In this unique colour-focused artist talk, Sova will explore her Covid19 Collage Project created in direct response to the pandemic. She will take the audience through an analysis of how she utilizes the precise symbolic and aesthetic qualities of colour-choice to reflect her psychological response to our current times and amplify the intent in her artist statement: ‘Former eyes have been replaced, and the curtain pulled back on the inequities that we didn’t fully see before. Newsfeeds are full of surreal deaths and devastating condolences. Different eyes; metallic and shiny. Eyes that no longer know how to ‘look to our future” for hope and possibilities. Our Instagram lives and our vitriolic materialism now laid bare. We are left to self-reflect, face ourselves, slow down, and toss and turn at night with vivid crackling dreams alive with messages screaming from our subconscious. We thought we were separate from nature, but now we know we are one. Sequestered in our homes, our minds begin to change, fracture with confusion. We float in a sea of unknowns, covering our faces with psychological and real masks. In a sparkly shiny isolated dreamy space; how will we prophesize our new future and manifest in a new uncertain one?
Bio: Ilene Sova holds the position of Ada Slaight Chair of Contemporary Drawing and Painting in the Faculty of Art at Ontario College of Art and Design University [OCAD University]. She identifies as Mixed Race, with a white settler, Afro-Caribbean, and Black Seminole ancestry. She is also an artist who lives with the disability of Epilepsy. As such, she passionately identifies with the tenets of intersectional feminism and has dedicated her creative career to art and activism. Ilene Sova is also the founder of the Feminist Art Collective and Blank Canvases, an in-school creative arts programme for elementary school students. She holds an Honours BFA from the University of Ottawa in Painting and an MFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of Windsor. With extensive solo and group exhibitions in Canada and abroad, Sova’s work has most notably been shown at Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art, the Department of Canadian Heritage, and Mutuo Centro de Arte in Barcelona. Sova’s artwork has been featured internationally in the Journal of Psychology and Counselling, the Nigerian Arts Journal, Tabula and the Italian feminist journal, Woman’O’Clock. In her academic career, Sova has been invited to speak on diversity and equity in arts curriculum at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Pratt University and the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design conference in Los Angeles. A passionate public speaker, Sova was chosen to speak at the first TEDx Women event in Toronto, and Southern University New York where she gave an all University Lecture on Art and Social Change. Additionally, Sova was invited to deliver the Arthur C. Danto Memorial Keynote Lecture at the 76th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Aesthetics (ASA). Sova’s exhibitions and advocacy in education have been featured on Global Television, CBC Radio, the Toronto Star, Canada AM, The Metro, National Post, Canadian Art, and MSN News.
Presentation #1: Cosmovision of the Polynesia and Rapanui.
Featured Speaker: Edmundo Edwards Eastman. Archeoastronomy. President Fundación Planetario Rapanui
Abstract: Some 3,500 years ago, the ancestors of the Polynesians led the speediest human expansion of the pre-historic world, guided by nothing more than their complex astronomical observations and an understanding of natural signs. This knowledge, coupled with tremendous navigational skills and human ingenuity, allowed the Polynesians to explore the vast Pacific Ocean and develop highly sophisticated cultures on thousands of different islands.
Bio: Edmundo’s passion for archaeology started when he was 12 years old and discovered a pre-Incan site in northern Chile, yet it was after visiting Rapa Nui in 1957, that he became enthralled by Rapanui culture and returned to the island in 1960 with archaeologist William Mulloy. Edmundo has lived and worked in Polynesia ever since. In 1977 he co-founded the Centro de Estudios de Isla de Pascua where he carried out archaeological and ethnographic studies for the University of Chile until 1985. He then left for Tahiti, conducting archaeological surveys and leading restoration work in the Society, Marquesas, and Austral Islands until he returned to Rapa Nui in 1994. Edmundo has since then devoted himself to the scientific study and preservation of the archaeology and culture of the Pacific islands. He is the co-founder of the Pacific Islands Research Institute (PIRI) and co-owner of Archaeological Travel Service (ATS). Edmundo is an active member of the Explorers Club and in 2011 he was honored with the Lowell Thomas Award for his exceptional contribution to human knowledge through his valuable research and discoveries in Polynesia, and in 2016 he received the Citation of Merit.
Presentation #2: Celestial Africa
Featured Speaker: Jarita Holbrook
Abstract: The continent of Africa is large and has thousands of ethnic groups living in over 50 countries. Though home to some of the biggest astronomical telescopes in the world, there remains the perception that Africans have little awareness of the celestial realm. In reality, African indigenous astronomy is rich with many cultural connections to the sky as well as many practical uses of the sky. Holbrook will share some of the African legacy of rich skylore, artistic works, and practices connected to the sky.
Bio: Jarita Holbrook is a Marie Skłowdowska Curie Fellow in Science, Technology & Innovation Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Holbrook has successfully navigated the physical science and the social sciences. Upon moving to South Africa in 2013 to the Physics department at the University of the Western Cape, Holbrook was engaged in indigenous astronomy, studying the sociocultural aspects of astrophysics education in South Africa, and making a film about the social issues connected to building the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope. Using interview based inquiry, Holbrook researches the practices of inclusion and exclusion through analyzing socioeconomic class, gender, and ethnicity among database-driven astrophysics collaborations. Holbrook’s current project, ASTROMOVES, explores these in the context of career decision making among astrophysicists.
Anita Tenasco is an Anishinabeg from Kitigan Zibi. She has a Bachelor’s degree in history and teaching from the University of Ottawa, as well as a First Nations leadership certificate from Saint Paul’s University, in Ottawa. She has also taken courses in public administration at ENAP (The University of Public Administration). In Kitigan Zibi, she has held various positions in the field of education and, since 2005, is director of education in her community.
Anita was an active participant in the Honouring Our Ancestors project, in which the Anishinabeg Nation of Kitigan Zibi, under Gilbert Whiteduck’s direction, was successful in the restitution of the remains of ancestors conserved at the Canadian Museum of History, in Gatineau. Anita also participated in the organizing of a conference on repatriation, in Kitigan Zibi, in 2005. She plays an important role in this research project.
Wilfred Buck is a member of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation. He obtained his B.Ed. & Post Bacc. from the University of Manitoba.
As an educator Wilfred has had the opportunity and good fortune to travel to South and Central America as well as Europe and met, shared and listened to Indigenous people from all over the world.
He is a husband, father of four, son, uncle, brother, nephew, story-teller, mad scientist, teacher, singer, pipe-carrier, sweat lodge keeper, old person and sun dance leader. Researching Ininew star stories Wilfred found a host of information which had to be interpreted and analyzed to identify if the stories were referring to the stars. The journey began… The easiest way to go about doing this, he was told, was to look up.
“The greatest teaching that was ever given to me, other than my wife and children, is the ability to see the humor in the world”…Wilfred Buck
Yasmin Catricheo is the STEM Education Scholar at AUI’s Office of Education and Public Engagement. She is a physics educator from Chile, and of Mapuche origin. Yasmin is passionate about the teaching of science and more recently has focused in the area of astronomy and STEM. In her professional training she has taken a range of courses in science and science education, and researched the benefits of scientific argumentation in the physics classroom, earning a master’s degree in education from the University of Bío-Bío. Yasmín is also a member of the indigenous group “Mapu Trafun”, and she works closely with the Mapuche community to recover the culture and communicate the message of the Mapuche Worldview. In 2018 Yasmín was selected as the Chilean representative for Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassador Program (ACEAP) founded by NSF.
