c ntours SCIENCE
FAC U LT Y O F S C I E N C E A LU M N I M AG A Z I N E
VOLUME 30, No 1, SPRING 2014
advising the White House on leading a national effort for diversity in science
Lorne Tyrrell on the
basic science of successful medical research
Murray Campbell vs. Kasparov
computing and intelligent systems as a platform for scientific progress
David Schindler legacy
50 years as the voice for environmental science in Canada
message from the dean This issue of Science Contours is dedicated to the ways science has shaped critical areas of human development, from personal health to the health of our planet. These ongoing impacts run the gamut from the physical—such as new technologies—to the ideological, such as changing public attitudes and policy. In this issue, we’ll look back on David Schindler’s transformational work in environmental science. As an ecologist and much honoured public advocate, his landmark achievements include identifying and addressing the problems created by acid rain and phosphates. When we look at David as a scientist, we can marvel that he not only did the fundamental research, but he also engaged the public and governments in order to establish new regulations to mitigate environmental damage. Although he retired last year, his legacy lives on in the students he mentored, such as Karen Kidd and Diane Orihel who are carrying on his tradition of rigorous science to inform sound policy. Science is also proud to claim Lorne Tyrrell as one of our own. After completing his undergraduate degree in science, he went on to train and excel in medicine—creating the first antiviral therapy for the hepatitis B virus. As a current professor and a former dean in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, Tyrrell says definitively that basic scientific discoveries are essential to make breakthroughs like his that have benefitted millions of people. Computing scientist Murray Campbell, another former Faculty of Science student, earned fame as one of the three co-creators of Deep Blue, the computer that in 1997 defeated the human World Chess Champion. This technological game changer for the field of artificial intelligence led to a prestigious career as an IBM researcher at the TJ Watson Research Center in New York. He continues to make fundamental contributions that enable real-world applications in the areas of disease detection and security. The above accomplishments are impressive enough, but there are many more exciting stories in this issue. Our faculty, staff, students, and alumni are literally changing the world. And no one is more important to this work than our donors. This issue also honours their contributions to the Faculty of Science. Please accept my deepest appreciation for your generosity: your gifts ensure the success of our students, through scholarships and rich learning opportunities in cutting-edge research programs. As part of the new Strategic Plan for the Faculty of Science (stay tuned!), I am committing that we will continue to make transformational changes in the way we teach and perform research—while applying scientific discoveries to global challenges following in the tradition of our renowned alumni. Jonathan Schaeffer Dean of Science
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c ntours SCIENCE
Science Contours is published twice a year by the Faculty of Science office to provide current information on the many activities of faculty and alumni. The magazine is distributed to alumni and friends of the Faculty. Dean of Science Jonathan Schaeffer Editor Sandra Robertson Associate Editor Kristy Condon Graphic Design Studio X Design Inc. Contributing writers Sarah Beck, Kristy Condon, Cian Hackett, Bryan Murphy, Julie Naylor, Sandra Robertson, Taylor Robertson, Alan Shapiro, Kyell Wickstrom Photography Experimental Lakes Area Archives, Paul Mutch, John Shearer, Richard Siemens, John Ulan
Send your comments to: The Editor, Science Contours Faculty of Science 6-197 CCIS, University of Alberta Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G 2E9 Tel: (780) 492-6226 Fax: (780) 492-9434 Email: email@example.com Website: www.science.ualberta.ca Publications Mail Agreement No: 40063605
5 science bases
1 Science in the News
3 Computing science
Discovery confirms theory of vast oceans under the Earth, the U of A leads fight against the mountain pine beetle, crowdfunding campaign gives lift to UAlberta satellite
5 Campbell and the
machine: alumnus Murray Campbell and Deep Blue’s big win
2 Upcoming Events in the Faculty of Science
11 In deep water:
Karen Kidd and the human effect on aquatic ecosystems
13 Be visionary: doctor’s
12 Saving the ELA: Diane
15 President of Harvey
orders from health research superstar Lorne Tyrrell
Orihel in the fight to keep Canada’s one-of-a-kind freshwater research facility alive
Mudd College Maria Klawe named in list of
World’s 50 Greatest Leaders
17 Science international: Tako Koning
19 Thank you: Celebrating our donors
Letting in the light: David Schindler moves onto another chapter Spring . 14
o S C I E N C E IN THE NEWS
Graham Pearson leads discovery of vast underground oceans Graham Pearson (earth and atmospheric sciences) has discovered the first sample of a water-rich mineral that confirms a 50 year-old theory that there are vast stores of water deep within the Earth. The ringwoodite discovery sheds light on how rock melts, cools, and shifts below the crust. In March of 2014, the discovery was one of the top international news stories and was published in Nature, and Nature News & Views. Pearson holds the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Arctic Resources and heads the Canadian Centre for Isotopic Microanalysis, home to the world’s largest academic diamond research group.
Satellite crowdfunding campaign lifts off Along with a group of science and engineering students, Ian Mann (physics) successfully raised over $35,000 in the Lift Off Alberta crowd funding campaign, one of the first at the U of A. The funds are set to cover the launch costs 1
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of a cube satellite that will be designed and built entirely by University of Alberta students. “The University of Alberta has a track record of excellence as a partner in space missions,” says Mann, who has overseen a number of payload
projects that have shared space and time on satellites put together by international collaborations. “Now we’re taking the next step from mission involvement to building our own satellite.” Mann’s team of 60 graduate and undergraduate students will launch their completed satellite into space in 2015 with a swarm of 49 others through the QB 50 (or CubeSat) project, with an international network of sensors focused on low-earth space exploration. “By partnering with the QB50 program we have a very inexpensive way to get our satellite to space.” The money was raised as a part of the U of A’s new initiative through USEED (ualberta.useed. net).
