Western Science Speaks

Henry Standage hosts the Western Science Speaks podcast; a short format interview show exploring interesting and important work produced by Faculty of Science at Western University. The show covers a wide range of topics in Science relevant to a broad spectrum of listeners.

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Season 3

WSS S3E13: X Marks the Spot: Understanding Social Behavior Through the Brain

About 1% of the Canadian population is affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder; 100,000 Ontarians alone currently live with ASD, which presents with a number of symptoms including difficulty with social interaction. On this episode of Western Science Speaks, graduate student Wes Robinson from the Department of Biology shares his insights the how the brain deciphers social cues, what has happened when it can’t, and how his research may contribute to a better understanding of how to treat autism.

Accessible Transcript: WSS S3E13

  • Downloadable Transcript (Coming Soon)

I'm Henry Standage, and you're listening to the Western Science Speaks podcast. The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition in Canada gives graduate students a chance to pitch their research in a condensed manner. In the next few weeks, I'll be sitting down with a couple of the participants from Westerns field. Today, we talked to Wes Robinson, about his talk "X marks the spot" that focuses on how our brains understand social cues. Here it is.

Henry: Tell us about your work.

Wes: So, I'm studying a specific protein in the brain that we use to control information flow. So to take a step back let's see your imagine yourself standing in a line or standing at the bus stop, and you can feel people that are getting a little too close to you, and you can actually feel them in your personal space. So that is essentially what I'm looking at in my master's program. So, in that feeling, you're using your eyes, your ears, or your smell, or you're receiving input of what's around you. And so when your brain that takes that in and then deciding what you want to do, and so that's, that's that feeling you get of somebody being too close from you. So I'm actually looking to study this in the fruit fly, which seems like a large jump - from the human-feeling personal space to fruit-fly-feeling personal space. And so what's interesting is we can study in the fruit fly because we have set up an experiment that allows us to test what the fruit fly's preferred social spaces is. So we set them up in the chamber and we let the fruit flies explore and then they actually settle at our preferred distance, which is about half a centimeter. And we do it over and over and over again, we see that they were repeatedly settling at half a centimeter. So you know, that's their preferred social space.

Henry: Do you work with Anne Simon?

Wes: Yeah she's my supervisor.

Henry: A regular podcast listeners quite familiar with the fruit fly. Taking it back a bit - where did this idea come from? Is it a natural thing that's inherent that we're born with it's a space or is that something we learn and developed?

Wes: The short answer is both. So it's an innate behavior that we have to want to be a certain distance to other people but the environment can influence whether we want to be closer or further. So a colleague of mine studies flies in isolation versus flies that are enriched and they actually they have different personal spaces that they prefer depending on how they were raised but it's actually already innately encoded the behavior of a preferred distance. So looking back into my project specifically, I'm looking at a protein in the brain that helps to control the information flow through to the brain and then helps you to decide what you want to do with that and so why this protein is interesting for me is because mutations in this protein in humans are people with a predisposition for autism. So that's where I'm looking at that angle. It's really cool because we can study this protein in fruit fly. And this specific gene and protein is very, very similar to humans, as well as the neurons, which are the basic units of the brain. They're very similar between flies and humans. So not many people would think about that, but flies have a nervous system, they have neurons. And if you were to have a neuron in a microscope of a human and the fly side by side, you almost couldn't tell the difference. You can study one and have impact on us as humans.

Henry: To me it feels like something that's not just related to sight, because if I go behind someone really close just to their back, they're going to notice there's gonna they're gonna know something's up. And is that brain related? Is there another sensor that goes past site?

Wes: Yeah, for sure. Your brain actually takes all your sensory modalities, combines them, decides what to do, and then goes from there. So you're right. And even in the fly specifically, we have a way of doing it, we basically do it where they can't see. And they still have their preferred social space of centimeters. So even with out sight, they do go to that preferred space. So it's just taking all of your feelings - so like your sense of touch, your sense of smell, people getting too close you can even smell them. And so that's what's contributing to that space.