*Ingenium is the name for Canada’s Museums of Science and Innovation, which acts as an umbrella organization for the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, and the Canada Science and Technology Museum.
Tools for Catching Clouds at Venice’s Biennale Architettura 2021
This information comes from a June 8, 2021 email received from the artist himself, Lanfranco Aceti,
Tools for Catching Clouds is a new series of works of art by Lanfranco Aceti. They are a segment of Preferring Sinking to Surrender — the artist’s installation at the Venice Architecture Biennale, 2021. The installation is comprised of drawings, sculptures, paintings, videos, performances, and a vegetable garden.
Curated by Alessandro Melis for the Italian Pavilion, Preferring Sinking to Surrender is a progression and accumulation of works of art that will be developed throughout the duration of the Venice Architecture Biennale, from May 21, 2021, to November 21, 2021.
The artist reimagines the future in matriarchal terms and bypasses social upheavals and legacies of environmental disasters through a series of aesthetic approaches that navigate melancholia, anger, and hope. The works of art retrace the legacies of the past — back to the Italic tribes that populated the Apennines before the founding of Rome and the arrival of Greeks in southern Italy.
The worship of the Magna Mater — or the Great Black Mediterranean Mother — by the Italic tribes is a necessary rediscovery to understand the resilience of matriarchy and its values of acceptance and inclusion within societies that have become patriarchal in nature and, de facto, hierarchical and exclusionary. Nevertheless, these values resist and persist, and have empowered entire generations who were considered ‘outsiders’ and who have found, in the embrace of the ‘Mamma Schiavona’ (another name for the Magna Mater), their strength, networks of solidarity, and empowerment.
Aceti’s research in gender issues and alternative structures to patriarchy, developed during a one year affiliation at Art, Culture and Technology (ACT) @ MIT, inspired a continued analysis of pre-Roman matriarchal societies. This led to the conception of Preferring Sinking to Surrender as an alternative space and narrative to current capitalistic cultural frameworks.
“I have to say that it is a pleasure working with Alessandro Melis,” said Aceti. “Not every curator is fond of process based art. For me it is particularly rewarding to have found a curator that is both empowering and supportive.”
For more information and images of Tools for Catching Clouds, click here.
About the Artist
Lanfranco Aceti is known for his extensive career as artist, curator, and academic. He has exhibited numerous personal projects including Car Park, a public performance in the UK at the John Hansard Gallery; Who The People?, an installation artwork acquired in its entirety by the Chetham’s Library and Museum in Manchester; Sowing and Reaping, installation artworks acquired in their entirety by the National Museum of Contemporary Art of Cyprus; Hope Coming On, a site-specific choral performance he designed for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and realized in front of Turner’s Slave Ship (Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying, Typhoon Coming On); Shimmer, a series of sculptural, photographic, and painting works curated by Irini Papadimitriou (V&A) at the Tobazi Mansion in Hydra; a large choral performance titled Accursed for the Thessaloniki Biennial in Greece; and Knock, Knock, Knocking a public space installation in the Mediterranean Garden Pavilion of the New Sea Waterfront of Thessaloniki. Currently, he is developing a large international project, Preferring Sinking to Surrender for the Venice Architecture Biennale 2021, which includes performances in major cities around the world.
About The Studium
The Studium is Lanfranco Aceti’s artistic studio. It has partnered with public and private organizations as well as with individuals to realize the artist’s works and to develop fora for the discussion of aesthetic approaches to public space, the role of contemporary art in the social political landscape, and themes of social and environmental justice.
For questions or information and materials, please contact The Studium’s Marketing Director, John Francescutti.
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.
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.
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.
Expose a hitherto largely Eurocentric scholarly community in Canada to widening international perspectives and methods,
Build on past successes at border-crossings and exchanges between the participants,
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,
Open up new perspectives on the genesis and place of globalized science, and thereby
Offer alternative ways to conceptualize and engage globalization itself, and especially the globalization of knowledge and science.
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. …
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.
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.
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.
Dr. Brian Eameshosts 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
CSP announced (on Twitter) a new annual contest in 2016,
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.)
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-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,
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!
There are some interesting events coming up in that constellation of science museums clustered under the Ingenium brand name in Ottawa. I’m highlighting two of the events here in date order.
Canada Agriculture and Food Museum on December 5, 2019
That is an actual gingerbread house made by Catherine Beddall, the featured artist at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum’s December 5, 2019 event. Here’s more from a November 27, 2019 Ingenium newsletter (received via email),
Canada Agriculture and Food Museum Thursday, December 5, 2019 (7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.) Fee: $10 + tax | Members: $7 + tax (with promo code) Language: English only, with a bilingual Q-and-A
Join Catherine Beddall — an award-winning gingerbread artist — to learn the tips and tricks behind making a successful gingerbread project. The author of The Magic of Gingerbread, Beddall has created antique clocks, space rockets, and even a chess board from gingerbread. Find your inspiration…just in time to make your own gingerbread creation for the holidays!
For full details and to register, visit our website.
Catherine Beddall is, quite simply, a gingerbread mastermind. Forget basic little houses covered in gumdrops — Beddall is a food artist and gingerbread is her favourite medium. From an antique clock to space rockets and even a chess board, there’s no limit to Beddall’s creative designs. With Christmas on the horizon, this award-winning pastry chef is planning a visit to the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum to share some beginner tips with visitors. The Ingenium Channel caught up with her to learn more about her gingerbread obsession.
it’s a fun, interesting interview liberally spiced with pictures of Beddall’s work.
Kids learn to make electronic plushie gifts on December 14, 2019 in Ottawa
Also from the November 27, 2019 Ingenium newsletter (received via email),
Canada Science and Technology Museum Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.) Fee: $17 + tax | Members: $15 ($2 discount with promo code) + tax Language: Bilingual
Kids ages 8 and up will love the chance to design their own electronic plushie (note that registration includes admission for one child and one accompanying adult). Using conductive thread, participants will learn incorporate sewable circuitry components into a unique toy.
For full details and to register, visit our website.
I found more here on the event webpage,
*Registration includes admission for one child and one accompanying adult.
Fan of the DIY [do it yourself] movement? Want to fabricate a thoughtful gift for the holidays? You are invited to use your creativity to make a handmade gift.
Want to improve your sewing AND circuitry skills at the same time? Join us for an electronic textile workshop — just in time for the holidays! Explore how to incorporate sewable circuitry components using conductive thread into your very own hand-made plushie! Use your creativity to design and decorate your plushie; the result might just be the perfect gift for your special someone.
Registration is required. Parents/guardians must remain at the museum for the duration of the workshop, and are welcome to attend the session.
Ingenium members will receive a discount code to apply towards the admission fee! Watch for the discount code in the exclusive member newsletter.
It looks like there are two sessions to choose from and each is 90 minutes in duration.
I don’t know what’s happened but either there are way more science type events or I’ve changed some pattern of internet use and am stumbling across more of them. I vote for the former.