U of A leads national scientific and industry collaboration to fight the mountain pine beetle epidemic Janice Cooke (biological sciences) will lead a new NSERC Strategic Network project worth $3 million to ‘Turn Risk Into Action’ in the fight against the mountain pine beetle. The national consortium, TRIA-Net, will leverage the interdisciplinary strengths of 18 contributing scientists, government forest practitioners, and not-for-profit and industry organizations to protect Canadian forests. The need for a broad and sweeping approach is apparent to anyone who’s travelled the postcard-perfect landscapes of British Columbia and Alberta— witnessing the shocking sight of forests in the red death-throes from the mountain pine beetle. Having now reached jack pine forests
in Alberta, the beetle is poised to continue to spread to more eastern and northern locations, which is unprecedented in recent history. So far, more than 19 million hectares of forest land in western Canada have been affected by the outbreak, resulting in losses of over 1 billion cubic metres of mature pine trees, with additional damages to the forest industry, recreational opportunities, plant and wildlife habitats, watersheds, and a range of ecosystem services. To face the threat of further infestations across Canada, the TRIA-Network of scientists will use a novel approach that integrates genomics, molecular analyses, population genetics,
systematics, ecology, population dynamics, and modelling. Some of the questions they are addressing include how the beetle interacts with their pine hosts and the fungal symbionts that the beetles carry, how environmental conditions affect these interactions, and how the genetics of these organisms may influence their spread. The enhanced TRIA-Net project will build on six years of work, with support from the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) Strategic Network Grants program—ensuring the latest scientific discoveries are connected to decision-making in real time.
Upcoming Events in the Faculty of Science Alumni Weekend September 18-21, 2014 The Faculty of Science welcomes all alumni and their families back to campus this September for Alumni Weekend 2014. To mark and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Department of Computing Science—the first of its kind in Canada—we will be offering a computing science open house, and a variety of other special events and activities.
Here are just some of this year’s Alumni Weekend science events to look forward to: • Faculty of Science Dean’s Reception (open to all science alumni) • Department of Computing Science 50th Anniversary Celebration (open to Department of Computing Science alumni only) • Department of Computing Science Open House and Research Presentations (open to all UAlberta alumni) • Geoscience Garden Guided Tour (open to all UAlberta alumni) • Dino Lab Open House (open to all UAlberta alumni) • Observatory Public Viewing (open to all UAlberta alumni) Visit www.ualberta.ca/alumni/weekend for registration and up-to-date details on all Alumni Weekend events.
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Happy Birthday Computing Science! 50 years of pioneering research, applications – and teaching innovations. The first of its kind in Canada and one of the leading academic groups nationally, the Department of Computing Science began supporting campus-wide connections—in Animal Science, Chemical Engineering, Educational Psychology, Electrical Engineering, Entomology, Geology, Mathematics, Physiology, Plant Science, Political Economy, Psychology, and Soil Science, as well as the Alberta Research Council—from as early as the 1960s.
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Today, the department has earned a reputation for the strength of its research, its progressive applications and for continuously re-imagining the student experience. The more than 4000 students and grads are known for their depth and breadth—and are actively recruited by industry and graduate programs around the world. To stand still means to fall behind. * To read about the history of the Department, please visit www.cs.ualberta.ca/50th
Did you know? David Theilen, founder of Windward Studios, set out to name the best computing science schools, based on student experience and a strong sense of community. The University of Alberta made the list— along with Harvey Mudd, Georgia Tech, Purdue and Penn State. (“The 9 Best Computer Science Schools in the World,” The Huffington Post, April 10, 2013)
We’re celebrating our 50th birthday on Alumni Weekend (September 19-20, 2014)! We hope you will join us at our open house, research poster session, and the Computing Science alumni reception and dinner. Computing Science Alumni Reception and Dinner When: 6:00 p.m. Saturday, September 20 Where: South Atrium, Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science (CCIS) Please visit us at www.cs.ualberta.ca/50th for more information and to register. Spring . 14
UAlberta’s grand moments in computing science:
Murray Campbell and Kasparov’s blue day By Sarah Beck
Murray Campbell (’79 BSc, ’81 MSc) travelled a long way from the U of A campus to take his place among the elite team of IBM scientists who designed, engineered, and programmed the first computer to defeat Garry Kasparov—the greatest chess player of all time. The new chess champion, Deep Blue, was a looming black box designed to calculate 100 million positions per second. The computer boasted impressive processing power— and came about as the result of an immense effort on the part of the IBM team who first lost to Kasparov in 1996. After their first defeat, Campbell and his team had 15 months to tweak Deep Blue and improve their chances, which meant enhancing the system to compute twice as many positions per second. Campbell describes the experience of going into the last game of the six-game match. “The last game was tied—there was a lot on the line,” he recalls. Kasparov was playing a risky strategy. “While Deep Blue’s confidence estimates continued to climb, there was always the worry that Deep Blue was misunderstanding something.” Suspended, the creators of the world’s most powerful chess playing computer could only watch as Deep Blue played flawlessly to seal the victory in a brisk 19 minute game. This iconic moment in history—man vs. 5
