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Food for Thought

September - November 2014
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Raymond Building R2-045

Macdonald Campus
21,111 Lakeshore Road
Free parking available
(Horticulture parking lot)
For info: 514-398-7709


September 9

Global Carbon: Echoes of the past, defining the future

Professors Jim Fyles and George McCourt
Department of Natural Resources Sciences and McGill School of Environment, McGill University

History and distribution of carbon

JIM FYLES is an ecologist who studies the factors controlling ecosystem processes, including carbon dynamics, in forests and agroecosystems. He is the Chair of the Department of Natural Resource Sciences and the Director of the Morgan Arboretum. He often team-teaches with George McCourt.

GEORGE McCOURT is currently a Senior Faculty Lecturer and Associate Director of Undergraduate Affairs in the McGill School of Environment. Research interests are in geology, palynology (study of fossil pollen, spores and dinoflagellates) and paleo-environmental studies.

September 23

How did we wind up with our carbon-rich biosphere?: A catastrophe in three parts

Professor Boswell Wing
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, McGill University

Early earth environments and evolution

Boswell Wing is a biogeochemist interested in trying to maximize the gain on geochemical signals of biological evolution preserved in the geologic record.  After an undergrad degree at Harvard, grad degrees at Johns Hopkins, and a post-doc stint at the University Maryland, he came to McGill in 2006 where he is currently an Associate Professor in the Earth and Planetary Sciences Department and the Dawson Chair in Geology. With his colleague Pippa Halverson, he runs the Precambrian Research Office and Publican Society, which has given him the chance to interact with the  awesome undergrads, grads and postdocs who make McGill such a fantastic place to do science.  

October 7

Reduced carbon in an oxidizing atmosphere: sustainable vs fossil fuels

Professor Don Smith
Plant Science Department, McGill University

Fossil fuel supplies

During his 29 years at McGill DONALD L. SMITH (James McGill Professor) has conducted research in the production and physiology of crop plants, with an emphasis on plant-microbe interactions, most recently, within the context of biofuel feedstock production.  He has trained 62 graduate students, 36 Ph.D. and 26 M.Sc, published 280 papers, generated eight patents, started a spin-off company (Bios Agriculture Inc.), and commercialized technologies that are now applied to ~10 million ha of crop land per year.  He has been principal investigator on research grants totaling >$45 million.  He currently leads the NCE application ($12 million per year) BioFuelNet Network.

October 21

An ice age mystery: did CO2 from the oceans cause the great Canadian ice sheet to disappear?

Professor Eric Galbraith
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, McGill University

Carbon in the oceans

ERIC GALBRAITH is an Earth Scientist, with a particular interest in the oceans. His research focuses on how the marine ecosystem changes the chemistry of the ocean, and links between the oceans, climate, and human activity. His projects include investigations of the recent ice age cycles, how marine animals interact with ocean chemistry, and the coupled human-Earth dynamics of the global marine fishery. He did his undergraduate at McGill in geology, a PhD in oceanography at the University of British Columbia, and a postdoctoral fellowship at Princeton University. He currently works as an assistant professor in the Earth and Planetary Science department at McGill.

November 4

Climate closure: game over for climate skeptics

Professor Shaun Lovejoy
Department of Physics, McGill University

Climate change

Shaun Lovejoy received a BA and MA in theoretical physics from Trinity College, Cambridge (1976, 1981) and a PhD in Atmospheric Physics from McGill in 1981 (thesis: “The remote sensing of rain”).  He spent four years as a post-doc at Météo France (1981-1985) which included three month long visits at IBM’s Yorktown Heights lab working with B. Mandelbrot (1982- 1983).   In 1985, initially with a 10 year NSERC University Research Fellowship, he returned to the McGill physics department where he has been a full professor since 1997.  Since 1979, inspired by the “nonlinear revolution”, Professor Lovejoy's research has focused on fractals, then multifractals, and more generally scale invariance in geophysics, particularly atmospheric physics.  In 2013, he published (with D. Schertzer) “The weather and climate: emergent laws, and multifractal cascades” (Cambridge U. press) which reviewed over 30 years of work that demonstrated that emergent high level statistical turbulent laws accurately account for weather and climate variability, that these are compatible with traditional numerical modelling approaches, but that allow for new (stochastic) methods of forecasting. In 1989, he co-founded the Nonlinear Processes (NP) Division at the European Geophysical Union (EGU), in 1994, was a founding co-editor of the Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics journal.  Since its founding in 1997, Professor Lovejoy has been involved in the Nonlinear Geophysics Focus Group at the American Geophysical Union where he was vice chair, then chair (2006-2012). He has been president of the NP division of EGU since 2012

November 25

The need for food and the need for fuel – can we meet both?

Dr. Hugo Melgar-Quiñonez
Director, McGill Institute for Global Food Security, McGill University

Global food supplies

Dr Melgar-Quiñonez is currently the Director of the Institute for Global Food Security. As the Margaret A. Gilliam Faculty Scholar in Food Security he holds an appointment in the School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition at McGill University in Montreal. A Guatemalan and a USA citizen, Dr Melgar-Quinonez moved to McGill University in September of 2012, after 9 years of work as a professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Ohio State University. Previous to his appointment in Ohio, he worked as a researcher in public health nutrition at the University of California in Davis and at the Mexican Institute of Public Health. Dr. Melgar-Quiñonez holds a degree in Medicine from both the Friedrich Schiller University in Germany and the National University of San Carlos in Guatemala. He also received his doctoral degree in sciences from the Friedrich Schiller University in Germany. In addition to his academic appointments, Dr Melgar-Quinonez has worked as an advisor on food security in several countries in Latin America, and maintains strong collaborative relationships with the United Nations Food and agriculture Organization (FAO), among other international institutions and development agencies. His research program on the assessment of household food security includes over 20 countries around the globe. Currently Dr Melgar-Quinonez is a leading researcher in the project Voices of the Hungry with the goal of assessing food insecurity in around 150 countries.