In any event, this is the third ’roundup’ of science type things and/or events that I’ve published this October 2019. *ETA October 23, 2019: The events are in one or other of the science museums in Ottawa, the internships (part-time) are in Washington, DC, and Sci_Tunes is aimed at teachers in the UK although I imagine anyone is free to enjoy them.*
All three of the museums that are included in the Ingenium portmanteau (formerly the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation) have events and Ingenium itself is announcing a science type thing (a video game).
AI (artificial intelligence) and climate change at the Canada Museum of Science and Technology
From an October 16, 2019 Ingenium announcement (received via email),
Canada Science and Technology Museum Oct. 24, 2019 (6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.) Fee: $10 for non-members, $7 for members and students. Registration required. Language: English presentation with simultaneous translation into French, and a bilingual Q & A.
Climate Change and Artificial Intelligence – two topics essential to the future of our society, each with their own inherent challenges. What if they could work together for the greater good?
Join invited speakers from Watergeeks.io and BluWave AI for a discussion that will explore the potential to use AI to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, build climate resilience,and help Canada lead in the clean tech economy. Don’t miss this essential evening, the first in the thematic series “Living in the Machine Age.”
For anyone who may be confused about the museum name (as I was for so very long): The corporation is the governing entity for three museums, Canada Science and Technology, Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, and Canada Aviation and Space Museum. Changing the corporate name from Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation to Ingenium was welcome news (to me, if no one else).
Sky High Magic at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum
From an October 16, 2019 Ingenium announcement (received via email) ,
Canada Aviation and Space Museum
Jan. 5, 2020, Feb. 17, 2020, and March 8, 2020
Fee: $8 per ticket, $6 for members (with the discount code)
Mark your calendar…the Sky High Magic
Series is coming back to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum! With
shows running through March 2020, this year’s line up features talented,
high-energy magicians who will dazzle you with amazing illusions —
mixed with a whirlwind of comedy.
StarBlox Inc. is a mashup of a puzzler and a brawler — in space! Ingenium’s experts worked on the science in the game to immerse players in a realistic world. For example, when playing on the Jovian moon Io, you’ll need to dodge waves of lava. In real life, these can measure over 50 km high!
The game includes 72 unlockable photobook entries about the planets, moons, and asteroids in the game, with images from NASA. Check out the StarBlox Inc. trailer.
I’ve included a copy of the trailer here,
It seems more like a entrepreneur’s starter kit than a game. The overarching theme seems to be that the business of transportation and delivery is a zero sum game. Philosophically, they seem to be espousing capitalism as a form of the ‘strongest survive’ tenet.
OTTAWA, ON, September 30, 2019 – Nintendo Switch players can now join the team at StarBlox Incorporated – where sorting cargo is a contact sport!
A unique mash up of a puzzler and a brawler, Ingenium – Canada’s Museums of Science and Innovation – developed the game for Nintendo Switch in partnership with Seed Interactive. Crafted for scientific accuracy by Ingenium’s expert science advisors and curatorial staff, StarBlox Inc. features stunning planetary backdrops which have been meticulously designed to ensure that players are fully immersed in a realistic world.
As players deliver cargo to the far corners of the solar system, each of the planets, moons and asteroids presents new challenges – from black holes to gravity to waves of lava. This interactive game tests quickness and ability to efficiently to beat the competition. But watch out – the shipping world is fierce! An opponent can sabotage work by stealing blocks, delivering punches or even throwing someone in the incinerator!
Game features include: Two local competitive multiplayer modes for up to four people Single player “Career mode” Seventy-two unlockable photobook entries about the planets, moons and asteroids in the game, with images provided by NASA
StarBlox Inc. is now available for pre-purchase in North America, and will launch in the Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch later this fall.
“As science communicators, Ingenium is proud to create digital experiences that reach beyond the four walls of our Museums. This latest foray into the world of gaming is just one of the many ways in which we are leveraging our world class collection and team of experts to engage people regardless of where they are – nationally and internationally.” – Christina Tessier, President and CEO, Ingenium – Canada’s Museums of Science and Innovatio
“Seed Interactive creates entertainment with a purpose. As digital innovators we utilize games and interactive technologies to create exciting and accessible education, health and wellness and entertainment products.” -Aaron McLean, Founder and C.O.O, SEED Interactive Inc
The game was released October 18, 2019.
Hercules and the last straw at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum
From an October 21, 2019 Ingenium announcement (received via email),
Hercules and The Last Straw
Friday, November 8, 2019 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Canada Agriculture and Food Museum
We are pleased to invite you to join us at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, November 8, 2019 for a special evening of art and inspiration.
Ingenium is thrilled to partner with celebrated artist Elaine Goble as she shares her artistic perspectives on the fascinating connection between the STEAM subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics, and personal wellness. The Canada Agriculture and Food Museum is one of three museums of Ingenium – Canada’s Museums of Science and Innovation.
For the first time, three of Ms. Goble’s large-sized animal portraits will be on view simultaneously. The vernissage and presentation will be held in the museum’s Learning Centre, where guests will be welcome to view the artworks and meet the artist before the presentation. Ms. Goble’s pieces will be complemented by several other agriculture-related artworks from Ingenium’s national science and technology collection.
Light refreshments and a cash bar will be offered.
In honour of Ms. Goble’s commitment to using art as a catalyst for curiosity and expression, a $20 donation to the museum’s art programming is requested. A tax receipt will be issued to all ticket holders and donors. If you cannot attend but would like to make a donation, please visit the Ingenium Foundation’s website .
Please RSVP using this link before November 3. As space for this event is limited, please reserve early to ensure you don’t miss out on this evening devoted to art, ingenuity, and the human spirit. A reminder with more information, including detailed driving and parking directions, will be emailed to all registrants several days before the event.
Here’s the image they’re using to accompany the publicity for the event,
Presumably, that is either Hercules or a stand-in for him.
Perimeter Institute and ‘Homes away from home’ with Elizabeth Tasker
I tried but these Perimeter Institute (PI) events are very popular and they are already at the wait list stage mere hours after making tickets available. However, there are other ways to attend as you’ll see.
Here’s more from an October 18, 2019 announcement from PI (received via email),
Homes away from home WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 6  at 7 PM ET Elizabeth Tasker, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
Since the discovery of the first exoplanets in the early 1990s, we have detected more than 4,000 worlds beyond our solar system. Many of these are similar in size to our Earth, leading to an obvious question: could any be habitable?
On November 6 , astrophysicist and author Elizabeth Tasker will take audiences for a speculative stroll through a few of the alien worlds we’ve discovered in the galaxy, and ponder whether someone else may already call them home. Read more ➞
Become a member of our donor thank you program! Learn more.
Here’s a bit more detail from the event’s ticket page,
PI Public Lecture Series:
Title: Homes away from home – the hunt for habitable planets
Since the discovery of the first exoplanets in the early 1990s, we have detected more than 4,000 worlds beyond our solar system. Many of these are similar in size to our Earth, leading to an obvious question: could any be habitable?
For now, we typically only know the size and orbit of these planets, but nothing about their surface conditions. Although we cannot know for sure if these worlds could support life, we can use models to speculate on what we might find there.