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interdisciplinary than some may think when machine—captured the world’s attention. imagining the frontiers of computing science. Reflecting on the media whirlwind, Campbell notes, “The popular documentary of Kasparov and Some of these projects represent collaborations The Machine was not my favorite film… it was very with scholars from diverse fields; for example, artificial intelligence and machine learning into the conspiracy theory.” However, he praised can be used to personalize online educational the New York City play The Machine by Matthew experiences in MOOCs Charman, which caught (massive open online the attention of Disney courses). Campbell is quick for a future film about the to point out, though, that match. each of these innovations While a triumph like still hinge on a strong this may seem likely to foundation in artificial hold its key players in intelligence as the basis for suspension for all time, success. Campbell’s scientific momentum continues Garry Kasparov (left) and Murray Campbell (right) Campbell still speaks fondly of his time at the U to take him interestof A, having completed both a computing science ing places. Campbell continues to conduct and bachelor’s and master’s degree here. In fact, much contribute to various projects at IBM and has an obvious passion for cognitive intelligence systems of his early work in computer chess was conducted under the guidance of the now retired U of A and creating smart workplaces. professor Tony Marsland who worked for years on Much of his current research is more
his own software— much of which is still available in the Department of Computing Science. Campbell expanded on his early research while completing a PhD at Carnegie Mellon University where he created his own chess program, Deep Thought. After completing his PhD, IBM sponsored his research to continue investigating computer chess, eventually leading to the creation of Deep Blue. With such an influential scientific career behind him, Campbell says that students today should take note that, “there’s been a tremendous return in interest in artificial intelligence, and incredible progress in computers to predict and understand things that weren’t possible 15 years ago. It’s a really good area to get into.” Good news for U of A students who have the chance to study in the acclaimed program that has contributed influential research on chess, poker, Go, Hex, and other games using research in artificial intelligence. In fact, Campbell places the University of Alberta as “one of the strongest
universities in the world for artificial intelligence using gaming as a domain.” As a member of IBM’s research and development group, Campbell has played a crucial role in research for more than 20 years. In citing IBM’s impact, he notes the creation of Watson, a cognitive artificial intelligence program designed to play Jeopardy. While Campbell is not personally involved in the project, he recognizes it as being on the forefront of cognitive intelligence. “It shows how the field has been developing… it’s interesting to compare the game of chess with the game of Jeopardy. Chess is well defined, Jeopardy is interesting because it brings in natural language, it brings in a question and it can be a difficult question, it can have a joke in it or a pun. These questions can be arbitrarily difficult and then you have to go out and figure out what the answer is by looking at your memories,” explains Campbell. “The distinction is natural language becomes fuzzy and less precise, I think that’s the direction where cognitive science and cognitive
computing is moving.” Sarah Beck is a BSc Specialization student in Computing Science; she currently does undergraduate research in interactive narratives and games. In her spare time she is involved with several organizations advocating for diversity in technology and gaming. She contributes to the blog, womeningamestudies. com and tweets from @essefbeck.
Campbell places the University of Alberta as “one of the strongest universities in the world for artificial intelligence using gaming as a domain.” Spring . 14
Shining the light on the critical environmental issues that only science can address
David Schindler’s legacy of environmental science excellence
By Bryan Murphy
In November 2013, the U of A celebrated the 60-year career of one its most famous scientists, David Schindler, at a special event in honour of his retirement. David Schindler (biological sciences)— who rewrote the practice of water ecology as the inaugural director of the Experimental Lakes Area in Ontario, also became renowned as one of Canada’s most powerful environmental advocates. Schindler’s former colleagues and students— the who’s who of ecology in Canada—joined him for the two-day symposium: Letting in the Light: Science to Guide Public Water Policy in the 21st Century. The title pays homage to one of his favorite quotes from Leonard Cohen—“There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in ”—and says everything Schindler wants to say about the 7
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need to shine the light on the critical environmental issues that only science can address. The symposium’s first presenter, longtime friend and fellow ecological activist David Suzuki, sums up Schindler’s legacy: “His meticulous research and the courage of his convictions make the world a better place… His legacy is his utter commitment to doing good science that informs his pronouncements on public policy or implications,” said Suzuki. “Without his top-notch research, he would not have had the impact he has. For young scientists, his courage in speaking out even in the face of controversy, I hope will inspire them.”
A gathering of the deeply committed Joining Suzuki were many of the scientists he had worked with during his founding work at the Experimental Lakes Area, including John Smol, a Queen’s University biologist and longtime Schindler collaborator. Smol presented his paleolimnology research from the waterways near Alberta’s oil sands, inspired by an earlier UAlberta study supervised by Schindler. In 2009, the U of A research team found high levels of airborne Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in freshly fallen snow as far as 50 kilometers from oil sands production facilities.
Historical photos courtesy of John Shearer and the Experimental Lakes Area Archives.
