Archive of Past HighlightsFeel free to explore the numerous achievements that our students, staff, and faculty have earned throughout the year.
The Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence recently announced the recipients of The Vector Scholarships in Artificial Intelligence (VSAI). 115 scholarships were awarded to students across Ontario who held a first-class standing in the last two years of their undergraduate studies and have been accepted into AI-related master’s programs for 2019-20 that are recognized by the institute; 4 Master of Data Analytics (MDA) students were acknowledged among this group.
“We are pleased and appreciative that Vector’s VSAI scholarship program has recognized the quality of our forthcoming AI cohort and their potential as MDA-trained technical data analytics professionals by virtue of this financial award,” commented Professor Doug Woolford, MDA Director and TD Chair in Data Analytics at Western University.
Yizhe Wen a Western Applied Mathematics student, completing an Honor Specialization in Mathematical Science, is one of the scholarship recipients. Wen aspires to employ his advanced training in AI analytics with Western’s MDA program in the health management field, where he hopes to perfect natural language processing and computer vision to determine the real cost of disease to the healthcare ecosystem.
“I am excited and humbled to have received this award from such a respected institute,” Wen remarked, “and I look forward to taking full advantage of my analytics training with the MDA so that I qualify for a challenging technical position upon graduation”.
The Vector Institute supports AI education programs through scholarships in Artificial Intelligence to increase the number of graduates from AI-related master’s programs in Ontario universities and create a diverse pool of professionals with the knowledge, skills, and competencies sought by industry.
The Faculty of Science Professional Master’s in Data Analytics (MDA) at Western University is a 12-month program which includes a work-integrated learning component, designed to produce professionals ready to start a technical analytics-focused career.
On May 27, 2019, a group of highly qualified and deserving Teaching Assistants gathered in Middlesex College to received Awards, presented by Jisuo Jin (Associate Dean, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies), for their contributions to higher education within the departments of Western Science.
See our Flickr Album to see this year's winners!
Applied Mathematics: Winner – Yang Wang | Presenter – Xingfu Zou
Biology: Winner – Yanira Jimenez Padilla | Presenter – Greg Thorn or Nina Zitani
Chemistry: Winner – Vanessa Beland | Presenter – Paul Ragogna
Computer Science: Winner – Reco King | Presenter – Laura Reid
Earth Sciences: Winner – Joanna Holmgren | Presenter – Robert Shcherbakov
Environmental Science: Winner – Carlos Barreto (Lab mates Caitlyn Lyons and Madelaine Anderson will receive the award)
Mathematics: Winner – Marco Vergura | Presenter – Chris Hall
Physics and Astronomy: Winner – Ryan Hopkins | Presenter – Eugene Wong
Statistical and Actuarial Sciences: Winner - Wenjun Jiang | Presenter - Marcos Escobar-Anel
Somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 years ago, a mammoth body streaking across the great expanse of space began to deteriorate. What once was the comet, became a stream of heavy, fiery meteoroids, stretched the distance between Jupiter and the sun. This long chain-link of cometary material, that takes three years to orbit the sun just once, became known as the Taurid Meteoroid Stream, and a dense core within it the Taurid Swarm. As civilian reports of “Halloween fireballs” searing across the sky compounded with four annual meteor showers, the Taurid Swarm quickly became an A-list fireball producer of the Solar System. Previous geological catastrophes such as the Tunguska event, where 2000 square kilometres of Siberian land was flattened, seemingly randomly, were attributed to the swarm, only enhancing its notoriety.
Here’s the thing: we’ve never directly observed the Taurid Swarm. Increased fireball and lunar impact suggest that it is there, but this summer, Western Science is spearheading the cause to prove the Taurid’s existence.
David Clark, a Ph.D. student from Western University’s Earth Sciences department, and his colleagues jumped on the opportunity that nobody seemed to be focused on: confirming the existence of the Taurid’s.
“The idea came out of a conversation with Peter Brown and Paul Wiegert. We thought that researchers’ were over-emphasizing the potentially catastrophic consequences of this swarm, and the stream itself was becoming an afterthought. We realized an opportunity was coming where this storm would intersect with Earth’s orbit again.”
Clark alludes to the menacing perception of the swarm. Science puts immense time and money into studying, and then cataloging, potential material threats from both close to Earth and the outer solar system. An un-documented recurring swarm of meteoroids in our own backyard eerily illustrated the concept of ‘hiding-in-plain-sight’ for many.
“Historically we’ve been concerned with two sources of hazardous objects; near-Earth objects that orbit fairly nearby, and comets that orbit only once every thousand years. The Taurid Swarm is a third animal where we see a cluster of large objects that periodically cross the Earth’s orbit but with less random patterns.”
Next, Clark, Brown, and Wiegert needed to figure out the optimal date to view the meteoroids. The lab began to model realistic orbits of the stream, viewed from the perspective of Earth.
“We were simulating size and brightness in a way that made us comfortable with the margins. We didn’t need to see the whole stream, we just need to see a very small part of it, so our filters were set for very large, bright pieces of rock that we felt confident would overcome problems of rapid in-sky motion and objects hiding in the Milky Way.”
