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Food for Thought

September - November 2016
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Raymond Building R2-045

Macdonald Campus
21,111 Lakeshore Road
Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, H9X 3V9
Free parking available
(Horticulture parking lot - directions)
For info: 514-398-7707

Food for Thought enters its 17th season of bringing timely science topics to the community: our neighbours, alumni, students, staff and faculty.  This year’s theme is Myth-busting in scientific controversies: where’s the evidence?

NOTE: due to scheduling conflicts, lectures will take place either on a Tuesday or a Wednesday. Please verify the day for each lecture.

Lectures will cover such issues as Diet and Cancer, Factory Farming, Immigration, Canada’s water, etc. Student presentations will also be included as part of the Lister Family Engaged Science Fund allowing students the opportunity to develop communication skills required to disseminate their work to the broader public.  We look forward to your participation!

Let us know if you would like to be added to our mailing list - fft [dot] macdonald [at] mcgill [dot] ca


Eating Right: The Facts and the Myths
Joe Schwarcz

Director, Office for Science and Society, McGill University

Joe Schwarcz is Director of McGill University’s Office for Science and Society. He is well known for his informative and entertaining public lectures on topics ranging from the chemistry of love to the science of aging. Dr. Joe has received numerous awards for teaching chemistry and for interpreting science for the public and is the only non-American ever to win the American Chemical Society’s prestigious Grady-Stack Award for demystifying chemistry. He hosts "The Dr. Joe Show" on Montreal's CJAD and has appeared hundreds of times on The Discovery Channel, CTV, CBC, TV Ontario and Global Television. He is also an amateur conjurer and often spices up his presentations with a little magic. Dr. Joe also writes a newspaper column entitled “The Right Chemistry” and has authored a number of books including best-sellers, “Radar, Hula Hoops and Playful Pigs,” “The Genie in the Bottle,” "The Right Chemistry," and “An Apple A Day."  Dr. Joe was awarded the 2010 Montreal Medal, the Canadian Chemical Institute’s premier prize recognizing lifetime contributions to chemistry in Canada. In 2015 he was named winner of the Balles Prize for critical thinking by the US based Committee for Skeptical Inquiry in recognition of his 2014 book, "Is That A Fact?"



The future of water in North America: is Canada safe?
Julien Malard
and Kate Reilly, PhD Candidates (Bioresource Engineering)

Julien Malard is a PhD student researching agricultural system sustainability under the supervision of Dr. Jan Adamowski (Bioresource Engineering) and Dr. Hugo Melgar-Quiñonez (McGill Institute for Global Food Security). His current research involves the use of systems dynamics models to evaluate the sustainability of alternative agricultural development approaches (subsistence versus market-based) in the tropics and to evaluate potential policy alternatives for enhanced food security in Guatemala, as well as the use of participatory approaches for the development of more integrated decision support systems for pest management in Guatemala and India. Julien is from Montréal, Canada and completed his BSc(AgEnvSc), International Agriculture and Food Systems, at McGill University (December 2013).

Kate Reilly is from the UK and holds a BSc in ecological science from the University of Edinburgh, and an MSc in integrated water resources management from McGill University. She has worked at a UK-based consulting firm, analysing hydrological and water quality data for environmental flow assessments in several British rivers. She has also worked on analysis of European Union nature and biodiversity policy for a French consultancy.  Kate’s PhD research is focused on understanding stakeholders’ perceptions and use of ecosystem services in relation to a potential dam removal in New Brunswick, Canada.


Farm animal welfare: where are we and how do we drive change?
Elsa Vasseur,
Associate Chairholder of the NSERC/Novalait/Dairy Farmers of Canada/Valacta Industrial Research Chair in Sustainable Life of Dairy Cattle, Department of Animal Science; and Santiago Palacio, PhD candidate (Animal Science)

Elsa Vasseur is newly appointed Assistant Professor at McGill University Animal Science Department and Associate Chairholder of the NSERC-Novalait-Dairy Farmers of Canada-Valacta Industrial Research Chair on Sustainable Life of Dairy Cattle. Elsa’s research interests focus on the behaviour of farm animals, mainly dairy cows, as a key indicator of how their environment influences their welfare, and applying this knowledge to identify practical improvements on commercial farms. Specifically, she is interested in investigating risk factors to cow longevity, defining better standards for management systems, and understanding the barriers to the adoption of these management practices. More information on: cowlifemcgill.blogspot.com and @CowLifeMcGill.

