan; Jenifer Wightman; Jennifer Willet; Jude Abu-Zaineh; Kathy High; Maria Francisca Abreu-Afonso; Maria Manuela Lopez; Nicole Clouston; Nigel Helyer; Suzanne Anker; Tarah Roda; Tosca Teràn
6:00-8:00 pm Panel Discussion
The Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences Rm 23
Marta DeMenezes – Artistic Director, Ectopia; Director, Cultivamos Cultura
Gary Smith – Artist and landscape architect, Visiting Artist at Santa Clara University
Boris Steipe – Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Department of Molecular Genetics
Jenifer Wightman – Research Associate (Cornell) and Lecturer (New School/Parsons)
Marta DeMenezes is a Portuguese artist (b. Lisbon, 1975) with a degree in Fine Arts by the University in Lisbon, and a MSt in History of Art and Visual Culture by the University of Oxford. She has been exploring the interaction between Art and Biology, working in research laboratories demonstrating that new biological technologies, DNA, proteins and live organisms can be used as an art medium. Her work has been presented internationally in exhibitions, articles and lectures. She is since 2005 artistic director of Ectopia – Experimental Art Laboratory and from 2009 director of Cultivamos Cultura – Association. http://martademenezes.com
Gary Smith lectures frequently at botanical gardens, art museums, and professional conferences. In his work he examines the basic patterns in nature, finding ways they form a visual vocabulary for human cultural expression. Formerly an Associate Professor of Landscape Design at the University of Delaware, Smith has also served as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Texas. In 2012, Smith was the Nadine Carter Russell Chair in the School of Landscape Architecture at Louisiana State University. He is currently Visiting Artist in the Department of Art and Art History at Santa Clara University, in Santa Clara, California. www.wgarysmithdesign.com
Boris Steipe is Director of the Specialist Program in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology and Associate Professor at the Department of Biochemistry and Department of Molecular Genetics. He is interested in recurring patterns in molecular structure: the computational methods of pattern discovery, their characterization regarding features, context and distribution, their association with function in proteins, and their utility for protein engineering and design. http://biochemistry.utoronto.ca/person/boris-steipe/ Trained as a Toxicologist,
Jenifer Wightman is a research scientist specializing in greenhouse gas inventories and life cycle analysis of agriculture, forestry, waste, and bioenergy systems at Cornell University, funded by DoE, USDA, NYS DA&M, and NYSERDA. Her art practice began in 2002 and employs scientific tropes to incite curiosity of biological phenomena and inform an ecological rationality. Her art has been commissioned by NYC parks, featured at the Lincoln Center, BAM, and Imagine Science Festival, and is held in collections such as the Morgan Library, Library of Congress, Gutenberg Museum, Bodmer Museum, and the Danish Royal Library http://www.audiblewink.com/
ArtSci Salon thanks the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences, Art and Science and the Physics Department at the University of Toronto for their support. ArtSci Salon is an interdisciplinary program hosted by the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences. LASER – Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous is a project of Leonardo® /ISAST [International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology ]
This ‘Evolution’ event is part of the 2019 FACTT festival; there was also a 2018 FACCT festival in Toronto. I have a bit more about FACTT and last year’s event in a January 29, 2018 posting (scroll down to Toronto) and a brief reference to it in a January 10, 2018 posting (scroll down to Do CRISPR monsters dream of synthetic futures?).
Here’s more about the latest Café Scientifique talk from an August 22, 2018 announcement received via email,
Our next café will happen on TUESDAY, AUGUST 28TH at 7:30PM in the back
room at YAGGER'S DOWNTOWN (433 W Pender [St., Vancouver]). Our speaker for the
evening will be DR. KATIE MARSHALL from the Department of Zoology at
UBC [University of British Columbia]. Her topic will be:
GETTING THE MESSAGE: WHAT IS GENE EXPRESSION AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Many of us think that DNA is like a light switch; you have a particular
sequence of base pairs or a particular chromosome, and these directly
cause a large change in biological functioning. But the truth is that
any given gene can be up or downregulated through a dizzying array of
biochemical “dimmer switches” that finely control how much that
particular gene is expressed. Understanding how this works is key to
answering questions like “How does a sequence of base pairs in DNA
become a whole organism?” and “Why is it that every cell has the
same DNA sequence but different function?”. We’ll chat about the
advances in computing needed to answer these questions, the importance
of gene expression in disease, and how this science can help us
understand social issues better too.