In her Nov. 6  talk at Perimeter Institute, astrophysicist and author Elizabeth Tasker will take audiences for a speculative stroll through a few of the alien worlds we’ve discovered in the galaxy, and ponder whether someone else may already call them home.
Elizabeth Tasker is an astrophysicist at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Her research explores the formation of stars and planets using computer simulations. She is particularly interested in how diverse planets might be and what different conditions might exist beyond our Solar System. Elizabeth is also a keen science communicator and writer for the NASA NExSS “Many Worlds” online column. Her popular science book, The Planet Factory, was published out in paperback in Canada last April.
Wilson Center Spring 2020 science and technology internships
From an October 21, 2019 Wilson Center announcement (received via email),
The Science and Technology Innovation Program (STIP) is currently welcoming applicantions for the spring semester of 2020. Our internships are designed to provide the opportunity for current students or recent graduates for practical experience in an environment that successfully combines scholarship with public policy. We recommend exploring our website to determine if your research interests align with current STIP programming around emerging technologies, i.e.:
5G * Artificial Intelligence * Big Data * Citizen Science * Cybersecurity * Disinformation * Marine Debris/Ocean Plastics * One Health * Open Science * Public Communication of Science * Serious Games
We offer two types of internships: graduate-level research and undergraduate-level research internships. All internships must be served in Washington, D.C. and cannot be served remotely. Internships are unpaid unless otherwise stated.
Tools like Foldscope, a $1 microscope, and Arduino, a microprocessor for creating customized scientific instrumentation, show how low cost hardware (including open, proprietary, and mixed solutions) can accelerate research while making it more transparent and participatory.
These tools have the potential to change how, and by whom, science is done, within professional spaces and broader communities. But more work is needed to understand the capacity and future potential for low-cost hardware to accelerate and broaden participation in scientific research. We are seeking a research intern with an interest in exploring democratized scientific research and technological development through the lens of low cost hardware.
Our world is drowning in plastic pollution. Humans produce about 300 million tons of plastic waste every year, equivalent to the weight of the entire human population in 2018. Nowhere is this crisis more visible than in our oceans, which by 2050 could contain more plastic than fish. Further complicating this issue are city-state actors, such as the United States, EU and China, who have vastly different approaches in how to negate the issue area. The global public needs to understand the impact of plastic pollution and how to end its leakage into the ocean.
We are seeking a research intern with an interest in exploring the ocean plastics issue in a shared role between the China Environment Forum and Science and Technology Innovation Program’s Serious Games Initiative.
The deadline for Spring 2020 internships is November 15, 2019.
Cosmic Shambles and Sci-Tunes
Cosmic Shambles (officially, The Cosmic Shambles Network) is a science blog network that rose from the ashes of the Guardian science blog network. These days they have podcasts, videos, blogs, and more. This latest project is described in an October 21, 2019 posting on the Cosmic Shambles blog,
In association with The Stephen Hawking Foundation and science troubadour Jonny Berliner, The Cosmic Shambles Network is proud to present Sci-Tunes.
Coming soon, a series of educational music videos on GCSE [General Certificate of Secondary Education examinations in the UK] Physics, written and performed by Jonny Berliner, funded by The Stephen Hawking Foundation, and produced by The Cosmic Shambles Network. The full videos will be released in November  and accompanied by free resources packs for both teachers and students. …
Today (May 7, 2019), I’m writing up a Canadian science hodge podge of a post.
From a sheep shearing festival in May to summer camps for kids: Ingenium’s Canadian science museums
Ingenium, for those who don’t know, is the corporate ‘parent’ for the Canada Science and Technology Museum, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, and the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum. Confusingly, the ‘parent’ was once called the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation (CSTMC).
I recently featured the da Vinci exhibit (May 2 – September 2, 2019) being held at the Canada Science and Technology Museum in a May 1, 2019 posting (scroll down about 70% of the way). It seems now it’s time for the other two.
Canada Agriculture and Food Museum and its sheep (May) and kids’ summer camps
The Sheep Shearing Festival is being held in Ottawa on Victoria Day weekend but only on two days of the weekend, Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19, 2019. Here’s more from festival webpage,
Sheep Shearing Festival
When: May 18, 2019 – May 19, 2019 Times: 9:30 am – 4:00 pm Fee: Included with admission Language: Bilingual
The Canada Agriculture and Food Museum presents the annual Sheep Shearing Festival. Visitors will be able to learn all about wool by participating in various activities and demonstrations. Visitors of all ages can attend sheep shearing, sheep herding and sheepdog agility demonstrations, as well as meeting an alpaca. They can also learn about carding and knitting, all important steps in the transformation of a raw fleece into wool. They can also see a craftsman doing traditional finger-weaving or spin the quiz wheel and test their knowledge about fibers from various sources. Visitors can enjoy cooking demonstrations that feature goat cheese as well as watch a classic movie. Keep an eye out for Little Bo Peep, who still needs help finding her sheep!
Note: The Festival is held on Saturday and Sunday but not the Monday of the long weekend. Regular May demonstrations will be in effect on Monday.
Activities: Sheep Shearing Demonstration The Art of Leather Sheepdog Agility Demonstration- weather permitting Sheep Herding Demonstration Goat Cheese and Herb Biscuits Family Movie Presentation Shawville 4-H Club Demonstration Felt Making Wool Carding Meet a Lamb and its Family Meet Yanni the Alpaca Children’s Craft Animal or Plant?” Quiz Finger Weaving Afternoon Milking Local Fiber artists and mini market Food Services ($) Wagon Rides ($) –weather permitting
With summer fast approaching, the moment has arrived for us to shear our sheep. Visitors can attend a sheep shearing demonstration, where they will see a professional sheep shearer at work as one of our dynamic guides explains the entire process
The Art of Leather(ongoing activity with a break between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m.)
There is more to leather than durable boots and stylish handbags – leather is a fascinating by-product! With expert artisan Lynn McNabb, visitors will be able to see how leather is prepared and how it can be ultimately crafted into beautiful and functional items.
Visitors will be enthralled by this demonstration performed by members of the “Ottawa Valley Border Collie Club”, who will captivate your attention with their Border Collies, who race through a course filled with obstacles of all sorts.
At this demonstration, visitors will see a shepherd and his specially trained dogs in action, as they work as a team to herd a flock of sheep.
Goat Cheese and Herb Biscuits (ongoing)
Did you know that goat’s milk is the most consumed milk in the world? Try a sample of our delicious goat cheese and herb biscuits.
Family Movie Presentation(English showing at 10:00 a.m. and French showing at 1:00 p.m.)
Join us for a classic movie presentation of the beloved film Babe. There will be popcorn for purchase and all proceeds go to the museum’s Youth Fund.
Shawville 4-H Club Demonstration (9:45 a.m., 11:45 a.m. and 1:45 p.m.)
Watch as the Shawville 4-H Club demonstrates how they train their 4-H farm animals and how they get them ready for showing and how they are evaluated. Meet and greet the animals and their trainers in between the demonstrations. This is a fun educational activity not to be missed!
Felt Making (ongoing activity)
With the help of a guide, visitors can make felt from a piece of sheep’s wool while discovering the history and science of the world’s oldest fabric.
