Innovations in Chemistry are Making a Difference

Article by: Nina Rafeek

Q: Why are chemists great for solving problems?

A: They have all the solutions.

On Thursday June 1st, The Canadian Chemistry Conference, The Department of Chemistry and Science and Engineering Engagement at the U of T, will catalyze a heterogeneous mixture of some of the world’s best chemistry researchers.

This exciting evening of ideas will explore the impact of chemistry and science on YouTube, fake news, medicine, aquaculture, refugee camps and how these ideas are having a positive effect on the planet, the community and the individual.

Sir Martyn Poliakoff will speak about how his YouTube channel – The Periodic Table of Videos – has reached 905k subscribers and attracted over 152 million views in over 200 countries.  Professor Poliakoff is a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Nottingham, where he leads the EPSRC/HEFCE Science & Innovation project DICE, Driving Innovation in Chemistry & Engineering, which is promoting research collaboration between chemists and chemical engineers at Nottingham and beyond.

Professor Joe Schwarcz will tackle the recent and contentious subject of “Fake News”.  He will explain the growing threat of pseudoscience and celebrity science which continues to permeate the media.   Professor Joe Schwarcz holds a Ph.D. from McGill University, where he is Director of the “Office for Science and Society” which is dedicated to demystifying science and separating sense from nonsense. He is well known for his informative and entertaining public lectures on topics ranging from the chemistry of love to the science of ageing. An amateur conjurer, Dr. Joe often spices up his presentations with a little magic.

Professor Molly Shoichet is on a mission that started with a question: “Can we go beyond treating the symptoms of disease?” Learn how chemistry and medicine become personal when she explains how she is working to stop and reverse disease progression with regenerative medicine.  Her narratives will encompass the diseases that continue to plague our society today: cancer, blindness and stroke.  Professor Molly Shoichet is a Professor of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry and holds the NSERC Canada Research Chair at the University of Toronto.  She is also the Senior Advisor to the President on Science and Engineering Engagement at the University of Toronto.

Armed with chemistry and his love of salmon, Professor Gilbert Walker is on a mission to make the fish we eat safer to consume while improving their marine environment.  He will speak about two technologies that he has been working on.  The first technology is to decrease the amount of heavy metals produced by the copper salmon nets and the second aims to control sea lice in these fish.  Professor Walker is an assistant professor at the University of Toronto, where he is the Canada Research Chair in Biointerfaces.  As a youth, Gilbert worked in the herring weir fishery in the Bay of Fundy, and the changes to that ecosystem have motivated his interest in creating better materials for sustainable aquaculture.

Professor Aaron Wheeler created a lab to decrease the spread of disease in refugee camps.  This, however, is not a typical lab.  His lab-on-a-chip is a shoe-box sized instrument designed and built using tools common to the “maker” movement—3D printers, laser engravers, and Arduinos. Most importantly, the system is “open source,” meaning that any researcher or user may replicate it and put it to use as needed.  At the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, it has proven to have potential in diagnosing disease in pin-prick samples of blood.  Professor Wheeler teaches chemistry at the University of Toronto.  He is the Canada Research Chair of Bioanalytical Chemistry and his honours include the E.W.R. Steacie Fellowship (2015) and induction into the Royal Society of Canada’s New College of Scholars, Artists, and Scientists (2015). His research interests are in the development of new microfluidic tools to solve problems in chemistry, biology, and medicine.

This Molecular World will take place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre as the closing event of the 100th Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition.

Event Time: 5-7pm ● Doors Open at 4:30pm

Event Location: 222 Bremner Blvd, North Building, Lower Level, Room 107

The event is free and open to the public, click here to register.