Henry: What are the signals you look for in the flies? How do you know that one is uncomfortable with how close another is?

Wes: You can't really tell how comfortable they are. That's sort of putting a human feeling to it. I specifically just look at the distance. So one fly, how close is it to another fly? But we actually recently expanded to look at when you're looking at one fly, how many other flies are within for body lengths of that fly? So we're trying to see as a group as a whole, are they getting close together? Are they getting further apart? And so our recent experiment of mine where we mutated this protein that I was talking about - that's a candidate for autism - we mutated this protein and we're seeing that flies in females actually getting closer together, and flies and males actually get further apart. So we're getting a sexually dimorphic response from the fly. Which is really cool.

Henry: What are the limits with using flies for this research? Because you said with neurons, there's really astounding similarity with humans. What can humans offer in research that would go past the flies?

Wes: When we're looking at flies, there's always only so much you can extrapolate to humans. So the behaviors we have to look at to be very simple. The behavior of just how close is it? How much does it move locomotion? When in humans, there's conscious thought, there is deciding things, there's higher thinking. So we can only extrapolate so much to humans. But that being said, when you're looking at people with autism, the clinical definition of autism is having an abnormal social behaviors. So when we're trying to quantify that in the fruit fly, we're just going to look for abnormal social behaviors, not necessarily whether we want to hang out and play video games as humans, but whether they're doing social things like they're getting closer together.

Henry: Do you see an impact? If one flies getting closer to the others does it affect, say two days later how the other flies interact with this one fly?

Wes: We hadn't looked at that specifically. But what I was telling you earlier about with my colleague who's looking at what we do is right from birth, or we call it eclosion. As soon as a fly ecloses, we separated from everyone else. And we find that those flies are generally less social. So they want to be further from other flies and when we actually sort of force them in closer spaces, closer places, they become more aggressive to other flies.

Henry: About this protein, I want to know a little bit more about that. Run me through what exactly it is again.

Wes: So the proteins called neuroligin and the simple explanation of what the protein does is it helps two neurons connect to each other. And it's allows the two neurons to talk to each other. So a neuron can go from your brain to your leg, and it can tell you: "hey, I want to walk", so you lose your legs. So for them to be able to communicate from the brain to the leg, they have to be able to talk. And so this protein, while you're developing while you're growing as a human, you have to form these connections. So the protein forms the connections, and then helps facilitate the communication across.

Henry: Do people, you say it's directly related to autism, is that they have a smaller one or mutated one.?

Wes: So they actually found this mutation in a family. I think it was a Swedish family that they saw had hereditary autism. So there was multiple people in the family that had autism and they were trying to look at what might be the link in the family. They found a mutation in this gene, and that's where they saw that in each of the people affected with autism, they have this mutation. And one other thing about autism is it isn't a one-gene disorder. It's a multi-gene disorder. And so I like to think of it as a puzzle pieces. So, the more puzzle pieces or the more genes that are mutated, the more severe autism. And that's why you've heard of autism spectrum disorders. So there's the more mild version of autism, which has Asperger's, and the more severe version of autism, which is autism. And so the more puzzle pieces or the more mutations in these genes that come together can lead to a more severe, or if you have less mutations, it's more of an Asperger's disorder.

Henry: So it's not something like Down Syndrome where there's a difference in the amount of chromosomes? So they're not lacking this protein, it's just different?

Wes: Correct. You said it, right. It's a mutation in this protein.

Henry: Okay, let's talk solution because you're doing the Three Minute Thesis. Ambitious as possible, 10 years down the line, what do you want to be able to say about this research?