After this summer, the Taurid Swarm will not enter Earth’s orbit for approximately 15 years. significantly upping the stakes for Clark and his teammates. When probed on the short-term vulnerability of the swarm, Clark doesn’t seem unnerved by the moment.
“If we get nice shots, all we’ll be seeing is very dim, little dots. The scientific benefit is that we only need to get one. After we get one meteoroid captured, everything else is house money. If we see, say 100, that doesn’t mean there’s 100 in the swarm, it means there’s 100 in our little perspective of it, which will give us an idea of how large the stream is in totality.”
The accompanying paper has garnered significant interest in the astronomy community at large, with a variety of regions committing telescopes to capture the Taurid’s from their unique vantage point. Western plans to observe the stream in August using the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope.
The Taurid Meteor Stream, like most things in our corner of the cosmos, represents change and transformation. The Western researchers seeking to pull it out of existential crisis and confirm its place in our skies, are embarking on a pivotal first step in unlocking more answers to the universe.
The Ontario Science Centre, with Western Science as its Knowledge Partner, has launched The Summer of Space Exhibition. The exhibition will offer students, families, and space interested guests the opportunity to learn about Canada’s current and retired astronauts, and their role in the global space program while also becoming aware of (and maybe even meeting and learning from) Canadian women who have and continue to contribute to space research and exploration. There will be an on-going series of events at the OSC throughout the summer from media launch day on May 16th right to Labour day, to celebrate humanity’s major steps in off-planet research and exploration.
Western’s Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration, a sponsorship collaborator along with Western Science and Communications and Public Affairs, will bring their brand of family-friendly outreach and hands-on activities to the exhibition at a variety of points throughout the summer and there will also be opportunities to meet, workshop with and learn from members of Canada’s retired and current astronaut corps.
For more information check out: The Summer of Space Exhibition at the Ontario Science Centre as of the evening of May 17th.
We would love to hear about your experience. Feel free to share your comments and photos at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tag us in your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram posts - @westernuscience; @westernu; @westernucpsx; #summerofspace. Have a great Summer of Space!
Congratulations to Madalena Kozachuk whose article Recovery of Degraded-Beyond-Recognition 19th Century Daguerreotypes with Rapid High Dynamic Range Elemental X-ray Fluorescence Imaging of Mercury L Emission received 6,993 article views in 2018, placing it as one of the top 100 read papers for Scientific Reports in 2018.
In addition to receiving a Top 100 in 2018 accolade, Kozachuk's paper also ranked in the 99th percentile of 270,000 papers of its age. Hats off to Madalena on this momentous achievement!
The research featured within the Top 100 paper has been privy to press attention for its extraordinary approach to recovery lost 19th-Century images. Read out the Western News feature today to learn more.
On May 3, NSERC announced the following Western Science projects and collaborations funded under the Strategic Partnership Grant:
- François Lagugné-Labarthet (Chemistry): Development of a super-resolution stochastical optical reconstruction Raman microscope for online nanoscale electronic and photonics devices quality control,
- Mark Bernards (Biology): Changes in ginsenosides and soil biodiversity related to management of ginseng replant disease,
- Abdallah Shami (Electrical and Computer Engineering): Smart Virtualized Platform for Cloud Management Systems,
- Danielle Way (Biology): Integrating acclimation capacity of tree species into assessments of climate change impacts on Canada’s boreal forest productivity,
As described by NSERC, the goal of the Strategic Partnership Grants is to increase research and training in targeted areas that could strongly enhance Canada’s economy, society and/or environment within the next 10 years. Research and training under these grants must be conducted through a partnership between academic researchers and industry or government organizations. Our Western Science awardees will generate new knowledge or technology and increase qualified industry personnel through transferring the knowledge or technology to those Canadian-based companies best suited to lead and strengthen economic development, government organizations, and public policy items.
The Research Unit of the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences (SMSS) in the Faculty of Science will be hosting a workshop on Topological Data Analysis in the Western Science Centre from May 2 - 5. Featuring talks, informal discussion, and a collaborative environment to discuss applications of current and emerging topological data analysis methodologies.
The conference will start on Thursday, May 2 with a coffee hour in the Western Science Centre, Room 187 at 9:00 am, followed by the first lecture in WSC 240 at 10:00. There will be three lectures per day for the four days of the meeting.
This meeting has is supported by the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences (SMSS) and a grant from the Tutte Institute.
For more information, including a schedule and abstracts, please see the TDA Meeting Page.
Stay tuned for highlight images from this event.
Date: April 12, 2019
Time: 9:45 am - 7:30 pm
Location: Physics and Astronomy Building, Atrium and Room 100
A full schedule for this event can be found at Space Day Schedule.
