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Cutting Edge

Initiated in 2003 with the express purpose of fostering communication between scientists in different disciplines as well as between scientists and the public, Cutting Edge Lectures in Science are made possible through the generous support from the Faculty of Science (Dean); Faculty of Medical Sciences, and the Centre for Applied Mathematics in Bioscience and Medicine (CAMBAM).

Where: Auditorium, Redpath Museum, 859 Sherbrooke Street West, Metro McGill/Peel
Seating is limited. No reservations necessary.
When: 6 PM, followed by a reception.
Cost: FREE, everyone welcome.

Please help us to continue with the series.

Most of the Cutting Edge Lectures in Science are available on iTunes U and on McGill podcasts. Find them in the section entitled "Science and Technology" .

April 14: Outdoor Hockey Rinks and Climate Change

By Lawrence A. Mysak, Canada Steamship Lines Emeritus Professor, Dept. of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, McGill University.



  CANCELLED: April 14: Spies and lies - Cold war science, the CIA, and the case against Ewen Cameron

  By Andrea Tone (Canada Research Chair in the Social History of Medicine; Faculty of Medicine, McGill)

This talk revisits the history of the CIA-funded mind control program, MK-ULTRA, which funded the research and patient treatments of Dr. Ewen Cameron, the chair of McGill's psychiatry department, during the Cold War. Drawing on newly available archival materials, oral histories, and other sources, it explores and historicizes MK-ULTRA's' objectives, Cameron's work, and the controversy and legacy both engendered.

Winter 2016

  Jan. 14: Improving the design and discovery of personalized treatment strategies using methods from artificial intelligence

 By Joëlle Pineau (Associate Professor and William Dawson Scholar at the School of Computer Science, McGill)

In this talk we will explore new methods for automatically discovering and optimizing sequential treatments for chronic and life-threatening diseases using approaches from computer science.  The methods we propose are based on algorithms developed in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to learn directly from data.  In particular, we will focus on how we can use data collected in multi-stage sequential trials to automatically generate treatment strategies that are tailored to patient characteristics and time-dependent outcomes.  We will show how this approach is being  used to learn adaptive neurostimulation policies for the treatment of epilepsy. Brief examples will be drawn from some of our other projects, including developing new long-term treatment strategies for mental illness, diabetes and cancer.

  Feb. 11: Sea Level Change, Ice Sheets and the Solid Earth

 By Natalya Gomez (Assistant Professor, Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences, McGill)

  Sea-level rise is projected to displace communities around the world in the coming centuries, and the melting of the polar ice sheets is expected to make a significant contribution to the rising water levels.  In particular, recent research suggests that unstable, runaway retreat may already be underway in certain sectors of the Antarctic Ice Sheet.  A critical task of climate change research is to understand the response of present-day ice reservoirs to climate warming and estimate their contribution to future sea-level rise. In this talk, I will discuss the stability and evolution of the polar ice sheets, the physics of the associated sea-level changes, and the role that the solid Earth plays in these changes. 



  March 24: Some reflections on gold’s glitter and gloom

  By Nil Basu (Canada Research Chair in Environmental Health Sciences; Associate Professor, Dept. of Natural Resource Sciences, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, McGill)

Do you know where you gold comes from?  Perhaps it may come as a surprise that a large amount of the world’s gold comes from the artisanal gold mining sector.  Found in 70 countries worldwide (mainly in the low- and middle-income bracket), the sector provides employment for 15 million miners and more than 100 million people live in such mining communities.  Profits abound yet for all its glitter, the sector is notoriously unsafe.  Artisanal gold mining is an inherently risky activity with documented adverse impacts on public health and ecosystem quality.  The push/pull nature of this industry are synonymous with my shifting views, and in the lecture I will share my encounters with the sector  – from our scientific endeavors and outreach activities to my personal anecdotes and cultural awakenings  – and get you thinking about the glitter and gloom of your gold assets.