Wes: As much money as I can have (laughs). So what would be the ideal solution, and this is what I'm pushing for and I'm going to start my PhD and continue to look at this, is I've mapped in the fruit fly brain where this protein is. So I've actually found a specific structure in the brain called the mushroom bodies. And that can be translated loosely to the human hippocampus. And so I've located that this protein is in the mushroom bodies. Now I'm trying to follow the flow of the information. So the sensory information, so how close to somebody standing to you goes into the brain, and then it goes to the rest of the body and you decide something, like if somebody's standing too close, you move. So I'm trying to figure out what downstream of this protein is going to the rest of the body or is it going somewhere else in the brain? So I'm trying to map it, maybe even down to single neurons or single clusters of neurons, where is this information going? And the ideal solution for humans is if we can find a downstream very succinct target of where this information is flowing. This could be a possible therapeutic. So people that have autism, the current treatment they have uses medicine to either recover impaired signals or to repress overactive singling from the brain. The issue arises with these complex networks, but there's often a widespread effect of the drugs - you often get unwanted side effects like sleeplessness, nausea, depression. So if we can find a more succinct target downstream that we can manipulate with some sort of drug or some sort of chemical, then we may be able to reduce some of these unwanted side effects.

Henry: By understanding where exactly fly's brains and human brains or similar, Wes hopes to provide a solution for people with autism who may lack the awareness of social norms. You can check out more three minute theses on the Western University YouTube page. I'm Henry Standage, signing out. Thanks for listening.

WSS S3E12: Volunteering at Western: Making the Most Out of Your Time Here

Rebecca Clark came to Western for her Masters of Environment and Sustainability (MES). As her time at Western comes to close, she has left her mark on campus by leading all Science Faculty masters students in volunteer hours. Rebecca joins Western Science Speaks to talk about her experience volunteering, and why with the right organization and time-management, it can be worthwhile in the short and long term for any student looking to get involved.

Accessible Transcript: WSS S3E12: Volunteering at Western: Making the Most Out of Your Time Here

  • Downloadable Transcript (Coming Soon)

I'm Henry Standage, and you're listening to the Western Science Speaks podcast.

Look, I don't need to convince you how important electricity is to our day to day lives. To live without electricity is to live in a world without an economy, entertainment, or just plain old comfort in your at home life. That's why it might come as a surprise that the technology we use to detect and fix power outages has barely progressed since electricity first came into our homes. Dr. Hannan Lutfiyya, from the Department of Computer Science, researches how power outages are repaired, and where she believes the technology needs to go. She joins this episode of Western Science Speaks, here's the interview.

Henry: How is our power distributed?

Lutfiyya: Power is distributed, it starts with the power plants. So a power plant actually generates the electricity, whether it's from coal, hydro, nuclear, or whatever, then what it does is it has to transmit that power to the consumers. So it does that through transmission lines. And those are the things she's you often see these long transmission lines, you know, the electric poles. But the thing is, so when it does that transmission, what it does, it has to increase the voltage a lot, so that it can be transmitted over a long distance. Then when it gets closer to the consumers, what happens is you actually have to decrease that voltage, because the high transmission voltages are dangerous. So what they do is they go to a distribution grid, where it starts to decrease the voltage before making the final delivery to the consumers.

Henry: Right. So it comes out extremely high voltage when it leaves the plant.

Lutfiyya: That's right. And then when it gets to closer to the consumers, they have to start decreasing that voltage before they can actually power your home.

Henry: What happens when we have an outage?

Lutfiyya: What happens when we have an outage, well, you every you no longer uncle have electricity, right? And usually, what happens is that it's very difficult to detect. So what they [providers] have to do right now, is they send crews to the area that's been affected by the outage, trying to find out what's the cause? You know, is it something that one of the substations that's reducing the voltage, did a tree fall in a branch or whatever? So they actually have to send crews out to sort of manually search for the outage.

Henry: There's no automatic sensor or anything?

Lutfiyya: No, nothing. It's very manual right now.

Henry: And so I imagine that when there's severe wreckage in some sort of community, such as a hurricane, or tornado, locating the pivotal spot must be extremely gruelling.

Lutfiyya: It is, there could be actually multiple causes, right? If you have two trees falling on the line, right? But yeah, it can be very difficult to find out.

Henry: Is that a universal method? Or do different cultures have more modern advanced technologies for this?

Lutfiyya: No, everyone is pretty much doing it the same way.

Henry: What are you proposing as a solution?