10.00-11.00: Panel Discussion - Space Resources: The Next Frontier in Exploration
- Neil Banerjee, Industrial Research Chair in Advanced Mineral Exploration, Western University
- Tim Haltigin, Senior Mission Scientist - Planetary Exploration, Canadian Space Agency
- Holly Johnson, President’s Business Manager, MDA
- Charles Nyabeze, Vice-President Business Development, Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation
- Mike Villeneuve, Director of Central Canada Division, Geological Survey of Canada
- Michael Winter, Lawyer
14.00-15.00: Panel Discussion - The Return to the Moon and Canada’s Role
- Martin Bergeron, Manager for Planetary and Astronomy Missions, Canadian Space Agency
- Alain Berinstain, Moon Express
- Ben Feist, Researcher, NASA Johnson Space Center / Jacobs
- Mike Greenley, Group President, MDA
- Marianne Mader, Canadian Association of Science Centres
17.00-18.00: Keynote Public Talk - Defying Limits | Dave Williams, Astronaut, Canadian Space Agency (retired)
There have been many remarkable achievements in the first fifty years of human exploration in which many things that were felt in the past to be science fiction have now become science fact. As we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo lunar missions, we look to future missions beyond Earth orbit, of sending humans farther into space and developing technologies that will enable them to stay longer. For the past nineteen
18:00-19.30: Reception and Cash Bar
Please feel free to drop by at your convenience. All are welcome.
In October 2017, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Acfas announced the names of the winners of the second edition of the science image contest, Science Exposed. This annual competition invites Canadian researchers to submit compelling images of their research to showcase the beauty of science.
NSERC organized a
Due to unforeseen circumstances, the exhibition will be available for viewing as of April 10.
- April 10 - 11: Foyer of the North Campus Building
- April 12: Physics & Astronomy Building Atrium (during Space Day festivities)
Date: March 13, 2019
Time: 8:30 -9:30 am
Location: Western Interdisciplinary Research Building (WIRB), Room 3000
The Honourable Kristy Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport; The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion; and Roseann O'Reilly Runte, President and CEO of the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), released significant national announcements related to the CFI, including results of recent John R. Evans Leaders Fund competitions.
Date: Saturday, March 9, 2019
Time: 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Than you to all prospective students and families who came out to March Break Open house. The day was filled with many highlights that showcased the diversity and talent of our faculty.
Check out some highlights here!
Date: March 4, 2019
Time: 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Location: North Campus Building, Room 114
You are invited to our Pharmaceutical and Clinical Trials Career Panel where industry representatives and former interns will speak about the variety of jobs that exist in the Pharma and the Clinical Trials Industries
By focusing on these industries, this should help Science students to realize that what they are learning here at Western has the potential to unlock many different career paths.
- Jeff Schwartzenhauer, Group Leader Analytical Research
andDevelopment from Catalent Pharma Solutions
- Samantha Parsons, Clinical Research Manager, Department of Nephrology from London Health Sciences Centre
- A representative from Robarts Clinical Trials Inc.
- Returning Intern from Sanofi Pasteur
Check out our Facebook event and invite your friends!
Thanks to Dr. Barbara Sherwood Lollar from the University of Toronto for delivering the 2019 C. Gordon Winder Memorial Public Lecture, Exploration for Deep Subsurface Life - What Neemo got Right and Wrong.
Picture: L-Barbara Sherwood Lollar, R-Sheri Molnar) More available here.
Date: Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Time: 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Location: Physics and Astronomy, Room 100
Stay tuned for more information about some 2019 Science competitors!
More Information on Competing:
Last Day to Register: Wednesday, February 6, 2019, see here.
Faculty Heat Coordinator: Stephanie Attardi
Associate Dean Science: Jisuo Jin
The MDA AI specialization is officially recognized by the Vector Institute, giving our students access to the Vector Scholarships in Artificial Intelligence worth $17,500. All of our AI students will have early access to networking and internship opportunities with Vector’s industry sponsors – companies at the forefront of AI adoption in Canada.
Check out more information regarding the Master of Data Analytics (MDA) program
Thanks to the efforts of
Analysis of meteorite specimens through curatorial,
Over twenty graduate students, including MSc candidate Zhiguo Guo, have been an important part of the classification process. Guo identified Western’s first lunar meteorite in 2017 (named Northwest Africa 10964). During Bouvier’s Cosmochemistry course in 2018, he also found some atypical characteristics in the specimen; one of these features was the presence of olivine along with pyroxene and plagioclase.
In collaboration with Drs. Liz Webb and Fred Longstaffe at the Laboratory for Stable Isotope Science, they measured the lunar meteorite’s oxygen isotopic composition, which turned out to be anomalous. The combination of these clues indicated this was a new type of meteorite, dubbed “ungrouped achondrite”, now named Northwest Africa 12338. According to
MSc student Laura Jenkins also classified an achondrite from a group known as HED meteorites (from the howardite–eucrite–diogenite suite). This group of meteorites
To see some of these space rocks, drop by the Department of Earth Sciences, where they are on display.
Date: January 3 - 6, 2019
Location: London Convention Centre, London, Ontario
Details: Please see the conference page for information on proposal submission, accommodation, and up-to-date program information.
Summary: In partnership with the Society of Canadian Limnologists, the Canadian Conference For Fisheries Research is a national conference bringing together diverse research on a variety of topics and projects within Fisheries including the science, management, and issues facing our waters and resources today. This year marks the 72nd Meeting.
The United Way fundraising campaign is hosting several exciting events throughout the month of November. Please see the summary information of the events below with more information available on Western's United Way Site.
