Tag Archives: science technology engineering arts and mathematics (STEAM)

Periodically Political: a Canadian podcast from Elect STEM

As I write this on Friday, August 13, 2021 there seems seems to be unanimous consensus that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will drop the writ this weekend (Update: He did on Sunday, August 15, 2021) and Canadians will be are voting in a federal election on September 20, 2021.

Consequently, it seems like an opportune moment to feature the Periodically Political podcast and its parent organization, Elect STEM.

Elect STEM

These are very high minded people: Darren Anderson, Christopher Caputo, and Monika Stolar.(click on the photos)., each of whom has at least one PhD in one science or other. (There’s a little more about the co-founders at the end of this posting.)

Here’s more about Elect STEM (STEM = science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), from the website homepage,

What We Do

We seek to make science non-partisan by engaging more scientists in politics.

Issues We Focus On

We provide information and support for Canadians with a STEM background who want to engage in politics across all parties and levels of government.

I have a few questions:

  1. How does engaging more scientists in politics make it non-partisan? Any evidence?
  2. Perhaps I missed it but where on the website is the toolkit or detailed information about how to enter politics (municipal, provincial, federal)?
  3. How is the Elect STEM website and its podcast being funded? (Is it self-funded?)
  4. Why not include STEAM (the A is for arts) and STEMM (the second M is for medicine)? (My suggestion: call the organization Elect STEM+)

Periodically Political

Clever name for the podcast series! It is an allusion to the Periodic Table of Elements, yes?

For some reason, it was decided that the December 28, 2020 podcast would be called Episode 0. (I’m not a big fan of that decision.)

Their Season 1 Episode 1 (Kyle Demes interview) was posted January 20, 2021. Note: Demes who has a PhD in Zoology works as a strategist and consultant. He does not list any political experience on his website.

I recognized a couple of politician’s names (Preston Manning and Dalton McGuinty) as being part of season 1. I’m sure there are others. Do check out the list. From the little I’ve seen, it’s quite eclectic.

You will notice that after their 13th episode, which was a recapitulation (recap) of their first season, they added more episodes (Political Bonus Track no. ?). Dr. Mona Nemer’s, Canada’s Chief Science Advisor, interview (episode 15, also known as, Political Bonus Track 2) was added on Friday, August 13, 2021.

I imagine this election campaign will either jumpstart season 2 or spawn several ‘Political Bonus Tracks’. Perhaps they’ll be able to interview:

  • Marc Garneau, former astronaut, PhD in Electrical Engineering, and current Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Kirsty Duncan, PhD in Geography, former minister of science and minister of sport and persons with disabilities, current MP (Member of Parliament)
  • Gary Goodyear, incomplete undergraduate degree in biomechanics and psychology, Doctor of Chiropractic (?), and former Minister of State for Science & Technology
  • Ted Hsu, PhD in physics, former MP
  • Molly Shoichet (pronounced shoy, then, ket or quette), PhD in polymer science and engineering, biomedical engineer, briefly, Chief Scientist for Ontario (it’s first)
  • Pascal Lapointe, science journalist, editor-in-chief of Agence Science-Presse (Québec’s Science Press Agency) and founder of Je Vote Pour La Science,
  • Andrew Weaver, PhD in Applied Mathematics, former leader of the BC (British Columbia) Green Party and former MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly)
  • Moira Stilwell, MD, originator of a BC government science’ initiative (scroll down my April 28, 2020 posting to the ‘Year of Science in British Columbia’ subhead for a brief comment about how that idea changed shape as it went through the political process), and former Minister of Advanced Education, Minister of Regional Economic and Skills Development, and Minister of Social Development, currently head of Nuclear Medicine at St. Paul’s Hospital and clinical assistant professor in the Department of Radiology at the University of British Columbia
  • Jane Philpott, MD and former Minister of Health, Minister of Indigenous Services, and President of the Treasury Board, currently Dean of Health Sciences and Diector of the School of Medicine for Queen’s University
  • Rémi Quirion, neuroscientist, PhD (I’m not able to identify in which field), The Chief Scientist of Québec
  • Someone (Mehrdad Hariri?) from the Canadian Science Policy Centre?
  • Perhaps there’s someone who could talk about indigenous science and politics?
  • What about someone from the Northern territories? (climate change and Arctic anyone?)

