The Fall 2013 Lectures

FREE public one-hour lectures followed by a question period

TORONTO:Sundays at 3 pm (doors open at 2:15) Macleod Auditorium, Medical Sciences Building, University of Toronto 1 King’s College Circle (Nearest Subway is Queen’s Park Station) Parking on campus, pay/display; limited disabled parking available NOTE: The Foundation Lecture will be given at Ryerson University — see below MISSISSAUGA:Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m. at Noel Ryan Auditorium, Ground Floor, Mississauga Central Library, 301 Burnhamthorpe Road W. Parking under the library is free after 6 p.m. Enter via the ramp accessed from the southbound lane on Duke of York Boulevard between City Centre Drive and Burnhamthorpe Road.
We thank the University of Toronto and the Mississauga Central Library for their support.


October – December 2013

Oct 3 Thu 2013
Mississauga’s Changing Climate and What You Can Do - Mississauga
7:30 pm – 9:00 pm

peterPeter Love, B.A., M.B.A., Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University

Peter will speak about energy issues in Canada and climate change as the most important environmental issue to face mankind. He will highlight the critical role energy conservation plays, the benefits of conservation and its challenges. He will refer specifically to what you can do in Mississauga, at home, at work and in school. There will be lots of time for questions so use this as a chance to ask those questions about energy that have been nagging you for years.

Oct 20 Sun 2013
Safety in Numbers: How Analytical Chemistry Impacts Our Wellbeing - Toronto
3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

BrindleIan D. Brindle, B.Sc., M.Sc., D.Sc., Department of Chemistry, Brock University

How do we know that people in Syria were exposed to the nerve agent, sarin? How do pesticides get into arctic fauna? Where did Ötzi, the iceman, come from? Analytical chemists measure all kinds of parameters that are used in the service of crime scene investigations and in the development of regulations. They can tell us not only where Ötzi came from, but what he did for a living.

This talk will provide you with a look into the world of analytical chemistry where large machines are used to measure small amounts of chemicals that are of great consequence. Medical diagnoses, environmental policies, battery lifetimes, ancient trade routes – all of these and many aspects of our everyday life – depend upon the work of analytical chemists, who provide the numbers that are used to find the answers to diverse problems.

Oct 27 Sun 2013
Science and forensic investigations on aircraft crashes - Toronto
3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

firraoDonato Firrao, P.Eng., M.Sc., FASM Politecnico di Torino, Italy

Lockerbie, TWA 800, Ustica are names cast in the collective memory for large aircraft accidents. How can science help forensic investigation?

The solution of each such investigation calls for the participation of large number of experts from various disciplines, from coroners to aircraft forensic experts, from meteorologists and radar experts to police investigators, from ballistic to material scientists. Wreckage recovery, often at the sea, and aircraft reconstruction over convenient false fuselages call for large logistic and financial efforts. Investigation often borders true scientific research when investigation routine protocols are not sufficient. Donato Firrao has been called in Italy to the investigation of many aircraft accidents, often many years after the fact. He will explain how science and forensic engineering is applied in these types of investigations.

Nov 3 Sun 2013
Fun Science for Kids ages 6-12 - Toronto
3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

zeidRussell Zeid, RCI Council Member

For those ages 6 to 12, experience the forces of physics through a series of demonstrations and experiments with volunteers participating during an hour of science discovery and fun.

Nov 7 Thu 2013
Ignorance and Evolution: The Science of Women and Men, Sex and Work - Mississauga
7:30 pm – 9:00 pm

fehrCarla Fehr, Ph.D., Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy, Department of Philosophy, University of Waterloo

Modern science is a powerful and successful institution for creating knowledge. Given this general success, it is interesting to consider situations in which smart researchers, with integrity, get things wrong. One area in which there is a long history of good science leading to bad results is scientific research on women’s and men’s sexuality, and the distribution of labour between the sexes. This is a case in which scientific research can produce ignorance rather than knowledge. How does this happen? What are the consequences of these errors? And, how can we improve this state of affairs?

Nov 10 Sun 2013
Antibiotics and Resistance, the Red Queen Strikes Again - Toronto
3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

wrightGerry Wright, Ph.D., Scientific Director Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, McMaster University

Disease causing bacteria are increasingly resistant to antibiotic drugs. The result is a growing medical crisis across the globe. Why is this happening and how can we prime the drug discovery pipeline?