Lutfiyya: The solution we're looking at is we're saying, "can we pinpoint what's causing the outage?" And it turns out that there are techniques on the transmission network that people do use for that. The reason it doesn't carry over to the part of the grid distribution network, which is closer to our homes, is because they're much more complicated. Because every time if you are the neighbourhood, you may have a line. And then you have to have a bunch more lines, they have to branch out like a tree, or radio network, just so that they can actually deliver it to different homes. So the approach we're taking is that whenever there is an outage, it will emit some sort of signal. And our centres are going to detect that signal. And then based on that, they will be able to figure out based on that signal also get the reflection. Because when a pop happens, it will send out signals throughout the distribution network and they start to bounce. So the sensors, they'll get the initial fault and they'll get off the bounces or the reflections. And so you can use those signals - you can use the time between them - to sort of help you figure out what were the actual location is.

Henry: Is that what you call the x-fault?

Lutfiyya: Yes, you're trying to pinpoint. So that's what's actually causing that outage. What makes that actually very hard, is that the way this works, is if you have a fault somewhere, it's going to take out everything, right? It's going to cause an outage everywhere, within a certain area, the reason is they are trying to protect the equipment. So I can have two faults in one area, and they cost the same outage, right? And that's making it very challenging.

Henry: I think this will surprise a lot of people because we're talking about a billion-dollar industry, where when there's a fault, more money can be made in other industries because in a certain community, everyone's relying on this power. Yet, what we have now is an extremely dated method very much 20th-century.

Lutfiyya: That's absolutely true. And it's not even 20th century, I mean, the electric grids are really based on a concept from almost the first days of the grid. Now we're talking more than 100 years, sure the equipment gets upgraded and they will, you know, buy new stuff and it's more modern and faster and all that stuff. But, the basic structure is the same. What's changed, I think now, looking at the possibilities of using cheap sensors, analytics. And they're looking at trying to take advantage of it and in this environment. But you're right, it's an old infrastructure, and yeah, we still have it and we're still using old technologies.

When a power outage strikes, it takes down the entire community and won't be fixed until the exact sweet-spot is manually found by workers. Power outages are inevitable. But prioritizing the technology behind repairing them faster, so that hundreds of families aren't left in the dark is more crucial than ensuring top-speed WiFi. The world has primarily shifted to automatic detection methods for industries as lucrative as electricity. And considering the impact outages have on a wide range of people and businesses. A modern shift and how we fix them is imperative. I'm Henry Standage asking you do a warm up and chill out. Thanks for listening.

WSS S3E11: Left in the Dark: Why are Power Outages Still so Disruptive?

Power outages disrupt modern life, making the speed of repairs to electrical wires absolutely crucial. Unfortunately, the technology behind power outages is dated, leaving families and businesses in the dark longer than they should be. Western Science Speaks is joined by Dr. Hanan Lutfiyya, Chair of the Computer Science Department at Western University, to discuss the flaws in our current method of power repair, and her proposed solutions to the issue.

Accessible Transcript: WSS S3E11: Left in the Dark: Why are Power Outages Still so Disruptive?

  • Downloadable Transcript (Coming Soon): WSS S3E11: Left in the Dark: Why are Power Outages Still so Disruptive?

I'm Henry Standage, and you're listening to the Western Science Speaks podcast.

Look, I don't need to convince you how important electricity is to our day to day lives. To live without electricity is to live in a world without an economy, entertainment, or just plain old comfort in your at home life. That's why it might come as a surprise that the technology we use to detect and fix power outages has barely progressed since electricity first came into our homes. Dr. Hannan Lutfiyya, from the Department of Computer Science, researches how power outages are repaired, and where she believes the technology needs to go. She joins this episode of Western Science Speaks, here's the interview.

Henry: How is our power distributed?