As for Kennedy Stewart who’s currently mayor of Vancouver, read on as to why that might be interesting.

A few comments

I don’t have any great moral objections to Elect STEM’s purpose (get more scientists to run for political office) but I’m not convinced that elected officials with scientific training will make a big difference.

Running for office at the federal and provincial and, even, municipal (of the larger cities) levels requires name recognition, which is acquired through party affiliation. There are very few successful independent politicians at any of these levels.

Once you’ve joined a political party and decided to run under their banner, you are obliged to support the party and its leader. Should you be successfully elected, you will vote along party lines or there will be consequences.

Turning Parliament Inside Out: Practical Ideas for Reforming Canada’s Democracy” by Kennedy Stewart, Michael Chong, and Scott Simms (published in 2017) was written by three Members of Parliament (MPs) representing each of Canada’s major three political parties at the federal level. It is eye-opening to say the least.

Since the book’s publication, Kennedy Stewart has left federal politics and become mayor of the city of Vancouver. Somewhere along the way, he appears to have lost interest in science policy. (See my November 14, 2012 posting for the first of many posts covering Stewart’s science policy efforts. Just search ‘Kennedy Stewart’ in the blog search engine for the others.)

A PhD in political science, Stewart has focused his efforts on more newsworthy topics as he campaigns for the next election. He seems to have been in campaign mode since he first got elected as mayor.

Whatever you or I may think of that approach, the current Canadian political system rewards the behaviour. It’s something to keep in mind when insisting that scientists run for political office.

More about Stolar, Caputo, and Anderson (plus a bonus)

All three co-founders have ties to either or both the University of Toronto and York University.

I don’t have much about Monika Stolar, “scientist, graphic designer, communicator, and Research & Industry Relations Officer at Simon Fraser University,” other than her website

Christopher Caputo, Tier 2 Canada Research Chair. at the Caputo Lab at York University has his profile page here.

Darren Anderson, chief executive officer (CEO) Vive Crop Protection, was featured here in an interview (thank you! in a February 25, 2011 posting) when he was Chief Technical Officer (CTO) of the company then known as Vive Nano. Most recently, the company was mentioned here on the occasion of its 15th anniversary in a July 20, 2021 posting (scroll down about 45% of the way).

My bonus is Preston Manning who very kindly gave me an interview, which is here in two parts: September 10, 2009 posting and September 11, 2009 posting.

I don’t imagine it’s much of a surprise that I have more about Anderson and Manning, given my interest in nanotechnologyl.

Good luck to the Stolar, Caputo, and Anderson team. I hope to hear more from them.

Curiosity Collider event: May 16, 2018 and exhibit: June 8 – 22, 2018 in Vancouver (Canada)

I have two bits of news from the Curiosity Collider folks. One event is part of their regular Collider Cafe series and the other is a special event.

Collider Cafe: Art. Science. Chronicles.

From the Curiosity Collider May 16, 2018 event page,

Collider Cafe: Art. Science. Chronicles.

Map Unavailable

Date/Time
Date(s) – 16/05/2018
8:00 pm – 9:30 pm

Location
Café Deux Soleils

 

#ColliderCafe is a space for artists, scientists, makers, and anyone interested in art+science. Meet. Discover. Connect. Create.

Are you curious? Join us at “Collider Cafe: Art. Science. Chronicles.” to explore how art and science intersect in the exploration of curiosity.

  • Armin Mortazavi (science cartoonist): Scientooning Adventures
  • Cheryl Hamilton (conceptual artist): Image Analysis – inspirations from cancer research
  • Kayla Glynn (science communicator and researcher): True, Personal Stories About Science
  • Marlene Swidzinski (comedian, humorist, and technical writer/editor): Travelling at the Speed of Oy / That Joke Would Kill at a Physics Convention
  • Rachel Rozanski (artist): In Between Tides

The event starts promptly at 8pm (doors open at 7:30pm). $5.00-10.00 (sliding scale) cover at the door. Proceeds will be used to cover the cost of running this event, and to fund future Curiosity Collider events. Curiosity Collider is a registered BC non-profit organization.