I wasn’t able to find out too much more about Dr. Katie but there is this profile page on the UBC Zoology Department website,
The long-term goal of my research is to understand how abiotic stress filters through physiology to shape species abundance and distribution. While abiotic stressors such as temperature have been used very successfully to predict population growth, distribution, and diversity of insect species, integration of the mechanisms of how these stressors are experienced by individuals from alteration of physiology through to fitness impacts has lagged. Inclusion of these mechanisms is crucial for accurate modelling predictions of individual (and therefore population-level) responses. My research to date has focused on how the impact of frequency of stress (rather than the duration or intensity of stress) is a superior predictor of both survival and reproductive success , and used insect cold tolerance as a model system.
At UBC I’ll be focusing on the cold tolerance and cryobiology of invertebrates in the intertidal. These organisms face freezing stress through the winter, yet remarkably little is known about how they do so. I’ll also be investigating plasticity in cold tolerance by looking for interactive effects of ocean acidification and community composition on thermal tolerance.
I received (via email) this Café Scientifique July 15, 2018 notice ,
Our next café will happen on TUESDAY, JULY 31ST at 7:30PM in the back
room at YAGGER’S DOWNTOWN (433 W Pender). Our speaker for the
evening will be DR. NIENKE VAN HOUTEN from THE FACULTY OF HEALTH
SCIENCES AT SFU. Her topic will be:
TEST TUBES TO TEACHING: HOW ANTI-VAXXERS AND A GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS
SHAPED MY CAREER
Part research talk, and part memoir, Dr. van Houten will describe her
career progression from vaccine design scientist to education
researcher. From early childhood, Dr. van Houten developed an
unrelenting interest in human biology and infectious diseases and made
it her goal to become a scientist. Her passion for vaccines came about,
in part, due to the publicity surrounding the infamous retracted paper
in _The Lancet_ that erroneously connected measles vaccination with
autism. Her Ph.D. and postdoctoral research focused on how vaccines
work, and she engineered anti-viral vaccines to produce focused antibody
responses. However, her plan of working in the pharmaceutical industry
was sidelined by the financial crash of 2008, and she was offered a full
time teaching faculty position. This created an opportunity to study how
students think critically about science and apply those findings to
train students to recognize bad science such as that promoted by
anti-vaxxers and other garbage “science” that pervades our society.
I received this Café Scientifique April 30, 2018 notice (received via email),
Our next café will happen on TUESDAY, MAY 29TH at 7:30PM in the back
room at YAGGER'S DOWNTOWN (433 W Pender). Our speaker for the
evening will be DR. MICHELLE TSENG, Assistant Professor in the Zoology
department at UBC. Her topic will be:
INSECTS IN THE CITY: SHRINKING BEETLES AND DISAPPEARING BEES. HOW BUGS
HELP US LEARN ABOUT THE ECOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF URBANIZATION AND CLIMATE
Living in the city, we don’t always see the good bugs amongst the
pesky ones. In this presentation, I’ll take you on a trip down insect
lane and share with you the incredible diversity of insects that have
lived in Vancouver over the last 100 years. Many of these bugs have been
collected and preserved in museums and these collections provide us with
a historical snapshot of insect communities from the past. My students
and I have made some remarkable discoveries using museum insect
collections, and these findings help us understand how these fascinating
creatures are changing in response to warming climates and increased
Michelle Tseng is a professor of insect ecology at the UBC Biodiversity
Research Centre. She and her students study the impacts of habitat and
climate change on plankton and insects. Her group’s work has been
featured in national and international media, and on CBC’s Quirks and
Quarks. Michelle is also the zoologist on the award-winning CBC kids
show Scout and the Gumboot Kids.
The Tseng lab investigates ecological and evolutionary responses of populations and communities to novel environments. We test and refine theory related to predator-prey dynamics, body size variation, intra- and interspecific competition, and the maintenance of genetic variation, using laboratory and field experiments with freshwater plant and animal communities. We also use museum collections to investigate long term patterns in organism phenotype.