The development of antibiotics in the early part of the 20th Century is arguably one of the most revolutionary discoveries in modern medicine. Yet these remarkable medicines are increasingly losing their efficacy to treat disease. This fact is one of the greatest challenges to Medicine and global Public Health in the 21st Century. Why is this happening? The answer lies in evolutionary biology and the natural history of antibiotics that reaches deep into the past and reflects the need to continuously discover and invent new drugs to match microbial evolution. Lewis Caroll’s Red Queen from the Through the Looking Glass anticipated this idea when she told Alice “ it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place”. Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical and regulatory sectors have failed to take notice of this warning and there are few new drugs in the antibiotic pipeline. What is the impact on medicine in the short and long terms and what can be done about it?

Nov 17 Sun 2013
Block Copolymer Architectural Materials for Addressing Today’s Challenges - Toronto
3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

liuGuojun Liu, B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D., Department of Chemistry, Queen’s University

What are Block Polymers and where can they be used in society? Dr. Liu will explain how Block copolymers form numerous intricate nanostructures with many applications that will benefit consumers, the environment, and society. The versatility of block copolymers arises from their inherent structure, which consists of two or more distinct chains of repeating molecular units. This multi-component feature allows block copolymers to form a vast array of elaborate and ordered nanostructures in solution or the solid state. More exotic block copolymer nanostructures can be created using novel generic methods developed by us. While the diversity and complexity of these structures are fascinating in their own right, these materials are also extremely useful. They can provide robust protective coatings that repel water- and oil-based pollutants alike or particles that reduce friction and engine wear.


Nov 24 Sun 2013
The Interior Design of the Cell Surface - Toronto
3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

AntonescuCostin N. Antonescu, B.Sc., Ph.D., Department of Chemistry and Biology, Ryerson University

Every cell in the human body interacts with its environment through the proteins found on its outer surface. It is through these many surface proteins that cells obtain nutrients, receive signals (e.g. hormones) and adhere to the right location in the body. In order to work properly, each cell surface protein must be organized and then removed when it is no longer needed. This critical role is carried out by a protein termed clathrin, which controls how cells respond to hormones and obtain nutrients from their environment. Understanding how clathrin works thus has important possible implications for human health.


Nov 26 Tue 2013
Photosynthetic Machines: Why nature Is astounding - Toronto
7:30 pm – 9:00 pm

ScholesGregory D. Scholes, PhD, D.J. LeRoy Distinguished Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Toronto; Recipient of the 2012 John C. Polanyi Award

Photosynthetic solar energy conversion occurs on an immense scale across the earth, influencing our biosphere
from climate to oceanic food webs. These are amazing solar cells! Fronds in kelp forests, crustose coralline algae and
purple bacteria have shown interesting properties relevant these energy transfer phenomena. Underpinning these examples are some fascinating chemical physics, where experiments and theories reveal the mechanisms involved in the ultrafast energy transfer processes of light harvesting. This talk will introduce the incredible physical processes that initiate photosynthesis in the first picoseconds after light is absorbed.

Co-sponsored by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and hosted by Ryerson University.

ThIs lecture was given at Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University, 55 Dundas Street West, Toronto M5G 2C3 – 7th Floor Room TRS-1-067.

Dec 1 Sun 2013
Cogito ergo sum socius: I think therefore I am social - Toronto
3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

StussDonald T. Stuss, Ph.D., C.Psych., O.On, FRSC, FCAHS, President and Scientific Director, Ontario Brain Institute

Who we are, how we behave, how we love and laugh – the brain plays a very important role in these and many other behaviours. This presentation highlights some 35 years of personal research on damage to the frontal lobes of the brain, that area most related to the highest level of functions, and the effect of such damage on social behaviour. Examples include early cases of damage to the frontal lobes such as the well-known report of Phineas Gage; the effects of frontal lobotomies on personality; the mystery of the “double family”; a case study of the effect of damage to the latest area of the brain to evolve; to laugh or not to laugh – that is the question; and – if time – can we lose feelings associated with our memories?


Dec 5 Thu 2013
Nitrogen in the Environment: Climate, Cars, and Cattle - Mississauga
7:30 pm – 9:00 pm

murphyJennifer Murphy, PhD, Department of Chemistry, University of Toronto

Human activity has significantly perturbed the nitrogen cycle leading to negative consequences for air quality, climate, acid deposition, and ecosystem health.

Nitrogen is key to life on Earth, but despite being the most abundant element in the atmosphere, the strength of the N2 triple bond renders those atoms inaccessible under most natural conditions. In the modern industrial period, humans have devised technologies that break this triple bond (or ‘fix’ the nitrogen) intentionally (e.g. for fertilizer production) and unintentionally (e.g. as a byproduct of fossil fuel combustion). Once released, fixed nitrogen can cause a cascade of environmental issues. The impacts I will discuss include: 1) the role of nitrogen oxides in controlling smog production in the Greater Toronto Area; 2) the coupling of ammonia and acidic particles with implications for human and ecosystem health; and 3) the interaction of the nitrogen cycle and climate change.