Title: Kickoff Campaign
Date: November 5, 2018
Further Details: Wear something red in support of the United Way
Date: November 8, 2018
Further Details: Collect pledges in support of climbing 472 stairs at One London Place. The minimum pledge to participate is only $40. If you would like to participate but have accessibility concerns, please consider taking the alternative route around One London Place. Should you like to join the Faculty of Science team, contact team Captain, Lauren Starr (email@example.com).
Title: Kickoff Campaign
Date: November 5, 2018
Further Details: Wear something red in support of the United Way
Title: Faculty of Science Pizza Day
Date: November 16, 2018
Further Details: Pre-order two-slices of pizza for only $5. Pre-ordering is required using this Qualtrics form. Cash only, upon delivery. Faculty members can have the pizza delivered to their office, or to North Campus Building Room 270.
Title: Bake Sale
Date: November 23, 2018, 12:00 - 3:00 pm
Further Details: Enjoy some sweet treats at one of our booths in the Physics and Astronomy Building Atrium or North Campus Building on the Second Floor.
Title: Trivia Afternoon
Date: November 28, 2018, 4:00 - 6:00 pm
Further Details: Join us in NCB 270 for a fun-filled afternoon of friendly competition and snacks. $10 Entry fee and refreshments available. Prizes will be awarded to the best team and the best individual player. Please RSVP if possible to Allison McInnis if you can attend: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Should you have any questions regarding any of these events, please contact Allison McInnis, 2018 Campaign Representative (email@example.com).
A special thanks to our 2018 United Way Campaign Committee: Allison McInnis, Lauren Starr, Craig Ingram, Holly Sanderson, Zach Armstrong, and Tarrah Fairweather.
Date: Thursday, November 22 at 5:30 pm
Location: NCB 114
Hear from a panel of Western Science graduates who are all using their Science degrees in unique ways. Learn how they secured their jobs and hear their advice for job searching. Ask questions and mingle over snacks after the panel. Panelists are:
- Olivia Bachmann, Education Coordinator, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at Western University
- Naresh Singh, Chief Information Officer, St. Thomas Elgin Hospital
- Dr. Cameron Graham, Research Scientist,
- Dara Amin, SEO, Digital Analytics & Frontend Developer,
- Arezoo Tahmabesi, Risk Analyst/Financial Modeller, TD Bank
- Jean Michel Morrison, Actuarial Analyst, London Life
Facebook Event Here
Fall Preview Day is Sunday, November 18, 2018. Please register here to receive more information and to confirm your attendance.
During Fall Preview Day, Western Science hosts a number of specific information sessions related to our departments, programs, courses, and experiences. This day is an opportunity to engage with our extraordinary complement of faculty members and ask current students questions about their experiences. We look forward to hosting all prospective and future students once again this fall.
To learn more, visit our undergraduate recruitment events page.
Date: Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Time: 11:30 am - 12:30 pm
Location: Physics and Astronomy, 106
David Wessinger, BSc'94 (Computer Science), and COO of
Register and view the Events Calendar here.
Dave Wessinger is the co-founder and chief operating officer for PointClickCare Technologies Inc. In his role, he is responsible for leading the company’s Sales, Marketing, Operations, Account Management, Strategic Initiatives
Prior to co-founding PointClickCare, Dave was a manager of IT for a multi-site provider and focused on software implementation and adoption. His unique blend of senior care provider knowledge and technical expertise proved invaluable in the creation of the PointClickCare solution, and the design decision to leverage SaaS as the delivery platform in 1999. Under his leadership, more than 15,000 PointClickCare customers leverage the PointClickCare technology to care for millions of residents each day. Dave continues his passion for the industry and is committed to helping providers improve outcomes through the use of Health Information Technology.
Dave currently sits on the board of directors for Careworks Inc. and PointClickCare Technologies Inc.
Date: Monday, November 12
Time: 1:30 pm
Location: Kresge Building, 106
Seminar Title: Plastic Here and Everywhere: International Effort in Fighting Plastics Pollution
Abstract: Plastic is
Patricia Corcoran is a sedimentary petrologist who studies how natural and anthropogenic processes affect Earth’s systems. She was the first scientific researcher to investigate plastics pollution in the Great Lakes, and her work concerning a new stone called plastiglomerate has been featured in various science and media outlets in North America, Europe, and Asia. She is currently the Chair of the Department of Earth Sciences at Western and when not in London, can be found in rivers and lakes and on beaches sampling for microplastics.
"Spying on Animals" which debuts Sunday 4 November at 8:00 PM ET on CBC TV
The episode focuses on new uses of wildlife cameras and features footage of Dr. Zanette filmed last year working in South Africa.
As part of Dr. Zanette's project in South Africa, remote cameras are being used to photograph, and potentially manage an entire ecosystem with the cooperation of thousands of Citizen Scientists who help
Spying on Animals shows us how innovations in remote, unmanned cameras let us bear witness to animal
Click here for episode details.
Thank you to so many of our Science Alumni from Applied Math, Statistics and Actuarial Science, Mathematics, Medical Sciences, Chemistry, Biology and Earth Sciences for joining us at HOCO 2018. A great time was had by all! We look forward to hosting you again next year! See the HOCO in SCIENCE 2018 album here.