Following the U of A’s lead, Smol analyzed mud from the bottom of rivers and streams to get a historic look at PAH levels before and after the start of oil sands mining. Smol’s data showed that since the start of the oil sands in the mid ‘60s, PAH levels increased 24-fold in waterways as far as 90 kilometers from oil sands developments. “Our findings wouldn’t have been possible without Dave[Schindler] and Erin Kelly’s (‘07, PhD) PAH analysis of the snow cover,” said Smol. “In fact most of the work we’re doing in paleolimnology has a connection to Dave Schindler’s work.” All the presenters told stories of their close
working relationships with Schindler, but one speaker drew big laughs from the crowd when he described his personal bond with the man. “I bet I’m the only person on this panel who had their baby diapers changed by David Schindler,” bragged Daniel Schindler—David’s son, all grown up now and a professor and Chair in Fisheries at the University of Washington. Daniel’s special interest is the salmon fishery in Alaska. Daniel and his team took five decades of salmon data collected in Bristol Bay and made landmark findings for a whole-landscape environmental study. The research showed the genetic
diversity of Bristol Bay’s salmon population, one the most highly productive, sustainable fisheries in the world. The researchers looked at the Bristol Bay watershed from the bordering ocean to the rivers, streams, and the shoreline landscape and the geography beyond. Daniel compared their pains taking research to analysis of a financial investment portfolio. “Many different groups of sockeye salmon coming and going through Bristol Bay creates diversity and a resilience to total population failures.” For the important fishing economy of the Spring . 14
areas, the diversity buffers the industry from devastating downturns. Daniel’s broad landscape study follows the scope of his father’s landmark research at Canada’s Experimental Lakes Area in northwestern Ontario. It was there in 1968 that Schindler began using whole lakes for experiments. Eventually he
“If they had continued to put even a small amount of money into ELA studies of eutrophication by run-off we wouldn’t be where we are now,” said Schindler. One important whole lake study that was completed was led by Karen Kidd, a former Schindler PhD student. Using a mix of humour
“His meticulous research and the courage of his convictions make the world a better place… His legacy is his utter commitment to doing good science that informs his pronouncements on public policy or implications. Without his top-notch research, he would not have had the impact he has. For young scientists, his courage in speaking out even in the face of controversy, I hope will inspire them.” —David Suzuki linked phosphorous from the soap detergent industry to lake-killing algae blooms. Now Schindler is deeply concerned that run-off from agricultural chemicals, the other major source of Lake Eutrophication has escaped intensive investigation because of funding cuts to ELA. 9
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and scary data showing that synthetic estrogen has a strange effect on male fresh water fish, she titled her presentation: Is the birth control pill an effective form of contraception for fish? Kidd’s research story began with the flush of a toilet and the passage of chemicals, some natural,
some pharmaceutical, through sewage treatment systems and into the bodies of freshwater fish. In some Canadian waterways, 60 per cent of the males showed inter-sex features; their testes were smaller than normal, and in extreme cases male fish developed reproductive eggs. “It was found that the main culprits of the feminization of fish are the natural hormones that we excrete,” said Kidd. She explained that natural estrogen and the synthetic estrogen used in the birth control pills are part of the chemical soup ingested by fish both through their gills and in their food sources. Employing Schindler’s whole lake experimental methods, they added synthetic estrogen to a lake and monitored the reaction of fathead minnows. Over the course of three years the researchers found that very low levels of estrogen caused feminization of the male minnows and the near extinction of the species in the test lake. Kidd equated the demise of the test lake’s fathead minnows to a similar scale decline in Canada’s human population. At the same rate of reproductive failure, she said, the country’s current population of 35,158,000 people would slide to just 30,572. Kidd thanked Schindler for guiding her through her postgraduate studies and for passing
L-R: Daniel Schindler (University of Washington), Peter Dillon (Trent University), Karen Kidd [obscured] (Canadian Rivers Institute and University of New Brunswick), John Smol (Queen’s University), Robert Hecky (ELA, scientist emeritus), Adele Hurley (Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto), John Kelly (ELA, scientist emeritus), Carol Kelly (ELA, scientist emeritus), David Schindler (University of Alberta).
on his tireless work ethic. Kidd even went the extra mile of soliciting comments from Schindler’s current U of A students. “Goes to the Moon and back for his students.” “Lets us learn by making mistakes.” All the symposium speakers would eventually steer their talks to personal stories about Schindler’s mentorship and support. Peter Dillion of Trent University had a story. More than 30 years before he would go on to become a leading researcher on acid rain, Dillon and Schindler crossed paths. “I met Dave briefly and back then, being a brash graduate student, I wrote him a letter asking for all his ELA research,” explained Dillon. Dillon was blown away by the response. “Not only did Dave offer all his data, he asked me how he could best organize it for me.” Dillon notes that this happened in the days before personal computers so collecting all that research data would have been very time consuming. “Dave Schindler is the most generous, unselfish scientist I know,” said Dillon. “Because of that, we’ve been collaborating for 40 years.” Always inclusive in discussing the findings of his research, Schindler has worked diligently to engage the public in environmental research. Throughout his career Schindler has openly criticized governments for environment policies
that disregard scientific findings. But over his long career he admits to being occasionally surprised by a politician’s reaction. During the wrap up for the day-long symposium Schindler told a story about meeting the iconic, arch conservative world leader, Margaret Thatcher. The meeting came at a time when Scandinavian leaders charged the United Kingdom was destroying their lakes. Schindler says that following the conference, in which acid rain caused by Britain’s coal burning industry was linked to acid rain in Scandinavia, he found himself sharing a dinner table with Thatcher. “She argued with us about our findings,” said Schindler. Thatcher argued well, said Schindler, because of her Oxford education in chemistry. Schindler was impressed with Thatcher’s science based questioning and surprised by her final response. “Thatcher stood up and said, ‘I’m convinced the evidence shows emissions from coal fired plants in the UK are causing acid rain in Scandinavia and we will stop.’” Too many times over his career, Schindler says policy makers seem to tune out inconvenient environmental research findings. “I can’t argue with a politician who looks at the science and says yeah it’s good science, it shows some damage,
but we’re not going to consider it in our decision, and here’s why,” said Schindler. “I have no respect for someone who just silences the science.”