Wool Carding (ongoing activity)
At this station, visitors can learn about carding, an important step in the transformation of wool. They can even try their hand at this activity with a pair of carders!
Meet a Lamb and its Family (ongoing activity)
Meet the sheep family and see who guards the sheep!
Meet Yanni the Alpaca (ongoing activity)
Visitors will meet an alpaca and learn all about this fascinating animal. They will learn about their life cycle, the reason we raise them on farms, as well as the particularities of their fleece.
Children’s Craft (ongoing activity)
Come join the fun with a themed sheep craft to take home.
“Animal or Plant?” Quiz (ongoing activity)
At this station, visitors will spin the wheel and test their knowledge about fibres from various sources. Will they know if the fibre comes from an animal or a plant?
Finger Weaving (ongoing activity)
Visitors will be able to see a craftsman doing some finger-weaving – a traditional craft that is used to make all sorts of products, including the famous arrow sash!
Afternoon Milking (4 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.)
The milking of the museum’s dairy cows takes place twice daily. Over the course of this demonstration, visitors will be impressed by the technologies used in modern dairying as they see the herdspeople milk the entire herd. A museum guide will be on site to explain the process and to answer questions.
Also… Local Fiber artists and mini market (ongoing activity) Willow Lane Alpacas Apple Road Goat Milk Soaps Janet Tulloch, artist Rebecca Dufton, artist SweetLegs Orleans with Sania
Food Services ($) The Hot Potato Company will be on site to offer food services.
Wagon Rides ($) (10 a.m. – 2 p.m.) weather permitting! Enjoy a tour through the fields of the Central Experimental Farm on the Tally-Ho wagon.
Summer camp at the farm
A series of week long summer camps at the Agriculture Museum’s famr are open to children whose parents thought to book ahead. The season starts on Monday, June 24, 2019 and ends Friday, August 23, 2019. Here’s more from the Summer Camps at the Farm webpage,
Bring the country to kids in the city with fascinating summer camps at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum. Hands-on activities educate children while they care for the museum’s farm animals and gardens, cook foods, make crafts, and play games
Additional Information Camps must be pre-booked. A child is not allowed to be registered for more than one week of camp. However, a second week may be booked if this camp is Sprouting Chefs culinary camp. Ingenium reserves the right to cancel the registrations for any child booked into more than one agricultural camp at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum. Children must be the required age by August 31, 2019. Counsellor-to-child ratio is a minimum of 1 to 8. One snack will be provided daily and lunch on Friday. Each child receives a camp T-shirt. You may cancel your registration up to two (2) weeks before the start of your camp week. There is a $30 fee for cancellations. No refunds will be issued for cancellations after the two week cut-off.
You may want to register soon as some the camp sessions are already sold out.
Canada Aviation and Space Museum features music and science summer camps
They have a shorter season running from July 2 – August 23, 2019 and, yes, one session is already sold out. Here’s more from the Music & Aviation Day Camp webpage,
The Canada Aviation and Space Museum is pleased to collaborate with Sonart Music School to offer weekly Music and Aviation Summer Day Camps at the Museum, from July 2nd to August 23rd, 2019.
Each day includes music lessons, aerodynamics demonstrations, outdoor activities and the children also perform in a concert at the end of the week!
Campers take off on a full flight of activities artfully balanced between music and aviation. Children become familiar with aeronautical concepts, including the principles of flight, and are introduced to various musical instruments such as drums, guitar, piano, voice, and violin. Your child will be challenged to push his or her limits through fascinating activities and captivating projects.
Go here to register. You can find out more about Sonart Music School here. Good luck with getting into the events and registering for the camp sessions you’d like!
Bee hygiene at the University of British Columbia (UBC)
After the news about a draft report* from the United Nations claiming that up to one million species are at risk due to humans (see April 23, 2019 news item on phys.org for more about the draft report), I thought this UBC research news might sound a more hopeful note.
There are parts of this video, which I found strangely hypnotic,
While poor hygiene may be a deal breaker in human relationships, in bee colonies it can be a matter of life and death.
Which is why, for two weeks in May, a lab at UBC runs a high-tech matchmaking service for bees: swipe right for hygienic bees, swipe left if not.
“Certain worker bees exhibit something called ‘hygienic behaviour,’ where they recognize nest mates that are infected by a pest or pathogen and remove them from the colony,” said Leonard Foster, a biochemist and professor at the Michael Smith Laboratories at UBC. “This is one way that bees defend against the varroa mite, which is typically responsible for about 40 per cent of Canadian colonies that are lost every year.”
According to Foster, the varroa mite is currently one of the most important factors in bee health, but only about five per cent of bees exhibit the defensive hygienic behaviour.
“We believe hygienic bees have a certain class of protein involved in detecting odours associated with pest and pathogen infections,” said Foster, who is also director of the PCF. “These odours trigger a grooming impulse, with the odour molecule binding to a protein and sending a signal.”
Beekeepers from across the Lower Mainland ship bees to the lab to be analyzed ahead of the spring swarm period, when bees mate and new honey bee colonies form
The researchers study the bees’ antennae, which contain the protein that can signal hygienic behaviour. Because all worker bees in a hive have a single mother, the scientists can gauge the state of the whole hive by looking at a few of these bees.
Once Foster’s team identifies the most hygienic colonies, beekeepers bring new queen bees and male ‘drones,’ raised from those colonies to hives isolated on Bowen Island, where they will mate and produce a new generation of bees.
“This isn’t genetic modification – we aren’t changing the structure of the bees,” said Foster. “We merely finding the most hygienic ones from the natural populations, and allowing beekeepers to match queen bees with the most appropriate candidates.”
Protein analysis is more accurate than behavioural observations and this type of research allows for more effective and faster selective breeding.
“Our research shows that you can predict the behaviour of specific colonies by understanding their protein structures better,” said Foster. “We don’t need to painstakingly monitor colonies wondering if they are going to be hygienic or not. We hope this will provide beekeepers a tool that will make their lives easier.”
And, because I love bee beards,
*ETA May 7, 2019 at 1440 PDT: There’s even more recent information about disappearing species in a summary released by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES): “IPBES: Nature’s dangerous decline ‘unprecedented,’ species extinction rates ‘accelerating’; Current global response insufficient; ‘transformative changes’ needed to restore and protect nature; opposition from vested interests can be overcome for public good; most comprehensive assessment of its kind; 1 million species threatened with extinction.” A May 6, 2019 IPBES news release on EurrekAlert.
The Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation (CSTMC) has always been an unwieldy name in light of the fact that one of the three museums in the cluster is called the Canada Science and Technology Museum. (The other two are the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum.) So, the July 6, 2017 CSTMC announcement (received via email) is a relief from the unwieldy corporate name,
A new national brand launched on June 26, 2017, to celebrate ingenuity
in Canada. Known as INGENIUM – CANADA’S MUSEUMS OF SCIENCE AND
INNOVATION, this corporate brand encompasses three national
institutions—the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, the Canada
Aviation and Space Museum, and the Canada Science and Technology Museum.