Time: 5:00 - 6:00 pm
Location: Arts & Humanities Building, Room: 1R40
With developments in computing and in CCD technology, astronomers can now take short exposure observations. These are revealing an amazing wealth of short-duration, transient phenomena which will be described in this talk
Dame Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell inadvertently discovered pulsars as a graduate student in radio astronomy in Cambridge, opening up a new branch of astrophysics—work recognized by the award of a Nobel Prize to her supervisor.
She has subsequently worked in many roles in many branches of astronomy, working part-time while raising a family. She is now a Visiting Professor in Oxford, and Chancellor of the University of Dundee, and was (the first female) President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh—Scotland’s National Academy.
Much in demand as a speaker and broadcaster, in her spare time she
More Information here.
Thank you to all those alumni and friends of Western Science whose generous contributions have helped our students, faculty, and staff to Be Extraordinary. Explore our Faculty of Science Stories of impact on the Campaign Website.
helpingturn information into insights
- Making sense of big data
- Positioning the premier institution for economic geology
For more information see our Science Alumni page.
Kate Young, MP London West and Parliamentary Secretary for Science and Sport and Peter Fragiskatos, MP London North Centre joined John Capone, Western’s Vice-president of Research this morning at the Atrium in the Physics and Astronomy Building to announce this year’s NSERC Grants, Scholarships and Fellowships.
The Faculty of Science congratulates our 40 Discovery Grant recipients including:
Janusz A Adamus
Nazim H. Madhavji
Wayne K. Hocking
Marc Moreno Maza
Examples of Funded Research Projects:
Understanding how galaxies work is part of knowing the origins of life on Earth. From the calcium in our bones to the North Star, the contents of our Milky Way galaxy are the product of earlier generations of stars. The processes that produced galaxies are so slow in human terms that the only way to see them operate is to run computer simulations. Prof. Pauline Barmby’s research will determine how well simulations reproduce real galaxies, using the world's most advanced telescopes to make observations of nearby galaxies.
Physics professor Wayne Hawking’s project
Millimeter-sized pieces of dust from comets and asteroids have changed very little since they condensed out of the solar nebula before the planets formed, and their structure and composition tell us about the origin of our own planet. Meteoroids in this size range also pose a threat to spacecraft, including crewed missions. The slowest meteoroids travel much faster than bullets and have incapacitated spacecraft in the past.
Campbell-Brown’s research will determine where most meteoroids come from and how dangerous they are to spacecraft. She will also look at meteor shower activity to better predict when spectacular (and potentially dangerous) outbursts may occur. Meteors which don't belong to showers may be tens or hundreds of thousands of years old and give us a window into the past activity of comets and asteroids in our
The lack of knowledge about the controls on the delivery of Mercury (Hg) to aquatic food webs is particularly problematic when attempting to forecast the impacts of climate change on the Hg cycle. Branfireuns’s research will quantify the gaseous Hg uptake by plants, as well as the highly toxic Methylmercury (MeHg) inputs to boreal sub-arctic soils. This project will also clarify the role of drainage basins as a source of MeHg to boreal sub-arctic freshwater lakes and identify how the quality of northern dissolved organic matter mediates the assimilation of Hg and MeHg by phytoplankton.
Agricultural super pest, the spider mite, feeds on over 1100 plant species including more than 150 crops worldwide. With increased reproductive potential under conditions of global warming, combined with an outstanding ability to adapt to new crops and develop resistance to pesticides, the spider mite threatens global crop security. Vojislava Grbic’s research will determine how Arabidopsis plants establish
Humans are both “super predator” and prey – inducing fear in other animals and fearing them in turn. Our role as
Biology professor Liana Zanette’s project will first test how the fear of large carnivores impacts the demography and
Among all alternative energy sources, solar energy is clean and the most powerful. The
As the technological demands of our country continue to evolve, so does the need for innovative and readily accessible functional materials. Joe Gilroy’s project will focus on the production of luminescent and semiconducting molecular, polymeric, and self-assembled materials for use in a variety of organic electronics (e.g., sensors, memory devices, light-emitting diodes, field-effect transistors, and solar cells).
Medical Application of Big Data Analytics: Machine learning methodology for sequential decisions - Dan Lizotte
Making good decisions in the present often requires knowledge of potential decisions to be made in the future. Consider choosing
Western Hosts First Annual Fields Summer School on Topological Data Analysis for Banking and Finance
Western’s School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences (SMSS), in collaboration with the Fields Institute for Research, hosted 50 participants during its first annual Fields Summer School on Topological Data Analysis for Banking and Finance. Students and Postdoctoral Fellows from across the nation and several international destinations including the UK, Korea
Participants learned the fundamentals of topological data analysis, developed a greater awareness of data available for banking and financial analysis and explored the use of programming tools for bank and finance analytics.
“Student growth was impressive as they adapted new analytical techniques to data sets, eventually leading to actionable business insights,” commented SMSS founding director and dean of the Faculty of Science, Matt Davison.
The success of the summer school was due in part to the active participation of Scotia Bank, which provided synthetic anti-money laundering data, and through the on-site engagement of Rene Stock, Andi Moshirvaziri, Yousef Akhavan and Inshu Bhatnagar, delivered presentations, offered insightful feedback and shared their front-line expertise. Other individual collaborators, including Data Engineer Charlie Frantowski, also played an important role, imparting their significant understanding of the corporate challenges of data storage, security
Dr. Stephanie Barbon awarded the Paul De Mayo award for her outstanding research pertaining to chemical bonding and control sequencing in polymers.