How to support water research at the U of A
Research will focus on water issues that impact Alberta, Canada and the world. By example, it will examine water concerns in remote areas (including Canada’s North), and global challenges of indigenous communities which are dependent on fisheries and strong water ecology. For more information, please contact Kim Taylor, Assistant Dean, Development at (780) 492-7411 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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In deep water:
Karen Kidd relentlessly seeks to understand the effects of human activities on aquatic ecosystems By Alan Shapiro
From the icy waters of the Yukon’s Lake Laberge to the tropical depths of East Africa’s Lake Malawi, Karen Kidd (’96 PhD) has seen it all. Since her first foray into research under professor David Schindler (biological sciences) at the U of A in the early 1990s, Kidd’s journey has taken her to a highly regarded Canada Research Chair at the University of New Brunswick. In 1991, Schindler had just won the Stockholm Water Prize—the most prestigious award for water resources protection and conservation in the world. His lab at the U of A—a diverse group of students studying questions from water pollution to invasive species—was charged with excitement. It was in this world that Kidd fell in love with environmental research. For three field seasons, she studied the effects of the windblown contaminant toxaphene in Yukon’s Lake Laberge (of Cremation of Sam McGee fame). High concentrations of this compound had forced the closure of the local fishery but its source and behaviour were still a mystery. To answer these questions, Kidd mapped the lake’s food web, puzzling out the relationship between feeding patterns of fish and contaminant concentrations in their systems. The study was no small feat and culminated in a publication in the prestigious journal Science. From her PhD, Kidd was pulled into postdoctoral research with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), applying her experience to Lake Malawi in Eastern Africa, a lake famous for its diversity of cichlids. Again, the goal was to build a 11
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picture of the food web and pinpoint contaminant exposure risks for fish and humans. The jump from a subarctic environment to a tropical one was no small change. “In the Yukon you were worried about bears,” Kidd recalls, “while in East Africa there were hippos and crocodiles to contend with.” Hot on the heels of Kidd’s tropical venture came the chance to conduct a whole lake study at the Experimental Lakes Area in northwestern Ontario. Several decades earlier, Schindler had launched his career forward with ground-breaking work on nutrients and acid rain at the same facility. Naturally, Kidd jumped at the opportunity to join one of the world’s foremost ecological research institutions. Over three years, her team studied the effects of estrogen, which is released into freshwater systems through wastewater, on male fish. Within two years, the minnow population in the lake had plummeted, with males no longer able to successfully reproduce. These findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and earned Kidd and her collaborators significant media attention. Today, Kidd continues to pursue big picture, collaborative projects in her position at the University of New Brunswick. Just last year, she published a global review of mercury contamination in lakes ranging from Arctic to tropical latitudes. She credits her mixed government and
academic background with shaping her perspectives, building her network, and broadening her science. Indeed, her philosophy of collaboration directs much of her present research. Her students are involved in projects from the Arctic to Atlantic Canada on topics ranging from food webs to forestry to aquaculture. She stresses that “collaborative programs allow us to achieve something much greater than we could ever do on our own”. Kidd recognizes that in many ways, Schindler’s guidance and mentorship were pivotal to her development as a scientist. “He was an incredibly effective communicator and tireless promoter of science. He is very good at jumping on one side of the fence, taking a stand, and not backing down”. Like Schindler, she recognizes that science needs to include both the generation of new knowledge and public engagement and education. Kidd is driven by her constant curiosity to understand the interactions between human activities and aquatic ecosystems. To pull together information from different disciplines and answer questions about natural systems requires vision and ingenuity. Alan Shapiro is a graduate student at Columbia University in New York City and holds a BSc in Environment Earth Sciences from the U of A. His research focus is contaminated water and his spare time is spent reminiscing about the outdoors. Follow him through his blog at mostlyharmlessscience.com or on Twitter @harmlessscience.
Diane Orihel Science, advocacy and safeguarding Canada’s freshwater ecosystems
By Kjell Wickstrom
Diane Orihel (’13 PhD) is back on track doing the research she had planned since beginning her studies in ecology at the University of Alberta after an abrupt halt a few years ago. In May of 2012, Orihel was busy conducting field work for her PhD at the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) in Ontario, when she and her fellow scientists learned the world class research facility would be closed due to budget cuts. This loss to environmental research had implications far beyond the scientific community. ELA was the site of the world’s first whole lake experiments, where scientists successfully determined the effects of population growth and developments on our freshwater resources. It was at this facility that the dangers of acid rain were worked out and the detrimental effects of synthetic estrogen on fish populations were discovered. The ELA was also where David Schindler (biological sciences) began his scientific career as founding director. Orihel, who studied under Schindler’s supervision, switched into action almost immediately. Having learned the importance of being a scientist and an advocate as a student of Schindler’s, she started the Coalition to Save ELA and became the public face of its campaign. “Dr. Schindler taught me, more than anything, how to be a scientist with a moral conscience,” said
Orihel. “The big take home for me was that not only is it our job as scientist to generate knowledge, but to share that knowledge with the public.” Few members of the public had heard of the ELA before this campaign despite its international status among scientists. Support for the campaign started small with local groups and some of the freshwater-science community, but it didn’t stay small for long. “As the ELA issue grew, offers of help came from all over,” said Orihel. It gained support from NGOs and internationals scientific societies. Rick Mercer ranted about it—there was a protest organized for Prime Minister Harper’s visit to Gimli, Mantioba for a Lake Winnipeg announcement. And in June 2012 she flew a petition signed by more than 11,000 Canadians to Ottawa. The fight to save the ELA shone a light on the loss of funding for basic scientific research that serves our understanding of our world and our environment. While the closure was eventually delayed and the facility has been transferred to the International Institute for Sustainable Development, who will
hopefully save it, the ELA is still in a tough spot, despite the success of the campaign. “There has been a shift from the public interest of science to the commercialization of science,” said Orihel, but there were some important lessons learned from this experience that might be able to slow this shift. “Scientists need to learn that communicating science to the public is part of their jobs,” she said. “What I hope what it’s done is inspire others to speak up about issues that they care about.” Orihel completed her PhD last September and was awarded the Science Promotion Prize by the Canadian Council of University Biology Chairs in November. Since this article was written, three agreements were signed between the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), the Government of Ontario, and the Government of Canada, which will allow research to resume at the vital freshwater research at the Experimental Lakes Area—the only freshwater research facility of its kind in the world. Kjell Wickstrom graduated from the University of Alberta in 2008 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology. He is now a freelance writer and producer in Edmonton, specializing in science stories. You can follow him @ kjwick on Twitter. Spring . 14
Author Cian Hackett (â€™12 BSc) catches up with mentor Lorne Tyrrell: medical scientist, industry collaborator and leader of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology at the U of A.