Lutfiyya: Power is distributed, it starts with the power plants. So a power plant actually generates the electricity, whether it's from coal, hydro, nuclear, or whatever, then what it does is it has to transmit that power to the consumers. So it does that through transmission lines. And those are the things she's you often see these long transmission lines, you know, the electric poles. But the thing is, so when it does that transmission, what it does, it has to increase the voltage a lot, so that it can be transmitted over a long distance. Then when it gets closer to the consumers, what happens is you actually have to decrease that voltage, because the high transmission voltages are dangerous. So what they do is they go to a distribution grid, where it starts to decrease the voltage before making the final delivery to the consumers.

Henry: Right. So it comes out extremely high voltage when it leaves the plant.

Lutfiyya: That's right. And then when it gets to closer to the consumers, they have to start decreasing that voltage before they can actually power your home.

Henry: What happens when we have an outage?

Lutfiyya: What happens when we have an outage, well, you every you no longer uncle have electricity, right? And usually, what happens is that it's very difficult to detect. So what they [providers] have to do right now, is they send crews to the area that's been affected by the outage, trying to find out what's the cause? You know, is it something that one of the substations that's reducing the voltage, did a tree fall in a branch or whatever? So they actually have to send crews out to sort of manually search for the outage.

Henry: There's no automatic sensor or anything?

Lutfiyya: No, nothing. It's very manual right now.

Henry: And so I imagine that when there's severe wreckage in some sort of community, such as a hurricane, or tornado, locating the pivotal spot must be extremely gruelling.

Lutfiyya: It is, there could be actually multiple causes, right? If you have two trees falling on the line, right? But yeah, it can be very difficult to find out.

Henry: Is that a universal method? Or do different cultures have more modern advanced technologies for this?

Lutfiyya: No, everyone is pretty much doing it the same way.

Henry: What are you proposing as a solution?

Lutfiyya: The solution we're looking at is we're saying, "can we pinpoint what's causing the outage?" And it turns out that there are techniques on the transmission network that people do use for that. The reason it doesn't carry over to the part of the grid distribution network, which is closer to our homes, is because they're much more complicated. Because every time if you are the neighbourhood, you may have a line. And then you have to have a bunch more lines, they have to branch out like a tree, or radio network, just so that they can actually deliver it to different homes. So the approach we're taking is that whenever there is an outage, it will emit some sort of signal. And our centres are going to detect that signal. And then based on that, they will be able to figure out based on that signal also get the reflection. Because when a pop happens, it will send out signals throughout the distribution network and they start to bounce. So the sensors, they'll get the initial fault and they'll get off the bounces or the reflections. And so you can use those signals - you can use the time between them - to sort of help you figure out what were the actual location is.

Henry: Is that what you call the x-fault?

Lutfiyya: Yes, you're trying to pinpoint. So that's what's actually causing that outage. What makes that actually very hard, is that the way this works, is if you have a fault somewhere, it's going to take out everything, right? It's going to cause an outage everywhere, within a certain area, the reason is they are trying to protect the equipment. So I can have two faults in one area, and they cost the same outage, right? And that's making it very challenging.

Henry: I think this will surprise a lot of people because we're talking about a billion-dollar industry, where when there's a fault, more money can be made in other industries because in a certain community, everyone's relying on this power. Yet, what we have now is an extremely dated method very much 20th-century.

Lutfiyya: That's absolutely true. And it's not even 20th century, I mean, the electric grids are really based on a concept from almost the first days of the grid. Now we're talking more than 100 years, sure the equipment gets upgraded and they will, you know, buy new stuff and it's more modern and faster and all that stuff. But, the basic structure is the same. What's changed, I think now, looking at the possibilities of using cheap sensors, analytics. And they're looking at trying to take advantage of it and in this environment. But you're right, it's an old infrastructure, and yeah, we still have it and we're still using old technologies.

When a power outage strikes, it takes down the entire community and won't be fixed until the exact sweet-spot is manually found by workers. Power outages are inevitable. But prioritizing the technology behind repairing them faster, so that hundreds of families aren't left in the dark is more crucial than ensuring top-speed WiFi. The world has primarily shifted to automatic detection methods for industries as lucrative as electricity. And considering the impact outages have on a wide range of people and businesses. A modern shift and how we fix them is imperative. I'm Henry Standage asking you do a warm up and chill out. Thanks for listening.

