Sorry, this post is only available in French.
Human activity and environmental changes are expected to have substantial impacts on the health of the global ocean; however, predicting what and where these impacts will be are not yet fully known. That is the goal of the Nereus Program – an international research and outreach network that offers research-based policy advice on these issues. Founded in December 2010 through a partnership between the University of British Columbia and the Nippon Foundation, the Nereus Program is “focused on understanding the status of the global ocean and how we can ensure that there will continue to be seafood and a healthy ocean for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.”
Two researchers from the University of British Columbia – Villy Christensen and William Cheung – participated in a AAAS panel to present some of their findings. Their research is helping to paint a more fulsome picture of what global fish stocks will look like 50 years from now. Read More »
What can a Ph.D. in History and Philosophy of Science teach scientists about Big Science? An important lesson, as it turns out.
Dr. Robert Smith, of University of Alberta, presented the fiftieth George Sarton Memorial lecture, entitled, “Making Science Big: From Little Science to Megaprojects?” at the AAAS annual meeting.
Read More »
By Kathryn Anthonisen, CANARIE Inc.
It’s not every day that you are privy to the thoughts of one of Canada’s premier technology leaders, so the seats at the AAAS plenary lecture by Mike Lazaridis filled up fast.
Speaking on “The Power of Ideas,” Lazaridis gave the crowd a bit of history about himself and about how big ideas that changed history often were not thought of as big at the time. Giving the audience a glimpse of his history, he shared that, not surprisingly, he loved electronics and building things as a child. In high school, he was taking both advanced science and math courses and shop class, and a particularly inspiring teacher enabled him to see the connections between them.
Read More »
Universities’ engagement with emerging nations must be two-way street
Western nations must act now to build research collaborations with emerging nations, but the approach has to be brain-exchange, not brain-drain. That was a core message of Dr. Mario Pinto, VP Research at Simon Fraser University, during his workshop presentation today on education and research collaborations with India.
Building and strengthening these types of collaborations was the focus of the workshop hosted by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada at the AAAS Annual Meeting. AUCC President Paul Davidson talked about the priority Canada’s university presidents are placing on such connections, and how they’re making them happen.
That includes travelling en masse to key countries. In late 2010, 15 university presidents took part in AUCC’s education mission to India. That number will more than double this spring with an expected 35 presidents travelling to Brazil on a mission being led by Governor General David Johnston.
The benefits of a brain-exchange model for students include enhanced in-class experiences, learning the practices and values of the host country, establishing international networks and gaining exposure to global problems.
Dr. Pinto spoke about Canada-India academic cooperation. He highlighted India’s urgent need for partnerships in higher education, with more than 50 percent of the population now under 25 years of age. That means a huge educational challenge, and Canada is in a position to help.
Canada’s challenge in building successful connections with India includes an uncoordinated national approach, Visa difficulties (although these are improving) and postsecondary fragmentation. Dr. Pinto offered some suggested strategies, including doing more to improve faculty and student mobility.
Dr. Marco Prado, scientist at Robarts Research Institute and professor in the Dept. of Physiology and Pharmacology and the Dept. of Anatomy and Cell Biology at Western University, spoke about his experiences in collaborations with Brazil.
Success in this area, he argues, requires trust (more opportunities for parties to get to know each other), common interest, complementary expertise and available funding (in particular shared funding).
Dr. Prado says connecting with Brazil gives Canada access to a large pool of highly trained students (Brazil graduates 10,000 PhDs a year.) In terms of the benefits of collaboration for Brazil, Dr. Prado points out that this leading Latin American country needs strategic partnerships with developed countries. It needs access to highly skilled and experienced researchers in key areas and access to infrastructure.
He sees the lack of bi-lateral funding as a significant obstacle. In addition to addressing this funding challenge, Dr. Prado argues that Canada should pursue joint PhD programs and perhaps some joint undergrad programs.
Both researchers agree that the most important benefit of attracting international students and researchers to Canadian campuses is the spurring of innovation through the active exchange of ideas and cultures.
“I think the future is to train the universal researcher,” said Dr. Pinto. “What we have to do here is set up a network, and it’s the network that will pay off in the end.”
- Helen Murphy, AUCC
Lazaridis reflected on the influential role of his “visionary” high school electronics teacher, a man whose words inspired him well into his career.
He also illustrated the formative role of an open and challenging undergraduate education. That’s when he came to know that if he and his fellow engineering students were bold, they would have a role in the transformative quantum mechanics of the future.
His address emphasized the importance of ideas: “The devices are just ideas, made into a form that we can hold in our hands.”
With his success in education, Lazaridis has done much to give back to education and he used his talk to encourage broad support for theoretical research.
He illustrated the power of education and ideas by asking what would happen if he sent a high school physics textbook back in time. It would have changed the course of history, he said. That’s the power of knowledge.
We need to fund and have faith in researchers whose work doesn’t seem to have relevancy today, Lazaridis argued. “We must not be blinded by the urgency of our problems.” He urged support for science that will be transformational 50 and 100 years from now.
At first glance, there do not appear to be many similarities between water issues faced by indigenous people in Uganda and those in Inuit Nunaat—but Sherilee Harper is discovering otherwise.
Harper holds a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship in Aboriginal People’s Health at the University of Guelph. She is examining how weather affects waterborne disease in the Arctic and in southwestern Uganda.
“There are a lot of similarities,” she says. “One of the most significant is caused by changes to the climate; in both places, increased temperatures and rainfall are leading to increased pathogen loads in water. This can be because of heavy rainfall or rapid snowmelt, but, in each case, it leads to an increased risk of exposure to waterborne disease from both tap water and brook water.”
Read More »
As ice melts in Far North, opportunities abound to advance Canada’s oceanic laws, says Canada Research Chair VanderZwaag
Thinning ice resulting from climate change in the Arctic is happening far faster than experts previously imagined. With it come new global shipping routes and growing interest in natural resource development and regional tourism. These changes, says a leading expert in oceanic governance, are urging Canada to advance its laws on shipping regulation, ocean governance and marine biodiversity protection.
David VanderZwaag, Canada Research Chair in Ocean Law and Governance, says that, although Canada faces growing challenges in Arctic governance given increased regional activity and mounting interest in developing the region’s oil, gas and mineral industries, it has the potential to lead the way by how it governs its oceans and adopts practices of sustainable development in the Far North.
Read More »
Canada Excellence Research Chair determines how marine ecosystems in the Arctic are responding to climate change
Marcel Babin, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Remote Sensing of Canada’s New Arctic Frontier at the Université Laval, presented his research on the effects of environmental changes in the Arctic during the Canada Press Breakfast on the Arctic and oceans held on February 17.
Babin’s research focusing on Arctic micro-organisms may soon allow researchers to have the information they need to accurately predict the environmental impacts of events from oil spills to climate change while other changes are also happening.
For example, Babin is uncovering how melting sea ice may be leading to an increase in the amount of algae in Arctic waters. By the end of this year, Babin’s models will have produced initial results that can predict algae production in the Arctic over the next decade.
Read More »
Phytoplankton Key to a Healthy Planet says Canada Research Chair at the Forefront of Phytoplankton Research
Maria (Maite) Maldonado, Canada Research Chair in Phytoplankton Trace Metal Physiology at The University of British Columbia, has made understanding the intricacies of marine phytoplankton her life’s work. These tiny, single-celled algae, which act as a natural sponge for carbon dioxide and are a critical part of the global carbon cycle, may play a key role in ensuring the health of the planet.
Maldonado talked about her research during the Canada Press Breakfast on the Arctic and oceans, this February 17. So, why the emphasis on phytoplankton?
Read More »