Be visionary: doctorâ€™s orders from health research superstar Lorne Tyrrell
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Did you know? In the fall of 2013, 42 per cent of the students entering the U of A’s Department of Medicine & Dentistry were from the Faculty of Science? These students bring their rigorous science education and diverse undergraduate research experiences to shape their careers in health. Cian Hackett By Cian Hackett
As a science student, Lorne Tyrrell (’64 BSc, ’68 MD) admits he was challenged at times—but found inspiration all around him. “I didn’t always get good marks on everything, but I had a lot of good mentors—professors like Dr. [Walter] Harris who taught inorganic chemistry, Dr. [Bob] Crawford in organic chemistry.” And he was among the scores of extra students who attended the last lecture of Reuben Sandin’s chemistry course each year, famous for Sandin’s explanation of his philosophy on life. He also remembers his anatomy professor, Ralph Shaner, saying, “Read at least one page a day on something unrelated to medicine. Then one day you’ll wake up not only well trained, but you’ll be educated.” In reflecting on these experiences, Tyrrell encourages students to find moments of confidence as inspiration to succeed. For him, one such experience was in a first year physics class. “The professor called me down to the front of the room, and said, ‘Congratulations, your paper was the only one that received 100 per cent.’” Science was a competitive environment then and remains so now, explains Tyrrell. “You need to have something that makes you confident so you can compete in competitive environments.” The Faculty of Science helped Tyrrell to develop this confidence—awarding him the Gold Medal in Science in his graduating year, which paved the way for completing a PhD at Queen’s University under the supervision of department chair, Gerald Marks, after receiving his MD from the University of Alberta. With so many academic achievements under his belt, Tyrrell continued to meet success in his medical career, including his work with Morris Robins in chemistry. The two answered a pervasive health challenge by developing the first antiviral agent for hepatitis B (HBV). This led to one of the largest industry collaborations (Glaxo Canada) with a Canadian university at the time
which resulted in the licensing of lamivudine as the first oral antiviral for HBV in 1988. For students today, he recommends they learn to be leaders within teams. “Leaders need to like working with people, you have to be ready to get to know the people, to work in teams and partnerships. I’ve solved what I thought were very difficult clinical problems when I’ve partnered with some excellent basic scientists.” This methodology of partnered leadership allowed him to establish the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology, with $28 million from the Li Ka Shing (Canada) Foundation, the largest cash gift ever received by the university.
Tyrrell encourages aspiring leaders to be flexible and to look beyond problems in order to find opportunities. “It’s important to be visionary.” True to this, he inspires with his vision of the future of science and medicine. “I have never seen such a wonderful convergence of fields—chemistry, physics, mathematics, cellular and molecular biology, biochemistry, and genetics. Having this convergence, I see major diseases being solved. We are going to see tremendous advances in solving critical problems in medicine as a result. “The way that medicine progresses is through
“I have never seen such a wonderful convergence of fields—chemistry, physics, mathematics, cellular and molecular biology, biochemistry, and genetics. I see major diseases being solved. We are going to see tremendous advances in solving critical problems in medicine as a result.” The institute has found early success, filing eight patents last year alone. Tyrrell describes among his proudest achievements being honored as an Officer of the Order of Canada and a member of the Alberta Order of Excellence. “Being inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame was also extremely nice, realizing I was keeping company with some of Canada’s best physicians, like Banting and Best.” As the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Institute of Health Economics and of the Gairdner Foundation—among countless other past leadership positions, including two terms as Dean of the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry—
discoveries in the sciences and translations of those discoveries into medical management that transforms people’s lives. I’ve done some things that are translational, but we wouldn’t have accomplished any of those without the basic science discoveries that set the table for the translation to happen.” Cian Hackett is a medical student at the University of Alberta. He hopes to pursue a career in family medicine and is also interested in health systems, health policy and medical education. In his spare time, he enjoys playing his accordion and the occasional fishing trip. Spring . 14
the highly accomplished advocate for women in science, has earned recognition as one of the world’s 50 greatest leaders for her work.