WSS S3E10: Staying one step ahead in the evolutionary arms race

Predictive mathematical models are a useful tool for just about any type of research in science. Just how useful can they be in helping us to understand the nature of evolution? Dr. Lindi Wahl from the Department of Applied Mathematics at Western University develops models to help capture the evolution of microbes, specifically viruses and bacteria. Western Science Speaks host Henry Standage chats with Dr. Wahl about the mechanisms viruses have or develop in order to avoid extinction. Discover how a better understanding of microbial evolution allows humans to stay one step ahead in the evolutionary arms race.

WSS S3E9: The Physics of Cancer

We all know someone who has or is suffering from cancer. This week on Western Science speaks, Dr. Eugene Wong, a medical physicist at Western University, tells us about the wide variety of imaging technologies he uses to better understand the contexts in which cancerous tumors grow.

WSS S3E8: Rolling the Dye: Synthetic Technology in Electricity

This week, Western Science Speaks brings you the magic of synthetic chemistry – mixing molecules to create new materials! Dr. Joe Gilroy from the Department of Chemistry at Western University shares his insights about a new, cheaper and more efficient imaging dye designed in his synthetic chemistry lab. The molecules that make up the dye are red and they glow! Listen here to find out more.

WSS S3E7: House of Balloons: Chemistry's Innovative Forefront

Chemists never rest on their laurels. 159 years after the invention of the periodic table, they are still looking to find revolutionary ways to apply and organize elements. This episode of Western Science Speaks focuses on the dexterous ways in which Western chemists are manipulating the element Phosphorus, in order to create a brighter, greener future for our planet.

WSS S3E6: Parasitism: The Most Popular Lifestyle Choice on Earth

With a population in the millions of trillions, Parasites are able to evolve at a faster pace than just about anything on Earth. Through this extreme and rapid evolution, parasites are able to come up with increasingly innovative ways to attach to a host species; whether it be in the sky, or down on the ground. Beth MacDougall-Shackleton, a professor at the Western faculty of Biology, studies the way in which parasites evolve in order to find hosts. She brings her expertise to the Western Science Speaks Podcast to explain how parasitism became the most popular lifestyle choice on Earth.

WSS S3E5: A new learning landscape

In honor of International Week at Western University, the Western Science Speaks podcast is proud to present a special podcast, celebrating the students willing to go the extra mile for a unique and foreign academic experience. Beginning with an interview with a student who spent 6 months in Stockholm, Sweden and concluding with a student who spent 10 months in Singapore, this podcast unveils the tips and insight needed for any student considering studying in a new learning landscape.

WSS S3E4: Nice Guys Finish Last ... Or Do They?

On this episode of the Western Science Speaks podcast we explore why attributes such as kindness and selflessness have triumphed over some less altruistic traits in evolution. Geoff Wild from the Department of Applied Mathematics stops by the podcast for a discussion ranging from the evolutionary benefits of "niceness" to how to the incorporation of social media into our daily lives has changed our perceptions of one another.

WSS S3E3: Breaking the Code: The Adaptive Capabilities of DNA.

DNA is our biological signature. If our DNA changes, naturally so do we. So what causes these changes? Listen to this episode of Western Science Speaks to have Kathleen Hill from the Department of Biology break down how DNA is the thread that joins us to our ancestors, plus a conversation about the biological impacts of modern life.

WSS S3E2: Behind the Screens: The Secrets to the Seemingly Living Worlds In Video Games.

There's nothing better than losing yourself for a couple hours in a foreign, thought-provoking virtual land. Those experienced in video games will know this typically ends with an irrational rant at a bunch of animated characters on a TV screen, and on truly antagonizing days, a broken controller to boot. So how do video games manage to create a sense of real-world importance? On this episode of Western Science Speaks we hear from Michael Katchabaw of the Computer Science department at Western University. He discusses how his lab develops hyper-realistic methods for creating believable online landscapes, how online multiplayer has changed the industry, and where video game technology is heading.