From the Canadarm to canola and insulin, Canadians have made significant
contributions in the worlds of science and technology. INGENIUM –
CANADA’S MUSEUMS OF SCIENCE AND INNOVATION will continue the important
mission of preserving Canada’s scientific and technological heritage
and sharing its stories with Canadians. Under the Ingenium brand, the
three museums will be places where the past meets the future, with
spaces where visitors can learn and explore, play and discover. Ingenium
will provide an immersive, sensory encounter with human ingenuity and
tell the stories of those who dared to think differently and test the
limits of what we know and what we can do.
Currently under construction, Ingenium’s Collections Conservation
Centre , including a Research Institute and Media Lab, will protect
priceless Canadian heritage artifacts for the benefit of Canadians for
generations to come. Ingenium’s unique collection, and digital and
social media platforms will connect Canadians to the world stage in
unexpected ways by sharing their passions, memories, and everyday
experience, no matter where they live
With Canada just days away [July 1, 2017] from celebrating the 150th anniversary of Confederation, a new national brand is launching to celebrate ingenuity in Canada. Known as Ingenium – Canada’s Museums of Science and Innovation, this corporate brand, inspired from the Latin root for “ingenuity,” [this word will come up again in my commentary at the end of the post] encompasses three national institutions—the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, and the Canada Science and Technology Museum.
From the Canadarm to canola and insulin, Canadians have made significant contributions in the worlds of science and technology. Ingenium – Canada’s Museums of Science and Innovation will continue the important mission of preserving Canada’s scientific and technological heritage and sharing its stories with Canadians.
Under the Ingenium brand, the three museums will be places where the past meets the future, with spaces where visitors can learn and explore, play and discover. Ingenium will provide an immersive, sensory encounter with human ingenuity and tell the stories of those who dared to think differently and test the limits of what we know and what we can do.
Currently under construction, Ingenium’s Collections Conservation Centre, including a Research Institute and Media Lab, will protect priceless Canadian heritage artifacts for the benefit of Canadians for generations to come. Ingenium’s unique collection, and digital and social media platforms will connect Canadians to the world stage in unexpected ways by sharing their passions, memories, and everyday experience, no matter where they live.
November 17, 2017, will mark the next milestone for Ingenium when the Canada Science and Technology Museum reopens its doors. This modern, world-class museum mixes the best of its previous incarnation with new technologies and exhibition techniques to tell Canada’s science and technology story in an immersive, educational, and fun way. It will feature more than 7,400 m2 (80,000 sq. ft.) of completely redesigned exhibition space (the equivalent of nearly five NHL rinks), including a specially designed hall to house international travelling exhibitions.
“Ingenium will bring a consistent voice and identity to our corporation. It will allow us to reach beyond our four walls and engage with Canadians from coast to coast to coast, and with international audiences. Ingeniumiswhere the past meets the future and inspires the next generation of young innovators.”
– Fernand Proulx, Interim President and CEO of Ingenium
ABOUT INGENIUM – CANADA’S MUSEUMS OF SCIENCE AND INNOVATION
DIGITAL AND TRAVELLING PRODUCTS
Ingenium offers unique digital and social media platforms that put ingenuity in the spotlight for unforgettable and immediate experiences to inspire children, families, and scientists alike.
About the Museum: The Canada Agriculture and Food Museum is located at Ottawa’s Central Experimental Farm, which traces its roots to 1886 and is the world’s only working farm in the heart of a capital city. The Museum offers programs and exhibitions on Canada’s agricultural heritage, food literacy, and on the benefits and relationship of agricultural science and technology to Canadians’ everyday lives. It provides visitors with a unique opportunity to see diverse breeds of farm animals important to Canadian agriculture past and present, and to learn about the food they eat. In addition to breeds common to Canadian agriculture, such as Holstein dairy cows and Angus beef cows, the Museum also has Canadienne dairy cows, Tamworth pigs, and Clydesdale horses. Many other breeds of dairy and beef cattle, pigs, sheep, horses, poultry, goats, and rabbits round out the collection.
Public programming includes special weekend theme events, school programs, summer day camps, interpretive tours, demonstrations, and joint undertakings with community groups and associations.
About the Museum: Located on a former military air base just 5 kilometres from the Prime Minister’s residence at 24 Sussex Drive in Ottawa, the Museum focuses on aviation in Canada within an international context, from its beginnings in 1909 to the present day. As Canada’s contribution to aviation expanded to include aerospace technology, the Museum’s collection and mandate grew to include space flight. The Collection itself consists of more than 130 aircraft and artifacts (propellers, engines) from both civil and military service. It gives particular, but not exclusive, reference to Canadian achievements. The most extensive aviation collection in Canada, it is also considered one of the finest aviation museums in the world.
Established and opened in 1967 as a Centennial project, the Canada Science and Technology Museum is responsible for preserving, promoting, and sharing knowledge about Canada’s scientiﬁc and technological heritage. The Museum is currently undergoing an $80.5-million renewal of its entire building. When it opens, it will feature over 7,400 m2 (80,000 sq. ft.) of redesigned exhibition space, including an 850 m2 (9,200 sq. ft.) temporary exhibition hall to accommodate travelling exhibitions from around the world. It is scheduled to open to the public on November 17, 2017, marking its 50th Anniversary during Canada 150 celebrations.
Museum Highlights:11 new exhibitions with the capacity to showcase international travelling exhibitions from around the world. Long-time visitor favourites, the Crazy Kitchen and locomotives will also make a comeback in addition to the Game Changers travelling exhibition which is currently touring across Canada, Artifact Alley, a Children’s gallery, a demonstration stage, classrooms, the Exploratek maker studio, and three new apps.
THE NATIONAL COLLECTION
Ingenium is the steward of Canada’s largest and most comprehensive museum collection devoted to science and technology. It preserves and provides access to extensive holdings of artifacts and library and archival materials that document this priceless material heritage. Comprising over 100,000 objects and hundreds of thousands of books, historic photographs, and archival documents, the collection is particularly strong in the areas of transportation (air, space, land, marine), physical sciences, medicine, communications, agriculture, and natural resources.
Collection Highlights: The test model of Alouette 1, Canada’s first satellite; the world’s first IMAX projector and camera; the first successful electron microscope built in North America; the first automobile made in Canada; the oldest surviving aircraft to have flown in Canada; the “Sackbut,“ the world’s first electronic sound synthesizer
This rebranded name bears an uncanny resemblance to the title of new book about Canadian inventions,’ Ingenuity’ (see my May 30, 2017 posting for the Vancouver book launch; scroll down about 60% of the way) by Tom Jenkins and David C. Johnston (current Governor General).
As it turns out, Alex Benay, then president and Chief Executive Officer of the CSTMC (see my June 19, 2014 posting about Benay’s appt.) worked for Tom Jenkins at Open Text for several years.
(As of March 24, 2017 Benay was appointed to the position of Canada’s Chief Information Officer [see March 27, 2017 notice on Libararianship.ca]). Anyone who’s been involved with rebrands and renaming knows that the name is picked in months in advance so this rebrand has Benay’s (and, possibly, Jenkins’) pawprints all over it.