By Julie Naylor
It’s not every day one gets recognized in the company of Pope Pope Francis, the Dali Lama, and Bill Clinton. But for Maria Klawe (’73 BSc, ’77 PhD), being named to the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders by Fortune magazine has placed her exactly there. Klawe, the first female President of Harvey Mudd College since its founding in 1955, is a dedicated champion for women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics over the last 20 years. “I chose my day job to further my life goal,” she says from the Mudd campus in Clarmont, CA, “which is to make the culture of science and engineering supportive of everyone—whether they are members of the dominant group or not. It can be hard to change that without being a member
ure at Harvey Mudd, women now make up 40 per cent of computer science majors at the college— up from 10 per cent in 2005. A recent report by PayScale, an online company that tracks and reports salary and compensation data, put Harvey Mudd College at the top of its most lucrative degrees in America— predicting graduates for the next 20 years will have an annual ROI of 12.6 per cent and a 20-year net ROI of $1,094,000. But there was a time when Klawe wasn’t sure
Mathematics grad and advisor to the White House, Maria Klawe continues to be a powerful catalyst for getting institutions to really address issues around women in science and engineering, proving that you can change the world with math. of that community, and becoming first a mathematician, then adding computer science and my leadership roles in the academic community has really allowed me to push that agenda.” Today she has developed a national voice in the US and is often asked to weigh in on women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education. She serves on the boards of Microsoft and Math for America, was past chair of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, and makes regular trips to the Whitehouse for events like the White House Summit on College Opportunity led by President Obama. And Klawe is making progress. Since her ten15
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where her future would take her. During her third year of her honors mathematics degree she decided to leave her program and travel to India. “At the time I believed I wasn’t going to change the world with math,” she reflects, “but I also realized I couldn’t live without it. I did things like play chess every day, even though I didn’t like chess—I was looking for mathematical engagement at every turn, and that’s when I knew I needed math engagement as part of my life.” Klawe made up her mind she wanted to return to the U of A, and while the math department wouldn’t let her go directly into a PhD program, they did let her finish her undergrad in one year
and also let her take courses that would count towards her graduate degree. “For the first time math wasn’t easy,” she says. “I had to work for it and it mattered more to me. There was a lot of caring and encouragement from the math department that was phenomenally important to me.” Klawe tries to instill that same sense of caring and encouragement to her students. “I will often tell them you learn more from failure than you do from success,” she says. “Putting yourself in a situation where it is generally difficult and you might partially, or entirely, fail is a good thing.” And she is not afraid to take her own advice. Klawe had students teach her how to longboard and ballroom dance, demonstrating to them you can keep learning regardless of age. She also recognizes that today’s students are much more concerned about careers. “I’m a member of the ’60s and we really thought we were going to change the world— thoughts of a career were irrelevant,” she says. “I was recently counseling a third year comp sci student who knows he should go to grad school but hasn’t figured out what area to focus on. I had to tell him I had no idea at his age what I was going to do and if I had I probably would have been wrong.” Today Klawe is focused on leading Mudd’s $150 million comprehensive campaign, the largest in the College’s history. She has enlisted the help of people like Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, as a PR agent for the College. “Whenever she talks about technology she mentions Harvey Mudd,” says Klawe. “No one is going to copy us if they don’t know we exist.” Klawe continues to be an effective catalyst for getting institutions to really address issues around women in science and engineering, proving that you can change the world with math.
Did you know? Internationally recognized mathematician Rouslan Krechetnikov joins U of A The University of Alberta has joined the ranks of MIT, Courant Institute at NYU, Penn State, and UCLA as home to one of only five fluid dynamics labs in North America. The lab will be led by internationally recognized Rouslan Krechetnikov (mathematical and statistical sciences). Although very few mathematicians require the use of a lab, Krechetnikov’s research is unique—involving rigorous studies and development of new methods to bridge the gap between applied and pure mathematics, as well as between mathematics, physics, and engineering. “Committing a mathematics department to seriously invest in hard applied research takes effort and determination,” says department chair Arturo Pianzola. “He has been a formidable addition to the department.”
When applied mathematicians step up, a 30-year-old solar energy concept finds new life For Vakhtang Putkaradze, mathematician and centennial professor in the Faculty of Science, the expansive applications of mathematics have allowed him to work in such diverse fields as nanotechnology, biomedical engineering, computer animation and most recently renewable energy. One of his latest projects has him working with engineers from the University of New Mexico to solve a problem that has both inspired and plagued engineers for centuries. How do you build a really tall, free standing structure that can withstand the unpredictable and destructive force of wind to capture solar updraft energy? Solar updraft energy generation was a technological hope of the ‘80’s, but the failures of engineering have kept the potentially affordable and widely applicable technology out of reach. With acres of solar collecting sheets that act like a greenhouse, the practical energy generator/ food production site would answer the basic needs of populations in remote parts of the world. See more online at ualberta.ca/sciencecontours
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Tako Koning By Alan Shapiro
From the window of his apartment, Tako Koning (â€™71 BSc) looks out at the high-rises that have sprung up in what was once a slum in downtown Luanda, Angola. Relics of the shantytown, or musseque, as they are locally known, provide a stark contrast to the new residential and commercial developments. 17
