#ScitationNeeded: Canadian Science in the Public Interest

When scientists march, we cite our sources!

In the 30 days before the March for Science, we are highlighting some of the incredible contributions of Canadian scientists, journalists, and activists working to advance science in the public interest. The people profiled are just a small sampling of the thousands of people in Canada whose science-based work makes Canada a more knowledgeable, more advanced, and more prosperous nation. One person is profiled per day on Twitter, and all the tweets are labelled with the hashtag #ScitationNeeded. The lightly edited tweets are compiled here in chronological order, and this page will be updated regularly.

Week 1:

  • John Dupuis (@dupuisj) is a science librarian at York University who helped document the Harper-era cuts to science. His blog, Confessions of a Science Librarian, carefully tracked Canadian government actions hostile to science from 2006-2014, and remains an invaluable resource. In the Trump era, he's started back up.
  • Rémi Quirion (@SciChefQC) has been Quebec's Chief Scientist since 2011, the first person to fill that position. As Chief Scientist, his role is to advise a Minister, help run QC's research funds, and promote science in the province. Dr. Quirion is a scientist himself: before 2011, he was in the faculty of medicine at McGill University and was a prolific researcher.
  • Ursula Franklin, C.C. was a trailblazing physicist, metallurgist, materials scientist, activist, and feminist. Her work in archeometry was ground-breaking, using modern materials science to analyze archeological artifacts. Her scientific work and her social activism were closely entwined: she saw each as informing the other. Outside the scientific community, she’s best known for her 1989 Massey Lectures "The Real World of Technology" on how society is shaped by science and technology.
  • Valerie Courtois (@ValerieCourtois) is a boreal forester, environmental planner, and member of the Nation Innue. She is the head of the Indigenous Leadership Initiative, strengthening indigenous nationhood via conservation and land management. As an environmental planner, she works with communities to ensure development projects are sustainable and balanced with conservation efforts.
  • Diane Orihel (@DianeOrihel) and Michael Rennie (@not_Klaatu) are two scientists who conduct important research at the Experimental Lakes Area (@IISD_ELA) in Northern Ontario and Manitoba. When the ELA was threatened by funding cuts in 2012, Diane put her PhD on hold to work on the Save The ELA campaign to protect their important research. In April 2014, their team was able to secure the transfer of the ELA to the International Institute of Sustainable Development from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and save this scientific resource.
  • Chris Herd (@SpaceRockDoc) is a geologist and planetary scientist at the University of Alberta. He studies Martian meteorites, and is the sole Canadian on the scientific advisory teams for Mars 2020 rover. His team is weighing in on where the rover will land, which has a critical impact on the science it will do. As well as science on the surface, Mars 2020 will launch the first samples for possible return to Earth.
  • Rashid Sumaila (@DrRashidSumaila) is a internationally renowned fisheries economist at UBC. He's a leading expert on economics of fisheries, including subsidies, regulations, sustainability, and illegal and undocumented fishing. His work has influenced international trade negotiations on fisheries and he's worked on research projects around the world, making him an excellent example of a scientific expert who works directly and collaboratively with policy makers.

 

 

WEEK 2:

  • Michelle Murphy (@murphyatglad) is a technoscience studies scholar and a founding member of the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative. EDGI seeks to preserve data housed on US government systems and departments currently under threat from the Trump admin, and she organized one of the first large-scale US climate data scraping events in late 2016 at the University of Toronto. She has also done research on how science & tech intersect with gender, race, sexuality, and politics.
  • C. J. Li is a professor & Canada Research Chair in Green / Organic Chemistry at McGill University. Green chemistry works to develop compounds with reduced environmental impact in production, use, and disposal. Dr. Li is director of the Centre in Green Chemistry and Catalysis, and head of the NSERC CREATE program in Green Chemistry at McGill. His research in catalytic reactions, solvents, and synthesis seeks to make chemical processing safer and cleaner.
  • Sheila Watt-Cloutier, OC is an Inuit activist, political representative, and climate advocate. She is a past president and international chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, and brought a petition to the IACHR in 2005 alleging that anthropogenic climate change was a violation of human rights. She also wrote a book, The Right to Be Cold, in 2015 about her experiences and on the threat to Inuit people's culture and way of life, which was one of the books featured on Canada Reads 2017.
  • Gerry Wright is the director of McMaster University’s lab for infectious disease research, and holds a Canada Research Chair in Antibiotic Biochemistry. The Wright lab studies how bacteria develop resistances to antibiotics, which is a serious medical crisis that is reshaping the practice of medicine. He and his team investigate how microbes become resistant to antibiotics on a molecular level, as well as searching for new antibiotics and new strategies to target microbes.
  • Kristi Miller-Saunders is a geneticist & biologist at the Pacific Research Station with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. In 2011 as part of her graduate studies research, she published a paper in Science on population dynamics of salmon, which attracted lots of attention. Her routine requests to speak to media were all denied, even through her work was publicly available. She was one of first clear cases of muzzling under the Harper government, and still advocates for scientists’ right to speak about their work.
  • Trevor Bell (@tbellnl) is a geographer at Memorial University who studies ice, coastal landscapes, and climate change. He developed SmartICE, a network of sensors & satellite data tracking changes in sea ice in Pond Inlet and Nain. Continuous monitoring of sea ice thickness makes travel on the ice much safer, especially as the climate changes. Dr. Bell won the 2016 Arctic Inspiration Prize for his work, and hopes to expand program to other Northern communities.
  • Aerin Jacob (@Aerin_J) is an ecologist whose research focuses on land use and marine management. In late 2016, she lead a letter campaign by over 1800 early career researchers to push for evidence-based environmental decisions. The popularity of the letter is a clear indication that young Canadian scientists want to meaningfully participate in policy discussions. Dr. Jacob currently works for the Yukon to Yellowstone Conservation Initiative, which is a major international conservation effort in the mountain west.

 

 

WEEK 3:

  • W.R. Peltier, FRSC is a university professor of physics at the University of Toronto studying geophysics, geophysical fluids, climate, and turbulence. He’s an international expert on the Earth’s mantle, atmospheric/oceanic dynamics, climate modelling, and climate reconstruction. As his research involves highly non-linear systems, he has long been at the forefront of scientific computing, developing innovative mathematical approaches to modelling earth systems. He is currently the scientific director of SciNet, the largest shared supercomputing facilities in Canada.
  • Margaret Munro (@margaretmunro) and Mike de Souza (@mikedesouza) are journalists who helped reveal the muzzling of federal scientists. They were instrumental in revealing the extent of communications policies, closures of libraries, and other restrictions on scientists who had previously been free to speak with the press. Today, Munro continues to write about science and de Souza is the Managing Editor of the National Observer.
  • Dr. Tak Wah Mak, OC is an immunologist and cancer researcher who discovered T-cell receptors (a key component of the immune response system) in Toronto in 1984. His first job in science was washing test tubes in a lab, where he was quickly hired as a research assistant. After graduating in the US, he moved to Canada and has lived here since, doing research in various fields. Dr. Mak's work is hugely important: the discovery of t-cells was critial to other breakthroughs in immunology.
  • Dr. Catherine Potvin is an ecologist at McGill University who works on conservation and tropical forests, and has worked closely with Panamanian indigenous people for 20 years in her work on tropical forests. Dr. Potvin also launched Dialogs on Sustainability, an initiative through which Canadian scientists develop policy recommendations on climate change and other issues around sustainability. Dr. Potvin became a member of the Royal Society of Canada in 2015 and a Trudeau Foundation fellow in 2016.
  • In high school, Miranda Wang and Jeanny Yao (@JeannyYao) discovered bacteria that could break down plastics. After seeing trash in the Fraser River, they designed their own experiment with a prof at the University of British Columbia, and found two strains of bacteria that could be cultured to eat phthalates, a plastic additive and carcinogen. Now, they run BioCellection, a US-based start-up that is working on commercializing their ideas.
  • Carolyn du Bois (@CMLDBois) is the Water Program Manager at the Gordon Foundation. She built and manages the Mackenzie DataStream, which hosts water quality data for the river basin. The open access project links data gathered by 21 communities (most of which are Indigenous) around the basin. It was developed in collaboration with Indigenous groups, and merges traditional and settler knowledge systems.
  • Dr. Constantine Campbell, CM is one of Canada’s pre-eminent soil scientists and agronomists. Now retired, he worked for decades at Agriculture Canada, researching health indicators of prairie soils, and his research on soil organic matter made prairie agriculture more productive. He also found ways to reverse soil degradation, and work collaboratively with other federal scientists, industry scientists, agricultural producers, and academics alike.