The search took over one year as the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation (CSTMC) cast about for a new president and CEO in the wake of previous incumbent Denise Amyot’s departure. From the June 17, 2014 CSTMC announcement,
The Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation (CSTMC) welcomes the appointment by the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, the Honourable Shelly Glover, of Alex Benay as its new President and CEO. Mr Benay will assume the role beginning July 2, 2014 for a 5-year term.
“This is excellent news,” said Dr Gary Polonsky, Chair of the CSTMC Board of Trustees. “Alex Benay is an exceptional leader with the capacity to heighten the CSTMC profile as the only national museum institution entirely dedicated to tracking Canada’s rich history and heritage in science, technology and innovation.”
“Alex’s appointment demonstrates the government’s support toward our museums”, added Dr Polonsky. “I wish to recognize Minister Glover’s leadership in this nomination process and express our gratitude for the appointment of a leader with vast experience in managing people, processes and resources. Alex’s significant networks in the private and public sectors in Canada and internationally, and leadership experience with Canada’s digital industry, will be great assets in developing the Corporation.”
Mr Benay was previously Vice-President, Government Affairs and Business Development at Open Text, Canada’s largest software company since 2011.
As President and CEO, Mr Benay will be responsible for the CSTMC’s day-to-day operations and a staff of about 225 employees and an annual budget of $33 million. The CSTMC includes the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, and the Canada Science and Technology Museum. Collectively, they are responsible for preserving and protecting Canada’s scientific and technological heritage, while also promoting, celebrating, and sharing knowledge of that heritage and how it impacts Canadians’ daily lives.
President and Chief Executive Officer Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation
Government Agency; 201-500 employees; Museums and Institutions industry
June 2014 – Present (1 month) Ottawa, Canada Area
VP, Government Relations OpenText
Public Company; 5001-10,000 employees; OTEX; Computer Software industry
August 2012 – June 2014 (1 year 11 months) Ottawa
VP, Enterprise Software and Cloud Services Maplesoft Group
Privately Held; 51-200 employees; Information Technology and Services industry
March 2012 – August 2012 (6 months) Canada
VP, Government Relations OpenText
Public Company; 5001-10,000 employees; OTEX; Computer Software industry
July 2011 – March 2012 (9 months) Ottawa, Ontario
Manage government relations including :
– trade relations
– trade promotion
– global strategic investment programs (G20, Commonwealth, etc.)
– senior level delegations and engagements
– manage government grant and industry investment programs
Provide company wide government thought leadership and strategic planning
Director, Industry Marketing Open Text
Public Company; 5001-10,000 employees; OTEX; Computer Software industry
August 2010 – March 2012 (1 year 8 months) Ottawa, Ontario
Responsible for marketing and communication strategies for OpenText’s major industry sectors, enabling field sales and providing thought leadership in key priority sectors.
Director, Eastern Canadian Sales Open Text
Public Company; 5001-10,000 employees; OTEX; Computer Software industry
January 2010 – August 2010 (8 months) Ottawa, Ontario
Responsible for all product, solutions and services sales for Ottawa, Québec and the Maritimes.
Senior Director, Customer Enablement Open Text
Public Company; 5001-10,000 employees; OTEX; Computer Software industry
2009 – 2010 (1 year) Ottawa, Ontario
Responsible, throughout the Canadian public sector (including healtcare), for all professional services delivery, establishing a national training program, managing partner relations, pubic speaking engagements, technical support and overall existing customer relations.
Strong focus on strategic communications and planning throughout the Canadian Public Sector.
Director, Information Management Canadian International Development Agency
Government Agency; 1001-5000 employees; Government Administration industry
2006 – 2009 (3 years) Gatineau, Québec
Responsible for all information and communications aspects within the organisation : enterprise technologies, communication strategies, strategic planning, etc. Including all policy, operational and management aspects of managing organisational information and knowledge
Director, Policy Canadian International Development Agency
Government Agency; 1001-5000 employees; International Affairs industry
2004 – 2006 (2 years)
Define ICT policy framework for CIDA
coordinate with central agencies and other large multilateral organisations
Senior Program Manager Canadian International Development Agency
Government Agency; 1001-5000 employees; International Affairs industry
2003 – 2004 (1 year)
Managed all information and communications elements for the Multilateral Programs Branch. Responsible for relations with United Nations, World Bank, etc.; ensuring all systems (technical and human) were properly enabling multilateral development; developed large and complex global engagement and communications strategies pertaining to Canadian multilateralism
Manager, Information, Communications and Knowledge Management Natural Resources Canada
Government Agency; 1001-5000 employees; Government Administration industry
2001 – 2003 (2 years)
Responsible for the Energy Sector information, communication and knowledge management strategies, thought leadership, events, strategic planning and operational management.
Information Services Officer Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
2000 – 2001 (1 year)
Provide global briefing and communications support to various senior Foreign Affairs and International Trade Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Assistant Deputy Ministers
Medical Assistant Canadian Armed Forces
Government Agency; 10,001+ employees; Military industry
1999 – 2001 (2 years)
Medical Assistant duties included : emergency response, first aid, suturing, orderly duties, basic military training, etc.
Archival Assistant Library and Archives Canada
Government Agency; 1001-5000 employees; Government Administration industry
1998 – 2000 (2 years)
He certainly brings an interesting and peripatetic work history to the position. Given his previous work record and that he looks to be relatively young (I estimate he’s a few years shy of 40), my most optimistic prediction is that he will last five to six years in this job, assuming he makes it past his first six months.
Alex Benay, president and CEO of the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation
Getting back to his work record, I’m not sure how Mr. Benay manged to be both an archival assistant for Library and Archives Canada and a medical assistant for the Canadian Armed Forces from 1999 – 2000. (Possibly he was working in the Reserves, which, as I understand it, requires weekends and the occasional longterm stint easily contained within one’s work vacation.) There is one other niggling thing, wouldn’t 1998 – 2000 be three years not two?
Interestingly, the company with which Benay has been most closely associated is OpenText whose Chairman, Tom Jenkins, led a panel to review government funding programmes for research and development (R&D, a term often synonymous with science and technology). The resultant report is known familiarly as the Jenkins Report (Innovation Canada: A Call to Action; Review of Federal Support to R&D;–Expert Panel Report). I’m guessing Mr. Benay brings with him some important connections both corporately and governmentally, which could potentially extend to the University of British Columbia where Arvind Gupta (a member of Jenkins’ expert panel) is due to take up the reins as president when Stephen Toope officially vacates the position June 30, 2014.
I’m not sure how much insight one can derive from this March 6, 2014 article (for Canadian Government Executive) written by Mr. Benay while he was enjoying his second stint as VP Government Relations for Open Text,
With the rise of “smart power,” distinct from “hard” and “soft” power of traditional theories of international relations, the use of online collaboration has become an integral part of government communication.
Public sector employees who adopt partner-based collaboration models will find that they are able to effectively achieve their goals and generate results. Ideas shared through open-platform communication technologies, peer-to-peer networks, and enterprise-grade secure collaboration platforms can help foster greater dialogue and understanding between governments and citizens, ultimately leading to more effective attainment of foreign policy goals.
Increasingly, public-private partnerships are driving this new era of e-diplomacy.
As an example, governments worldwide are achieving tremendous success through their use of Public Service Without Borders (PSWB), the secure, cloud-enabled collaboration and social media environment developed in partnership with the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC).