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“War ended here just 12 years ago. Universities were in total shambles— classrooms with no desks, libraries with no books, professors who had fled.” For two decades, Koning has lived, worked, and volunteered in Angola, playing his part in the slow, steady rebuild following 27 years of civil war. Born in the Netherlands and raised in Edmonton, Koning holds degrees in geology and economics from the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary respectively. As a new grad, he quickly established himself as an accomplished manager, research author, and university presenter. But Koning leading his record of community Angolan university students on a geology service, from Calgary field trip north of to Nigeria to Angola, is Luanda, capital city of Angola. no less extensive—having earned an Alumni Honor Award from the U of A in 2008 and a Public Service Award from the American Association of Petroleum Geologists in 2010 for his volunteer work in Africa. Most recently, he has also established himself in the field of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and was involved in a major CSR project in the interior of Angola between 2006 and 2010 to rebuild civil war damaged schools. Koning points to his volunteer work with the Yme Foundation, a Norwegian NGO working on providing clean water to communities in the Angolan province of Cabinda, as a point of particular pride. In a landscape where surface water supplies are often contaminated with garbage and human or animal waste, locals are in constant threat of water-borne illnesses that can lead to serious
problems like chronic diarrhea. “Drilling for water is no different than drilling for oil,” he says. “In both cases, you are looking for reservoirs in the subsurface that are very productive. When you are with an oil company, you are looking for reservoirs which will flow a lot of oil into oil-gathering facilities. When you drill for water, you want to find reservoirs which will provide a lot of clean water for the local population.” Koning describes the incredibly rewarding moment when a successful water well has been completed and a fountain of water comes pouring out of the ground. Koning lives his motto—never retire—every day, as evidenced by how busy he’s been since his retirement from Texaco in 2002. “It doesn’t make sense that a person reaches the age of 60-ish and then they feel it is time to bail out of their profession. “ he says. “People have so much technical or management experience and knowledge and in my view, then there is a certain moral obligation to share it with others.” Koning has plans to wrap up his work in Angola within the next few years and expects to return to Calgary while continuing to give lectures at universities and conferences in Canada and abroad. “In a way,” he says, “I’ve come full circle, from the receiving end to the giving end.” A long-time donor to the University of Alberta, Koning reflects fondly on his time at the U of A. “I’ve worked in the oil industry for 43 years in four different countries, and I feel I’ve received an education as good if not better than most of the people I have worked with. The U of A had the right balance between academia and its application for the development of natural resources.” As a student, he recalls attending lectures by visiting geologists from Canada and abroad. “That was always a big thrill for me, to see how geology could be applied for economic development in oil and gas and minerals or water resources in Canada and overseas.” Koning takes a moment to show off his impressive fossil collection, a passion of his that traces back to his second-year paleontology course with Charlie Stelck. Koning’s journey has been anything but easy. He recalls a period in the late 1990s when his family lived in Calgary and his work would take him
“It was always a big thrill for me, to see how geology could be applied for economic development in oil and gas and minerals or water resources in Canada and overseas.” from Calgary to Angola to international conferences, flying across the Atlantic more than 60 times in four years. Today, he and his wife Henrietta live in Angola year round, returning to Alberta for about three weeks a year. Most of his holidays are spent travelling within Angola, experiencing the natural and cultural richness of the country which has become his second home. As a leader in industry and a dedicated humanitarian, Koning also continues to lead and inspire through his support of the C. R. Stelck Chair in Petroleum Geology. He supports this research program in recognition of Charlie Stelck’s profound influence on him and for the way this research continues to build Alberta’s key energy sector.
How to support the ongoing impact of the Stelck legacy Supporting the C. R. Stelck Petroleum Geology Chair Endowment Fund will ensure the Faculty of Science continues to lead in the field of petroleum geology by attracting world class researchers and students to build and innovate Alberta’s key industrial sector as part of the vast legacy of Charlie Stelck. For more information, please contact Kim Taylor, Assistant Dean, Development, (780) 492-7411 email@example.com
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We recognize and celebrate Faculty of Science donors. Your gifts make a difference by helping students realize their potential through scholarships, by ensuring they are learning from the best mentors—including distinguished lecture series and by supporting frontiering research.
Many of you have also welcomed the opportunity to support our new Science Creativity and Innovation Fund, SCIFund. We recognize the world is changing and to continue to lead we must quickly meet and build on emerging opportunities. Thank you for your commitment to making a difference.
Gifts recognized were made at the $500+ level between April 1 2013 and March 31 2014. We hope that we have reported your name accurately. To advise of changes, please call (780-492-9983); or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quaecumque Vera Honour Society The Quaecumque Vera Honour Society is named after the motto of the University of Alberta, which means “whatsoever things are true”. Membership in this Society is limited to living individuals who have advised the University that they have provided for the University in their estate plan. Qualifying gifts for membership in the Quaecumque Vera Honour Society include, but are not limited to, the following:
Life Insurance and other life insurance products Bequests by Will Charitable Trusts Charitable Gift Annuities Gifts of Residual Interest Gifts of income generating property
David & Ms Judy Pounder • Jan Jung • David L Cuthiell • Gordon Williams • József & Erzsébet Tóth • Robert Lake • Margaret-Ann Armour • Linda & Micheal Harris • Nestor & Sue Cebuliak • Frederick & Melanie Johannesen • George Castles • Mike Morrow • Paul S Deans • Rekha Kulshreshtha • Roderick & Beth Haverslew • to the following donors for Katherine Prairie & William Taylor remembering the Faculty • Nat & Marie Rutter of Science with a gift in • 2 Anonymous their estate:
Fred Johannesen, (BSc’84) Melanie Johannesen (BA’98, MA’00, LLB’12)
Plan to make an
extraordinary difference. Science grad and entrepreneur Fred Johannesen and his wife Melanie believe in education. They believe so strongly in providing opportunities for students to complete their studies and make a better world that they have committed their own planned gift to the Faculty of Science.
We can’t expect others to come forward if we don’t do it ourselves. Our gift will last for generations to come, what will your legacy be?
To learn more about making a planned gift to the Faculty of Science, please contact us at (780) 492-9983, or at email@example.com. Create your meaningful legacy for an extraordinary future.
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Check out our spectacular Science Camps and Workshops for scientists ages 7-17. July and August 2014
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