Earlier, I had the opportunity to sit down with Stephanie and find out a bit more about this outstanding representative of the science community.
“I grew up in London, so it always made sense for me to study here.”
Stephanie lived the London dream, choosing to go to Western for her undergraduate and eventual doctoral studies. After seven years at Western and with only a year and a half remaining in her doctoral studies, a captivating guest lecture, from superstar chemist Craig Hawker, prompted her to send him an email, asking if he had a spot for her in his lab at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Hawker took a look at Stephanie’s academic record – there was no question that he could find her a spot.
“Craig has a really big reputation in our field of research and is an extremely impressive guy. I jumped at the opportunity to work with him. It’s always tough to be away from your family, but it’s been a fantastic place to live and a thrilling place to do research. I’m learning lots.”
Stephanie enrolled at Western as a chemistry major in 2011, but it wasn’t until a second-year research project in Newfoundland where she found her true passion: polymers.
“We were generating polymers with catalysts. I
Stephanie’s research focuses on creating the synthetic replication of molecules that control our cellular processes and initiate the reactions that occur in living cells.
"Historically, polymers have just been a single molecule repeated along a lengthy chain. What we’re working on, is being able to control the order of the molecular structure. If you think of a protein, you can control which amino acids are next to each other. Our goal is to be able to replicate that process in synthetic polymers too. We want to be able to control the properties very finely, based on the order that they’re in.”
Stephanie wants to unlock new functions for materials that have never gone through the chain-like chemical bonding process known as
“I’m working with
If it sounds ambitious, that’s because it is. The complex functions that polymers such as protein and our own DNA provide, make up the very fabric of who we are.
“Proteins have very specific functions based on the way they orientate, and so if we can control the way that polymers combine, we may produce some naturally occurring functions in synthetic polymers.”
This research led Stephanie to be selected for the Governor General’s Gold Medal for Academic Excellence and the aforementioned ‘Paul De Mayo Award’. Notably, the ‘Paul De Mayo Award’ aims to recognize a graduate student who not only excels in their own
“I had a lot of awesome teachers in elementary and high school, who fuelled my interest in science. If I can do the same thing for one person, then it’s worth all the effort.”
What’s next for Stephanie in her scientific
“I aspire to end up back in Canada. That’s my goal. California’s nice but it’s not home. I will be back.”
Fun with Main Group Chemistry
The main group elements, a sub-group of the iconic Periodic Table of the Elements, have long been the vanguard for establishing parameters for principles of chemical structure (molecular shape) and bonding (forces holding atoms together).
Chemists working with compounds derived from this part of the Periodic Table have not only made groundbreaking, fundamental discoveries (e.g. Noble Gas compounds
Thank you to everyone who joined us for Science Rendezvous @WesternU this past Saturday! It was amazing to see so many families running around TD Stadium exploring the exciting complement of science booths and activities. Despite the rain, over 1500 people joined us for a day filled with scientific exploration.
Science Rendezvous @WesternU is part of a national celebration of science held across Canada. For Western Science, it is an opportunity to open our doors to the community and welcome you to campus to see the exciting science taking place here. Whether it was making your own slime, driving a mini-space rover, or simply holding a stick insect for the first time, we hope that you now love science as much as we do.
If you missed us on Saturday, see our Flickr Gallery for photos and be sure to catch us next year!
We would especially like to thank our sponsor. This day was only possible because of your generous support.
The Florence Bucke Science Award recognizes excellence in research conducted by a young and upcoming faculty member. The award was made available through an endowment from the late Florence Bucke who received a BA from Western University in 1926 and went on to teach in Fort Erie until 1971.
The prize consists of a certificate, a $2000 award, and public lecture which will take place on Wednesday, April 25th at 3:30 pm in the Physics and Astronomy Building, Room 100. A reception will follow.
This year's recipient is Dr. Paul Ragogna from the Department of Chemistry. Paul's research focuses on the synthesis of new molecules containing the main group or transition metal elements and their application in practical chemical processes. An abstract for Paul's lecture can be found below
Fun with Main Group Chemistry
The main group elements, a sub-group of the iconic Periodic Table of the Elements, have long been the vanguard for establishing parameters for principles of chemical structure (molecular shape) and bonding (forces holding atoms together).
Chemists working with compounds derived from this part of the Periodic Table have not only made groundbreaking, fundamental discoveries (e.g. Noble Gas compounds), but have also generated new materials that are of immense practical benefit to humanity (e.g. Silicone polymers). Since 2005 our group has spent considerable effort investigating the fundamental chemistry the main group elements, and although we cannot lay claim to such impactful discoveries such as silicones, we do indeed look to discover applications for our new knowledge. In this context, key fundamental discoveries that have emerged from our lab and the spin-off, industrially-relevant research will be highlighted. Most importantly, the lecture will be a tribute to the clear dedication, skill, and tenacity of the many undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral researchers that have passed through the Ragogna Group laboratories. As we all know, without such a team, none of the discoveries would have come to fruition.