Visit our Facebook page to let us know you are coming, and see event updates and speaker profiles.

Interstitial

This upcoming exhibit was first mentioned here in a March 27, 2018 posting in the context of a call for submissions. I’m glad to see they have moved onto the exhibit phase, from the Curiosity Collider ‘Interstitial’ event page,

Interstitial: Science Innovations by Canadian Women

Date/Time
Date(s) – 08/06/2018 – 22/06/2018
12:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Location
Beaumont Gallery

 

Interstitial: Science Innovations by Canadian Women is an exhibition with events in June 2018, showcasing 2D work by female artists featuring women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM, or STEAM when Arts is included). Our approach intends to challenge the public as to how they think of women in STEM. What does it take for a woman to be “in” with the science community?

The importance of storytelling, and using art in the dissemination of scientific information, has grown in the past few years. The Sci/Art and STEAM movements have rapidly gained momentum. Creative outlets are critical to sharing science and stories of science, and to connecting with people on an personal level. We are establishing new connections in the community, and presenting women in STEM through a different experience.

This exhibition and associated events are created by women, feature women, and highlight the achievements of women in STEM. We seek to encourage girls and young women to see themselves as eligible for the opportunities available in STEAM industries, to connect with them beyond what is written in the books or taught in school. We present women as capable participants within the STEAM community. It is important that as women, we tell our own stories, support, and celebrate each other.

This event is curated by Larissa Blokhuis, Exhibitions Director, Curiosity Collider.

Opening Night: June 8, 2018 from 7pm till late

Art+Science Workshops on June 9 / 16. More information to come.

Artists

Cheryl Hamilton (oil paint on wood panel)

Cheryl Hamilton is a conceptual artist with a penchant for visual ingenuity.  A stickler for perfection, Cheryl imbues her design work with a kineticism inspired by her education as an animator at Vancouver’s Emily Carr Institute.  Her recent training in the techniques of glass blowing at Alberta’s Red Deer College and Pilchuck Glass School coupled with her metal-working expertise now enable her to animate light and colour within her monumental steel structures.  Cheryl also draws and paints and exhibits internationally. Her goal as an artist is to render an accessible beauty that withstands the test of time.

Ele Willoughby (linocut prints (water based inks) on Japanese paper)

Artist Ele Willoughby is a modern Renaissance woman.  After pursuing her doctorate in physics, she built her portfolio while working as an ocean-going marine geophysicist by day and printmaker by night.  Her hand-pulled block prints reflect her love of science and the natural world with a hint of humour and whimsy. Many of her works focus on the history of science and scientists.  She also makes interactive multimedia work, incorporating colour-changing or electrically conductive inks and electronics, which straddle the art/science divide. She lives and works in Toronto with her husband, and young son.

Paige Blumer (digital painting with photoshop printed on canvas)

Paige was born in Montreal Quebec where she had a competing passion for art and science.  She chose to pursue science and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology. Upon graduation, she decided to follow her yearning to pursue art, specifically cartoons, and applied to the Art Fundamentals program at Sheridan College in Ontario.  It was there that she developed a love for illustration. A professor told her that there were five specialized graduate programs in North America where she could combine her art skills with her passion for health and the human body. It took three years for her to polish her portfolio and finally get accepted into the Biomedical Visualization program at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

In Chicago, she learned how to visually represent health and scientific concepts through traditional, digital, and technical media. She get to use these skills everyday at the University of British Columbia where she is a Biomedical Visualization Specialist in the Faculty of Medicine.  She loves telling the stories of the human body at a physiological level and this affinity is inspiring me to write a graphic novel about the life of two red blood cells.

Acknowledgement

We would like to thank eng.cite and WWEST for their generous support for this exhibition and associated events.

There you have it.