WSS S3E1: The draw of the galactic abyss: What you may not have known about black holes.

Few would argue the magnetism of space and its mysterious nature. An endless puzzle looming over us, begging to be solved. At the heart of our extra-terrestrial conundrum are black holes; an irresistible juggernaut, seemingly capable of so much - yet barely understood. Western Science Speaks hosts Western's resident black hole expert, Dr. Sarah Gallagher from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, for a discussion about what we truly know about black holes, some of the common misconceptions about them, and a few of the most interesting theories Dr. Gallagher has came across.

Season 2

WSS S2E8: Canada's Oil Disconnect.

Western Canada is one of the world's largest oil manufacturing regions, but in the last half-decade the industry has experienced a significant downturn, and is only just starting to recover. Western Science Speaks brings in geologist and former oil exploration CEO, Professor Burns Cheadle, for an objective breakdown of Canada's oil sector woes, the head-scratching reality of half the country importing oil from abroad, and how the sector impacts our relationship with the U.S.

WSS S2E7: Stirring the Pot: Finding sustainable methods for metal extraction.

We rely on metal to power our daily lives. The good news is, Canada is one of the world’s largest producers of this vital material. However, balancing that productivity with the obligation to protect our increasingly fragile environment is a challenge that leaves Canadian miners and environmentalists grappling. Professor Kim Baines from the Department of Chemistry joins Western Science Speaks to discuss metal’s national importance, the common mining and separation techniques, and how chemists approach the obstacle of assembling an environmentally friendlier mining process.

WSS S2E6: No Need to Fear: The enormous upside of Artificial Intelligence in injury rehabilitation.

Are you concerned about the impact rapidly advancing AI technology on your privacy, wealth and our democracy? If so, you need to hear from Dr. Dan Lizotte from the Department of Computer Science at Western University. Dan joins the podcast to dispel the evil-robot narrative, talk about his medical AI research and illuminate the life-saving upside that robots can contribute to the health of Canadians in the very near future.

WSS S2E5: The Genetic Basis for Courtship and Mating Behaviour with Amanda Moehring

Meeting someone special is an undeniably worthwhile and necessary part of life. Unfortunately, it can often be awkward, flustering and at the worst of times, cringe-inducing. Determining how much of our success (or failure) in that domain is dictated by free will, rather than deep-rooted peculiarities is a question that fascinates researchers of behaviour. Amanda Moehring, from the Department of Biology, joins the podcast to break down the role genetics play in our courtship and mating process.

WSS S2E4: Explore the Revival of Atlantic Salmon in the Great Lakes 

When you live in a fish-eat-fish world, the complexity of your environment and how you use it to survive and thrive is of critical importance. Neff Lab researcher, Chris Therrien joins us for part two in a series about the revival of Atlantic Salmon in The Great Lakes.

WSS S2E3: Genetics and Social Behaviour with Dr Anne Simon

Western students, professors and staff create a social community of over 30,000 people on Western's campus every day. Understanding why we are comfortable or not in these social spaces is a topic of great importance for behavioural researchers. Western Science Speaks sits down with Dr Anne Simon of Western’s Department of Biology, to explore the role genetics in the social behaviour of living things.

WSS S2E2: The Story of Salmon Revival in the Great Lakes with Nicole Zathey

Our world is supporting less natural life forms than ever before. How do we revive a once thriving species, that perished at the hands of man? Western Science Speaks talks to Nicole Zathey, who is working to restore the previously native Atlantic Salmon back into Ontario waters.

WSS S2E1: Bird Survival in a Changing Climate

Western Science Speaks takes a tour of the Advanced Facility for Avian Research. This cutting-edge research facility has it's own wind tunnel and is able to simulate almost any environmental condition. We talk with Jeff Martin who's looking how climate change is affecting birds in Canada.

WSS Season 2 Launch: Canada’s Energy Economy

Sustainability, alternative energy, profitability and competitiveness; concepts that considered together provide a thought-provoking discussion with Western University’s Dr. Matt Davison about Canada’s energy economy from the perspective of the consumer, government and business.