Santiago Palacio is currently pursuing his doctorate at McGill University with a focus on dairy cow welfare under Dr. Elsa Vasseur. Santiago’s research focuses on how different knowledge transfer methods can encourage producers to apply easy and affordable housing modifications to improve cow welfare and the effects these modifications have on welfare outcome measures. In addition, he is also looking at how outcome measures develop throughout a year after some of these stall modifications have been applied.



Immigration and Diversity in Canada: Myth and Realities
Morton Weinfeld

Director - Canadian Ethnic Studies; Chair Ethnic Studies, Department of Sociology, McGill University

Morton Weinfeld is a Professor of Sociology at McGill, where he holds the Chair in Canadian Ethnic Studies. He has published widely in the areas of Canadian ethnicity and diversity, as well as in Canadian Jewish Studies. Among his books are Who Speaks for Canada, with Desmond Morton, and Ethnicity, Politics, and Public Policy, with Harold Troper. He has also served as a consultant for the federal and Quebec governments on matters relating to multiculturalism, immigration, and race relations.



Canada's huge peatland carbon stores - just leave it alone!
Nigel Roulet,
McGill School of Environment; and Lorna Harris, PhD candidate (Geography)

Nigel T. Roulet is a James McGill Professor of Biogeosciences in the Department of Geography.  He obtained a joint Honours B.Sc. in Biology and Geography (1979) and a M.Sc. in Watershed Science (1981) from Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, and his PhD in Physical Geography, with a specialization in hydrology from McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario.  He started his academic career in the Department of Geography at York University, Toronto in 1985 and moved to McGill University in 1994. He was the Director of the McGill School of Environment from 2003 to June 2008 and the Director of the Centre for Climate and Global Change Research at McGill University from 1996 – 2002 and the Director of the Global Environmental and Climate Change Research Centre at McGill University 2011 – 2014. Nigel became the Chair of the Department of Geography, September 1, 2014. He was a Group Chair of the Geosciences for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s Discovery Grants and Scholarships program and currently serves on the NSERC Vanier Scholarship Committee. Nigel’s research interests focus on the interactions among hydrology, climatology, and ecosystems processes in peatlands and forested catchments of the temperate, boreal, and arctic regions.  He has published over 200 scientific papers, book chapters and monographs and was a contributing author to the 2nd through 4th scientific assessments of climate change by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  Nigel recently served as a member of the Ontario Far North Act Science Advisory Panel (2008-2010). He is currently an Associate Editor of Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Hydrological Processes, and Ecosystems and has been an associate editor of Wetlands and the Journal of Geophysical Research – Biogeosciences. In November 2014 Nigel was inducted as a member of the Academy of Science of the Royal Society of Canada. 

Lorna Harris is a fourth year PhD Candidate in the Department of Geography at McGill University in Montreal. Her PhD research focuses on the biogeochemistry of the vast peatlands of the Hudson Bay Lowlands in northern Ontario, Canada. She is interested in how peatlands form and develop over time, and how this development may be impacted by environmental change (e.g. climate change or infrastructure development). Lorna gained a BSc (Hons) in Environmental Geoscience from Durham University in 2004 and then a Master’s degree in Sustainable Land Management and Rural Development at Newcastle University in 2005. Lorna then worked as a Wetland Project Officer and a Senior Scientist for the Environment Agency of England and Wales, before starting as a Wetland Scientist for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) in 2006. It was those long and often rainy days exploring the bogs and fens of Scotland that inspired her to pursue scientific research further through a PhD at McGill.



Fighting new viruses: should we make some mosquitoes extinct?
Christopher Cloutier
, MSc candidate and Naturalist at the Morgan Arboretum

Chris Cloutier completed his undergraduate degree at McGill several years ago and took several years off between degrees to pursue his real passion—education. He has worked for several years as the interpretive biologist at the Morgan Arboretum where he has designed and led a multitude of guided walks and educational workshops on a variety of topics from Insects and spiders, birds, tree identification, forest ecology and much more. Now in the second year of his Master’s degree, Chris is able to pursue his research interests in Entomology, more particularly in insect ecology. He has spent the last two summers collecting nearly 200,000 mosquitoes in an attempt to describe how different habitats found in and around the West Island of Montreal shape the communities of mosquitoes found there. Chris has had to become a resident expert in all things mosquito related as of late—with Zika virus and the Rio Olympics, the media has been in a frenzy about mosquitoes and what can be done to control them. He is here to talk about what sorts of things can be done…wipe out entire mosquito species!?!?...Could we?...or…more importantly, should we???