Tianqi Xie, Western University’s 2018 winner of the campuswide Three Minute Thesis Competition, is on a journey to unlock the secrets of the Moon. Through her research, she dives into the explosive history that shaped our closest
We’ve all seen a full Moon on a clear night, some of us might have even been fortunate enough to catch the “Super Moon” this past year, but if you’ve ever looked at a snapshot of the Moon you will see thousands of circular, bowl-shaped features covering the surface. They can range from a few meters to hundreds of
When rocks collide at these speeds, a catastrophic explosion results. The impactor is vaporized in seconds and the bodies that have been hit are fundamentally changed. When these collisions unfold on the Moon, solid rock is instantly turned into liquid, molten material. Even more,
The analytical system Tianqi uses to do her research is called Raman spectroscopy. This non-destructive technique is commonly used to identify organic and inorganic material in geologic samples. In NASA's upcoming Mars 2020 mission, a Raman spectrometer will be used to try and find evidence for life on the Martian surface.
Tianqi is one of the few people in Canada who gets to hold pieces of the Moon and explore its crystalline structure by shooting lasers at them. By looking characteristic pattern returned from this shocked lunar material, Tianqi examines how the structure of the material has changed, what pressures the material experienced, and how proximal was the material from ground zero of the impact. In doing so, she hopes that we can better understand this geologic process, which has shaped every planetary body in our Solar System.
After finishing her BSc and MSc in Beijing, she became part of the Western Science community in the fall of 2014 as she started her
The Three Minute Thesis Competition
The 3MT (Three Minute Thesis) competition asks graduate students to present the breadth and significance of their thesis in 1 slide and 3 minutes to do just that to a non-specialist audience. This fun and challenging academic competition
The 3MT Competition was originally developed by The University of Queensland, Australia, but since then, it has become a truly international phenomenon with global competitions held each year. The exercise develops the ability to effectively communicate complex research using open language, allowing you to explain the significance of your research to your peers and the wider community.
Join us for a celebration of outstanding interdisciplinary research. The 2018
The showcase will be held on Thursday, April 12th, 2018 from 10:30 am to 4:00 pm in the atrium of the Physics and Astronomy Building. A detailed agenda can be found here.
This year, Dr. Raquel Urtasun, Head of Uber ATG Toronto, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Machine Learning and Computer Vision at the University of Toronto will be our keynote speaker and recipient of the
Poster presentations on the cutting-edge interdisciplinary research being conducted by the Faculties of Science and Engineering will be presented throughout the day.
The poster presentation registration deadline is April 5, 2018. Prizes will be presented to the top three posters.
A select group of students will also be invited to deliver a five-minute oral presentation during the main speaking portion of the event. If you would like to be considered for this opportunity, please be sure to complete and submit the registration form no later than March 30. You will be contacted during the first week of April if you are chosen to deliver an oral presentation.
Dr. Raquel Urtasun
Raquel Urtasun is the Head of Uber ATG Toronto. She is also an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto, a Canada Research Chair in Machine Learning and Computer Vision and a co-founder of the Vector Institute for AI. Prior to this, she was an Assistant Professor at the Toyota Technological Institute at Chicago (TTIC), an academic computer science institute affiliated with the University of Chicago. She was also a visiting professor at ETH Zurich during the spring semester of 2010. She received her
Join us for the 2018 C. Gordon Winder Memorial SCUGOG Public Lecture given by Dr. Natalya Gomez.
Dr. Gomez is the Canada Research Chair in ice sheet - sea-level interactions at McGill University and will be giving a talk on Ice, Sea Level, and the Solid Earth. An abstract and Dr. Gomez's biography can be found below.
The talk will be Thursday, February 1st, 2018 at 7:00 pm in Middlesex College, room 110. A reception will follow.
Ice, Sea Level, and the Solid Earth
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.
Natalya Gomez's Biography
Natalya Gomez is an assistant professor in the Earth and Planetary Sciences Department at McGill University and a Canada Research Chair in the Geodynamics of Ice Sheet - Sea Level interactions. She works at the intersection between two rapidly progressing areas of research: Solid earth geophysics and climate science. Her research centers around modeling the interactions between ice sheets, sea level and the solid Earth and understanding how these earth systems evolve in response to past, present and future climate changes in regions such as Antarctica, Greenland, North America
Congratulation to this year’s Distinguished Research Professor Award recipients: Dr Liana Zanette (Department of Biology), Dr Joe Gilroy (Department of Chemistry), Dr Rick Jardine (Department of Mathematics), and Dr Stan Metchev (Department of Physics & Astronomy). This award from the Faculty of Science recognizes professors for a distinguished record in research.
Congratulations to the science recipients of the 2018 TA Awards:
- David William Dick (Applied Mathematics)
- Jackson Kusack (Biology)
- Ruipeng Lu (Computer Science)
- Joshua Littleton (Earth Science)
- Sang Jin (John) Kang (Statistics and Actuarial Sciences)
- William Turnbull (Chemistry)
Few are more deserving of the title “Boy Wonder” than Matthew McCready; if doing a BSc in physics and playing the tenor saxophone in the Western Chamber Music wasn’t enough, he just won his second NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award to work over the summer in a lab in his home department. All within the first three years of his undergrad. Finishing up his first research project under the supervision of Dr Eugene Wong, Matthew is developing computer models to map the growth of renal carcinomas – cancerous tumours of the kidney. Kidney tumours are treated by a class of drugs which cut off blood supply to the tumour in an attempt to starve it. Unfortunately, these tumours have the unique ability to activate a second type of metabolism in response to drug treatment, allowing them to survive even under heavily-reduced blood supply.