 

 

WEEK 4+:

  • Chris Turner (@theturner) is a writer who literally wrote the book on science under the Harper years: his 2013 book The War on Science comprehensively covered the damage done to Canadian science from 2006-2013. Written in the midst of Harper’s efforts to dismantle Canadian science, it was an urgent call for scientists to fight back and push for more progressive policies. He also writes award-winning articles about energy, climate, and sustainability particularly in the Canadian context.
  • Doug Wallace is an oceanographer and scientific director of the Marine Environmental Observation Predication and Response (MEOPAR) network hosted by Dalhousie University. Dr. Wallace and the MEOPAR network study coastal erosion, ocean acidifiction, and other causes and consequences of natural and human-induced changes to ocean chemistry. Through observation of changes through unique and pioneering methods, they hope to be able to predict the effects of changes to the oceans and help formulate responses to them.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Lab has been one of the world's leading immunology and bacteriology for years. The NML was instrumental in developing an effective vaccine for Ebola, as well as vaccines for SARS and swine flu in the past. The NML has labs across Canada, and a Containment Level 4 (that's the highest!) facility in Winnipeg to work on dangerous pathogens.
  • Madeleine MacIvor is a Métis educator who spent part of her career studying how to bring together science and Indigenous knowledge. In 1995, she wrote "Redefining Science Education for Aboriginal Students," which explored ways to teach science to Indigenous students in a culturally conscious way. In 2012, Dr. MacIvor completed her Ed.D at UBC, and currently serves on the board of a Vancouver nonprofit organization, Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services.
  • Jeff Dahn is a physicist at Dalhousie University who works on lithium ion batteries with his research group. As we use larger batteries (as in electric cars, for example), we need to find ways to overcome limitations to make them last longer, and Dr. Dahn's lab is researching how to extend the lifespan of lithium ion batteries. This February, Dr. Dahn won the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering, one of the most prestigious scientific awards in Canada.
  • The Canadian Space Agency's Astronaut Corps has, since 1983, sent Canadians to brave the terrors of space for the cause of science. The first six recruits were chosen from over 4000 applicants, and when the Astronaut Corps added four astronaut positions in 1992, over 5000 Canadians applied. Canadian astronauts are chosen for academic excellence, physical fitness, and other exceptional skills. The CSA is currently searching for more astronauts, to keep bringing Canadian curiosity to the final frontier.
  • Katherine Hayhoe (@KHayhoe) is a Canadian-American climate scientist and science communicator. She is a professor at Texas Tech's political science department and the director of their Climate Science Center. Beside her academic work on our changing climate, she is a prolific science communicator, with many books and media appearances to her name. She has worked especially hard to reach out to faith communities about the importance of science and the evidence for climate change.
  • Gerhard Herzberg was a Nobel-winning German-Canadian scientist, famous for his work on spectroscopy. Born in Germany, he left in 1935 after the Nazi government banned professors with Jewish spouses from teaching. He and his wife moved to Saskatoon, where Herzberg taught at the University of Saskatchewan for ten years. He later moved to Ottawa. His scientific work was driven by curiosity and the desire to advance human knowledge rather than by practical or commercial applications.
  • As our final entry in the #scitationneeded series, we want to feature the 2012 Death of Evidence marchers. Fed up with the muzzling of government scientists and a disregard for evidence, Canadian scientists marched on Ottawa in protest. The Death of Evidence rally helped launch Evidence for Democracy, and an enduring movement for science advocacy in Canada.

Top image courtesy of Richard Webster, used with permission. First interstitial image from the Experimental Lakes Area, retrieved from Save the ELA.