Using secure social software solutions, PSWB helps to connect all levels of public service employees to one another to network, engage, share ideas and impart valuable lessons learned in such areas as governance, healthcare, technology and the environment. Whether via desktops or through mobile devices, participants can connect, network, plan and deliver exciting new partnerships and initiatives anytime, from anywhere in the world. This online collaboration platform ultimately fosters better, faster and more efficient services to all constituencies.
Another case in point is the G-20 Summit in Toronto. For the first time in history, policymakers from around the world were able to collaborate over secure social networking software in advance of and during the Toronto G-20 Summit. A confidential and secure social networking application was created to enhance the sharing of government leaders’ stances on important world financial issues. [emphasis mine]
Providing the secure, hosted social networking platform to G-8 and G-20 participants was in itself a collaboration between Open Text, the Canadian Digital Media Network (CDMN) – the organization that attracted high-tech companies to the event – and the then-called Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT). [emphasis mine] In addition to secure Web access from anywhere in the world in real time, delegates were also able to access the application from their BlackBerrys, iPhones and iPads. The application supported multiple languages to enhance the ability of delegates to network productively.
The leap from ‘soft power’ in paragraphs one and two to ‘public-private partnerships’ in paragraph three is a bit startling and suggests Benay’s tendency is towards ‘big picture’ thinking buttressed by a weakness for jumping from one idea to the next without much preparation. This is not a deal breaker as all leaders have weaknesses and a good one knows that sort of thing about him or herself so compensates for it.
Benay’s association with OpenText and, presumably, Jenkins suggests * strongly, when added to his article on public-private partnerships, that the CSTMC museums will be corporatized to a new degree. After all, it was Jenkins who delivered a report with recommendations to tie research funding more directly to business and economic needs. (This report was submitted to then Minister of State for Science and Technology, Gary Goodyear on Oct. 17, 2011 according to this Review of Federal Support to Research and Development website. For those unfamiliar with the Canadian science and technology scene, this is considered a junior ministry and is part of the Industry Canada portfolio.) Since 2011, a number of these recommendations have been adopted, often accompanied by howls of despair (this May 22, 2013 posting delves into some of the controversies,which attracted attention by US observers).
I am somewhat intrigued by Benay’s experience with content management and digital media. I’m hopeful he will be using that experience to make some changes at the CSTMC such that it offers richer online and outreach experiences in the museums (Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, and the Canada Science and Technology Museum) for those of us who are not resident in Ottawa. Amyot, during her* tenure, made some attempts (my Oct. 28, 2010 posting makes note of one such attempt) but they failed to take root for reasons not known* to me.
Returning to Benay’s old boss for a moment, Tom Jenkins has some connections of his own with regard to digital media and the military (from the OpenText Board of Directors page) ,
Mr. Jenkins was Chair of the Government of Canada’s military procurement review Panel which reported “Canada First: Leveraging Defence Procurement through Key Industrial Sectors (KICs) in February 2013 and reviewed the $490 Billion of federal public spending on defence to determine means by which the Canadian economy could benefit from military procurement. Mr. Jenkins was Chair of the Government of Canada’s Research and Development Policy Review Panel which reported “Innovation Canada: A Call to Action” in October 2011 and reviewed the $7 Billion of federal public spending on research to assist the Canadian economy in becoming more innovative. He was also chair of the November 2011 report to the Government of Canada on Innovation and Government Procurement. He is also the Chair of the federal centre of excellence Canadian Digital Media Network (CDMN) which co-ordinates commercialization activity in the digital economy throughout Canada. He is a member of the Canadian Government’s Advisory Panel on Open Government. He is also an appointed member of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), past appointed member of the Government of Canada’s Competition Policy Review Panel (the Wilson Panel) which reported “Compete to Win” in June 2008, and past appointed member of the Province of Ontario’s Ontario Commercialization Network Review Committee (OCN) which reported in February 2009. … Mr. Jenkins is also one of the founders of Communitech – the Waterloo Region Technology Association. Mr. Jenkins served as a commissioned officer in the Canadian Forces Reserve and he currently serves as Honorary Colonel of the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada (RHFC), a reserve infantry regiment in the Waterloo Region. [emphases mine]
Meanwhile, Mr. Benay’s appointment takes place within a larger context where the Council of Canadian Academies will be presenting two assessments with direct bearing on the CSTMC. The first, which is scheduled for release in 2014, is The State of Canada’s Science Culture (an assessment requested by the CSTMC which much later was joined by Industry Canada and Natural Resources Canada). The assessment is featured in my Feb. 22, 2013 posting titled: Expert panel to assess the state of Canada’s science culture—not exactly whelming. I will predict now that a main focus of this report will be on children, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and the economy (i.e., how do we get more children to study STEM topics?). Following on that thought, what better to way to encourage children than to give them good experiences with informal science education (code for science museums and centres).
Library and Archives Canada has asked the Council of Canadian Academies to assess how memory institutions, which include archives, libraries, museums, and other cultural institutions, can embrace the opportunities and challenges of the changing ways in which Canadians are communicating and working in the digital age.
Over the past three decades, Canadians have seen a dramatic transformation in both personal and professional forms of communication due to new technologies. Where the early personal computer and word-processing systems were largely used and understood as extensions of the typewriter, advances in technology since the 1980s have enabled people to adopt different approaches to communicating and documenting their lives, culture, and work. Increased computing power, inexpensive electronic storage, and the widespread adoption of broadband computer networks have thrust methods of communication far ahead of our ability to grasp the implications of these advances.
These trends present both significant challenges and opportunities for traditional memory institutions as they work towards ensuring that valuable information is safeguarded and maintained for the long term and for the benefit of future generations. It requires that they keep track of new types of records that may be of future cultural significance, and of any changes in how decisions are being documented. As part of this assessment, the Council’s expert panel will examine the evidence as it relates to emerging trends, international best practices in archiving, and strengths and weaknesses in how Canada’s memory institutions are responding to these opportunities and challenges. Once complete, this assessment will provide an in-depth and balanced report that will support Library and Archives Canada and other memory institutions as they consider how best to manage and preserve the mass quantity of communications records generated as a result of new and emerging technologies.
The Council’s assessment is running concurrently with the Royal Society of Canada’s [RSC] expert panel assessment on Libraries and Archives in 21st century Canada. Though similar in subject matter, these assessments have a different focus and follow a different process. The Council’s assessment is concerned foremost with opportunities and challenges for memory institutions as they adapt to a rapidly changing digital environment. In navigating these issues, the Council will draw on a highly qualified and multidisciplinary expert panel to undertake a rigorous assessment of the evidence and of significant international trends in policy and technology now underway. The final report will provide Canadians, policy-makers, and decision-makers with the evidence and information needed to consider policy directions. In contrast, the RSC panel focuses on the status and future of libraries and archives, and will draw upon a public engagement process.
While this could be considered a curse, these are interesting times.
* ‘a’ removed from ‘a strongly’ and ‘strongly’ moved to closer proximity with ‘suggests’, ‘her’ added to ‘her tenure’ and ‘know’ corrected to ‘known’ on June 19, 2014 at 1200 hours PDT.