Matthew has built two mathematical models – one for pre-treatment and one for post-treatment metabolism of the kidney tumours with the goal of finding a clear difference between the two types of metabolism. Once the tumour activates its second metabolism in response to the drug treatment, it becomes very difficult to kill. Matthew’s work is part of a larger project within the Wong lab to calculate precise individual treatment doses that can effectively combat kidney tumours without engaging their troublesome backup metabolism.
His next undergraduate research project will be with Dr Blaine Chronik in physics to investigate how radio waves in MRI machines cause heating problems for pacemaker patients. Matthew enjoys the close relationships his physics labs have with medical research and hopes to pursue a PhD in medical biophysics.
Thank you Mining Industry Human Resources (MIHR) for their support of the Western Integrated Science (
- Reese Gartley
- Jenna Veugen
- Ali Coyle
- Miranda Postma
- Adrienne Lannicca
- Shayna Kay
- Carmen Venier
- Ridwan Mohammed Bari
- Alexandra Ly
All will be bringing their knowledge and skills developed through the Integrated Science program to the hands-on summer science positions in industry.
Western Taps New Science Dean
Matt Davison believes science plays a significant role in both the day-to-day life of a university and the generation-to-generation preservation of human understanding. He wants the world to know the same. “There are thousands of years of research behind what we do. Keeping that alive is already a huge contribution we make as scientists,” said the Statistical and Actuarial Sciences professor. “But then we extend it – every day in our labs, in our classrooms, on our chalkboards, in our field schools. That is a massive contribution. The general public often does not connect small ‘s’ science with the big ‘s’ Faculty of Science. They think of us as teachers, first and foremost, and forget we are also making some of the scientific discoveries that drive the world.”
Dr. Matt Davison's Biography
Dr Davison has been a faculty member at Western since July 1999 and has held several leadership roles in the Faculty since 2014, including Acting Associate Dean and Chair of the Department of Statistical & Actuarial Sciences. Currently, he serves as the founding director of the School of Mathematical & Statistical Sciences — an entity that combines the three departments of Applied Mathematics, Mathematics and Statistical & Actuarial Sciences. Matt held a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Quantitative Finance between 2006 and 2016 and is a Fields Institute Fellow. Prior to joining Western as a faculty member, Matt was Assistant Vice President, Equity Arbitrage, at Deutsche Bank Canada from 1997-1999, and he was a postdoctoral research fellow in the Physiology Institute of the University of Bern (Switzerland) from 1995-1997. He holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (Engineering) from the University of Toronto and an MSc and PhD in Applied Math from Western. With teaching and research interests in risk management and financial mathematics and a particular focus on using these ideas to better finance and operate renewable and other energy infrastructures, Matt has published over 65 papers, nine book chapters and 13 conference proceedings. He has had continuous NSERC Discovery grant support since the beginning of his academic career and he has graduated 53 Master’s and 18 PhD students from his research group.
When it comes to selecting a mate, the animal kingdom gives each species its own particular skills of seduction. For some, it’s shaking brightly coloured feathers, whistling a swoon-worthy love song, or fighting a competitor to win their mate’s affection. But it’s not always about looks and athleticism. For some species, smell is the way to a lover’s heart.
Leanne Grieves, a PhD student at the University of Western Ontario, is investigating how chemical communication among song sparrows influences mate choice. She theorizes that song sparrows can smell whether a potential mate has the genes to stay healthy in the long run.
Over 70% of bird species worldwide are affected by malaria. Birds, like all vertebrate animals, have a group of genes called major histocompatibility complex (MHC) that help the immune system recognize foreign elements. When the alleles that make up this gene are diverse, animals are better protected from disease. Grieves is researching whether song sparrows are capable of using smell to assess how healthy a potential mate is, and how compatible their MHC genotype is with that of the scent-receiver. Bacteria living on animals’ bodies and in their scent-producing glands may influence or even produce these body odours.
Grieves’ work will also explore and characterize the bacterial communities living on these birds. Grieves’ research will be a significant contribution to evolutionary biology, increasing knowledge of the cues that birds and other species use to choose mates and produce healthy offspring. It will also provide a better understanding of how infections spread through species, allowing us to better anticipate the threats of future diseases to wildlife populations.
The NSERC Gilles Brassard Doctoral Prize for Interdisciplinary Research is awarded to an outstanding recipient of an NSERC Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship who best exemplifies interdisciplinary research. The award is valued at $10,000 and was established in 2012 by Gilles Brassard, winner of the 2009 Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering.
Read the full story: 3MT - Three Minute Thesis Competition
Read the full story: American Chemistry Society for Researchers in all Disciplines
Read the story: Western University Three Minute Thesis Winner
Read the story: 2018 Science Rendezvous @WesternU